Amtrak, Indiana Reach Funding Pact

The Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State will continue to roll after Amtrak reached an agreement in principle with Indiana interests on a funding agreement.

The agreement with the Indiana Department of Transportation and communities along the route is expected to continue the service for a year with an option for an additional four months of operation.

Expected to sign the agreement are the cities of Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Rensselaer, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Beech Grove and Tippecanoe County.

“I am pleased that the state of Indiana, in partnership with local communities, was able to reach an agreement with Amtrak to keep the Hoosier State line operating over the next year,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in a statement. “This agreement will make Hoosier jobs more secure and preserve an important transportation link for Indiana. I am grateful for the leadership of the Indiana Department of Transportation and the generous support of many of the communities with stops along the Hoosier State line.”

The pact allows the state and its local partners to monitor ridership and explore service improvements to ensure the long-term viability of the route, said Indiana transportation commissioner Karl Browning says.

More information about the Hoosier State service, including a cost-benefit analysis of schedule and frequency options, is available at http://www.in.gov/indot/3200.htm.

The agreement is the 19th and last to be reached between Amtrak and the states regarding the operation of passenger routes less than 750 miles in length.

It fulfills Section 209 of the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which required states to share costs with Amtrak under a consistent formula for all short-haul routes.

During the past four years, Amtrak and the states partnered to jointly develop the cost formula which received approval by the federal Surface Transportation Board.

Under the Section 209 policy, state partners pay for about 85 percent of operating costs that are attributed to their routes, as well as for capital maintenance costs of the Amtrak equipment they use and for support costs such as safety programs and marketing.

Amtrak pays about 15 percent for such costs as centralized dispatching and services, and back shops.

States will continue to benefit from Amtrak’s incremental cost access rights to tracks owned by host railroads, dispatching priority and Amtrak capital investments that support the entire system such as technology improvements like eTicketing.

“This has been a long process and one that has produced agreements that are fair and consistent while recognizing the needs of these states and the unique qualities of these routes,” said Amtrak President Joe Boardman in a news release. “Many of these are our fastest growing services and we are working on expansion plans with our partners in several states.

“Our state partners have told us they are expecting Amtrak to continue to improve the services we provide to them. It is a challenge I know we are ready to meet.”

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