Iowa Pacific Makes First Runs of Hoosier State

Iowa Pacific began operating the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State on Sunday, Aug. 2, taking over the train from Amtrak.

Trains magazine reported that the only potential snag might be completion of a switch relocation project on CSX in Indianapolis. The switch leads to a Iowa Pacific operated service facility.

Amtrak’s contract to operate the Hoosier State was to expire on July 31. Because the Hoosier State operations on the four days a week that the Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate, it was not scheduled to run on Saturday, Aug. 1.

The Cardinal operated to and from Chicago from Indianapolis on Saturdays.

Iowa Pacific will furnish motive power and rolling stock for the train as well as marketing and on-board service support.

The operating crews will continue to be Amtrak employees.

Since March, there have been a series of inspections of the GP40FH-2 locomotives and passengers cars that Iowa Pacific plans to use. A test train traveled the route on June 28.

Iowa Pacific plans to offer onboard Wi-Fi service, a dome with café service downstairs, and leg-rest seating in heritage coaches.

Amtrak had coach-only service aside from a three-month period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, when it offered Wi-Fi and business class seating, but no café service.

Trains noted that the Cardinal operates with a “Diner-lite” Amfleet II café car that also serves breakfast and dinner as well as snack bar food.

Full meal table seating preference goes to sleeping car passengers and accommodating those patrons can be a challenge when Nos. 50 and 51 operates with two sleeping cars as it does through the spring, summer and fall months.

The Cardinal does not offer Wi-Fi to coach passengers.

Fares for the Chicago-Indianapolis market have varied widely. On the Cardinal, Amtrak seeks to maximize long-distance revenue over the Chicago-Indianapolis market.

The top-priced “flexible” Indianapolis-Chicago adult coach fare is $48. Most seats aboard for Amtrak’s Hoosier State have sold at the “Saver” price of $24.

For the first month of its operation of the Hoosier State, Iowa Pacific plans to allow passengers to sit in the dome and to pay for meals and beverages served there instead of having food included in the ticket price.

“We want to give people a chance to sample our version of business class,” which will be similar to breakfasts and dinners served on Pullman Rail Journeys excursions from Chicago to New Orleans and other destinations,” said Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis. “It will be quite different than other Midwest business class service, which only includes a newspaper and a soft drink or coffee.”

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One Response to “Iowa Pacific Makes First Runs of Hoosier State”

  1. Tyrell Swint Says:

    Is the Iowa Pacific trying to make a profit with this service?

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