Indiana Senate Also Snubs Hoosier State Funding

The Indiana Senate approved a budget last week that did not contain funding to continue operation of Amtrak’s Hoosier State between Chicago and Indianapolis.

Furthermore, the Senate refused to take up an amendment offered by a Lafayette senator to keep the state funding in place.

Senator Ron Alting said he wasn’t giving up on finding funding for the Hoosier State, including as part of the conference committee that will reconcile differences in the two-year budget between the House and Senate.

The legislature plans to wrap its session by April 29.

Indiana currently pays $3 million a year to operate the quad-weekly train, which operates on days that the Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate.

The state’s funding expires on June 30 and Amtrak earlier ceased to take reservations or sell tickets for travel on the Hoosier State starting July 1.

Alting said the Senate sponsors of the authors of budget bill “expressed their reluctance to have me present my amendment.”

The House had defeated an amendment made by state Rep. Chris Campbell of West Lafayette to include Hoosier State funding in the house version of the budget.

“While it saddens me we could not resolve this problem, I have spoken with the authors of the Senate’s budget proposal, and they are keeping an open mind in terms of possibly adding the funding during a conference committee,” Alting said in a statement.

“We’ve faced some obstacles, but I’m not giving up,” Alting said. “This is about persistence, and I will continue to work to obtain funding for the Hoosier State rail line.”

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told the Lafayette Journal & Courier that Amtrak hasn’t given up on the Hoosier State, but also said the carrier would not continue to operate the train without the $3 million in the state budget each of the next two years.

Other Hoosier State funding includes $500,000 from Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Crawfordsville and Rensselaer.

“We’re continuing to work with legislators and other interest groups regarding the continuation of daily service on this route, which is funded four days a week by our contract with (INDOT),” Magliari said.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said he supports his city’s continued financial support of the Hoosier State provided that Amtrak and the state commit to improvements in speed and on-time performance.

“I’d like to see it saved, if we can,” Roswarski said. “I would say that’s a very difficult hill to climb. That’s a long shot, right now.”

Indiana began funding the Hoosier State in 2015 because by federal law state and/or local governments must pay for Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb had earlier this year submitted a budget request that omitted Hoosier State funding.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has said that 2018 ridership was down 17.8 percent from the 2014 level.

The day after the Senate passed its version of the budget without any Amtrak funding, a group of Indiana state senators and representatives urged Holcomb to continue funding for the Hoosier State.

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One Response to “Indiana Senate Also Snubs Hoosier State Funding”

  1. Rail Provocateur Says:

    Thanks to PRIIA with its baked-in NEC costs, this milk train subject to Amtrak’s bloated full cost methodology would needlessly cost Indiana $3 Million for another year. Instead, let Amtrak pay for its own “hospital train” with repaired equipment to/from Beech Grove.

    Time for foamers and NARP to realize the “Hoosier State” has no significant presence and attracts little traffic due to:

    -Poor, inconvenient schedule leaving/arriving CHI and IND.
    -Timecard twice as long as auto or bus, despite truck dominated, potholed I-65.
    -Signal system on CSX shorts out during storms; inadequate infrastructure for passenger service.
    -Between Dyer-CUS, traverses 5 different railroad dispatchers.

    When Amtrak can afford to focus attention on the stymied development of the Midwest Corridors by drastically improving speed, schedule, and frequencies between CHI-IND, certainly all concerned parties will be happy to hear its pitch. Until then, let this “hospital train” be on Amtrak’s dime; call their bluff and perhaps Amtrak will shoulder the costs, as they did before PRIIA.

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