Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Indiana Gateway HrSR project to proceed

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Indiana's sole involvement in U.S. higher-speed rail (HrSR) planning was officially launched Thursday, May 29, 2014, as the "Indiana Gateway" project proceeds, according to Indiana Department of Transportation officials.

The Federal Railroad Administration, Indiana DOT, and Amtrak plan to hold a news conference Thursday at a news conference at Amtrak's Hammond-Whiting Station, in northwest Indiana, to herald the plan's launch.

Indiana Gateway encompasses $71.4 million in construction projects, with the majority of funding targeting congestion relief at Porter Junction. Plans call for alleviating conflicts between heavy freight rail activity and Amtrak service, particularly Amtrak trains linking Chicago and Detroit points. Improvments there will bolster other HrSR efforts by Amtrak and Michigan between the two cities, some of which have already been implemented.

Work on Indiana Gateway has lagged behind other U.S. HSR and HrSR activity, due to negotiations on track rerouting involving FRA, Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, and Indiana DOT. An agreement was reached in September 2012, local media report.

“Norfolk Southern prides itself on a tradition of partnering with other transportation providers, including Amtrak,” Jeff Harris, NS assistant vice president for operation planning, said at the ceremony Thursday. “The Indiana Gateway project provides important infrastructure improvements which, when completed, should allow for more efficient movement of passenger and freight trains through this vital rail corridor.”

Norfolk Southern will install crossovers at five locations and construct a third mainline track at three locations. Amtrak will build a new passing siding near the Porter Interlocking, where Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and CSX operations intersect, often generating congestion.