Thursday, January 15, 2015

Indiana confronts Hoosier State crisis

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Thwarted in its effort last year to employ a private contractor to handle large operation of Amtrak's Hoosier State, Indiana officials now are scrambling to secure state funding to ensure continued operation of the service, linking Chicago and Indianapolis four days a week.

Proposals to continue funding Indiana's Hoosier State passenger rail service have come from the governor's office and the General Assembly, local media report. One measure, offered by State Rep. Randy Truitt, would sanction $3 million annually for the Indiana Department of Transportation to continue dealing with Amtrak in providing service.

Amtrak's Cardinal, a long-distance service, links the state capital and Chicago on the remaining three days in the week.

Congress has mandated that states or other entities, and not the federal government (through Amtrak), must provide support funding for short-distance intercity rail passenger service with routes under 750 miles in length, which includes the Hoosier State.

Indiana's current contract with Amtrak expires Jan. 31, 2015. Both Amtrak and Indiana DOT say progress on service continuation has been made.

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