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The Hoosier State passenger-rail line between Indianapolis and Chicago will cease service April 1, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced March 6.The announcement follows a Federal Railroad Administration decision that would require the state to serve as a railroad, even though it owns no track or trains, INDOT officials said in a press release."Passenger rail providers and the host railroads are already required to comply with FRA rules," said INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning. "Requiring a redundant layer of bureaucracy would not create improvements in passenger rail service or safety, it would only increase taxpayer costs."
INDOT officials said they had been making progress in negotiating long-term agreements with rail providers Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings in an effort to preserve the service, Browning said. Under the proposed arrangement, Amtrak would been served as the primary operator, working with host railroads, providing train and engine crews and managing reservation and ticketing. Iowa Pacific would have provided the train equipment, train maintenance, onboard services and marketing.
Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said in a prepared statement that the service does not have to end, and that Amtrak has offered to operate the train on a month-to-month basis.
"Amtrak is ready, willing and able to continue to provide safe and reliable service using one of the proven models we've used in other states," Boardman said.
INDOT officials said that new FRA rules say that states that support passenger-rail services would be considered railroad carriers. The FRA's interpretation "exposes states to significant increases in cost, paperwork and liability," INDOT officials said.
Copies of INDOT's correspondence with the FRA and letter of intent with Iowa Pacific are available here.
After April 1, INDOT encourages Hoosier State travelers to use alternative transportation options between Indianapolis and Chicago, including Amtrak's Cardinal service, which operates Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays northbound, and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, southbound. Intermediate stops are made in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer.