Equipment problems derail Indiana’s Hoosier State train

October 5, 2015

Buses, not Indiana’s Hoosier State train, have carried passengers eight of the 12 times the train was scheduled to run during the past 10 days, according to Amtrak and Indiana Department of Transportation officials.

Equipment problems disrupted the four-day-a-week Indianapolis-Website Insert Passenger Trains Very Well copyChicago service operated since Aug. 2 by the state’s passenger rail contractor, Iowa Pacific Holdings Inc., company president Ed Ellis told the Journal & Courier.

“We had a bunch of extra inspections that took place in the last week, and as a result of that we’re making some improvements to the equipment,” he said.

“It’s been running safely and efficiently the first two months, and we want to make sure we’re compliant.”

What could cause more than a week’s worth of canceled service on a train that runs round trips on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, and one-way routes on Tuesday and Wednesday?

Windows installed backward in one of the locomotives contributed to the problem, Ellis explained.

“When we took some windows out, some of the windows broke,” he said. “We have been doing expedited ordering and installing all week.”

The windows escaped the notice of Amtrak, Federal Railroad Administration and Iowa Pacific inspectors, who checked the rail cars before Iowa Pacific’s equipment was cleared to begin running the route Aug. 2, he said. A recently hired INDOT inspector discovered the problem on the locomotive that Ellis said he purchased from New Jersey Transit.

Other technical issues, including replacing an oil drain pipe in an engine block, sidelined the train, which is required to have two locomotives, one at each end of the passenger cars, he said.

Amtrak chartered buses to substitute for the northbound Hoosier State on Sept. 23, 25, 29 and Oct. 2, spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Buses also filled in for the southbound train on Sept. 23, 28, 30 and Oct. 2.  The Hoosier State runs the route when Amtrak’s long-distance Cardinal doesn’t operate.

Read the full story from the Lafayette Journal & Courier reporter Chris Morisse Vizza by clicking here.


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