Hoosier State Operator Selection Due This Month

June 16, 2014

Continuing coverage of Indiana’s forthcoming selection from a Request For Proposal (RFP) to operate the Chicago to Indianapolis passenger train service currently run by Amtrak. Read the full articles at the Indianapolis Star (14 June 2014) and the
Indianapolis Business Journal (15 June 2014).

Supporters of a passenger rail line from Indianapolis to Chicago say the upcoming selection of a private company to improve services is just the beginning, with the next step being to press local and state lawmakers to renew their commitment to the service.

Funding for the service is not guaranteed after Oct. 1, when an agreement hammered out last year by state and Amtrak officials to keep the rail line running expires. The Indiana Department of Transportation and seven local governments agreed to pay a $2.7 million subsidy to Amtrak after it announced it was ending funding for passenger lines shorter than 750 miles. The decision put the future of the Hoosier State, which runs from Chicago through Lafayette to Indianapolis four times a week, in jeopardy… — IBJ

“Where do we want rail to go, and where do we think rail should go?” state Rep. Randy Truitt, R-West Lafayette, said Thursday during a call from a passenger rail conference in Kansas City. “How are we going to pay for it? It’s going to take money, and it’s going to take vision…” — Star

…INDOT is expected to announce in the next two weeks a finalist from four proposals for services, which include operating the train route in its entirety or providing services such as Wi-Fi or food and beverage.

“The people who we’re looking at think they can do it for about the same, maybe less with new cars and Wi-Fi,” Zier said… — IBJ

After the vendor is selected, advocates of passenger rail likely will spend the summer and fall pressing local and state lawmakers to renew their commitment to the line, including the financial support needed for a viable line.

State Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, an alternate on the state budget committee, said she plans to press House and Senate committee members to support the proposal.

“I’m just hoping it will continue and the interest will be there,” she said. “I think we have really to try hard to make this work.” …Like Klinker, Truitt and Zier are convinced that passenger rail is critical for the future of the communities along the lines… — Star

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