States Face Decision Day on Saving Trains

September 13, 2013

Amtrak’s Hoosier State service, a 196-mile run from Indianapolis to Chicago, travels through the state’s cornfields and small towns…

[A] debate in Indiana and 18 other states about whether to drop expensive passenger-rail services, [is being driven by the impact of Congress’s] 2008 law, [to] cut off funding for [Indiana’s] and other short Amtrak routes across the U.S. starting Oct. 1. Amtrak will require Indiana to pony up $3 million a year to maintain the train, sparking a political tussle among small-town mayors, state budget hawks and fans of passenger rail.

If Indiana balks, service between Indianapolis and Chicago wouldn’t disappear completely: Amtrak’s three-day-a-week Cardinal train from New York to Chicago would continue to make the same stops. But ending the Hoosier State would eliminate service the four other days of the week.

Supporters say passenger-rail service helps boost local economies, and that daily service is essential to keeping trains a viable alternative to airplanes and cars.

But critics say the short routes waste tax dollars on a small number of passengers, money they say would be better spent on things like fixing roads and upgrading schools.

Rest of the story in the Wall Street Journal, (subscription required) September 13, 2013

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