Mayors & Others Hope to Get Funding to Keep Amtrak Line Alive
Several mayors and many others hope the state officials will come up with funding to keep an Amtrak line alive after its federal funding runs out.
The mayors of West Lafayette and Beech Grove joined the Midwest High Speed Rail Association and the AFL-CIO is asking the state for more than $3 million a year to keep the Hoosier State Line running past October 1st. That is the deadline set five years ago when Congress cut federal subsidies for Amtrak lines that were shorter than 750 miles. The Hoosier State Line runs four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago.
"By terminating the rail service, we're taking a number of steps with regard to our economy and our transportation and the overall infrastructure of Indiana," said Christian Ficara, organizing director with the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. About 37,000 passengers rode the line in fiscal 2012, and Ficara says not only would they be looking for another ride, many would have to look for another job. "For sure, 550 skilled workers out of the Beech Grove station. Along the lines, we're talking about approximately 600 jobs."
Supporters say the Hoosier State Line has benefits that outweigh the government subsidies. "It's ten-fold in terms of the jobs it creates and sustains, the environmental benefits to it, the efficiency as well as the safety comparisons to driving a car," said Ficara.
INDOT spokeswoman Will Wingfield did not have any specifics on prospects for the state providing Amtrak funding, issuing a statement that reads, INDOT is having productive and positive discussions with local officials and Amtrak about solutions for the Hoosier State passenger rail service."