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Connersville already has a stop and, politically, if the Hoosier State service is to be extended into Ohio (which would likely be the first step), then Indiana is going to have to help subsidize the extension along with Ohio. That means Indiana is going to want more access to the train and that probably means the Hoosier State service is going to stop at Connellsville where Amtrak's Cardinal already stops.

 

The Hoosier extension is not the end goal. It's an interim step while the 10 year (on average) planning, property acquisition, funding procurement and construction goes on to develop the 110 mph service.

 

The Hoosier is probably going to take about 6 hours to get to Chicago from Cincinnati (perhaps 45+ minutes less to Hamilton). But the reason why the current service is so slow (taking 8 hours) is that the top speed from Hamilton to Indianapolis is only 60 mph. That can be increased to 79 mph over significant portions for about $5 million to extend the road crossing circuits (ie: Crossing signal triggers) and adding constant warning time equipment. Right now it takes 5 for the Hoosier to travel the 195 miles from Indy to Chicago. At least 1.5 hours could be chopped from the schedule resulting from a mix of privately and publicly funded projects already in the planning pipeline (welded rail installation north of Lafayette, addition of three passing sidings, dispatcher control operation of the Harvey Connection, restoration of Grand Crossing connection, and construction of the South Of Lake Corridor).

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The Business Courier article says it would take four hours to get to Chicago.  Is that right?  Just going by Google maps I can get there in four hours and 20 minutes by car.

 

^That's without traffic. Always assume at least 30 minutes of traffic going into Chicago. Much more if you get in at the wrong time.

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I thought there was a long layover in Indy that made the Cardinal to Chicago slow.

 

It's both.  I took the Cardinal in November.  There's an hour-long layover in Indianapolis so the departure time is more convenient.  Then the trip is impossibly slow in northern Indiana.  Lots of time at a standstill, presumably because of train traffic in Chicago?  It's definitely budgeted in to the Cardinal's schedule, because we arrived on time despite those delays.

 

Then I caught the Empire Builder to Minneapolis.  This is where the train became competitive with the car.  We were flying.

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Yeah, I didn't mean to suggest there weren't other factors contributing to slowness. But sitting in the station for an hour (for some reason I thought it was 2 hours, but you would know better) is, well, just a time vortex.

 

I've only taken the Cardinal to the east coast. If I did it again, I'd want to splurge on a sleeper car. It's just too long. But it's infinitely better than Greyhound, which takes about the same amount of time.

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It was dirt cheap for what it was, like $120 one-way.  I was traveling to my wife's hometown about an hour from Minneapolis for a funeral; she had gone up earlier in the week and I was meeting up with her.  Didn't want to take another car, the bus was just as expensive, so the train it was.  I was really surprised at how comfortable it was even in coach - huge seats, lots of leg room, smooth ride, get up and move around, etc.  The fact that there is a stop about 5 miles from her folks' house helps, too.

 

However, including a four-hour layover in Chicago, the whole trip was 20 hours to go about 700 miles.  Usually takes us about 11 hours to make the drive.  That 20 hours combined with the 1:30a departure (and having not slept since 7a the day before the train) made for a really really exhausting day.  It's pretty shocking that I could fly to Dubai in the same amount of time as it takes to ride the train to Minnesota in 2013.

 

The point's been covered here before so I won't belabor it, but it's three hours for the 120 miles to IND, an hour layover, then another five for the 200 miles to Chicago.  So on a good day it takes 9.5 hours to go 320 miles, or about 34 mph.  By comparison, even with a detour to Milwaukee and seven other stops, the Empire Builder took 6.5 hours to go the last 370 miles of the trip, or about 57 miles an hour. 

 

I had contemplated taking Megabus to Chicago then catching the Empire Builder, but the schedule doesn't work - the bus got there too late.

 

 

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Every time I go to Chicago it's about 5 1/2 hours - to downtown Chicago that is.  A big reason is because I've never been where it hasn't taken 15-30 minutes to actually get to where I'm trying to park downtown.  So maybe it'd be quicker to get to the burbs, but I'd suspect this rail would go downtown (and sorry for the ignorance, I'm sure it's stated somewhere).  If you could get me to chicago in the same time as driving for a decent cost I'd much rather do that than have to worry about having a car and paying for parking.

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Amtrak's downtown Chicago station is at Union Station. It is two blocks from Willis Tower.

 

186189520-10162613.jpg

 

Amtrak also has suburban stations throughout Chicagoland, most of which are shared with Metra commuter trains. There is also a lot of interest from cities east of Chicago to run trains through downtown Chicago to O'Hare on the west side. In fact, the two studies (PB and TEMS) from the Columbus-Fort Wayne-Chicago corridor showed there would be greater ridership and economic impact from running the trains through to O'Hare. The impact was greatest on Warsaw, IN which is the orthopedics capital of the world. With the fast rail link to Chicago & O'Hare, Warsaw can attract even more orthepedics jobs and business activity.

 

map-crossrail-chicago.jpg

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Support for Chicago-Cincinnati high-speed rail grows

Oct 21, 2014, 2:39pm EDT

Staff Cincinnati Business Courier

 

The mayor and city manager of Hamilton wrote a letter to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments asking it to fund a feasibility study on running high-speed rail from Cincinnati to Chicago.

 

Such a study, business plan and economic impact analysis "will prove invaluable in pursing an effective policy and strategy that advances regional freight and passenger rail," wrote Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith and Mayor Pat Moeller.

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2014/10/21/support-for-chicago-cincinnati-high-speed-rail.html

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I've not really been keeping up with what's going on with this, but this article popped up on my reddit feed today.

 

Plans for train connecting Columbus and Chicago chug forward

http://thelantern.com/2014/10/plans-for-train-connecting-columbus-and-chicago-chug-forward/

 

Ahem.....

http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php/topic,20921.0.html

 

Ah sorry! It was late here only browsed to see if I could find mention of it and skipped the first page completely since it was dated so long ago. But I now notice another article that I missed mentioning the route to Columbus on page 2. I guess posting the reddit thread may have been more interesting because hearing Chicago redditors complain about visiting Ohio was fun.

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Sorry I missed this! The Cardinal is the Amtrak route that operates thrice-weekly between Chicago - Indianapolis - Cincinnati - Charleston - Charlottesville - Washington DC - Baltimore - Philadelphia - New York City and many intermediate stations....

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

State rail service studies would cost $400,000, lawmakers told

by Phil Kabler, Staff writer

 

Full-scale studies to determine the feasibility of passenger rail service between Charleston and Huntington, and between Fairmont, Morgantown and Pittsburgh, would cost about $400,000, the director of the state Rail Authority told legislators Tuesday.

 

“A full-blown feasibility study for the two would be about $400,000,” Cindy Butler told the interim Select Committee on Infrastructure.

 

In February, the House of Delegates passed a resolution calling for a study of the feasibility of high-speed commuter rail service in the state.

 

Butler noted that, by definition, high-speed rail operates at maximum speeds in excess of 110 mph and requires dedicated right-of-ways with no grade crossings. Also, she noted, commuter rail is a specific type of passenger service, dedicated to getting workers to and from urban centers from outlying residential areas.

 

However, she said the State Rail Plan, approved last December, calls for feasibility studies for the two proposed passenger rail corridors.

 

The studies would analyze ridership forecasts, potential revenues and operating costs, and potential funding sources and subsidies.

 

Butler said Federal Rail Authority requires state cost-sharing for all intercity rail service routes of under 750 miles – which both proposed rail corridors would fall under.

 

The State Rail Plan also calls for expanding MARC commuter rail service in the Eastern Panhandle, and expanding Amtrak’s Cardinal route from three days a week to daily service, she said.

 

“That’s a big thing we’d like to see, the Cardinal going to every day,” Butler said.

 

- See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20141216/GZ01/141219397#sthash.LMX4IsNZ.dpuf

 

__________

 

And a press release....

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 22, 2014

MORE CONNECTIONS TO THE AMTRAK NETWORK

IN INDIANA, OHIO, KENTUCKY AND TENNESSEE

Expanded Thruway Bus Service partnership with Greyhound Lines

 

CHICAGO -- More communities in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee now can connect to Amtrak trains in Chicago and Indianapolis using buses operated by Greyhound Lines, Inc. People and businesses in Nashville, Tenn., and Gary, Ind., are now able to more easily access the Amtrak national network to meet their travel needs.

 

Passengers traveling between Indianapolis and points north to Chicago will also now have more schedule choices by riding the Amtrak Cardinal and Hoosier State (Trains 50/850 & 51/851) in one direction and the option of returning by bus, all booked through Amtrak.com or the Amtrak Mobile apps.

 

This is an extension of ticketing previously done by Amtrak between Chicago and Louisville, via Indianapolis. Schedules attached.

 

The service expansion is another example of the growing business relationship between Amtrak and Greyhound that has led the motor coach operator to open a ticket office at Chicago Union Station.

 

See schedule at:

http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/368/328/Amtrak-More-Thruways-to-Ind-Ohio-Ky-and-Tenn-ATK-14-119.pdf

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If West Virginia wants a daily Cardinal, it will probably happen. As anyone who's been paying attention knows, WV's wishes matter a lot more than OH's. That fact is plain enough just from the schedule.

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If West Virginia wants a daily Cardinal, it will probably happen. As anyone who's been paying attention knows, WV's wishes matter a lot more than OH's. That fact is plain enough just from the schedule.

 

That's a holdover from US Senator Robert Byrd who got the train restored after Reagan's budget cuts in 1981 and, yes, got Amtrak to run the train on a schedule more favorable to West Virginia. Prior to its return in 1982, the Cardinal ran daily and served Cincy about 10 a.m. westbound and about 8 p.m. eastbound so it could provide an overnight run to/from the Northeast Corridor cities. Sadly, Senator Byrd was not as interested in keeping the daily Cincinnati-Washington Shenandoah which also operated overnight between Cincinnati and Washington via station stops in Loveland, Chillicothe, Athens and Parkersburg.

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Add a blog posting....

 

Is Cincy-Chicago partnership a precursor to more trains?

December 23, 2014

 

Amtrak reported this week that it has expanded its Thruway Bus Service partnership with Greyhound Lines to offer improved transportation choices and simplified, joint ticketing between Cincinnati plus other cities and Amtrak’s Chicago hub. This comes on news that Greyhound and Megabus may relocate into Cincinnati’s Riverfront Transportation Center which is accessible to the new streetcar. And there is news that West Virginia is showing interest in a daily Amtrak Cardinal service (see news article below the timetable).

 

MORE:

http://allaboardohio.org/2014/12/23/is-cincy-chicago-partnership-a-precursor-to-more-trains/

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Midwest-Rail-Map-2015-REVs-1024x768.jpg

 

http://allaboardohio.org/2015/01/06/indot-encouraged-to-continue-hoosier-state-rail-line/

 

Indiana DOT encouraged to continue Hoosier State rail line beyond January 31st

January 6, 2015

 

[An IPRA press release. For further information: contact Donald Yehle, IPRA Media Relations, 765-418-4097 (djyehle@gmail.com) or Steve Coxhead, IPRA President, 219-741-8053 (scoxhead@comcast.net)]

 

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA) is calling on the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to continue passenger rail service from Indianapolis to Chicago past January 31.

 

The Hoosier State is operating on a four-month extension of a one-year contract signed a year ago October by INDOT and communities served by the railroad. The agreement stipulates the parties will share in the approximate $3 million annual operating cost of the 196-mile railroad between Indianapolis and Chicago.

 

“The four month extension ends January 31 so it’s imperative INDOT, participating communities, Amtrak, and a possible, new private Hoosier State developer reach an understanding sooner, rather than later, as railroad passengers need to make their travel plans in advance,” IPRA President Steve Coxhead says.

 

The traveling public continues to demonstrate it wants this rail service. For instance, on a single day just before Thanksgiving, 145 passengers boarded the Hoosier State train in Lafayette for Chicago, he says.

 

The Indianapolis-based organization is in the process of funding a business case and economic development plan for the Hoosier State corridor, which stretches from Chicago, thru Indianapolis, to Cincinnati and Louisville.

 

Conversations continue with two Ohio organizations to determine their interest in daily passenger rail service. Those groups are the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Association of Governments, Coxhead says. Two Southern Indiana counties – Fayette [seat is Connersville] and Dearborn [seat is Lawrenceburg] — are also seriously interested in expanding the service beyond Indianapolis, he continues.

 

“We want Governor (Michael) Pence, INDOT Commission (Karl) Browning, and the state general assembly to support a more equitable funding mechanism for the railroad.

 

While many states are funding passenger railroads of less than 750 miles – as required by Federal law – Indiana is the only state asking for substantial financial support from communities and counties served by a railroad, IPRA says.

 

Amtrak – the current and likely future operator of the passenger rail service – has in recent months made good on promises to improve the service with Wi-Fi, limited food and beverage service, and business class seating. Partnership arrangements with Greyhound are providing further connectivity for the traveling public, Coxhead concludes.

 

END

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Some very encouraging news coming out of Indiana regarding the future of the "Hoosier State" train service which All Aboard Ohio wants speeded up, be expanded as a daily service and extended to Cincinnati on a convenient, daytime schedule to Chicago (in addition to daily Amtrak Cardinal service). Some highlights from the article are below.....

 

Truitt files bill to fund Indiana Amtrak line

Chris Morisse Vizza, cvizza@jconline.com 5:46 p.m. EST January 14, 2015

 

Proposals to continue funding Indiana’s Hoosier State passenger rail service have come from the governor’s office and the General Assembly.

 

State Rep. Randy Truitt filed House Bill 1217, which would allow the state to appropriate $3 million annually so the Indiana Department of Transportation can contract with Amtrak to provide rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago.

 

...The future of the Hoosier State has been uncertain as the state’s current contract with Amtrak expires expire Jan. 31.

 

Spokesmen for INDOT and Amtrak last week said talks have been productive and neither expects a disruption in service.

 

Murtaugh and Dennis expect a healthy debate and potential changes to HB 1217, which on Tuesday was referred to the House Ways & Means committee.

 

Gov. Mike Pence’s spending recommendation contains language similar to Truitt’s bill, but goes one step further. In addition to funding the service, Pence’s plan authorizes INDOT to purchase rail equipment.

 

....As the discussion is just beginning at the legislature, support for the Hoosier State is pouring in from outside Indiana.

 

Directors of All Aboard Ohio, a nonprofit passenger rail alliance, on Tuesday night adopted a resolution urging continuation of the four-day-a-week service, which is complemented by Amtrak’s long-distance Cardinal that travels three days a week from New York to Chicago.

 

“I feel strongly that any long term answer to the Hoosier State’s problems are not in canceling or minimizing it but by expanding it,” spokesman Derek Bauman said.

 

“We have 2 million people in the tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, and that’s a lot of potential riders.”

 

...It also helps that CSX is upgrading the tracks the Hoosier State runs on.

 

“Two siding tracks have been installed,” Olson said. “It will alleviate backups and delays and that goes a long way toward addressing a problem.”

 

If the legislature approves continued funding for the line, it affords the opportunity to improve the service, attract more riders and generate revenue, he said.

 

READ MORE AT:

http://www.jconline.com/story/news/2015/01/14/truitt-bill-fund-indiana-amtrak-service/21774061/

 

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Also would be served by a possible extension of Indiana's daily Chicago-Indianapolis "Hoosier State" service to Cincinnati....

 

Posted: 4:07 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015

Oxford considers federal grant for Amtrak stop

By Eric Robinette

Staff Writer

 

OXFORD — The proposed Amtrak stop in Oxford continues to gain momentum as city and Miami University leaders intend to pursue a federal grant to fund the operation.

 

City Manager Douglas Elliott told city council this month that he met with university, Butler County Regional Transit Authority and Talawanda Schools officials to discuss applying for a TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. TIGER stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.

 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation website, TIGER provide “a unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives.”

 

MORE:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/oxford-considers-federal-grant-for-amtrak-stop/nkCzs/

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Federal grant may get Oxford rail station rolling

Michael D. Clark, mclark@enquirer.com 1:26 a.m. EST February 19, 2015

 

OXFORD – A federal grant could help bring a new railroad station to Oxford, city and Miami University officials said Wednesday.

 

That's one of the reasons why Oxford and university officials are considering asking for a U.S. Department of Transportation grant.

 

And that money may become a factor in their joint efforts to persuade Amtrak to create the first passenger train stop in the city in five decades.

 

MORE:

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/02/18/federal-grant-may-get-oxford-rail-station-rolling/23642617/

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State to end Amtrak's Hoosier State line

 

The financially troubled and passenger-starved Amtrak Hoosier State line is being shut down.

 

The Indiana Department of Transportation said it failed to reach an agreement with Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings that would keep the train running. The last day for the Hoosier State line will be April 1.

 

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/03/06/state-end-amtraks-hoosier-state-line/24505977/

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This is like abandoning all roads 100 years ago because they were muddy and impossible to travel on. What in the world is going on Indiana?? INDOT today unilaterally killed the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State passenger train, citing a dispute with the Federal Railroad Administration over the inclusion of a third party, Iowa Pacific. This comes after the Indiana House OK'd $3 million per year for the train service for next two years....

 

http://www.in.gov/indot/3200.htm

 

We in Ohio of course wanted this train extended to Cincinnati as a daily, daytime train.

 

It sounds like Indiana DOT was looking for a reason to kill the train service before the legislature could act. All they had to do was approve a contract with Amtrak to preserve the service and have Amtrak deal with the third party to provide equipment.

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It is very ironic that INDOT took this action only days after the Indiana House took its action. Also note the move was announced on a Friday afternoon, hoping the anger will die down by the time Monday rolls around.

 

Congressional reps and Indiana state legislators are already asking why INDOT made this move now. Considering how anti-rail INDOT's commission is, I'm not surprised he made this move. He's been looking for a reason to kill this train rather than improve to make it comparable to the trains in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and even Wisconsin.

 

Tell Gov. Pence you want this train kept, sped up and expanded with daily service that's extended to SE Indiana, SW Ohio and Greater Cincinnati!

 

http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2228/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17333

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Meanwhile this project will replace a dangerous, angled road crossing on the south side of Hamilton with a new, grade-separated Grand Road overpass of the CSX mainline. Grand road will be extended west all the way west to University Boulevard to encourage traffic to use this grade-separation.....

 

Posted: 6:00 p.m. Monday, March 2, 2015

State OKs $10 million for fixes at ‘dangerous’ railroad crossing

By Vivienne Machi

Staff Writer

 

HAMILTON — A major Hamilton infrastructure project more than a century in the making just got a big step forward as $10 million in state funds was approved to support its construction in 2016.

 

Last week, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) approved to budget $10 million in state funds for the South Hamilton Crossing. The project that will replace at-grade railroad crossings with a bridge overpass by extending Grand Boulevard west to Pleasant Avenue and then to University Boulevard.

 

TRAC recommended allocating the funds this past December, but it’s a relief to know that the funding is definitely coming through, said David Spinney, director for the Butler County Transportation Improvement District.

“Without the aid of the ODOT funds, we really did not have the ability to go forward with the project,” he said.

 

The project’s current budget of $28.8 million will be funded in part by the city of Hamilton, which is contributing approximately half of the price tag, according to Public Works Director Richard Engle. The city has also received $2.45 million in funding from OKI Regional Council of Governments, and $500,000 from the Transportation Improvement District to pay for property and right-of-way acquisition, which is currently underway. Spinney said that the district may provide another $250,000 for construction costs, and Engle said that CSX, whose railroad tracks flow through the city, should contribute about 5 percent of the cost.

 

MORE:

http://www.journal-news.com/news/news/state-oks-10-million-for-fixes-at-dangerous-railro/nkMRJ/

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^Is there any recourse or is this thing just done?

 

It's never over. The INDOT commissioner is banking on no one caring. Speak up and tell him that buses won't get any faster and his expensive planes won't serve all the towns between the biggest cities. Killing a train because it's too slow, has bad departure times, doesn't run frequently enough and doesn't serve provide access to Indiana from SW Ohio's 3 million residents is solution-avoidance. Instead, develop a plan for making Indiana's trains as attractive as those in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin!

 

http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2228/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17333

 

 

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Tell Gov. Pence you want this train kept, sped up and expanded with daily service that's extended to SE Indiana, SW Ohio and Greater Cincinnati!

 

http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2228/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17333

 

 

Tried that...  but apparently being in the KY portion of Cincinnati's tri-state area is preventing me from doing so:

 

"This action is not available to people in your area."

 

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Tell Gov. Pence you want this train kept, sped up and expanded with daily service that's extended to SE Indiana, SW Ohio and Greater Cincinnati!

 

http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2228/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17333

 

 

Tried that...  but apparently being in the KY portion of Cincinnati's tri-state area is preventing me from doing so:

 

"This action is not available to people in your area."

 

It's not available for Ohio zip codes either.

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Nice, so Indiana is train-blocking us and we don't have any say...

 

I'm learning a lot more about this situation. Turns out it is worse than anyone can imagine -- it is a national issue and Indiana was the first place where a new federal rule became a deal-breaking for a state. Indeed, all states may elect to kill their train services because this requirement will prove to risky for them....

 

The FRA under acting administrator, Sarah Feinburg, has elected to implement a requirement that each state sponsoring a passenger train service be the 'railroad' for purposes of operation. That means taking on all sorts of legal burdens that only a railroad should accept. This change was done in clear violation of the FRA process and did not have a notice of proposed rule-making nor a comment period. Legally, this is in violation of their own process.

 

ACTION1: The only recourse is to request (via senators and representatives) for DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx to issue a suspension of implementation to the FRA until a proper rule making process is put into place.

 

ACTION2: It is appropriate to express appreciation of INDOT's Browning and Amtrak for their proper objection to this onerous request for an additional layer of bureaucracy at the state level.

 

BTW, for background on this situation, read this correspondence between INDOT and the FRA:

http://www.in.gov/indot/files/Amtrak_FRACorrespondence_2015.pdf

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BTW, Secretary Foxx's office is very active on Twitter. So a quick way to get his attention is to send tweets out with him cc'd. For example:

 

All Aboard Ohio @AllAboardOhio  ·  10m 10 minutes ago

URGENT: Hoosier train fault lies in DC as new FRA rule treats states as RRs, puts all trains at risk!

http://www.in.gov/indot/3200.htm @SecretaryFoxx 

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A press release........

 

March 6, 2015

Hoosier State Passenger Rail Service to End April 1

FRA to classify state rail sponsors as railroad carriers

 

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Transportation today announced that the Hoosier State passenger rail line, which operates four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago, will have its last day of service on Wednesday, April 1.

 

The announcement follows a Federal Railroad Administration decision requiring the state of Indiana to serve as a railroad, even though it owns no track or trains.

 

“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.”

 

Proposed long-term service

 

INDOT has been working for a year to improve the Hoosier State service, and had been making progress in negotiating long-term agreements with two experienced passenger rail providers.

 

“INDOT thanks our partners Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings as we worked together to preserve the Hoosier State service,” Browning said.

 

Under the proposed service, Amtrak would have served as the primary operator, working with host railroads, providing train and engine crews, and managing reservation and ticketing. This would have taken advantage of the priority access and pricing that Amtrak enjoys with the host railroads. Iowa Pacific would have provided the train equipment, train maintenance, on-board services and marketing.

 

The proposed service was modeled in part after Amtrak’s successful Piedmont service, which operates between Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. The North Carolina Department of Transportation owns the equipment for the Piedmont service. NCDOT contracts with Amtrak for operations and private contractors to improve and grow passenger rail.

 

NCDOT contested a similar FRA determination in 2008 when it attempted to place the same impediments on the Piedmont service. INDOT was unsuccessful in convincing the FRA to formally reconsider its decision. Copies of INDOT’s correspondence with FRA and letter of intent with Iowa Pacific are available at www.in.gov/indot/3200.htm.

 

States as railroads

 

Congress voted in 2008 to end federal funding for certain Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles. Six years later, the FRA is developing rules governing states that now support the cost of passenger rail services.

 

Under new rules that the FRA is testing with Indiana, all states that support passenger rail services would be considered railroad carriers. This burdensome interpretation exposes states to significant increases in cost, paperwork and liability, including:

 

+ Liability for the actions of passenger rail providers up to $200 million for each occurrence of injury, death or property damage,

+ Hiring new staff to monitor plans and programs in compliance with federal rules, and

+ Interpretation that state employees are rail employees, subject to retirement and employer liability rules and limits.

 

SOURCE:

http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?fromdate=3/1/2015&todate=3/31/2015&display=Month&type=public&eventidn=211703&view=EventDetails&information_id=211900

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Amtrak says “wait a sec” as Indiana plans to end Hoosier State service

 

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) says that the Hoosier State passenger rail line, which operates four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago, will have its last day of service on April 1. INDOT says the announcement follows a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) decision requiring the state of Indiana to serve as a railroad, even though it owns no track or trains.

 

INDOT has been working for a year to improve the Hoosier State service and had been making progress in negotiating long-term agreements with two experienced passenger rail providers.

 

"INDOT thanks our partners Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings as we worked together to preserve the Hoosier State service," said INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning.

 

"Daily Amtrak service to Indianapolis does not have to end in April. Amtrak has offered to continue to operate the train on a month-to-month basis," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman. "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 continued, "Experience has proven that losing the foundation that daily service to central Indiana now provides will make it much more difficult and expensive to create a true intercity passenger corridor in the future."

 

MORE:

http://www.rtands.com/index.php/passenger/intercity/amtrak-says-wait-a-sec%E2%80%9D-as-indiana-plans-to-end-hoosier-state-service.html?channel=Array

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Amtrak says “wait a sec” as Indiana plans to end Hoosier State service

 

I don't understand.  If the FRA says that Indiana has to act as a railroad and IN says "No, thanks," and the whole point was that Amtrak wouldn't/couldn't continue to maintain this route without state funding support, HOW can Amtrak now say that they can continue to operate on a month-to-month basis?

 

The article seems to be woefully incomplete. 

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Here's an opinion column that helps explain the bizarre situation....

 

Bangert: Insane expectations for Hoosier State

Dave Bangert, dbangert@jconline.com 6:08 p.m. EDT March 9, 2015

 

It never seems to be easy for the Hoosier State, a four-day-a-week passenger rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago, once again on the brink.

 

But the latest, potentially fatal twist — this one from the Federal Railroad Administration — is a particularly cruel one in a recent history of drawn-out torment devoted to salvaging the Amtrak line.

 

Insane, really.

 

MORE:

http://www.jconline.com/story/opinion/columnists/dave-bangert/2015/03/09/hoosier-state-insane-expectations/24668453/

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