NewsPublic Affairs / April 17, 2019

Last Minute Push To Fund Amtrak Service Between Indy, Chicago

Last Minute Push To Fund Amtrak Service Between Indy, ChicagoSome lawmakers say the passenger line is part of Indiana's economic future. 2019 legislative session, Amtrak, state budget2019-04-17T00:00:00-04:00
Last Minute Push To Fund Amtrak Service Between Indy, Chicago

There are less than two weeks left of the 2019 legislative session, and lawmakers continue to adjust the budget after the most recent forecast showed less available funds than predicted.

Carter Barrett/WFYI

The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance urged lawmakers at the Statehouse Wednesday to continue funding a four day-a-week passenger train from Indianapolis to Chicago.

The Hoosier State Amtrak line has received $3 million in state funding each year. This funding was removed from this year’s state budget.

“Well, obviously we become more and more concerned as each day goes by when the funding is not in the budget,” Doug Yerkeson, secretary for the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance says. “We need to make sure this is an important issue that’s brought to the attention of the leadership including the Governor’s office.”

Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) tried to amend the funding back into the budget, but was not successful. He says the railroad is the future, not the past.

“It's more energy efficient, cleaner, and it's safer,” Alting says. “How many more reasons can you get?”

The line has seen a decrease in ridership over the last several years, but supporters say they aren’t given the funding to make improvements or market the service.

“The $3 million just maintains the current service and long-term that is not a solution,” Yekerson says.

The Amtrak line will stop its service on June 30 if it does not receive the state funding. The train makes stops in West Lafayette, Crawfordsville and Rensselaer and Dyer.

A budget forecast released Wednesday projected $100 million less than originally predicted. Supporters of the Amtrak line say they’re still hopeful.

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