Hoosier State Discussion (both Amtrak and Iowa Pacific)

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Hoosier State Discussion (both Amtrak and Iowa Pacific)

Postby Station Aficionado » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:25 pm

The Hoosier State may not survive beyond October 2013:http://www.jconline.com/article/20120920/NEWS02/309200038/amtrak-lafayette-chicago:
Lafayette may lose daily passenger railroad service next year.
Amtrak confirms plans to end the Hoosier State route, effective Oct. 1, 2013.
“It is very likely there could no longer be daily service in Lafayette,” said Marc Magliari with the Amtrak media relations office in Chicago.
*******************
Funding for the Hoosier State is the heart of the dispute between Amtrak, state administrators and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Amtrak maintains that states are responsible for fully funding routes shorter than 750 miles and that the funding methodology was established by Congress in 2008.
Indiana leaders disagree.
“Our understanding is that the methodology was a discussion and was not a commitment to subsidize the Hoosier State,” said Will Wingfield, INDOT spokesman.
“There was no money provided along with the federal mandate. It is still not entirely known what Amtrak is requesting of Indiana.”
******************

Well, this is not entirely unexpected. Indiana has never been very supportive of CHI-IND service. And the train, as has been discussed on this board previously, is frankly a dog. A couple of coaches provide accomodation service on a hospital train. The ridership is pretty anemic ridership and the route, to be polite, is less than ideal. It doesn’t help that the HS is yoked to the pitiful Cardinal. That means three days a week the train is likely to be very late at Lafayette and Indianapolis. And the times aren’t that hospitable for the CHI-IND market.

So, what’s going to happen? Unclear to me. Maybe this is just posturing. Amtrak will still need to ferry cars to Beech Grove, but that could probably be done on the Cardinal. Or maybe Amtrak will move the shops to Illinios or Michigan. Maybe a new governor (Daniels is retiring) will have a more pro-rail viewpoint (but I wouldn’t count on that). Or maybe Amtrak will replace the HS with a daily Cardinal. Don’t hold your breath on that one. And I don’t see why a daily Cardinal would be any more on time than a tri-weekly one. And maybe there will be a couple of more coaches available for service elsewhere beginning next October.

I think it was Tadman who suggested a while back that Amtrak try to turn CHI-IND into a real corridor, running at least 2x/day. That would require cutting the link with the Cardinal, and running at times geared to local travel. I think that’s well worth a shot, but if Indiana doesn’t want to play, the game won’t ever start.
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Thu May 04, 2017 9:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Retitled merged threads
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby amtrakowitz » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:18 pm

Meanwhile, there are about six trips each way daily on Greyhound between Chicago and Indianapolis, and seven in each direction on competing Megabus. More politicking indeed.

As for less-than-ideal routes, what route can be chosen that's better? All rail routes towards Chicago from Indy pass through Lafayette, and there's no railroad anymore north of Monon to La Crosse; the railroad that used to exist there has been turned into a rail trail north of Medaryville.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby Station Aficionado » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:35 pm

Indeed, there is no good rail route between Chicago and Indianapolis: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=65416. Unless the feds or Indiana were to cough massive funding to rebuild a ripped out right of way, it's hard to see a train ever competing time-wise with bus or car on the route. That said, there might still might be a market for local service. As poor as the ridership numbers currently are at Lafayette and Indianapolis with the current poor service, they still compare favorably with, say, the numbers at Omaha for the CZ (granted that is, to use Mr. Norman's term, an "0-dark-thirty" arrival). It's worth seeing, IMO, whether there really is any sort of market still there for local rail service. The other three stops--Dyer, Rennsalaer and Crawfordsville do not produce significant ridership (although three consecutive box-on-platforms stations may be unique in the Amtrak system).
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby ryanch » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:44 pm

amtrakowitz wrote:Meanwhile, there are about six trips each way daily on Greyhound between Chicago and Indianapolis, and seven in each direction on competing Megabus. More politicking indeed.

As for less-than-ideal routes, what route can be chosen that's better? All rail routes towards Chicago from Indy pass through Lafayette, and there's no railroad anymore north of Monon to La Crosse; the railroad that used to exist there has been turned into a rail trail north of Medaryville.

While various portions of the Monon are now bike trail, and the rails have been torn up north of Medaryville, my personal experience of the area and also this wiki page suggest that your characterization isn't correct.

I believe there was a failed vacation home development that used part of the right away not too far north of Medaryville, just north of the Kankakee.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby Tadman » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:03 am

At this point, CHI-IND service other than the status quo is one step from a lost cause. It's a darn shame, but it is what it is. It's my conjecture that, to see anything more than status quo, we'll be ten years from today. State corridors to STL, DET, MKE, etc... will have to be a proven success not only in terms of ridership, but in terms of traffic and pollution reduction and the biggie, economic development along the route before Indiana spends money on multiple frequencies or newbuild.

It would take success such as the economic effect of the L or Metra as translated to state corridor routes. Rents are higher within 1/2 mile of L stations, restaurants are far more common, and housing prices are significantly higher within a mile walk of Metra stations in the burbs. Offices like to locate around stations, too, so they can attract good employees with multiple daily transport options. If you could show this happening with the corridors, I think you'd be able to make a lot easier case for state-supported corridor service in Indiana

. To give you an example of how conservative Indiana is with rail funding, rumor has it that when Amtrak ceased the ex-PRR dummy train to Valpo, NICTD said they'd pick it up in return for $1.5m/yr (1990 dollars) from the state. The state turned them down for such token funding because they saw little economic impact.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby David Benton » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:54 pm

Is it not possible to head form Layafette , across to Kanakee ? Looks to be railroads from google maps , are they slow shortlines ?
Maybe its time to move beech grove operations to a state that supports passenger trains .
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby ThirdRail7 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:23 pm

How often do they use the Hoosier for shuttling equipment? It would seem they could run an equipment move as needed.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby Station Aficionado » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:57 pm

David Benton wrote:Is it not possible to head form Layafette , across to Kanakee ? Looks to be railroads from google maps , are they slow shortlines ?
Maybe its time to move beech grove operations to a state that supports passenger trains .

Yes, the ex-NYC from Kankakee to Lafayette is a slow speed shortline (Kankakee Beaverville & Southern). And the NYC depot (the current Amtrak stop) was moved some years back on to what is now the joint CSX/NS line east of the river (all the result of a track relocation project), and is no longer accessible from the old NYC line.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby amtrakowitz » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:21 pm

ryanch wrote:
amtrakowitz wrote:Meanwhile, there are about six trips each way daily on Greyhound between Chicago and Indianapolis, and seven in each direction on competing Megabus. More politicking indeed.

As for less-than-ideal routes, what route can be chosen that's better? All rail routes towards Chicago from Indy pass through Lafayette, and there's no railroad anymore north of Monon to La Crosse; the railroad that used to exist there has been turned into a rail trail north of Medaryville.

While various portions of the Monon are now bike trail, and the rails have been torn up north of Medaryville, my personal experience of the area and also this wiki page suggest that your characterization isn't correct.

I believe there was a failed vacation home development that used part of the right away not too far north of Medaryville, just north of the Kankakee.

That doesn't explain how I am not "correct". It also does not answer the question as to routes that may be better than the present-day one, presuming an upgrade.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby MikeEspee » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:19 pm

850/851 will typically have one or two cars or extra units in the consist to go into or out of the shop at Beech Grove once per week, at very least. There were weeks where I'd have multiple P40's/42's/Dash 8's and many extra rebuilt coaches all week - sometimes up to 10 extra cars separate of the "idler" and revenue coaches... and some weeks there wouldn't be anything in or out. Bringing rebuilt stuff up to the station in Indy and adding them to 51 during it's long layover in the am... I guess might work. But the days it's (traditionally) significantly late - like every day it runs - thats an extra hour at least doubling or tripling up. Salt on an open wound... same digging out the cars and/or locomotives for the Grove out of train 50.

Kill the Hoosier and run an extra hospital train into and out of Chicago as needed? Maybe... but good luck coordinating with the CSX, CN, UP, BRC, METRA and the NS to get it into or out of the city - and be damned on the days where you might have to run 50 or 51 and an extra for an unexplainable reason. It's hard enough to get into Chicago with a schedule even if you're on time. An extra Amtrak train on the Monon or Indy Terminal is two steps below a CSX yard job and one step below dirt.

The latest idea I heard was cutting regular jobs and one or two off the extra boards in Indy and rewriting the crew turns for the Chicago jobs... guess that remains to be seen. I feel for my friends out there...
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby Station Aficionado » Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:19 pm

Based on Mr. Espee's comments, it seems Amtrak is in a catch-22. Given the problems in using the Cardinal or special trains to ferry cars to/from Beech Grove, Amtrak really needs the HS. But as of next year, Amtrak can't legally pay for it and, apparently, Indiana won't. So, what to do? This may require a legislative fix.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby lirr42 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:14 pm

Station Aficionado wrote:...But as of next year, Amtrak can't legally pay for it and, apparently, Indiana won't...

Why can't Amtrak legally pay for it? Isn't it considered a long-distance train?
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby hi55us » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:55 pm

lirr42 wrote:
Station Aficionado wrote:...But as of next year, Amtrak can't legally pay for it and, apparently, Indiana won't...

Why can't Amtrak legally pay for it? Isn't it considered a long-distance train?


It's not long enough to be considered a long distance train.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby electricron » Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:02 pm

lirr42 wrote:
Station Aficionado wrote:...But as of next year, Amtrak can't legally pay for it and, apparently, Indiana won't...

Why can't Amtrak legally pay for it? Isn't it considered a long-distance train?

Because as Federal law stands now,
http://www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/PRIIA%20Overview%20031009.pdf,
long distance trains need to travel over 750 miles.
All trains that travel less than 750 miles, except a few on the NEC, require State subsidies.

Of course some existing trains like the Hoosier were given some time for the various States to debate and fund their subsidies. That allotted time is coming to an end soon.

Additionally, the law can be changed in the future. So far it hasn't.
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Re: Hoosier State on the Chopping Block?

Postby ryanch » Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:27 pm

amtrakowitz wrote:
ryanch wrote:
amtrakowitz wrote:Meanwhile, there are about six trips each way daily on Greyhound between Chicago and Indianapolis, and seven in each direction on competing Megabus. More politicking indeed.

As for less-than-ideal routes, what route can be chosen that's better? All rail routes towards Chicago from Indy pass through Lafayette, and there's no railroad anymore north of Monon to La Crosse; the railroad that used to exist there has been turned into a rail trail north of Medaryville.

While various portions of the Monon are now bike trail, and the rails have been torn up north of Medaryville, my personal experience of the area and also this wiki page suggest that your characterization isn't correct.

I believe there was a failed vacation home development that used part of the right away not too far north of Medaryville, just north of the Kankakee.

That doesn't explain how I am not "correct". It also does not answer the question as to routes that may be better than the present-day one, presuming an upgrade.


Well ... let's see. You said the route has been turned into a rail trail north of Medaryville. I said that the rails have been pulled north of Medaryville, and that other parts of the Monon are bike trail, and that north of Medaryville, there was a failed vacation home development that used the right of way. Could it be that you're wrong about the rail trail north of Medaryville!!!

Bingo! That's it. The line hasn't been turned into a rail trail north of Medaryville! That's how you're incorrect.
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