Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

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Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:57 pm

Although I can find no official Amtrak statement on this other than what's quoted in the article by Amtrak's Midwest PR Guy Marc Magliari, it seems that the railroad is planning to cut the Hoosier State (quad-weekly Indy-Chicago) unless Indiana steps forward with funding to cover it, as most other Midwest states cover portions of their short-distance routes. The Cardinal, which runs the same route the other three days of the week extending east to Cincinnati, Charlottesville, DC and NYC, would be unaffected.

A few added insights/speculations:
I'm not sure what Amtrak currently runs for revenue equipment on this train, at one time it was just a single Horizon coach, but i think lately it has been two or three coaches. Last year, the Hoosier State carried 37,249 people. Maybe the railroad feels it would be a better use of their very limited revenue equipment to take the coaches off the Hoosier and place them on other runs where more capacity is needed, such as the Lincoln Service, Hiawathas, or (hopefully) the Wolverines. This passenger total does not include those passengers boarding or detraining at those same stations on the Cardinal. Actually, ridership on both the Hoosier and Cardinal was up in 2011 from the year before.

Amtrak has indicated in the past they would like to make the Cardinal route daily, but they lack both the funding and equipment to do so. More specifically, Viewliner sleepers were and are currently in very short supply, with all available cars in service on current routes with no room for service expansion. Perhaps the idea to cut the Hoosier is some kind of preliminary move to re-institute 7 days per week Cardinal service. The new CAF/Viewliner sleepers and other single level equipment should be arriving by late 2013, making this, at least somewhat possible. Unlikely....but it sure would be nice!

Here's an article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette about the possible train-off. Of the five stations in Indiana that the Hoosier State serves (the sixth being Chicago), Indianapolis and Lafayette are clearly the busiest.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Published: September 22, 2012 3:00 a.m.
Indiana Amtrak route in peril
Money spat may end Chicago-Indy train

Associated Press
LAFAYETTE – An Amtrak passenger line that runs between Chicago and Indianapolis could come to a halt next year unless Indiana and federal officials resolve a funding dispute.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari has confirmed that Amtrak plans to end the Chicago-to-Indianapolis Hoosier State route effective Oct. 1, 2013. That route has stops in Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer, with an optional stop in Crawfordsville.

Under the expected change, the separate Cardinal route that travels from New York to Chicago would continue to serve Lafayette three mornings and three nights a week on its route.

“It is very likely there could no longer be daily service in Lafayette,” Magliari told the Journal & Courier for a Friday story.

Nearly 27,000 people got on and off the Hoosier State and the Cardinal passenger trains in Lafayette last year. The two routes combined allow passengers to ride to Chicago in the morning and return the same night.

The mayors of Lafayette and West Lafayette said the trains are a convenience for passengers as well as an economic development tool.

“Access to transportation and to major metropolitan areas is a strong consideration for businesses considering locating here,” West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said.

Amtrak says states are responsible for fully funding routes shorter than 750 miles under a funding methodology established by Congress in 2008. But state officials in Indiana disagree.

“Our understanding is that the methodology was a discussion and was not a commitment (by Indiana) to subsidize the Hoosier State,” said Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield. “There was no money provided along with the federal mandate. It is still not entirely known what Amtrak is requesting of Indiana.”

In March, the federal Surface Transportation Board rendered a decision about the cost methodology and declared that “affected states, other than Indiana, have adopted the methodology.”

The board’s report said Amtrak informed the panel that Indiana did not say why it isn’t using the funding methodology. The report also said that last November, INDOT said the governor’s office “decided to not sign (Amtrak’s) request” to accept the proposed methodology.

“The state doesn’t pay anything until it has an invoice,” Wingfield said. “The amount is still not known.”

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said the service reductions would be “a step backward” at a time when Indiana needs to be working toward high-speed rail service to connect Indiana cities to other states.

“Many of our highways are at capacity, and we need to look at ways to expand transportation of goods and services,” he said.

Roswarski and state Reps. Randy Truitt and Sheila Klinker said they expect the community to take a unified message to state leaders.

“Time is of the essence,” Truitt said. “We need to communicate quickly with INDOT before it prioritizes its federal funds.”

Klinker said passenger rail supporters should call their congressmen.

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120922/LOCAL/309229923/1002/LOCAL
Last edited by GP30M4216 on Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Ypsi » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:04 pm

Amtrak seems to mostly use the Hoosier state to take cars and engines between beech grove and Chicago. From what I have seen on YouTube, the consist can get pretty interesting. From a super to each of the aniversary units taking there first ride into Chicago on it. I'll go check some videos on YouTube, but I think it is normally one coach and sometimes a cafe, and it often has deadhead coaches.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Saturnalia » Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:33 am

Seems like a pointless route to me.....why ride the train from Indy to Chicago when the interstate follows a b-line right for CHI?
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby CSX_CO » Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:55 am

MQT3001 wrote:Seems like a pointless route to me.....why ride the train from Indy to Chicago when the interstate follows a b-line right for CHI?


If we're going to use your logic MQT, lets axe the Pere Marquette and all the Michigan service trains, after all I-94 and then US 31/I96 follow those routes too. Those seem like pointless routes to me. Better axe the Haiwatha trains too, I-94 follows that between downtown Chicago and Milwaukee. Ditto for the St. Louis service stuff, I-55 parallels those too.

Hoosier State is popular because it serves Lafayette and also serves as a good connector to the rest of the network at Chicago. My last trip had several sets of people leaving Indy to get on other long distance trains for vacations. We picked up probably 30 to 40 people at Lafayette. Most of them college students from Purdue. They filled pretty much filled the other coaches by the time we made it to Chicago. The train is very heavily used on Fridays and Sundays with college students to/from Purdue at Lafayette. Inbound and outbound as family and friends come to visit also.

At $23 one way, I can't even begin to drive to Chicago from Indy for that price. My hotel charged $35 a DAY for parking too. So, for $92 I purchased two round trip tickets for the price of what it would have been to park for the 3 days I was in Chicago. Left Indy at 0600 sharp, and into Chicago by 0930 to 1000. We were ahead of schedule because of a painless trip up the UP. If they could get the speeds up, you'd have a good competitor to driving for people going from Indy to downtown Chicago. Plus, I absolutely HATE driving I-65 between Indianapolis and Lafayette and from about Crown Point into Chicago. Congestion, 'left lane loiters', and people going 90 miles an hour. No wonder there are so many wrecks on this stretch of highway.

Bonus to AMTRAK to use it as a daily shuttle to/from "The Grove" for repaired equipment. Part of the reason for the 'extended' consist is because of CN's moronic theory that AMTRAK doesn't shunt the crossings when its less than a couple of cars. The train isn't due to be cut until October 2013, so AMTRAK is getting the bell ringers out there to make sure the state of Indiana re-up's the train's subsidy.

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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:43 am

My one experience riding this line was in the summer of 2010 when I was actually on the westbound Cardinal. They add additional cars at Indy for "Hoosier State" passengers while the long-distance passengers get to stay in the Amfleets up front. Our train was 9 cars that day!

Baggage (C)
Viewliner (C)
Diner-Lite (C)
3 Amfleet II coaches (C)
3 Horizon coaches (HS)
Image

Of course, the whole train runs as the Cardinal, but the last cars came off the preceding evening's Hoosier State. They had two of the three Horizons full by the time we hit Chicago, in addition to our full long-distance cars. One of the great things about being in college in Kalamazoo was that there were multiple departures each way each day. It's too bad Indiana doesn't have the foresight to add an additional round-trip or two to this, not only to better serve Purdue students, but the Indianapolis-Chicago market as well.

MQT, haven't you noticed that most every Amtrak line follows an Interstate.....or rather the Interstate follows the railroad? Should we abandon the NEC because I-95 basically serves the same cities? Overland transportation routes tend to connect the same places, because those places were or are important and need to be connected. Upstate New York features the Erie Canal, I-90, and the Water Level Route all within a few miles of eachother from Albany to Buffalo, because all three serve the same cities.

This announcement was clearly made over a year in advance to attempt to get INDOT to figure out its funding to keep some form of Hoosier State service around, which is good. Hopefully they'll be able to do that.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:56 am

The Hoosier State serves as an equipment run as much as it does a passenger run. I wonder if Amtrak cuts it if they will still do a equipment run on non-Cardinal days?


GP30M4216 wrote:This announcement was clearly made over a year in advance to attempt to get INDOT to figure out its funding to keep some form of Hoosier State service around, which is good. Hopefully they'll be able to do that.

The way the Indiana legislature works the timing is just right. Indiana has a part time legislature. Bills need to be prepared in advance and worked on in the limited time that the legislature is in session. The legislature must adjourn for the year by April 29th (odd years) or March 14th (even years). Which means if nothing is done by April 29th, 2013, nothing will be able to be done until 2014.

Amtrak's request for money now gives legislatures a chance to consider the issues ... although as the article states, the legislature needs to know what Amtrak is asking for (exact $$$) in order to consider any funding.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Saturnalia » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:35 pm

CSX_CO wrote:
MQT3001 wrote:Seems like a pointless route to me.....why ride the train from Indy to Chicago when the interstate follows a b-line right for CHI?


If we're going to use your logic MQT, lets axe the Pere Marquette and all the Michigan service trains, after all I-94 and then US 31/I96 follow those routes too. Those seem like pointless routes to me. Better axe the Haiwatha trains too, I-94 follows that between downtown Chicago and Milwaukee. Ditto for the St. Louis service stuff, I-55 parallels those too.

Let me refine my point, which I admittedly spat out without much clarification/justification.

The Hoosier State makes little sense because driving take so much less time, and the route itself is fairly short.

Hoosier State:
Driving: 3:20
Train: 5
Here, Google tells me that it would take 3:20 to drive from the train station in Indianapolis to Union Station in CHI. On the train, its about 5 hours. That's 50% longer to take the train. 3 hours is not terrible for the average driver, where Detroit-Chicago's 4-5 hours is where the train starts to have significant advantages effort/time wise.
This 50% makes the train a far-worse option that driving.

So lets look at the Wolverine:
Driving: 4:40
Train: about 5
Here, the train takes only 7% longer. Plus you don't have to drive. This train makes at least some sort of sense.

Pere Marquette:
Driving: 3:00
Train: 4:00
Here, the train takes 25% longer....this makes little sense unless you hate Chicago traffic a troll roads. The train makes little sense. A note here is that I've never said I support the PM...it's not a huge money hog, and it does have a respectable ridership for the length: besides Bangor, each station on the PM boards more than 100 people...the train usually peaks over 500 people on the train (5 airline flights worth).

Lincoln Service
Driving: 5:10
Train: 5:40
Here, the train takes 10%% longer....this makes some sense considering many start looking for alternatives to driving after 4-5 hours. This route will also be 110mph over much of it's length soon.

So, once you compare driving to riding the train, you can see the Hoosier State makes little sense.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby CSX_CO » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:48 pm

MQT3001 wrote:So, once you compare driving to riding the train, you can see the Hoosier State makes little sense.


Perhaps to you. Have you ever attempted to drive through Chicago traffic anywhere in the city? Drive inside downtown through to "The Loop"? No, you haven't. One accident anywhere on the route and your transit time is going to go up really quick.

Once again you failed to read the message posted. Yes, it takes 50% longer, but most people don't take the train for *speed*. Again, there is an hour of padding added between CUS and Dyer Indiana both ways because of congestion on the UP. We arrived at 09:30 the day I took the train. 4:30 transit time.

In addition, the other passengers I heard on it were going shopping, catching other AMTRAK trains, or going site seeing, etc. They don't want the hassle of driving to Chicago. As I said, I can get a ROUND TRIP ticket for two people for the cost to park my vehicle in downtown Chicago for *2* out of the 3 days I'm there. That doesn't include gas, wear and tear, and stress of driving. I don't care that it tmight take 5 hrs to get there, it puts me where I want to be, when I want to be, without the hassle of driving. I can't check into my hotel early anyway, so getting there at 10 central is A.O.K. with me. I don't want to have to drive in "the loop" to my hotel. I can catch a bus, or just walk where I need to be from CUS. Pace has 3 day bus passes for $14. I use it once over a cab, and its paid for itself. As a Tax Payer in Indiana, I would rather see my tax dollars going to support the Hoosier State, then add another lane to I-465 or I-80/94, etc.

Its called 'Utility' and 'opportunity cost' which I'm sure you've heard of. To me, the additional hour of travel time is worth it for the less expense and hassle of driving. Transit time used to be less probably closer to 3.5 to 4 hrs, but CSX didn't see the need to maintain the Monon to 80mph passenger train standards. I think the Cardinal used to leave around 8:00 pm and into Indy around Midnight. AFAIK AMTRAK goes 60, and freights 40 now for the length of the Monon. Works just fine for the freight on the line, plus CSX doesn't have to maintain the line to higher Class standards just for AMTRAK.

Anyway, I show that the train from Detroit to Chicago takes 5:34 minutes according to AMTRAK.com (AMTRAK 355 tonight). That's more than just a 7% increase over driving that you state. Almost an hour difference, so closer to 20%. That is if the thing runs on time, and correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the Michigan Service trains have terrible on time performance? Maybe when speeds on the NS go up with an AMTRAK take over things will improve.

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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Y@ » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:10 pm

Russ, there's no point in trying to explain it to him... It never works.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby MagnumForce » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:00 pm

Your time argument makes sense for Ohio's 3 C corridor, no sense at all for a train into Chicago.3 hours into the city is pretty optimistic, then once there what do you do with your car?


Driving to Michigan city and riding the South Shore in on the other hand...
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Saturnalia » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:15 pm

From what I can see this is a philosophical difference. I don't think the gov't should use the money from a few million to support a few thousand's ride to Chicago. If you want to not deal with the traffic and take the Hoosier, then pay the full price...not the subsidized price. You may think otherwise, but that's the way I feel.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby MagnumForce » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:33 pm

You are 12, you don't even know a 10th of what you think you do, quit drinking the Kool Aid kid.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Y@ » Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:16 pm

MagnumForce wrote:You are 12, you don't even know a 10th of what you think you do, quit drinking the Kool Aid kid.


Word!
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:09 pm

I'm not 12 and I actually live in Indiana and pay Indiana (and federal) taxes. I understand the argument of those who an Indiana subsidy would actually affect ... both those who want their train ride subsidized and those who would rather have their tax dollars spent on other things.

Looking at the big picture I see a lot of MY MONEY that I pay in taxes going for things I don't want to pay for. Occasionally I see something paid for that I support. Knowing that there are millions of other taxpayers out there with different opinions means sometimes I pay for their projects that I don't like and sometimes they pay for my projects that they don't like.

If the people of Indiana as represented through their legislators decide that they do not want to support the Hoosier State train perhaps it will go away. Michigan has a better track record for supporting their trains including recently agreeing to pay for a portion of the purchase of the line between Kalamazoo and Detroit which will raise speeds and improve service. Then again, if Michigan ever decides not to pay for their trains the trains will be gone ... Indiana will still have the trains running through from the east coast.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby CSX_CO » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:01 pm

MQT3001 wrote:From what I can see this is a philosophical difference. I don't think the gov't should use the money from a few million to support a few thousand...


Then where should we draw the line? I don't have kids, so why should I be forced to subsidize YOUR education up thru High School? Perhaps your parents should be required to pay the full price of your education? Ask them how they'd feel about that.

The reason being that schools can be economic drivers for an area. Just like transportation OPTIONS can lure in business and people to an area.

This is why we can't have pure socialism nor pure capitalism in this country. Pure systems don't work, you need a healthy hybrid of them. I for one am all for some money going towards AMTRAK as a transportation option. As I said before, as a TAX PAYER of Indiana, I would like to see the train subsidized for when I (an my fellow Hoosiers) want to take the train. I don't want to HAVE to drive, and flying would be pointless. I just ask AMTRAK (and any Government agency) to be responsible with *my* money, and I'm not under the delusion that they'll make money doing it.

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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby CharlieX90 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:29 pm

Here is the real question....Who cares?
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Jochs » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:49 pm

It's taken me over four hours to go from Kalamazoo to Benton Harbor because of accidents on I-94.
Traffic in big cities can be heavy during rush hour, and I would much rather go to Chicago by train than by car.
Plus, once you get to Chicago, you usually have to find somewhere to park, which can cost $$$$.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Wrong Main » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:09 am

Just how do you think the Interstate Highway System was built? Maybe somebody just planted some concrete, watered it, and watched it grow. Try the magic word, Subsidy.. (Gee, did I spell that right?) When you get your driver's license and start paying for your own gasoline, look at the taxes you pay on a gallon of gasoline. Guess where most of that goes, to support our highway system. Not all of it, but a good hunk. Arguing about who pays for this stuff is an endless exersize. There are people who cannot drive to Chicago for any number of reasons. For alot of them, the train is the only option they have. There used to be a time in this country when the phrase "for the greater good" meant something. We pay taxes for schools even if we don't have kids because it's for the greater good. We pay a tax on our phone bill so that people everywhere can have 911 access. And on and on it goes. There are many times when this gets abused and that's probably what drives most people nuts, where do you draw the line? Amtrak serves a roll in our transportation plan and it's unable to support itself, just like the Interstate can't support itself, or airports can't support themselves. If we didn't have subsidies for all of these transportation modes, most of us would have to stay home...
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby Tom » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:02 am

CSX_CO wrote:
MQT3001 wrote: I don't want to HAVE to drive, and flying would be pointless... Practice Safe CSX


Flying Sucks. And costs a whole lot more to "subsidize".

As long as fuel is relatively affordable we'll keep driving... the market keeps testing us with higher and higher fuel prices. Yesterday people scrambled to line up for $3.90 gas. We haven't learned yet... but we will.
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Re: Amtrak cutting the Hoosier State?

Unread postby GreatLakesRailfan » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:11 pm

justalurker66 wrote:Looking at the big picture I see a lot of MY MONEY that I pay in taxes going for things I don't want to pay for. Occasionally I see something paid for that I support. Knowing that there are millions of other taxpayers out there with different opinions means sometimes I pay for their projects that I don't like and sometimes they pay for my projects that they don't like.


WORD.
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