INDIANAPOLIS — Amtrak is adding free Wi-Fi, modest food service and business-class seating to a passenger line that runs between Indianapolis and Chicago, while Indiana remains in talks with a private vendor that wants to operate the line, Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman announced Wednesday.
The new amenities for the Hoosier State line, which runs 196 miles between Indianapolis and Chicago four days a week, are among the improved services sought by the communities it serves, he said. But he said that the other requests from the communities, such as more than one daily departure from Indiana’s capital and a different route for the passenger line, would take “a capital investment for the future.”
“It takes time to make those things happen — things don’t happen in this business overnight. If the funding is there it has to be planned and used and we have to figure that out,” Boardman said during a news conference at Indianapolis’ Union Station.
Boardman said Wi-Fi service will be added to the line Wednesday night, although there could be areas along the route where service would not be available.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Andre Carson said he would do what he can to keep the Hoosier State line in service because he said it helps spur local economies along its route. “Hoosiers have a tremendous stake in keeping this service alive,” he said.
Congress passed legislation in 2008 that took effect last fall, ending funding for passenger rail routes less than 750 miles long, including the Hoosier State line. Amtrak’s long-distance Cardinal service that operates three days a week between Cincinnati and Chicago, via Indianapolis, was not affected by the loss of federal funding.
BY RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press