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Amtrak train route between Chicago, Indianapolis in jeopardy without funding

An Amtrak train

Sun-Times file photo

INDIANAPOLIS — Supporters of an Amtrak line that runs between Indianapolis and Chicago are lobbying for sustained public funding of the rail service, while also recognizing the route’s travel times and ridership levels need improvement.

The state has contributed $3 million annually to support Amtrak’s Hoosier State Service, a 196-mile (315-kilometer) route that runs between the cities four days a week. The Hoosier State also receives a combined $500,000 annually from five local communities along the route: Crawfordsville, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and Rensselaer.

The subsidy ends June 30 and Gov. Eric Holcomb did not include Hoosier State funding in his proposed budget for the two years beginning July 1, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

House lawmakers will introduce their own version of the budget in weeks to come.

Tod Bassler of Indianapolis, a board member of the not-for-profit Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance, said the route is an important part of Indiana’s transportation infrastructure, serving businesspeople to college students.

“Killing it is not a good idea for Indiana,” Bassler said. “We’ve already talked to our lawmakers. We’re promoting a letter to write to lawmakers to ask them to continue to support funding the train.”

The Hoosier State is one of Amtrak’s 29 state-supported routes around the country. The line’s ridership is the smallest of Amtrak’s state-supported routes, and its ridership has declined over the past five years.