LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Hoosier State passenger rail line, which runs between Indianapolis to Chicago and stops in Lafayette, will continue for another year. But the renewal will cost the Greater Lafayette area.
Governor Mike Pence announced Tuesday that an agreement has been reached with the state and Amtrak to keep the Hoosier State Line. The line will continue with financial help from local cities on the route. Area leaders said keeping and improving the line will be worth it.
The line was at risk to shut down Wednesday, thanks to a 2008 Congressional vote to cut federal support for Amtrak routes less than 750 miles.
"This had to be preserved and then it had to be improved. Right now, it's not pretty, but in the long run -- this will be one of the most popular trains in America," said Arvid Olson, who headed efforts to keep the line alive.
As part of the agreement, Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Rensselaer, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, and Beech Grove will make monthly payments to keep the line running. The agreement renews services for one year with an option for four additional months. Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis both did not say how costly of a monthly payment it will be.
Mayor Roswarski said the agreement comes at the right time because the city council will be voting on the budget in the weeks to come.
"I'm very confident that the number we're at fits very well within our EDIT budget that we would use to look at economic development opportunities," said Roswarski.
An Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman told News 18 the financial details of the agreement have not been finalized, but the cost needed to give Amtrak is $223,000 a month. Communities will be paying more than half of that, either in monetary contributions or in services. Roswarski said the agreement is the first step. The next step is working to improve the line.
"The service has to improve. There are things that we want to happen with frequency of trains, on-time service, amenities that are available. You know, all those things have to be worked out," said Roswarski.
Roswarski said if improvements are not made this will not be an arrangement he's willing to commit to in the future.
Roswarski and Olson are heading to Indianapolis Wednesday to talk with a state committee about the future of the Hoosier State Line.
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