INDIANAPOLIS. Ind. (WLFI) - In less than three weeks, Amtrak's Hoosier State Line will stop operating. That is unless Indiana spends millions of dollars to keep it from getting derailed.
Dozens of supporters of the Hoosier State Line gathered Thursday afternoon at the Indiana Statehouse. Members of the United Transportation Union were on hand at the rally, even though they said they don't represent Indiana Amtrak employees.
"Support our fellow railroaders and make sure, try our best to keep jobs," said Kyle Brooking.
The Midwest High Speed Rail Association hosted the rally to raise awareness about the rail line, which runs from Indianapolis to Chicago with stops in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, and Rensselaer. As News 18 has already reported, if nearly $3 million in funding isn't found by next month, Amtrak will stop the line, unless the Indiana Department of Transportation agrees to take it over.
"The rally was really to show the collaborative support we've had thus far in the campaign and letting Governor Pence know as well as INDOT that we have people all over from Indiana wanting to support this rail service," said Christian Ficara, Organizational Director for the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, a non-profit train advocacy group.
Amtrak's 180-day notice to INDOT stated the service would stop on Oct. 16. An INDOT spokesman told News 18 Thursday night, INDOT and Amtrak are moving forward with negotiations. Ficara said this is positive news.
"We're really encouraged right now that Amtrak and INDOT are in serious negotiations and the opening of that dialogue was a great sign for everybody involved right now," said Ficara.
An INDOT cost-benefit analysis released Thursday recommends running the line on an interim basis to ensure that ridership and performance expectations are being achieved. And if demand increases, improving service speed and infrastructure.
"Not only sustaining a rail service like this is essential, but improving it, making it better and leading towards faster and more efficient trains will really have the support of the people of Indianapolis, but all the people of Indiana," said Ficara.
A hearing to present the cost-benefit study to a state committee was postponed Thursday because of Officer Bradway's funeral. Ficara said that's been rescheduled for Oct. 14 -- just two days before Amtrak could be stopping the service.
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