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Legislative Panel Says Amtrak Needs Plan To Improve Service

Legislators want to see improvements in service before a long-term agreement is reached.

Members of a legislative panel say Indiana should not move forward with long-term funding of the Hoosier State passenger rail line until Amtrak provides a plan to improve service.

State and local officials agreed to a one-year funding deal with Amtrak Tuesday that will continue operations of the Hoosier State line, which runs from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, chairs the transportation study committee. He says the one-year deal buys time for the legislature to consider long-term funding solutions.

But Soliday says he doesn’t think the state should continue to help subsidize the rail service if Amtrak doesn’t provide an improvement plan.

“It’s okay to do the subsidy now if there’s hope for growth and making it more desirable for people to use,” he says. “But right now, it’s on-time service, it’s hour of service, it’s ridership. There’s got to be something that says, ‘We’re going to do it better.'”

The Hoosier State line carried a little more than 36,000 riders last year. Both state officials and Amtrak say the one-year deal will allow time for both sides to explore ways to improve service and boost ridership.

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