State Representative Sally Siegrist (R-West Lafayette) has been named to the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission – a group advocating for train travel in the nation’s midsection.
It’s a position also held by Siegrist’s legislative predecessor, Rep. Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette). And, like Truitt, she says she’d like to see more trains between Indianapolis and Chicago on a daily basis – but she admits there are challenges.
“It would entail increased ridership, it would entail perhaps another train operator being willing to take the chance that Iowa Pacific did,” she says.
The state had forged a public-private partnership with Amtrak and Iowa Pacific to run the Hoosier State Line train four days a week, but Iowa Pacific backed out of the deal early this year, citing declining profits.
Iowa Pacific CEO Ed Ellis argues the contracts the three entities signed allowed Amtrak to reap most of the financial benefit from Iowa Pacific improving both the train’s revenue and online performance.
Siegrist says she cannot say how much the Indiana General Assembly will invest in rail travel – especially after Republican leaders had to wrangle their own supermajorities this session to agree on road funding tax hikes designed to raise more than a billion dollars a year for the next 20 years.
The Tippecanoe County Republican may have been on the Passenger Rail Commission’s radar for a rail travel breakthrough she made in her first session in the House: she helped author a bill which will allow Northern Indiana’s South Shore Line to install enough new rail to have two tracks along its entire route between South Bend and downtown Chicago.