Indiana to end Indianapolis-to-Chicago Amtrak line in April

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The Hoosier State passenger rail line, which runs four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago, will discontinue operations after April 1, the Indiana Department of Transportation announced Friday.

INDOT said the move follows new Federal Railroad Administration rules that would have deemed Indiana a rail carrier despite not owning any tracks or trains. That would expose the state "to significant increases in cost, paperwork and liability," INDOT said.

“Passenger rail providers and the host railroads are already required to comply with FRA rules,” INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning said in a written statement. “Requiring a redundant layer of bureaucracy would not create improvements in passenger rail service or safety, it would only increase taxpayer costs.”

Indiana had been negotiating with Amtrak and a private suitor that wanted to take over the line's operations. The Hoosier State was one of 28 Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles affected by Congress' 2008 move to shift most of the costs of those lines to states.

The Hoosier Line was already facing an April 1 deadline after it was given a 60-day contract extension in late January that was designed to provide time for the state to complete negotiations to keep the line running long-term.

Amtrak announced in November that the heavily subsidized, little-used line saw a 10-percent decline in revenue and a nearly 8-percent drop in ridership in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. .

The only other line Amtrak line that runs from Indianapolis to Chicago is the long-distance Cardinal service, which operates three days a week between Cincinnati and Chicago, via Indianapolis. The Cardinal line was not affected by the loss of federal funding because it is longer than 750 miles.

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