Author Topic: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?  (Read 17367 times)

huelsy

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #220 on: May 01, 2019, 06:16:18 PM »

However, in the version I heard, Byrd wanted the WV requirement somehow made a permanent condition of future Amtrak funding.  How this was accomplished (if in fact it was) I don't recall.  But if that's true, it would be a complex process to remove it.  We'll see what happens...…….
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Someone correct me if I am wrong but I remember hearing once upon a time that the WV requirement required daylight service for the state. Has anyone else ever heard that?

Kim_Heusel

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #221 on: May 01, 2019, 10:48:01 PM »
And on a similar note, there was the Hilltopper, which if I remember right came later and lasted until 1981.

First came the Mountaineer, which was combined with the James Whitcomb Riley between Ashland and Chicago. East of Ashland it got on N&W rails at Catlettsburg, KY and ran to Norfolk, VA. It began service in 1975 and ended in 1977. It was partially replaced by the Hilltopper, which ran a crazy route from Boston to Catlettsburg. It was discontinued October 1, 1979.

Kim Heusel

IU_Tower

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #222 on: May 01, 2019, 10:51:06 PM »
However, in the version I heard, Byrd wanted the WV requirement somehow made a permanent condition of future Amtrak funding.  How this was accomplished (if in fact it was) I don't recall.  But if that's true, it would be a complex process to remove it.  We'll see what happens...…….


Someone correct me if I am wrong but I remember hearing once upon a time that the WV requirement required daylight service for the state. Has anyone else ever heard that?

Yes, that was true. Byrd was the ranking senator on the Transportation Committee and mandated that trains traverse West Virginia in the daylight hours so riders could see the beauty of his home state. Either that, or Amtrak funding back in the day would be "hard to find".

Lake Country

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #223 on: May 03, 2019, 10:38:56 AM »
I suspect that Indiana gop may have unwittingly put the future of Beach Grove in jeopardy. Not only because of the refusal to support the HS, but the general animosity towards intercity passenger rail as evidenced by the lack of proactive participation in planning and expansion of regional service. So not only just supporting the HS 'as is' but the lack of planning for the improvement of and expansion of pax services leaves Indy on the outside of the Midwest states decision making.
Consider this: The Siemens Chargers are in service and the passenger cars are in production and due to to begin delivery in 2020. These train-sets are owned by the states (not Amtrak), specifically the Midwest coalition, and Indiana is not a member of this coalition. And when the new trainsets are in operation, far fewer Amtrak owned Horizons and Amfleet cars will be in service in the Midwest. The new trainsets (owned by MI,MO, IL) will require maintenance, ideally at a base that is on an active route.  Will Michigan, Missouri and Illinois be content with maintenance services and jobs being performed in Indiana. Each of those states would be capable of supplying a workforce skilled in heavy machine/eqpt repair. The new equipment is not Amtrak eqpt. An updated modern facility tooled to work on the Siemens/Sumitomo train sets may be more efficient and certainly would be a development prize. Why would the Midwest coalition states continue current maintenance arraignments when they are writing the contracts for and paying for service and they own the equipment?  Why would they send plum jobs and revenue to another state that is not an active participant in the Midwest rail planing?  What would we expect a reasonable leader for one of the coalition states to do?

Bob Durnell

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #224 on: May 03, 2019, 11:33:12 PM »
You can blame the state government all you want for not being proactive in intercity and regional passenger service, but the fact is that the state of Indiana AND the rail routes in it are NOT conducive to passenger service with the exception of the Water Level Route, which will likely have service as long as Amtrak exists, regardless of what the state does.  The population centers are too small, too far between, and there is not enough people for whom passenger train transportation works for that are going to any one place at one  particular time to make passenger service practical.  Do you realize that Indianapolis is not even directly connected by rail to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th largest cites in the state, and only reaches #6 by way of a circuitous regional and #9 by a second tier class one line?  Fort Wayne is only directly connected to #7, 9, and 10.  Evansville is connected to none of the other top 9, and The greater Louisville region is only directly connected to what, two?  How do you make a coherent regional system out of that?  As I said in a previous post, either Beech Grove works for Amtrak because of the value of the facility and the skill of the workers, or it does not, and trying to "bribe" Amtrak by subsidizing hopeless loser routes is kind of pointless.  From a purely logistical standpoint, Beech Grove has NEVER made sense for Amtrak, from the day they bought the place, yet it has survived the better part of 50 years.  You MAY be right though, that BECAUSE of the newer equipment Amtrak is buying may not be a good mesh with Beech Grove,  it MIGHT be a dead duck, regardless WHAT the state of Indiana does or doesn't do.

crblue

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #225 on: May 04, 2019, 08:09:15 AM »
Dang. A voice of reason.

The State of Indiana has numerous budget problems. There are on-going calls for more K-12 school funding, more money for the Department of Child Services, more money for roads, more money for rural Internet, on and on and on. The line has to be drawn somewhere. Governor Holcomb drew that line above the funding for a passenger train that only served about 27,000 riders in 2018 and that was down 5.5% from 2017. Indiana has a population of about 6.6 million. Does using state taxpayer money to fund a train benefiting less than half a percent of the population make good fiscal sense?


crblue

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #227 on: May 05, 2019, 08:28:05 AM »
The governor and the legislature appear to place a higher priority on trail development than passenger rail (except for the $200 million the state is kicking into the South Shore).

Trails and bike ways are the "in" thing these days. The City of Indianapolis has usurped usable driving lanes on major streets in order to provide designated bike lanes that are used by a mere fraction of the daily users of those streets. Cities and towns in suburban communities are spending millions to develop walking/hiking trails (Fishers converting the Nickel Plate to a trail being a case in point). For every 25 cars on adjacent streets, you might see one person using a trail.

It's like there's a giant checklist in the sky and cities and towns are trying to get as many "quality of life" features checked off on that list as possible. Building trails allows them to check off just one more box. Either that, or it's a vast environmentalist conspiracy to get us to stop using our private automobiles. As just one taxpayer, I cannot justify these expenditures, but I'm only one vote.

scraphauler

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #228 on: May 05, 2019, 11:56:01 AM »
You've wandered off into the weeds bringing trail funding into question, as this is an apples to oranges comparison.  The State of Indiana's funding of any trail project has absolutely nothing to do with their funding (or lack of) passenger rail.

Trail Funding comes from the FEDERAL Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program (RPT) Grant Program.  The RTP funding represents a portion of the revenue received by the Federal Highway Trust Fund from the federal motor fuel excise tax paid by users of off-road recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles, off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and off-road trucks. These monies are made available from the state's  share of funds from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) as a set-aside of the new Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) (23 U.S.C. 213)  Simply stated, you want all your other FHA money, you gotta take this.  AND you have to spend it on this:

Construction of multi-use trails
Acquisition of easement or property for trails
Development of trailheads and other support facilities (parking, water fountains, benches, signage, etc.)
Operation of educational programs to promote safety and environmental protection related to trails (limited to 5% of State's funds)
Providing stream and river access sites
Construction of bridges, boardwalks and crossings

Funds are distributed to the States under a FEDERAL legislative formula. Half the fund are split equally among the states, and the other half in proportion to the estimated amount of nonhighway fuel use in each state. 

There are a lot of keyboard warriors out there who like to play budget hawk and b**ch and moan about how tax money is spent, especially when it's not spent on THEIR special interest.  Complaining the state funds trails but not the Amtrak is a non starter.  The State is FEDERALLY required to spend RTP money on trails.  You can complain at the State level that this trail got money and that one didn't, but RTP is a Federal battle.  And I've noticed that some of the loudest keyboard warriors are some of the very first the scream "throw the bums out" when the Federal Gravy Train fails to come home. 

And for the record, yes, I agree with de-funding the Hoosier State.  Amtrak was holding the state hostage to pay for a very over priced, very under provided service.  Believe it or not, the State DID try to reason with Amtrak.  But Indiana only had the one train and a shop complex that Amtrak has already stated is likely un-needed as older equipment is phased out and any new equipment will likely come with manufacture maintenance and support (and lets face it, I don't see Seamans or any one else setting up shop in a 19th century complex.  Everything else Amtrak wise  in state is Michigan Corridor clipping the NW corner, or Long Distance.  Completely different buckets inside Amtrak (and again, account of FEDERAL LAW)
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crblue

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #229 on: May 06, 2019, 07:40:23 AM »
My complaint about how Federal and state money is distributed has more to do with the idea that a higher-level governmental authority decides that it is going to tax people and then redistribute that revenue with certain strings attached. Yes, to use a buzzphrase, I'm not crazy about this redistribution of wealth.

In my own community, the town is building roundabouts because it can get state and Federal grant money for roundabouts, but it can't get that same grant money for conventional intersections. Yes, I may be simplifying things a bit. But, it seems to me that if this community was allowed to keep the tax money in house, instead of laundering it through the state and Federal coffers, we could make our own decisions about how it is spent.

Would I like to see trail money used for passenger trains? The train lover in me says "yes". But, in the larger scheme of things, the train does not serve a large percentage of the population and our roads and bridges need repair, so spending money on either trails or trains seems misplaced. As you say, though, in order to get the Federal money for roads and bridges, which is "our" money in the first place, we have to spend money on trails. Sucking from the Federal teat has consequences.

bth765

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #230 on: May 06, 2019, 06:00:57 PM »
To follow up on Bob Durnell's comment on Indiana and passenger trains; do some research on the history of interurbans in Indiana. Indiana was a hotbed of interurban lines. Virtually every city, town, or village had an established or proposed line. Why? They weren't served by a steam railroad. Why? The necessary volume wasn't there. Interurbans were seen as a possible solution. When the demand for better roads began the fate of the interurbans was sealed. Not even Samuel Insull could save them and heaven knows he tried.

StateLine-IndianaCity

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #231 on: May 06, 2019, 09:30:03 PM »
My educated guess is: not likely.
1) The South Shore uses Metra north of Kensington and terminates at Millenium Station (a.k.a. Randolph Street) - a station that is under the park; not good for diesel fumes.  2) There is no good connection from the Metra Electric line over to Union Station.
.      That’s the same route the City of New Orleans and all the Carbondale trains use. They utilize the St Charles Airline at McMormick place to get to the Amtrak station. Of course there’s the long-standing rumor of resurrection Grand Crossing but doubt that will ever happen.

Just to expand and clarify:
1) Way back when the Illinois Central (and later the ICG) owned and operated all the tracks (commuter, intercity passenger, and freight) north of Kensington in Chicago.  Metra took over the electrified commuter service in 1987.  The IC was merged into the CN in 1999.  The advantage of common ownership and managment for these parallel tracks is long gone.
2) The South Shore crosses the CN at Kensington on the way to their trackage rights on the Metra Electric; the physical route through Kensington Interlocking could accomodate a move between the South Shore and the CN in either direction.
... so let's say that the South Shore and the CN agree to such a routing.
3) Once a train inbound to Union Station moves over the St. Charles Airline it is sitting on the BNSF pointing west.  Now it has to back into Union Station, or do a three-point turn (involving 2 movements through 21st Street Interlocking) to nose in.  Can you spell delay?  No wonder the City of NO and the Carbondale trains schedule 40 minutes to navigate the last 20 miles.  Outbound trains have the same 'options'.
4) I'll stand by my original point 2) above.  Kensington is the only place where there is a connection between the Metra Electric (used by the South Shore) and the adjacent CN line.

Now, if I were the benevolent autocrat in charge of the railroad world, I would reestablish that Grand Crossing connection ASAP. ;-)

ckpcpqq

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #232 on: May 06, 2019, 11:05:45 PM »
Now, if I were the benevolent autocrat in charge of the railroad world, I would reestablish that Grand Crossing connection ASAP. ;-)

A Grand Crossing connection between the Chicago Line and the CN main is one of the CREATE projects, but apparently is not a high priority.  No funding has been authorized at this point and no preliminary studies have been made.

http://www.grandcrossingrail.com/about.html


Wema

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #233 on: May 31, 2019, 01:18:46 PM »
I think this was discussed in this thread about a bus service over the HS route, seems like one line is taking advantage of the end of the HS: https://www.ibj.com/articles/73989-new-player-to-test-indianapolis-chicago-bus-service

trainmaster53

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #234 on: May 31, 2019, 02:35:22 PM »
I do not understand how in the H the State Of Indiana Thinks that the People who ride the Hoosier State will want to set in a Stinking Ass Bus to go to Chicago. The Bus will be another one of the Failures for the State of Indiana and the People who want to run it and Our Governor. Those People in Indianapolis Need to Go in my Book. They cannot back a Darn Thing that we Need, But you can bet your Ass if its something They Want, They make Sure that They Get It. To Hell with the Tax Payers as All Ways and the Towns that are Backing The Hoosier State..

pabrankle

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #235 on: May 31, 2019, 03:27:37 PM »
I do not understand how in the H the State Of Indiana Thinks that the People who ride the Hoosier State will want to set in a Stinking Ass Bus to go to Chicago. The Bus will be another one of the Failures for the State of Indiana and the People who want to run it and Our Governor.

The introduction of a new bus service to Chicago is a private business plan.  It is not a plan developed by the State of Indiana or the Governor.  Whether it is a success or failure will be attributable to the bus company, not the State.

Since it is a private bus company, not Greyhound, hopefully the buses will be clean and comfortable.  If they have increased and more reasonable departure times, it may be better to ride the bus for 2 1/2 hours rather than a train that might take 4 or 5+ hours with awful departure times.

If may work and it may fail, but either way, the State of Indiana and ultimately the taxpayers, are not on the hook for the money-losing proposition the Hoosier State has been.


csxdispatcher

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #236 on: May 31, 2019, 03:34:06 PM »
I do not understand how in the H the State Of Indiana Thinks that the People who ride the Hoosier State will want to set in a Stinking Ass Bus to go to Chicago.

I thought the argument for the Hoosier State was that it was needed transportation for people without access or didn't want to use a car?  A bus fills that need.

Peoria Man

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #237 on: May 31, 2019, 04:33:33 PM »
Once you're seated, the bus ain't a whole lot different than the train anyway.  Unless you're looking for the fully staffed dome diner and fine linens of the IPH-era train, that is, but that's ancient history now.

trainmaster53

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #238 on: May 31, 2019, 07:19:48 PM »
Well lets put it this way then. Who in their Right Mind would want to take a Bus Up I 65 to Chicago on One of the Worst Sections of Interstates in the State of Indiana and take a Chance of getting Stuck in Traffic for Hours due to an accident. Happens all the time from around Lebanon North.

scraphauler

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #239 on: May 31, 2019, 08:31:22 PM »
Well lets put it this way then. Who in their Right Mind would want to take a Bus Up I 65 to Chicago on One of the Worst Sections of Interstates in the State of Indiana and take a Chance of getting Stuck in Traffic for Hours due to an accident. Happens all the time from around Lebanon North.

In 2018 the Hoosier State averaged 66 passengers per train.  Greyhound, Megabus, and Miller combine to offer 24 trips a day (12 each way).  If they run 50% full, around 850 people a day must not be in their right mind. Sorry, right or wrong, Amtrak is novelty transportation in the part of the world.
The opinions, views, and incoherent ramblings presented here do not necessarily represent the view point of any company I work for or own,  any logical thinking being, or even me.