Time ticks on Amtrak line

By (Lafayette) Journal and Courier

Maybe it was a product of who came to the various rollout meetings recently for Greater Lafayette’s new community of choice plan, but the slow burn over losing part of Lafayette’s passenger rail service was real.

How, they asked, could Amtrak ditch what amounts to roughly half the passenger service between Lafayette and Chicago? Without the complement of services on the Hoosier State and the Cardinal routes, getting to and from Chicago by Amtrak in any sort of efficient way would be a dicey proposition.

In play is an Amtrak plan to dump the Hoosier State route, starting on Oct. 1, 2013. The Cardinal route would still make stops at downtown Lafayette’s Big Four Depot three mornings and three nights a week.

But with the Hoosier State eliminated between Indianapolis and Chicago, four days and four nights would come off the route schedule.

Passenger rail certainly is a niche transportation option. And it might seem a bit quaint in these drive-first days.

But the 27,000 passengers who got on or off of the two lines in Lafayette last year are nothing to sneeze at.

In question is a disputed interpretation about who — Amtrak or the state — needs to be financing routes that are shorter than 750 miles. Legislators and other officials from Greater Lafayette are starting to rally to save the service. The best bet would be to take a regional approach and get other Indiana cities with a stake in keeping both Amtrak lines to work with Greater Lafayette interests.

Either way, the clock is ticking on passenger rail in downtown Lafayette.

Distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to ddavis@tribtown.com.

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