Indiana Group Seeking Rail Study Funding

As public officials in Cincinnati are seeking funding to study Chicago-Cincinnati high-speed rail service, a similar effort is underway in Indiana.

The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance wants to hire Transportation Economics and Management Systems, Inc, of Frederick, Md., to prepare a business plan and economic impact study of a rail corridor that runs from Chicago to Cincinnati and to Louisville, by way of the Indiana cities of Dyer, Rensselaer, Lafayette, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis and Connersville.

All of those cities except Connersville are currently served by Amtrak’s tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal and the quad-weekly Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State. Connersville is served only by the Cardinal.

The Indiana group’s study will cost between $150,000 and $200,000 and examine capital costs, projected revenue and the operating expense of a modern passenger train network.

The study, which is expected to take four months to complete, will also include projections of the economic impact on the state and communities served by the trains.

The Indiana group still needs to line up funding for the study, which is a prerequisite for an environmental impact study of the corridor and for securing the federal funding for capital improvements. The proposed network will consist of several daily trains operating at up to 130 mph.

IPRA believes that improved rail passenger service must be a part of Indiana’s transportation vision because airlines are moving away from short-haul flights and highways are becoming congested.

The Maryland consulting firm conducted a feasibility study and business plan for the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association of Fort Wayne, Ind.

That study looked at a high-speed corridor from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio, via Fort Wayne. That study led to an application to the Federal Rail Administration sponsored by the Indiana Department of Transportation for matching funds for that corridor’s EIS.

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