The Hoosier State Reverts to Amtrak.
The news today, although cryptic and incomplete, is that the operation of the Hoosier State, which runs four days a week between Chicago and Indianapolis, is going back to Amtrak. In an almost terse notice, Amtrak announced that the Hoosier State trains would “transition” to Amtrak equipment and on-board crews beginning March 1st.
For something like 18 months, Iowa Pacific Holdings, a private company, has provided the locomotives, the rail cars, and the on board crew for the Hoosier State, while Amtrak has provided the operating crew—that is, the engineers and conductors. The train has been receiving financial support from the State of Indiana Department of Transportation.
It’s been a popular service, too. And no wonder. Business class passengers on the Hoosier State rode in a dome car and were treated to meals prepared on board and served on real china that was set upon white tablecloths.
Amtrak’s train, the Cardinal, operates the other three days a week on the same schedule, but continues beyond Indianapolis on a meandering southerly route all the way to Charlottesville, Washington and New York City.
One of several possible explanation for the ending of Iowa Pacific’s involvement: Amtrak could be preparing to announce increasing the Cardinal’s schedule from three days a week to a daily service. That would have the Cardinal operating on the same days and at the same times as Iowa Pacific’s Hoosier State, leaving Iowa Pacific only one possible option if they want to continue their service: run their train on a completely different schedule and almost certainly without any subsidy. Chances of that happening: slim and none.
Inevitably and eventually, the truth will out.