Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb today joined local and rail-industry leaders in Lafayette to celebrate improvements to the Hoosier State® passenger train, which operates four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago.
“The renewed Hoosier State is an asset for tourism and transportation,” said Lt. Governor Holcomb. “Since state and local leaders added Wi-Fi, food service and refurbished heritage train cars nearly a year ago, customer-satisfaction scores, ticket revenue and on-time performance have all improved.”
The Hoosier State is now among the highest-rated trains on the Amtrak system, with about 90 percent of riders surveyed in recent months being very satisfied. In the months since October 2015, on-time performance has averaged 86 percent and ticket revenue has increased 20 percent.
New funding, contracts
After Congress voted to phase out financial support, the Indiana Department of Transportation and communities that benefit from the Hoosier State agreed to jointly fund the service. The joint funding ensured that local officials had a stake in improving performance and ensuring accountability for the tax dollars invested.
Language supported by State Senator Brandt Hershman in the two-year state budget provided $6 million for the Hoosier State from the successful 2015 Tax Amnesty program.
At the end of June 2015, INDOT signed new contracts with Amtrak, on-line communities and a new contractor, Iowa Pacific Holdings. Amtrak serves as the train operator, working with host railroads, providing train and engine crews, and managing ticketing and reservations. Iowa Pacific provides the train equipment, train maintenance, marketing, and on-board amenities.
“State and local government set the conditions to promote innovation and improvements in passenger rail that now deliver increased value for taxpayers,” said Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski.
New amenities on board make the Hoosier State very competitive with driving or taking the bus. Passengers can stay productive or relax and enjoy the journey with free Wi-Fi service that uses mobile data along the tracks.
The Hoosier State’s business-class service offers table seating, alcoholic beverages and a hot meal served on a white tablecloth. Business-class passengers may access a unique dome lounge with large windows that provide improved views of the Indiana landscape.
Coach passengers may also purchase fresh food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, on board the refurbished heritage train cars.
“Instead of being discontinued, the Hoosier State train was improved,” said Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis. “On time performance and customer service leading to more riders will be key to future success and improvements.”
The four-days-weekly Hoosier State combines with Amtrak’s three-days-weekly Cardinal to provide daily passenger-rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago.
Tickets are available at HoosierStateTrain.com, 800-USA-RAIL and other Amtrak sales channels, including mobile apps. Hoosier State adult coach fares range from $24 to $48 each way and are subject to discounts and two rewards programs, the Rail Baron Club and Amtrak Guest Rewards.