Hoosier State tickets sales suspended for after June 30

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Bob Dylan

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seat38a

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Bleah, this route was on life support for so long, it needed to be put out of its misery a while back. This route is kind of like Brexit, get it done and over with already. When your threatening to jump everyday, eventually one gets to the point and say "Jump already then!"
 

cirdan

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So Anderson says we need to cannibalize the LD network to create more coridors, but he starts off by closing down a coridor.
 

dcwldct

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The announced the end of service back in April. The state of Indiana pulled funding for the route.

The congestion and low speeds North of Thornton due do a less than ideal routing have caused this route to be particularly noncompetitive with car travel. It is 5 hours one-way for a trip that takes 3 hours by car. Even if it's during rush hour you can beat the Hoosier State by driving to Gary and taking the SSL into Millennium Station. Train service doesn't inherently need to compete with cars for speed, but on a relatively short corridor route like this with a car-dependent city on the south end, it puts a dent in ridership/
 

cirdan

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Anderson didn’t shut it down, the state of Indiana did.
I know

But Anderson's vision of lots of new corridors everywhere implies lots of states ponying up lots of money.

It sort of hurts his arguments seeing so far we haven't seen much of a flurry of activity as states try to get that money together, but we have seen one state that says, let's kill a corrdior we already have.
 

jis

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Notwithstanding the Indiana setback, in the last decade, the real major growth has been in short-medium corridors. So it is hard to fault someone for trying to focus on that sector.

The problem is in trying to do so while seemingly walking away from the national system. The problem is not in working on enhancing corridor service. That is a desirable thing.
 

cirdan

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Notwithstanding the Indiana setback, in the last decade, the real major growth has been in short-medium corridors. So it is hard to fault someone for trying to focus on that sector.

The problem is in trying to do so while seemingly walking away from the national system. The problem is not in working on enhancing corridor service. That is a desirable thing.
I agree.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that most if not all corridor services that have been started from scratch since the inception of Amtrak were started by state initiative or grass roots iniviative and that as fars as I know Amtrak didn't take a proactive role in suggesting new corridors, financing viability studies or otherwise removing barriers.

Thus Amtrak cannot really take the primary credit for such corridors. At best they can be thanked for not outright preventing them and for doing their part in operating them with other people's money.

So it seems to me that Anderson is proposing to keep doing what predecessors have done, but pretending that he's doing something new, while dismantling the LD system, which is the only part where he could actually change something for the better.
 

jis

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Actually in case of most state corridors Amtrak worked proactively with the states to make it possible. All states use Amtrak's rights to operate passenger trains on freight trackage to some extent. In the absence of Amtrak, most state corridors would most likely have failed to materialize.

Even in the case of the Hoosier State people who say IPH ran it are being inaccurate either out of ignorance or deliberately. IPH leased rolling stock for it and provided OBS under contract. But the train throughout was operated by Amtrak, even while IPH was playing those other roles through a contract.

There are very few states that operate non-commuter trains on their own with no involvement of Amtrak. All of them are Amtrak's customers, and provide significant income stream to Amtrak through the contract fees.

Now does Amtrak always do things in a friendly fashion? In my experience no. But as of present the question really boils down to who is the funding and contracting authority for each Amtrak service. The federal government effectively contracts with Amtrak to run a bunch of service and maintain a bunch of infrastructure (something foisted on Amtrak in '76 over and above its original charter) in exchange for the subsidy (contract fee) it provides and then does a p i s s poor job of governing it. Many states contract for state specific services for contract fees that they pay.

For some odd historical reason the "contract fee" from the feds is called subsidy in Amtrak accounting, whereas the state contract fees are shown as income. In reality the feds payments should be viewed similarly and the federal government should provide more requisite governance and enforcement of policies. That as it turns out, may or may not be good for the national network, since the feds are themselves schizophrenic about it, with the legislature going one way and the executive often going the other way.And unfortunately even when the executive is friendly their level of competence is often less than desirable.

But hey, that is what we have for the circus in Washington DC, and like it or not that is the source of the entire problem and possible solution, the latter not forthcoming anytime soon I am afraid.

Anderson is a pawn in the game. He could have been more helpful, but his job description does not necessarily include that as a characteristic that his immediate bosses seem to desire.

For those that lived through the '90s and Amtrak's financial fiascos, as far as Amtrak finances go, we are currently in one of the best periods of stability. Literally Amtrak could survive a government shutdown for a quarter. in the '90s they could not last a week, if that, beyond the end of a quarter for which they had received the subsidy. Subsidy is transferred to Amtrak quarterly. I am sure that the situation of the '90s would immensely please those who were cluelessly complaining about Amtrak hoarding cash a little while back.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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Bleah, this route was on life support for so long, it needed to be put out of its misery a while back. This route is kind of like Brexit, get it done and over with already. When your threatening to jump everyday, eventually one gets to the point and say "Jump already then!"
How on earth did you start out with the Hoosier State route and end up at Brexit?
 

jis

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Actually it is all like a cat. Major tantrum about opening the door to go out. Door is opened. Then sit by the door blinking alternately at the outside, inside and the fellow who opened the door with no movement at all towards actually going outside :D
 

ScouseAndy

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Actually it is all like a cat. Major tantrum about opening the door to go out. Door is opened. Then sit by the door blinking alternately at the outside, inside and the fellow who opened the door with no movement at all towards actually going outside :D
Enough of brexit what about the Hoosier State?
 

NSC1109

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Okay so we’re losing the Hoosier State. Sucks for the people in Indiana and potentially the crews of daily Cardinal doesn’t come back. Question is: how will Amtrak shuttle equipment to and from Beech Grove? Cardinal? Extra train?
 

jis

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I have seen equipment moves to Beech Grove done on the Cardinal in the past when Hoosier State was running with IP equipment. They basically formed a separate train with the equipment to be moved, with its own engine, and attached it to the front of the Hoosier State, ahead of its engine. It traveled as a combined train to Indy, where the front train was detached and went off to Beech Grove and the rear proceeded to New York.
 

Anthony V

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So Anderson says we need to cannibalize the LD network to create more coridors, but he starts off by closing down a coridor.
It's not like he wanted to. Indiana doesn't want to fund the corridor anymore, so it has to be shut down, regardless of whether Amtrak wants to run it or not.
 

Anderson

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To say that ridership on the Hoosier State was never anything to write home about is an understatement. The only other trains with even vaguely comparable ridership are the Ethan Allen (whose ridership is sandbagged by the route only getting ridership north of Albany; on the basis of the pre-2005 methodology, the train probably carries somewhere in the range of 130-150k riders/yr over its entire route, but many of them are NYP-ALB and the like) and the Heartland Flyer (which is functionally isolated from the network, though connectivity in Fort Worth, at least, is improving). Both of these have greater daily ridership.

It would be one thing if there were a serious proposal on the table to improve the route (beyond shaking out padding), but neither Amtrak nor Indiana has shown much interest over the years (with the exception of Boardman's almost passive-aggressive waltzing in when the Corridor Capital/Iowa Pacific drama was playing out). Indiana wasn't even actually party to the PRIIA 209 cost agreement, but they dissented without proposing an alternative. It seems, frankly, that Indiana doesn't have much use or utility for the train while Amtrak has no "live" plans to run a daily Cardinal (which they certainly arguably have the cash to make happen [1]...Amfleet replacement could arguably be handled via multi-year state agreements plus a RRIF loan), merely aspirational blather.

So while I regret losing this train, it had a strong case for being the worst train in the Amtrak system and I would argue that if Amtrak wanted to seriously improve the route the ship sailed on that. TBH, even the latest round of Amtrak "swooping in" with some schedule improvements had a feeling of being a botched saving throw rather than a serious effort regarding the train.

[1] CSX may have avenues to effectively tell them no, but I was under the impression that the railroads at least have to give Amtrak a quote (sort-of like how UP gave Amtrak a "buzz off" figure for the daily Sunset 8-9 years ago).
 

Seaboard92

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It’s funny that you mention it being the worst train in the system. That’s why I chose to model it when I was a broke middle school student because all I could afford was one engine and one coach. And at the time it was running regularly as such.

How much equipment is Amtrak saving from this cancellation. A motor, a horizon cafe, coach(1 or 2)?
 

jis

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I don’t think Amtrak is worried about saving the equipment. I think it is the Governor of Indiana worried about saving the little money.
 

dlagrua

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IMO, the only thing that can save the Hoosier state train is from an outcry from the ridership. This leaves the only connection to CHI as the three day per week Cardinal. People living in Indianapolis should be disappointed so where is the movement to keep the train?
 

Bob Dylan

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IMO, the only thing that can save the Hoosier state train is from an outcry from the ridership. This leaves the only connection to CHI as the three day per week Cardinal. People living in Indianapolis should be disappointed so where is the movement to keep the train?
The Hoosiers just dont care! Best example: they elected Mike Pence numerous times!
 

jebr

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The Hoosiers just dont care! Best example: they elected Mike Pence numerous times!
Or it's because most of the people that live there can drive, and people in Indianapolis specifically (the largest population center) don't see it as terribly useful. On that front I can't really blame them - 6 AM departures and near-midnight arrivals are an unpleasant calling time. Add in that it's slower than the bus or driving and you really have a hard time finding a decent dedicated ridership. Lafayette is probably the strongest market - the timing is decent to Chicago, but it's still slower than the bus and hamstrung by the once-a-day schedule and possible delays from the Cardinal 3x/week.

The problem is that this corridor needs capital investment and higher frequency in order to become useful for more people, but there's not the political will to get that funding started.
 

bretton88

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So Anderson says we need to cannibalize the LD network to create more coridors, but he starts off by closing down a coridor.
Has nothing to do with Anderson. Amtrak can not legally fund a corridor under 750 miles right now. So if Indiana won't fund it, nothing Amtrak can do. Note they are intentionally calling it "suspended" so Amtrak is keeping open the possibility of it coming back if Amtrak regains the legal option to do so.
 
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