LIRR Contract Sees >17% Pay Increase for Some Workers…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

NEW YORK, NY – July 23, 2014 – Information regarding the deal between the MTA and workers on the Long Island Rail Road that was brokered by Governor Cuomo and averted a July 20 strike was made available this morning.

The deal will see some workers getting raises greater than the 17% pay hikes announced last week.  Conductors will get an extra $10 for every shift they work under the tentative deal, which features 17% across-the-board raises for some 5,400 workers in a coalition of unions, retroactive to 2010. The per-shift bonus amounts to an additional pay hike for conductors of about 2.5%, or roughly $2,100 a year.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials and union leaders have declined to provide the full array of terms in the contract that they signed Thursday, just three days before a threatened strike that would have crippled the nation’s largest commuter railroad and stranded 300,000 daily riders.

The contract’s terms, however, were provided to Metropolitan Transportation Authority investors who previously purchased authority bonds. The contract’s terms — but not its full cost — were posted Friday on the “investor information” section of the MTA’s website.

The $10 per-shift bonus is also known as “certification pay,” and is rooted in federal certifications conductors must earn.

The federal government in 2008 required conductors who were already trained and tested by railroads to also obtain federal certification. Two panels of neutral contract mediators proposed that the MTA include the per-shift bonuses for conductors in the overall deal, because the bonuses have become standard in the industry.

LIRR workers, represented by eight unions, had been without a contract since 2010. Union members are expected to ratify the contract by Aug. 15, said a coalition spokesman.

The typical LIRR worker earns approximately $65,000 a year in base pay and makes another $20,000 by working overtime. Conductors currently earning the top rate pull in approximately $75,000 a year in base pay.

NS Reports Record Net Income for 2014 Second Quarter…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

NORFOLK, VA – July 23, 2014 - For the second quarter of 2014 Norfolk Southern reported record net income of $562 million, 21 percent higher compared with $465 million in second-quarter 2013.

Diluted earnings per share increased 23 percent to a record $1.79, compared with $1.46 per diluted share in the same period last year. The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, improved 5 percent to 66.5 percent.

All-time Quarter Records

  • Railway operating revenues increased 9 percent to $3.0 billion.
  • Income from railway operations improved 22 percent to $1.0 billion.
  • Net income increased 21 percent to $562 million.
  • Diluted earnings per share rose 23 percent to $1.79.
  • The railway operating ratio was 66.5 percent, a 5 percent improvement.

“Norfolk Southern delivered excellent financial performance during the second quarter, reporting the highest railway operating revenues in its history,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “We see continued strength across most of our business segments and are optimistic that overall economic conditions will drive growth. Our focus remains unchanged. We are committed to running the safest railroad, providing superior service, increasing efficiency, and driving superior returns to our shareholders.”

Second-quarter railway operating revenues increased to a record $3.0 billion, 9 percent higher compared with the same period of 2013, driven by an 8 percent increase in volume.

General merchandise revenues increased 8 percent to a record $1.7 billion compared with the second quarter of 2013. Shipments of metals and construction, chemicals, and agricultural products fueled a 7 percent increase in traffic volume.

Second-Quarter Revenue by Commodity Group

  •  Intermodal up 11 percent
  • Metals and Construction up 17 percent
  • Coal up 7 percent
  • Chemicals up 10 percent
  • Agriculture up 5 percent
  • Automotive up 3 percent
  • Paper up 2 percent

Coal revenues increased 7 percent to $672 million in the second quarter compared with the same period of 2013, with volume up 3 percent, the result of increased demand for utility coal from stockpile replenishment in response to a severe winter and higher natural gas prices, which offset lower export volume.

Intermodal revenues increased 11 percent to a record $650 million compared with the second-quarter 2013. Volume increased 11 percent, the result of continued domestic growth coupled with new international business.

Railway operating expenses were $2.0 billion, 3 percent higher compared with second-quarter 2013, principally due to costs associated with higher business volumes.

Income from railway operations for the second quarter was a record $1.0 billion, 22 percent higher compared with the same period of 2013.

The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was a record 66.5 percent, a 5 percent improvement compared with the same period of 2013.

VRS Supports PAS Seeking STB Relief on NECR TRO…

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

BURLINGTON, VT – July 22, 2014 – Vermont Rail System’s Washington County Railroad Company (WACR) and the Green Mountain Railroad Corporation (GMRC) have submitted a support statement with the Surface Transportation Board in support of the June 27, 2014 dated Pan Am Southern LLC (PAS) “Motion to Show Cause” for New England Central Railroad (NECR)-imposed restrictions on PAS trackage rights trains.

VRS supports PAS’ request that the STB order the NECR to show cause why its speed restriction on foreign railroads and its requirement that PAS produce revenue waybill information prior to movement on NECR lines (Operating Restrictions) are reasonable and do not violate the Trackage Rights Order issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission in Amtrak- Conveyance of Boston and Maine Corporation Interests in Connecticut River Line in Vermont and New Hampshire, Finance Docket No. 31250, 6 I.C.C.2d 539 (1990) (TRO).

VRS supports and echoes PAS in its assertion that the sole purpose of the PAS Motion is to address the unilateral Operating Restrictions imposed by NECR since May 2014 in violation of the very TRO that NECR seeks to enforce. The Operating Restrictions have significantly impacted service to VRS customers and will to continue to do so.  Therefore VRS joins PAS’ request that the Board expedite consideration of this motion in advance of any procedural schedule requested by NECR in its filing.

PAS uses its trackage rights pursuant to the TRO to compete with NECR for the business of shippers on the Former B&M Connecticut River Line, which is exactly the type of competitive outcome that the ICC preserved in the TRO as pointed out by PAS in its previous filing.

VRS interchanges with PAS at Bellows Falls and White River Junction Vermont. PAS has informed VRS that the NECR sought modifications to the TRO and met with PAS in late 2013 and early 2014 to discuss issues such as compensation, insurance requirements, and other items. PAS also reported that the discussions did not result in an agreement. In violation of the spirit and letter of the TRO rather than appeal to the Board,

NECR instead elected to engage in “self-help” by imposing the Operating Restrictions on PAS that have directly impacted the VRS. VRS agrees with PAS’ assertion that the NECR
Operating Restrictions amount to a unilateral modification of the TRO without STB authority that dire~tly impacts the ability of PAS and VRS to serve their customers.

Effective May 21, 2014, NECR imposed a speed restriction on “all foreign freight trains operating on the NECR… ” that limited operating speeds to 25 miles per hour. The
NECR did not, however, apply the speed restriction to its own trains. It applied the restrictions to trains operated by PAS. Ironically the NECR rail line in question was recently rehabilitated with millions of dollars of public funds. Prior to the announced restriction on speed, the speed limit on the Rail Lines was 40 m.p.h. VRS agrees with PAS’ assertion that there is no other reason for the imposition of this speed restriction other than to disadvantage service provided on the line by foreign railroads.

VRS contends that as a result of this unilateral imposition of this speed restriction has adversely affected the ability of VRS and PAS to serve their customers and provide competitive options to others. This restriction on speed has added at least one hour to transport time over the length of the Rail Lines. This speed restriction is in direct contrast to the letter and spirit of the TRO that mandates that PAS and NECR trains be operated “without prejudice or partiality” and thereby constitutes a violation of the STB’s order.

As pointed out by PAS, the NECR also imposed a requirement that PAS provide revenue waybills on all cars moving over the Rail Lines. This is a requirement that did not previously exist and it also is not authorized by the TRO. VRS agrees with PAS’ conclusion that this strong arming by NECR is in direct violation of the disclosure laws established by Congress decades ago.

NECR has no lawful right to demand this information that belongs to VRS or any other carrier, nor does PAS have any authority under the law to disclose it.   Despite VRS and PAS objections NECR continues to deny permission for PAS trains to operate to and from Bellows Falls, VT, and White River Junction, VT, without the production of waybills, which has adversely affected movement of cars for VRS customers.

As a direct consequence PAS now has to expend additional resources attempting to provide rail service only to be denied entry to the Rail Lines by NECR and VRS is now forced to deal with lengthy delays in the delivery of its customer’s freight and the associated costs of rerouting traffic and or utilizing intermodal means to serve its customers.   The NECR revenue waybill mandate violates the TRO’s requirement that “the trains, locomotives, cars and equipment of B&M, CV, Amtrak and any other present or future user of the Line shall be operated without prejudice or partiality to any party to this Agreement or any other user and in such manner that will result in the most economical and efficient manner of movement of all traffic.” Indeed, the arbitrary waybill requirement is the antithesis of efficient movement.

GMRC has recently developed a large intermodal terminal in Bellows Falls, Vermont. GMRC delivers loaded cars to this facility that are received from Pan Am at GMRC’s interchange point with PAS at Bellows Falls, VT. These cars are handled by PAS from Deerfield, MA to Bellows Falls, VT in PAS linehaul service, in PAS trains, operating under trackage rights over the NECR line from Brattleboro, VT to Bellows Falls. Since September of 2013 and prior to a the NECR bulletin, PAS was operating at speeds of 40 mph and GMRC customers had no issues receiving service or cars at the Bellows Falls facility. The new NECR bulletin seeks to limit all foreign trains on NECR tracks to 25 mph as distinguished to its own trains that will continue to operate at 40 mph as well as impose the anti-competitive and unlawful requirement of disclosing to a third party VRS waybills. This restriction has negatively affected PAS and consequently VRS customers that are routed through PAS. NECR’s restriction is arbitrary, capricious and predatory in nature. This is supported by the fact that some customers have changed their carrier from NECR to PAS. NECR has offered no rational basis for this restriction which unduly prejudices PAS and VRS.

This new restriction specifically targets and affects PAS and VRS customers as well as the consumers they serve who also will ultimately be negatively affected.  PAS and VRS have already seen disruption of service as a result of this new restriction and our customers are projecting that the real brunt of this restriction will be felt in the winter when traffic picks up by limiting crew hours with slower trains and negatively affecting transportation efficiency.

The transportation delay of certain commodities is a very serious issue given the shortages that these industries experienced in our region this past winter. NECR waybills requirements and its new speed restrictions on just foreign carriers will further limit rail transportation of important commodities at a time when the industry and end consumers need them the most.

One such VRS customer has two facilities, one at Claremont, NH and the other at Bellows Falls, VT, which together totals enough product being shipped annually to the Northeast market to represent approximately 40% of the entire Vermont and New Hampshire market for that commodity. Given the size of the market that this YRS customer is serving it has become quite clear that an NECR imposed and arbitrary speed restriction and waybill requirement will add an unnecessary bottleneck in railway logistics that are proving to be devastating to VRS customers’ businesses and the customers they serve.

VRS hereby requests that the Board grant PAS’ Motion and issue an order as soon as possible that NECR show cause as to why its speed limit restriction on foreign railroads and its revenue waybill requirement are reasonable and do not violate the TRO. VRS also supports PAS’s alternative request that the Board find NECR’s operating restrictions invalid and unenforceable and grant such other and further relief as the Board may deem under the circumstances. Due to the immediate impact on both VRS and PAS of the NECR’s arbitrary operating restrictions, VRS supports PAS’ request that the Board hold NECR’s request to set terms of the relevant trackage right order in abeyance until these issues are resolved.

CN Q2-2014 Net Income up 18% to C$847M…

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

MONTREAL, QC – July 22, 2014 – Canadian National on Monday reported an 18% increase in net income for the second quarter and six-month period ended June 30, 2014.

Second-quarter 2014 financial highlights

  • Net income was C$847 million, or C$1.03 per diluted share, compared with net income of C$717 million, or C$0.84 per diluted share, for the year-earlier quarter. The Q2-2013 results included a net gain of C$13 million (C$0.01 per diluted share) resulting from a gain on a non-monetary transaction with another railway that was partly offset by the effect of the enactment of higher provincial corporate income tax rates.
  • Excluding the Q2-2013 net gain, Q2-2014 diluted EPS of C$1.03 increased 24 per cent over last year’s adjusted diluted EPS of C$0.83.
  • Operating income for the second-quarter of 2014 increased 21 per cent to C$1,258 million.
  • Second-quarter 2014 revenues increased 17 per cent to C$3,116 million, revenue ton-miles grew by 14 per cent, and carloadings increased 11 per cent.
  • CN’s operating ratio for Q2-2014 improved by 1.3 points to 59.6 per cent from 60.9 per cent for the year-earlier quarter.
  • Free cash flow for the first half of 2014 was C$1,270 million, compared with C$788 million for the year-earlier first half.

Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: “CN recovered swiftly from the first-quarter winter weather challenges – just as our customers would expect us to do – thanks to solid execution by our dedicated team of railroaders. CN delivered record volumes in the quarter by bringing its key supply chains back into sync and taking advantage of continued strength in several of our core markets. This solid operational recovery underscores our ability to accommodate growth at low incremental cost and to drive very strong financial results.”

CN’s Western Canada grain hopper car movements were particularly strong during the second quarter, up nearly 70 per cent from the year-earlier period. The Company expects such hopper car movements for the crop-year ending July 31, 2014, to be a new record and close to 25 per cent higher than average crop-year movements.

Mongeau said: “We are pleased that the Canadian grain supply chain CN serves is now back in sync. Our wait-list of customer grain car orders represents only about one week of shipments from the Prairies, and grain vessel line-ups at all ports are back to normal.”

Revised 2014 financial outlook 
CN’s strong second-quarter results and continued growth opportunities in intermodal, bulk and merchandise markets have prompted a positive revision to the Company’s 2014 financial outlook. Under its revised 2014 outlook, CN now expects to:

Deliver solid double-digit EPS growth in 2014 over adjusted diluted 2013 EPS of C$3.06, compared with its earlier forecast of aiming for double-digit 2014 EPS growth, and
Generate free cash flow in the range of C$1.8 billion to C$2 billion, compared with the earlier free cash flow projection of C$1.6 billion to C$1.7 billion for 2014. (1)
Mongeau said: “The continuing success of our agenda of Operational and Service Excellence positions CN well to achieve this improved financial outlook for the year.”

Foreign currency impact on results
Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. As such, the Company’s results are affected by exchange-rate fluctuations. On a constant currency basis that excludes the impact of fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, CN’s second-quarter 2014 net income would have been lower by C$28 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share.

Second-quarter 2014 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses
Revenues for the second quarter of 2014 increased by 17 per cent to C$3,116 million. Revenues increased for grain and fertilizers (35 per cent), metals and minerals (20 per cent), intermodal (17 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (17 per cent) automotive (15 per cent), forest products (nine per cent), and coal (five per cent).

The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to higher freight volumes due to a record Canadian grain crop, strong energy markets and market share gains, particularly in intermodal; the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; and freight rate increases.

Revenues in the second quarter of 2014 also benefited from increased volumes as the Company recovered from winter weather-related challenges that delayed shipments in the first quarter of 2014.

Carloadings for the second quarter rose 11 per cent to 1,463 thousand.

Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by 14 per cent over the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by four per cent over the year-earlier period, driven by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases, partly offset by an increase in the average length of haul.

Operating expenses for the quarter increased by 14 per cent to C$1,858 million. That was mainly attributable to the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses, higher fuel costs, increased labor and fringe benefits expense and increased purchased services and material expense.

MNCR Route Restored Following Saturday Rock Slide…

Monday, July 21st, 2014

GARRISON, NY – July 21, 2014 - Full rail service has resumed on the Metro-North commuter rail system after a rock slide damaged a stretch of tracks, halted trains and left hundreds of passengers without rides north of New York City.

The Metro-North Railroad said train service resumed around midnight Saturday after hours of repairs to the tracks between the Garrison and Peekskill stations on the Hudson Line.

The railroad brought in shuttle buses during the delay, but some stranded passengers said they waited for hours.

Rocks rained down on the tracks Saturday afternoon as crews were fixing a retaining wall. No trains were damaged and no one was hurt, but both tracks were left impassible.

Amtrak service was also affected.

Metro-North said crews fixed the less-damaged track to restore some train service before shifting to the second track, which could require more extensive repairs.

The rock slide is the latest headache for a railroad recovering from two major accidents and myriad service disruptions.  In December, a Metro-North Hudson Line train derailed in the Bronx, killing four passengers and injuring more than 70 others.  In May 2013, a train heading east from New York City to New Haven derailed and was hit by a westbound train outside Bridgeport, injuring scores of passengers.

This spring a retaining wall collapsed near the Glenwood station causing a mudslide that buried a northbound track in mud, soil and other debris. The incident knocked out two of four tracks, leading to speed restrictions and residual delays.

CN, WSOR Trains Collide, Injure Crew in Slinger, WI…

Monday, July 21st, 2014

SLINGER, WI – July 21, 2014 – Dozens of residents returned home in Slinger, Wisconsin on Monday morning, after two trains collided and derailed at a junction between Canadian National Railway and the Wisconsin & Southern Railway.

According to CN, on Sunday, July 20, a collision occurred that involved CN train A44481-20 and Wisconsin & Southern train WSORT00320 at 8:34 p.m. CDT on Sunday.  The derailment, which reportedly included hree engines and 10 cars total from both trains.  The derailment was obstructing traffic between Waukesha, WI, and Fond du Lac, WI.

Patrick Waldron of the Canadian National Railway said one of its trains — with 3 southbound locomotives and 3 cars with frac-sand — derailed and hit cars from a Wisconsin and Southern train that had lumber, steel, and plastic pellets.

Two crew members suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Slinger Fire Chief Richard Hanke said some of the lumber spilled.

Homes south and east of the derailment were evacuated as a precaution. Hanke said there were concerns that the spilled diesel fuel would start on fire — which it didn’t.

According to current estimates, the site will cleared as of 9:00 p.m. CDT on Monday, July 21st.

AAF Unveils West Palm Beach Station Plans…

Monday, July 21st, 2014

CORAL GABLES, FL - July 21, 2014 - Palm Beach County Mayor Priscilla A. Taylor and West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio joined All Aboard Florida executives today to reveal designs for All Aboard Florida’s new West Palm Beach station,  planned and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in association with Zyscovich Architects.

Commemorating yet another significant milestone in the project’s ongoing progress, All Aboard Florida’s West Palm Beach station stands at the historic center of a project that is furthering Henry Flagler’s vision for Florida and taking another step toward bringing express passenger rail back to Florida.

WPB_PRESS RELEASE_DROP OFF 2The nearly 60,000 square foot future station and platform A in downtown West Palm Beach will be located between Datura and Evernia Streets, with CityPlace and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts Center to the south, and the government center district and Clematis Street to the north. This strategic location will act as a new gateway into the city and Palm Beach County. It will also strengthen links to the existing Tri-Rail and Amtrak stations and connect with the neighborhood’s vehicular trolley and pedestrian networks, creating a new transportation hub for the West Palm Beach area.

“We are excited at what our vision of the future holds for West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County,” said P. Michael Reininger, President and Chief Development Officer of All Aboard Florida. “Passenger rail has been integral to the history of Florida, and we have arrived at a point in time where it will once again take on a transformational role – creating connectivity, representing a unique collaboration between the private and public sectors, and stimulating job creation and economic impacts. We have been working closely with the city staff to develop a station and overall master plan that makes the downtown area even more dynamic. We fully expect this underdeveloped part of the city to see a dramatic change with new development that will be spurred by the transit activity we are leading.”

Each of All Aboard Florida’s three planned stations in South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) will serve as key portals and iconic destinations within the city and provide a hub of transportation.  As part of the urban infrastructure of each area, the stations are expected to generate significant economic impact to the state. Economists estimate that All Aboard Florida will add more than $6 billion to Florida’s economy over the next eight years, including $164 million in economic impact for Palm Beach County through 2021.  More than 1,200 jobs will be created in Palm Beach County through the construction of the station and the rail line.

“All Aboard Florida’s West Palm Beach station will stimulate our local economy and drive new tourism to our county and region. It will also create more than 1,200 jobs during construction and implementation for all cities along the route,”  said Palm Beach County Mayor Priscillia A. Taylor. “This transformative project will catalyze significant economic growth in Palm Beach County, in South Florida and statewide.”

“There is no doubt as to the benefit an All Aboard station will bring to our city, and we continue to look forward to the economic impact for our city,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio.” Together with other projects underway or in the planning stage, the All Aboard station will be a key component in the redevelopment of our Quadrille Boulevard corridor. The city and All Aboard Florida continue to meet on a regular basis and continue to work on the remaining details of the project.”

“This project is an exceptional opportunity to contribute to the vibrancy of downtown West Palm Beach,” states Roger Duffy, Design Partner at SOM. “Our design creates a new gateway for the city – one that is both seamlessly woven into the urban fabric and reflective of All Aboard Florida’s transformative vision.”

“The new station will tie together the historic fabric of Clematis Street with the energy of City Place. That new location will be a nexus for downtown and provide direct and efficient connectivity to the hubs of Orlando and Downtown Miami,” said Bernard Zyscovich, Founder and CEO, Zyscovich Architects. “The station will be a catalyst for redevelopment, enhancing the opportunities for additional Transit Oriented Development on the west side of downtown.”

PHOTO: MMID 6-Axles Ready; GC EMDs Replacing U-boats…

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

MMID3450_3451_2221_Lyons

LYONS, GA – July 20, 2014 – All four former CIT Group six-axles that are destined for the Maryland Midland in Union Bridge, Maryland, are now completely painted and should be heading north this week, while work begins on painting the four-axle EMD replacements for the Georgia Central U23B fleet.

MMID SD40-2Ms 3448, 3449, 3450 and 3451 were completely finished on Saturday, July 19 at the shops of the Georgia Central Railroad in Lyons, Georgia.  The units, formerly CEFX 2806 to MMID 3403 to MMID 3448 in UP yellow; CEFX 3134 to MMID 3404 to MMID 3449 in CIT blue; CEFX 3137 to MMID 3405 to MMID 3450 in CIT blue; and  CIT 3148 to MMID 3406 to MMID 3451 in CIT blue; are expected to be shipped to Union Bridge this week, pending shipping arrangements.

Additionally, a Rail Link SW1200 1221 was also painted at Lyons, Georgia, while work is expected to begin the first week of August on painting th EMD replacements for the Georgia Central Railroad.  The aged fleet of unique high-hood U23B General Electric locomotives are expected to be replaced by year’s end with a new group of small EMD locomotives.  Plans are in place to move former Arizona & Eastern GP20s to the Georgia Central and supplement the fleet with several GP16 locomotives and reportedly a pair of SW1500s.

Work is expected to be completed by December on the entire fleet, allowing the retirement of the GE fleet on the Georgia Central.

CSX Congestion, Detours Away from Selkirk, NY…

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

ALBANY, NY – July 20, 2014 – CSX Transportation reported that it is experiencing heavy congestion at its Selkirk, New York terminal and on nearby lines.

Surges in traffic over the last few days, compounded by a derailment in the yard earlier this week, have affected fluidity in the area. Additional resources and personnel have been deployed to support efforts to reduce congestion as quickly as possible, and some traffic is being routed around Selkirk.

Some of the rerouted traffic is using other more circuitous routes and detouring some trains over the New York, Susquehanna & Western.

Customers are told to expect delays to shipments through the Selkirk area.

Amtrak Hoosier State Funding in Jeopardy…

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – July 20, 2014 – Amtrak Hoosier State service may be nearing the end of the line as one of the terminal cities, Indianapolis, moves toward pulling out of a funding deal to keep the Chicago-Indianapolis service running.

Indianapolis mayor’s office chief Ryan Vaughn said the deal no longer makes financial sense for the city. Vaughn said the city’s participation hinged on improvements for Union Station, which is in desperate need of repairs.

According to Joe Seaman with the Greater Lafayette Commerce, “It will be very difficult for the remaining communities to keep the trains running if Indianapolis does not participate.”

The Hoosier State runs from Indianapolis to Chicago four days a week. It leaves at 6 a.m. and returns at 11:50. It stops along the way in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer.  The Cardinal Line, which runs to Chicago the remaining three days a week, was never threatened, with service continuing regardless.

Last October, Amtrak stopped funding certain Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles. The state estimated it would take about $3 million a year to keep it going as the service was heavily subsidized, needing $80 in government support for each $24 ticket purchased.

The Indiana Department of Transportation worked out a plan where the state would pay just over half the cost, with affected communities paying the rest, largely based on their ridership. INDOT also took bids from private companies hoping to take over the service and make improvements, such as increasing frequency, adding WIFI and other on-board amenities.

In April INDOT chose Corridor Capital LLC to take over the Hoosier State service, effective October 1, but with Indy pulling out – the funding falls about $300,000 short.

Seaman said losing the Hoosier State “would really cut service to nothing and it’s hard to promote just three days of rail service.”

Vaughn said it’s hard for the city to take on subsidzing rail service when the needs at Union Station are so great. (Union Station accomodates both train and Greyhound Bus passengers.)  He said if they can get a federal grant to help with improvements at Union Station, they may be able to help with the Hoosier State. The problem is the Amtrak deal needs to be done by September 30, though INDOT can apply for one four-month extension.

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said they’re continuing to talk to all the funding partners. He said there’s still time to work something out before that October deadline.