Indiana may challenge FRA decision; Iowa Pacific reveals planned ‘Hoosier State’ equipment

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summitviewexterior
Former Santa Fe full-length dome 'Summit View' would provide business class service under proposed Iowa Pacific operation.
Iowa Pacific
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Department of Transportation officials say the state may ask for a judicial review that would prevent the Federal Railroad Administration from enforcing demands that state act as a “new start” railroad to operate the Hoosier State. Amtrak, Iowa-Pacific Holdings, and CSX Transportation all are railroads certified by the FRA and all perform functions that the FRA is now asking INDOT to perform.

“We’re not going to close off any options (for continuing the service), Commissioner Karl Browning says, but “the notion of the state having to become a railroad (to operate the Hoosier State) is insane.” The state’s correspondence is available online at www.in.gov/indot.

“Ensuring the safety of all of our Nation’s intercity passenger rail services is the top priority for the FRA. State-supported intercity passenger rail services are a key element of our rail network, carrying nearly half of Amtrak’s 31 million passengers. The states that sponsor these services have played a large part in their success,” the FRA says in a statement. “As States assume a more active role in the management of these services, including in some instances contracting with multiple service providers, they must more closely ensure their services are safe for the passengers, train crews, and communities in which they serve. States ultimately have oversight responsibility for their contractors and service providers. We are fully supportive of States finding the best, most cost-effective way to safely deliver their intercity passenger rail services and will continue to work with INDOT to keep the Hoosier service running safely.”

Meanwhile, Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific Holdings, tells Trains News Wire that if the service does launch, it will use former Santa Fe dome car Summit View, providing sit-down meals in Indiana’s version of Business Class, along with two lightweight coaches. The locomotives tentatively chosen for the service are three GP40FH-2s, which formerly ran on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor for NJ Transit.

The state confirms that the FRA has “partially inspected” the equipment and another inspection is scheduled.

“Our goal is to handle more people, selling the fact that you can increase ridership with better service. Because business class passengers will pay more for the service, we can increase the Hoosier State’s financial performance,” Ellis says. “We hope the FRA issue can be resolved to INDOT’s satisfaction.”

Trains News Wire will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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