Policy and Services
Federal Railroad Administration: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) actively supports the development of the nation’s intercity passenger rail system. FRA informs and implements Administration policy regarding the nation’s intercity passenger rail systems and sponsors passenger rail improvements and services. Formed in 1967, the FRA conducted studies and demonstrations, provided oversight and administered federal grants to the nation’s intercity passenger rail system under the High-Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 and the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, which relieved private rail carriers of their obligation to provide passenger rail service. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), which created new railroad investment programs and reauthorized Amtrak for five years, affirms federal involvement in developing the nation’s intercity passenger rail system.
FRA’s passenger rail activities include:
- Administering federal grants and loans;
- Supporting the Secretary of Transportation in his capacity as a member of Amtrak’s board of directors;
- Providing guidance and analysis of intercity passenger rail services and high-speed rail (HSR);
The FRA’s Office of Railroad Policy and Development provides financial assistance, quantitative analysis, environmental research, project reviews, research and development, technical assistance, and supports development of intercity passenger rail policy. In addition, the Office studies potential high-speed rail corridors across the country, assesses Amtrak’s operations and performance levels, provides technical assistance for high-speed rail planning, and conducts environmental reviews of high-speed rail projects.
As projects for new or improved passenger rail service advance through the planning stages, technical expertise and guidance is provided for systems, rail line, station, and rolling stock design and also for environmental documentation. In addition, the Office implements the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as they relate to movement of passengers by rail in the United States.
Indiana Department of Transportation – Rail Office: INDOT’s Rail Office is dedicated to preserving and developing freight and passenger corridors throughout the state of Indiana. This is done through financial assistance to railroads and port authorities, participation in regional planning groups, and monitoring rail industry developments.
Hoosier State Passenger Rail: The Hoosier State and the Cardinal services provide daily roundtrip passenger rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago, which includes intermediate stops in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer. For schedule information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Amtrak website.
Existing passenger rail services and operations are controlled by Amtrak and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NCTD/South Shore). Indiana also has several tourist trains that operate in the state. For more information about individual train schedules, please contact the operator directly.
Amtrak: In addition to the Hoosier State and the Cardinal, Amtrak has two other services that travel through Indiana. The Capital Limited runs daily between Chicago and Washington, DC with stops in Waterloo, Elkhart and South Bend, IN. The Capitol Limited also has limited walk-on bike service.
The Lake Share Limited operates daily between Chicago and New York, with stops in South Bend, Elkhart and Waterloo, IN. For more information about these services visit the Amtrak website at Amtrak.com.
INDOT has provided more than $1 million in financial assistance for capital improvements to the historic Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility. This infusion helped Amtrak renovate buildings used to expand repair services and secure jobs of Beech Grove and Indianapolis area residents.
NICTD/South Shore: The 1977 state General Assembly created NICTD to preserve service on the South Shore Railroad which serves St. Joseph, LaPorte, Porter and Lake counties. Service originates in South Bend, and has 20 stops before reaching Chicago, the final destination. For more information, visit the NICTD website at nictd.com.
Midwest Regional Rail Initiative: The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission is an interstate compact of Midwestern state legislators, governors and their designees who believe that preservation and expansion of the existing passenger rail system is essential. For more information, please visit miprc.org.
Midwestern states, through the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative have developed plans over the years to improve passenger rail service in this region. Indiana is one of eight member states which include Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Chicago – Detroit/Pontiac Rail Corridor: Indiana is working with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to improve passenger rail along the Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac corridor. For more information about this effort, please visit the website at GreatlakesRail.org.
Chicago – Fort Wayne – Columbus: The City of Fort Wayne is spearheading the effort for passenger rail through this corridor. Although their 2014 application for a Tier 1 Environmental study was not selected for an FRA grant, the group is working to identify future funding opportunities and to advance the environmental study. The route would have Indiana stops in Gary, Valparaiso, Plymouth and Elkhart. For more information on passenger rail efforts in the northern part of the state, please visit the website www.niprarail.org.
Tourist Trains: For those interested in a bit of nostalgia, several tourist trains operate in Indiana. For more information on scheduling and pricing, please contact the operator directly. INDOT does not have jurisdiction over tourist trains.