The Crusader Newspaper Group

Ridership and revenue grow on Hoosier State Train

The Indiana Department of Transportation and on-line communities announce continued growth in riders and ticket revenue aboard the Hoosier State® passenger train, which operates four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago.

The Hoosier State welcomed 2,428 riders in September, a 46 percent increase from September 2015 and the fifth straight month that ridership exceeded the same period in 2015. Ticket revenue totaled $82,324 in September – a 64 percent increase from September 2015 – marking a full year of revenue exceeding the same months the prior year.

On-time arrivals between Indianapolis and Chicago averaged 86 percent in August and 82 percent in September. Yesterday CSX Transportation replaced the manual switch near the Crawfordsville station with a new switch that is expected to cut 8 to 15 minutes from a one-way trip.

New amenities

INDOT and the on-line communities contract with Iowa Pacific Holdings to provide the train equipment, train maintenance and new on-board amenities. Under a separate contract, Amtrak serves as the train operator, works with host railroads, provides train and engine crews, and manages ticketing and reservations.

Passengers can stay productive or relax and enjoy the journey with free power outlets and 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.

Purchase tickets

Students may take 30 percent off the coach fares with the code V408 and all passengers may take 15 percent off coach fares with the code V431. Upgrades to business class are available for an additional charge. Both discounts require tickets to be purchased at least three days in advance.

For full terms and conditions and to purchase tickets, visit, call 800-USA-RAIL or use other Amtrak sales channels, including mobile apps.

Track consultant

To further improve Hoosier State speed and performance, INDOT sought proposals for an on-call track consultant with specialized experience in rail engineering. The consultant would perform technical analysis on private freight lines and assist INDOT in pursuing grants for track improvements.

Request for Proposals 1610 is on the web at and private-sector proposals were due today, Oct. 25.

Small pets on board

Riders may now bring small dogs and cats under 20 pounds aboard the Hoosier State for $25 one way. The pet must be odorless, harmless, non-disruptive, at least eight weeks old and up-to-date on all vaccinations.

Owners must provide a leak-proof and well-ventilated pet carrier under 19” long x 14” wide x 10.5” high. The pet carrier counts as one piece of carry-on luggage, and the pet must remain inside the carrier under the rider’s seat.

Pet reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis for up to five small pets per train, not including service animals. If boarding in Indianapolis or Chicago, please check in at the ticket office no later than 30 minutes before departure and sign a Release and Indemnification Agreement.

Chicago boarding procedure

The four-days-weekly Hoosier State combines with Amtrak’s three-days-weekly Cardinal to provide daily passenger-rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago. Passengers boarding or connecting in Chicago Union Station should now check in with a uniformed Amtrak employee for a boarding pass. The earlier passengers check in, the earlier they will board the train.

Passengers should arrive at Chicago Union Station at least 45 minutes before departure – 60 minutes if assistance is needed with ticketing, pets or other services. A boarding call will be announced about 30 minutes before departure, and passengers will board with their assigned group. Boarding gates close five minutes before train departure.

To be among the first to board the train in Chicago, coach customers can upgrade to business class to enjoy advanced boarding from the Metropolitan Lounge or purchase a priority boarding pass for $20.

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