BEECH GROVE, Ind. — Around 500 jobs could be at risk of going away if the Hoosier State Rail Line ends up shutting down in July as scheduled.
The rail service is operated under contract from the state by Amtrak. State lawmakers decided not to renew it’s $3 million in funding in the next state budget, which was passed by the state legislature late last night.
Danny Groves is a carman and welder for Amtrak. He tells WISH-TV that once the Hoosier State Line shuts down, a lot of his work load will go away putting his job and 499 other like his at risk.
“Beech Grove was built around this [rail] yard. We know each other’s wives. We know each other’s families,” Groves said. “If this happens we’ll only be able to get equipment in three days a week.”
That three days of equipment would be from the Cardinal line which will still be operating along the same route between Indianapolis and Chicago. The Cardinal line would be the only train service between the two cities once the Hoosier State line ends.
“If can only move rail equipment three days a week, it’s going to put these 500 jobs at some kind of risk,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
Looking for funding from the federal level is not an option since Washington decided a while back that rail lines as short as the Hoosier state line should be under the purview of the state and on the federal government.
“The Hoosier State has the lowest ridership and highest taxpayer subsidy per ticket sold of all Amtrak state sponsored routes,” said INDOT spokesman Scott Manning in an emailed statement. “Today, ridership is stagnant… As a result of the low number of users, INDOT and local governments subsidize about 75 percent of the cost of each ticket sold on the Hoosier State. This does not represent a good value to Hoosier taxpayers.”
More than 400 people directly affected by the decision to cut the Hoosier State’s funding have signed a petition urging state lawmakers to reconsider.