A look at how Hoosiers use passenger rails

A map of a proposed passenger rail line that would run through Fort Wayne.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  More than 134,000 people used passenger rails in the state of Indiana this year and with the recent announcement of a possible train running through Fort Wayne we wanted to take a closer look at existing lines in the Hoosier state.

There are 11 places you can catch a train in Indiana. Right now, the closest to Fort Wayne are the Amtrak lines that run through Waterloo. It’s the fourth busiest line in the state with more than 20,000 riders this year.

“We’ve seen high, strong ridership going through Waterloo, Elkhart and South Bend on the Lake Shore Limited and the Capitol Limited,” Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association Fred Lanahan said.

The group behind the proposed Fort Wayne line, Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association, closely monitors ridership on that line. It also watches the Hoosier State Line that connects Indianapolis and Chicago with a stop in Lafayette. That line is managed by an Amtrak-state partnership and has seen a spike in ridership recently. In September, 2,428 people rode that train which is a 46 percent increase from that same time in 2015.

“We’ve seen steady increases in revenue, ridership and also on-time performance as a result of working more closely the host railroads that own the rail line,” INDOT spokesperson Will Wingfield said.

Lanahan said they’re using that line as an example as they develop the proposed Fort Wayne line, and no matter what they do Amtrak must be involved especially when it comes to dealing with freight companies.

“If we don’t have Amtrak in the mix they don’t have to deal with us but if Amtrak is involved they have to deal with Amtrak, so definitely Amtrak will be part of the mix either completely or in a public-private partnership,” Lanahan said.

To learn more about the proposed Fort Wayne to Chicago line click here.