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Grant money could fund Amtrak route between Louisville and Indianapolis

An Amtrak train is shown moving down a track.
Seth Tackett
Amtrak service could be developed between Indianapolis and Louisville if a new planning grant application is approved.

New federal grant money could be used to fund rail travel from Louisville to Indianapolis.

The Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) submitted the $500,000 planning grant application on Monday.

Louisville currently has no Amtrak train options. The Kentucky Cardinal was the last Amtrak train to run through Louisville to Chicago – with a stop in Indianapolis – nearly 20 years ago.

Greg Burress is with KIPDA. He said this former route was also ineffective.

We had this back in the past, but it took almost like 10 hours, I think, to get to Chicago and just something that was just not car competitive or an option for people who wanted to have,” he said.

Amtrak does offer a bus service that allows travelers to go between Louisville, Indianapolis and Chicago. However, Burress said this option is still not effective as a plane or a car.

“This will be another viable option that people could have; the idea is to definitely make it car competitive,” he said.

READ MORE: Why are there not more passenger rail systems in Indiana? Advocacy groups, experts weigh in

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Burress said the future of this project will depend on a review of the potential route.

“It is going to be looking at things similar to track upgrade, signalization, those type of things that will play a part in whether this is a viable option for Louisville,” he said.

He said this application is also the very beginning of this development, and more deliberations are needed before moving forward.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is submitting a similar planning grant request – for expanded Amtrak travel between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Amtrak currently offers a line that runs from Indianapolis to Chicago, but only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and starts in New York.

Indiana’s Hoosier State Line also used to offer service from Indianapolis to Chicago but ceased operations in 2019.

Amtrak also released its “Amtrak Connects US” plan in 2021 – which is supportive of a route that would include four round trips daily from Louisville to Chicago. Cincinnati would also be offered as a connection along the route from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Amtrak said Louisville is the fourth largest metropolitan area without Amtrak service, and that by adding Louisville and Cincinnati to these routes, it would increase train services to more than 14 million people.

Burress is hopeful that the organization will get an answer about the planning grant by the summer.

Violet is our daily news reporter. Contact her at vcomberwilen@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.
Copyright 2023 IPB News.

Violet Comber-Wilen

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