Group believes Hoosier State train can thrive

Recently, the Hoosier State passenger train from Indianapolis to Chicago was discontinued by Amtrak due to funding restrictions by the state of Indiana, compounded by stalled negotiations with Amtrak. Between the four-day per week service of the Hoosier State, and the three-day per week service on Amtrak’s Cardinal line, Indianapolis and other Indiana cities had a daily rail connection to Chicago. That service is now reduced to a bare-bones thrice weekly.

Also serviced were the university cities of West Lafayette/Lafayette (Purdue) and Crawfordsville (Wabash), along with Rensselaer and Dyer. (Rensselaer has a six-year-old depot that is currently only partially used.)

The fact that a state with a storied rail history would walk away from such service, while continuing to fund interstate highways, airports and marine ports indicates that this may have been more than a simple budgetary matter — though Amtrak’s reluctance to budge on contractual negotiations does not help.

We understand that Indiana has an unexpectedly high budget surplus, and is looking for creative ways to spend some of that money. Well, it’s time to get more creative with our transportation network and options. (Yes, we need Amtrak’s cooperation and willingness to be a congenial partner.)

Even though tax-supported interstates, airports and ports are not touted as profit centers for our state, some members of our state legislature have expected the Hoosier State and Amtrak to be profitable. They cite average to slightly-above-average rail passenger statistics — and cost — as being reasons for eliminating the line. 

But what has the state of Indiana done to promote the Hoosier State train? What has Amtrak done to market the line?

Since Indy’s historic Union Station is suitable for some rail users, but is not always the easiest access for all, here’s what might help to re-start and reinvigorate the line: A new station in the fast-developing Brownsburg area, which currently lies on the railroad line but without a station, with simple access, inexpensive parking and amenities that riders could access in the Brownsburg area. (Considering that recent major developments in downtown Brownsburg show that the city wants to attract new residents and visitors, it’s doubtful it would object to increased tourism.)

Additional necessary improvements in service include matching the Hoosier State schedule with that of the Cardinal, wi-fi on all cars, synchronizing Indy departure/arrival times with Indygo bus service, adding a second train daily, and ... as previously alluded to, far better marketing.

In the past some of our leadership has objected to “subsidizing” train service as if that’s a distasteful concept. These objections seem hypocritical when those same leaders “subsidize” highways, stadiums, schools, and a gigantic laundry list of other state programs daily. (Notice the massive traffic jams as Indiana taxpayers are now paying for the complete overhauling of Interstate 465 and other Indiana interstates.)

The 29,000 annual users of the Hoosier State lost one of their vital transportation choices between Indianapolis and Chicago when the service was stopped. It’s time to reinstitute rail service while honoring Indiana’s amazing railroad history and provide folks with a comfortable method of travel. With energized marketing, creative thinking and some updated facilities in new locations, the Hoosier State can thrive, and at least be as financially beneficial as our interstates, airports and marine ports.

Nicholas Kohne, Franklin

Chris Jordan, Brookston

Bryan Debshaw, Zionsville

Darrell Sherrod, Kokomo 

Greg Jones, Fishers

Tony Hedrick, Kokomo

Richard Ralston, Indianapolis

James Ellison, Logansport

Karin Maloney, Fishers

Marni Macy Hamilton, Noblesville

Tyler Mendenhall, Westfield

Sara Schmidt, Fishers

Derek Zollinger, Carmel

Richard Vonnegut, Indianapolis

Gary M. Davis, Plainfield

Logan Day, Fishers


‘White Nationalism,’ whatever that is — really?

I am writing in response to Leo Morris’s opinion column printed yesterday in the Journal Review about the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. As an English professor at Wabash for 36 years, my major lesson to my students was that the words we choose to use, especially in writing, and speech, matter a great deal. Lives may, literally, depend on the precision and honesty of our language. Morris is also a professor, and he knows how to write. Unfortunately, and I find this is true of many of his columns, he uses language in a manipulative and glib way to hide the truth about his deeply held ideological beliefs. And this dishonesty, instead of leading to dialogue across differences resulting, hopefully, in meaningful solutions to our common problems, keeps us rooted in our divisive camps.

In this column, he draws us in by acknowledging what we all agree on — that these were “horrific events,” but then he dismisses any possibility of understanding and dealing with the problem by saying that all of the proposed solutions — solutions that often, but not always, come from Democrats, are “always … misguided.” (Morris never openly labels himself a Republican or Conservative, but the majority of his columns, as this one, are strongly one-sided.)

While I would be happy to debate with Morris on the solutions he dismisses — particularly gun control — it is his dismissal of “white nationalism” as a cause for the El Paso shootings that angered me, and motivated me to write this letter. He, we, all know what “white nationalism” stands for, and his comment, “whatever that is,” is not just cute glibness, but dangerous, willful blindness. The shooter made his motives completely clear, despite Morris’s attempts to ignore this by saying he had a “feeble mind,” that he wanted to kill Hispanics, and then proceeded to do so. The phrases “White Nationalism,” “white supremacy,” “racism,” “anti-semitism,” “Islamaphobia,” are all the same — they say “I am better than you, and you are not only inferior to me but a threat that must be eliminated.” If we can’t all agree that this thinking is wrong, and when acted on, yes, “evil,” we are lost.

In October, after the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh, I, as a Jew, was supported by many of my Crawfordsville neighbors as we marched to Lane Place and held a vigil in support of those slain by ignorance and hate. We can come together, even in these divisive times, if we are caring and vigilant. Being vigilant means watching the words we, and others, use. They matter.

Warren Rosenberg


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