Progress through Partnerships: The History of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association

Progress through Partnerships: The History of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association

Dorothy Hagan (Independent Researcher, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0102-2.ch011
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Abstract

This chapter provides a brief history of the development of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) and includes: 1) An overview of two studies utilized by NIPRA to develop their preferred rail corridor through Fort Wayne; 2) the partnerships that were developed at the local level across the corridor; 3) the study completed to provide a business case for the corridor; 4) discussions on coordination and fundraising efforts by NIPRA and the City of Fort Wayne staff, including a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grant application; and 5) the next steps for NIPRA and corridor partners.
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Background

This chapter has been informed, reviewed, and edited by members of the NIPRA Board and staff of the City of Fort Wayne Planning Department. As this is only a historical essay, there are no literature reviews or “positions” taken for this chapter.

The Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association is an organization, which has been dedicated to bringing rejuvenated passenger rail service to Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. The organization believes that our transportation system should include rail, highway, and air modalities. According to Paddock and Hayhurst (2009), passenger rail service would provide several benefits to the residents of Northeast Indiana and surrounding areas including a stronger economy, increasing variety of jobs, enhanced security, and a cleaner environment.

The mission of NIPRA is to collaborate and work closely with the local, state, and federal elected and appointed officials, as well as business leaders in this region, to promote the bringing back of passenger rail service to Fort Wayne. This service would be in addition to the train service that currently connects through Waterloo. Also, NIPRA hopes to present more actively the refurbished Baker Street Train Station, the growing citizen support, and the positive community enthusiasm that has been generated for passenger train service in and around our city. NIPRA contends that the state of Indiana intentionally and actively collaborate with the surrounding nine Midwestern states to bring a sophisticated and efficient passenger rail service network to the Midwest, which would provide major economic and other related benefits for Fort Wayne and Northeastern Indiana too. Experts have estimated that about 4500+ full time permanent job would be created in Indiana alone with the completion of the high-speed rail network (Paddock & Hayhurst, 2009).

One of the major purposes of NIPRA is to focus on positively influencing the local government and business leaders in the region that supporting the reinstitution of passenger rail service in Fort Wayne will benefit our city and state in many ways. We point to some obvious facts with our current transportation system. Our highways are becoming highly congested with increasing traffic, and our nation’s airports are becoming extensively overloaded with travellers in an increasingly mobile society that an optimal alternative like high-speed rail becomes highly critical, attractive, and necessary. Passenger trains can provide efficient and timely travel, particularly with destinations from 100 to 300 miles in length. Although gasoline prices are currently relatively low, prices could easily climb to the $4+ per gallon mark again, and fossil fuels are the major cause of air pollution. Rail transportation uses approximately one tenth of the fuel per passenger mile, when comparing a train with 400 passengers with an automobile carrying one passenger. Hence, when we can move more travellers via passenger rail transport modes, this will lead to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and bring us closer to the eventual goal of energy independence. Further, when airplanes are grounded by inclement weather conditions or a national emergency, train travel would provide a ready and efficient alternative means of moving stranded passengers throughout the country.

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