On Monday, January 30, 2017, Iowa Pacific Holdings, one of the six partners of the APRHF Rail Rangers, released the following statement on its website:
As you may recall, Mr. Ed Ellis, President of Iowa Pacific, approached the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation in June 2016 about working together to develop a series of interpretive programs for the Hoosier State. This developed into the current effort of having interpretive guides on the train on select Sunday mornings between Lafayette, Indiana and Chicago Union Station. The first onboard program launched in late November 2016. This partnership also involved the Indiana Department of Transportation and sponsorship from the Hilton Garden Inn and Campus Inn Motel in West Lafayette, Indiana.
As Iowa Pacific’s statement reads, the company will no longer be providing the equipment (train cars) or on-board crews for the Hoosier State after February 28, 2017.
News of this impending change in service has received extensive coverage in the rail community over the past few days, with many people sending messages to the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation as to the future of the Rail Rangers’ programs on the Hoosier State train.
Here is what we can tell you at this point:
* Our three remaining scheduled onboard programs in February 2017 WILL continue as scheduled. This includes programs on Sunday, February 5, 2017, Sunday, February 11, 2017, and Sunday, February 26, 2017. Northbound Train #851 between Lafayette, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois. Come ride with us on any of these dates — we look forward to seeing you and having your ride the dome car with us!
* The future of our programs beyond March 1, 2017 will be determined by the Indiana Department of Transportation and Amtrak. This includes the previously scheduled programs on Sunday, March 5, 2017, Sunday, March 11, 2017, and March 26, 2017. We are waiting to meet with INDOT officials and should have an answer shortly if our programs will continue beyond March 1, 2017 when Iowa Pacific is no longer involved in the onboard services. (If you were planning on riding with us on one of these dates in March 2017, you might want to consider moving your ride up to one of the February dates, if possible to ensure that you have guides on your train trip).
* Regardless of what happens with our “Riding the Hoosier Rails” program, the Rail Rangers will still be presenting multiple onboard programs on private rail excursions in 2017. We are waiting to finalize our schedule with our private rail car partners and will announce several trip dates by the end of February 2017. When trips become more of a sure thing, they will be posted on our website at www.railrangers.org.
The APRHF Rail Rangers would like to thank the Indiana Department of Transportation and Iowa Pacific for allowing our interpretive guides on the train. We hope all of the positive feedback that was received from passengers goes to show that people really are curious what’s out their window. One of our favorite saying is — people don’t watch the Travel Channel or History Channel with the audio turned off — so why would someone go on a train trip and not know what they are seeing out their window?
Once we have more information about the “Riding the Hoosier Rails” program, we will post it here, as well as sending out an E-Newsletter update.