Passenger Rail on Track for Fort Wayne

By Rachel Martin

June 24, 2013 Updated Jun 24, 2013 at 6:17 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – It's an idea that's been in the works for several years, but now having a passenger rail system in Fort Wayne is closer than ever.

There are still some steps to getting this on "track,” but if approved by the Federal Rail Administration, construction could begin in the next couple years. On Wednesday, the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) announced they're putting together a study to evaluate the project's potential.

According to organizer, Geoff Paddock, the passenger rail system is three-state effort between Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, but NIPRA is also in talks with cities in Michigan.

For now, the train will offer rides to Chicago and Columbus, Ohio in less than two hours. However, it won't be considered a "high speed rail,” but it will travel up 110 mph.

"This is a new updated train system with passenger trains that are attractive, that are sleek. Some of those parts, engines and locomotives are manufactured and serviced right here in the state of Indiana, and some of those parts could be made here in Fort Wayne,” he said.

Paddock says the rail is expected to have great economic impact on the area by bringing in more jobs, and saving more money in the long run.

"It's much more expensive to build highways. It's estimated to be about $20 million a mile for the I-69 extension from Indianapolis to Evansville. About $12-15 million a mile for the U.S. 24 extension to the Ohio line, and we're running out of room to build highways,” he said.

NIPRA will be making a formal presentation about the rail by showing a documentary called, "Trainsforming America” by Rebecca Sansom. The documentary is to promote the positive aspects of passenger rail service. The showing will be on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, formerly the Scottish Rite Theater, downtown.

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