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three days, the space on the timetable is oc- cupied by the N.Y-Chicago Cardinal, not very conducive to a get-to-work-in-the-morning operation, would you say? Especially when the Cardinal, having been on the rails since the prior day out of New York, is on a siding somewhere waiting for freight trains to clear the tracks so it can proceed to Chicago via In- dianapolis. So on the one hand you have passengers

waiting on the platform in Indianapolis in the pre-dawn hours, while far away in Ohio there’s the long-distance Cardinal that could be doing double duty as a sometimes very late commuter train on its way to the Windy City.

Enter: Ed Ellis

Ed Ellis is a private contractor and CEO of Iowa Pacific Holdings, an aggressively ambi- tious railroader who would like to be the solu- tion to the above problem. The state of Indiana shelled out some dol-

lars late last year to Ellis’s company to main- tain the rail cars, as well as provide food and beverage services on the 196-mile route be- tween Chicago and Indianapolis. Once those issues were solved with Ellis’s Chicago-based company, the FRA resumed talks with Am- trak to provide engineers, conductors, tickets, and access to tracks owned by freight rail- roads. So that get us back to the big question of

what many believe is needed — a passenger corridor between Chicago and Indianapolis. Ellis believes the key is marketing.

Signs of Progress

The state of Indiana announced it signed an agreement “in principle” with Iowa Pacific Holdings and the FRA, and resumed talks with Amtrak. This will take time and pa- tience before the program gets off the ground As Ellis commented, “In the world of trans- portation, there are three groups of people: people who need to get somewhere in a hurry; those who need to go somewhere; and those who are looking for a reason to go. The way they ran trains back in the day, they spent a lot of time thinking about events and reasons people need to ride the train.” So obviously, there are some details yet

to be cleared up. But after almost incredible patience, Ed Ellis appears to be approaching the goal in his dream venture, likely running such trips as football game packages. Just as one example, Ellis promises he will be selling Purdue football packages. To be sure, there are critics. Brian Farkas,

a official of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, is uncertain that Ellis can per- suade the state legislature to cooperate.

Tax Hike on Railroads?

A fight between the state of Alabama and CSX could have considerable impact on railroad taxation in many states. At the center of the legal tiff is whether a 1976 federal law that prohibits states from im- posing taxes on trucking companies and barge operators ends up discriminating against railroads. CSX officials are confi- dent the high court will rule in its favor.

WES VERNON IS A WASHINGTON WRITER and veteran broadcast journalist. You can reach him with questions or comments at

Moves by Rail The Circus

This Carstens Classic is the definitive book on American circus trains from the earliest days to the big, modern Ringling Brothers operations of today. Including Ringling, Hagenbeck, Wild West Shows, Clyde Beatty and others. Features 400 pages of detailed information on circus train cars, operations, rebuilding, lettering, and more. Order your copy today!



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