FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The possibility of passenger rail service returning to Fort Wayne has become more realistic as railroads become a topic of conversation from the Indiana statehouse to Washington, D.C. The Summit City has also been included in regional efforts to expand access to passenger trains.
City Councilman Geoff Paddock has worked for two decades to bring passenger rail service to Fort Wayne. A board member of the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association, Paddock has had his ear to the ground when it comes to passenger rail discussions that could include Fort Wayne. According to Paddock, the city is one of the largest in the country without passenger rail service.
“We have the Baker Street Station ready to go,” Paddock told WANE 15. “Our friends in Warsaw, Plymouth, Valparaiso and Gary, we’ve been working with them for years. They’re ready to go. They’ve got train stations or the possibility of that happening, so there’s much potential here that could be done in a relatively short period of time if we can get folks together.”
Paddock has been counting on several things to line up, allowing for the service to arrive. A bill in the statehouse would allow for the creation of a Passenger Rail Commission. Much attention has been on the massive infrastructure bill in Washington, D.C. There are also people in power who have knowledge of rail service and the Hoosier state in Amtrak-riding President Biden and Indiana-native Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Meanwhile, the Midwest Regional Rail Service has drawn up a map that would include Fort Wayne in a line from Chicago to Toledo, which is different than the previously-discussed Chicago to Columbus, Ohio track.
“We may not be many years away, with this particular plan because my understanding is that transportation advocates and some officials are seeing that we have a line here,” Paddock said. “This line that goes from Fort Wayne to Valparaiso is about as straight as an arrow a hundred-some miles. It does have freight traffic. Freight traffic gets priority, but we’re hopeful that we could see the possibility with passing track, with signals, with an effort to separate passenger rail from freight that we would have an opportunity to add passenger rail service and probably the provider would be Amtrak, although that is never for certain.”
Paddock added that if this version of the plan to route trains through Fort Wayne worked out, it would not detract from the platform in Waterloo.