Rail Group Seeks Name Change

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The Indiana High Speed Rail Association wants to change its name. The organization says it will become the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance, pending approval from the state. The group's board says the change better reflects efforts to promote passenger rail in Indiana. March 3, 2014

News ReleaseHighland – The board of directors of the Indiana High Speed Rail Association recently voted to change the name of the organization. Depending on approval from the state of Indiana, the group will soon become known as the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA).

The board members sees the name change as supportive of the ongoing effort to promote passenger rail services in Indiana. Current efforts include a study and expansion of Amtrak’s Hoosier State line from Chicago to Indianapolis by way of Dyer, Rensselaer, Lafayette and Crawfordsville; and an economic development study of the Northern Indiana corridor by the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association that links Columbus, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Warsaw, Valparaiso, Gary and Chicago.

The group also intends to support and encourage the proposed expansion of the South Shore Railroad commuter line in Northern Indiana and the plans of the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority for a commuter light rail system, which is under consideration in the Indianapolis area.

The Indiana High Speed Rail Association was originally organized by public relations consultant Dennis Hodges of Gary, and Gwendolyn Adams and Joseph Frierson, then of the City of Gary, in March 1992. The group was incorporated on June 15, 1994.

In another development, the IPRA board elected Steven Coxhead of Hammond to be its next president and Kate Zale of the URS Corporation Indianapolis office as its secretary.

Coxhead is a retired information systems professional with over 40 years’ experience in solving problems related to business processes and database organization. He has held staff management positions at several not-for-profit organizations and private sector companies.

He is in his third two-year term as representative for Indiana on the council of the National Association of Rail Passengers and a member of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. He also holds membership in the Monon Railroad Historical Society and the New York Central Historical Society. He joined the board of the Indiana High Speed Rail Association in September 2013.

Reelected to office were George Vande Werken of the Providence Bank Schererville Office as treasurer, Indianapolis attorney Bill Schlosser as legal advisor, Steven Cecil of the Longest, Beam and Associates Indianapolis office as vice president of administration, and Hodges of Gary as its vice president of marketing and membership.

Re-elected to the board of directors were Fred Lanahan, president of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association, Thomas Hayhurst, M.D., and city councilman Geoffrey Paddock of Parkview Health all of Fort Wayne; Michael Koyak of American Structurepoint, Inc, and Theodore Wetekamp of Hewlett Packard both of Indianapolis; Elizabeth Solberg retired railroad executive, Thom Davis of Oscar Winski, Inc. Joseph Krause, Amtrak volunteer; Joseph Seaman of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and Dana Smith retired chamber executive all of the Lafayette / West Lafayette area.

Also reelected, Robert Garity, retired from Nipsco; Pat Pullara of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors, both in Merrillville; Jeffrey Bainter of the Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employees in Muncie, and Mark Dobson of the Warsaw / Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw.

Coxhead says, “The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance must present itself as a grass roots, citizens’ advocacy organization, dedicated to bringing modern, 21st Century, passenger rail service to this state.” He adds, “If we are ever to succeed, we must understand that somehow and some way, the nature of the public dialogue on transportation in Indiana must change. We will not succeed if this does not happen.”

The new transportation executive wants to help IPRA to bring about that dialogue and change in regards to passenger rail.Source: Indiana High Speed Rail Association