Posts Tagged ‘Indiana Rail Road’

INRD Bringing Back Santa Train

October 7, 2021

Indiana Rail Road’s annual Santa Train will operate on Dec. 3-5, bringing Christmas joy to small towns and villages in Indiana and Illinois.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some changes have been made in the operation of the train although many traditions have been preserved.

INRD said in news release that Santa’s elves will arrive ahead of the train to prepare for its arrival.

Families will be able to watch the train arrive and Santa will appear on the back of a newly-restored caboose.

Children will still be able to mail letters to Santa via the train’s North Pole Express Mailbox.

However, visitors will not be permitted to board the train or visit with Santa due to health, security and safety concerns, INRD officials said.

The annual Santa train is a volunteer project of IND employees. It did not run in 2020 due to the pandemic. The train first operated in 1989.

“It’s great that we are able to bring this tradition back,” Indiana Rail Road CEO Dewayne Swindall said in a statement. “The Santa Train means as much to INRD employees as it does the communities in which we operate.”

Those who have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within two weeks of the Santa Train’s operation  and those showing COVID symptoms such as a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or cold- or flu-like symptoms are asked to refrain from attending the event.

INRD said guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities in close contact with those who are not fully vaccinated.

INRD Begins Intermodal Terminal Expansion

September 21, 2021

The Indiana Rail Road said it has started the first phase of a project to expand its intermodal services.

The short line railroad based in Indianapolis recently acquired 12 acres of land to expand its intermodal yard in Indianapolis.

This will allow for additional container parking capacity and flexibility and include an onsite chassis depot.

In a news release, INRD said the initial phase involves ground preparation, installation of concrete inbound-outbound traffic lanes with an innovative kiosk gate system for expedited handling.

Future work will include high security fencing, the establishment of rear access service roads, installation of low energy consumption lighting, and construction of two new loading pad tracks.

INRD said the intermodal expansion project is expected to be completed in 2023.

The intermodal terminal opened in 2013 and handled 1,450 containers in its first year.

This year, the terminal is projected to move more than 40,000 containers and recently began a new grain export operation with International Feed.

INRD Promotes 3 to VP Level Positions

September 17, 2021

Indiana Rail Road this week promoted three managers to vice presidential positions.

Brian R. Jonaitis is now assistant vice president of business development, Shae M. LeDune is assistant vice president of human resources, and Josh T. Ward was named assistant vice president and controller.

Jonaitis joined INRD’s sales and marketing staff in 2005, while LeDune joined the railroad in 2009 before moving to the human resources department 2017. Ward joined the railroad as an accountant in 2003. 

INRD Completes Solar Project

July 31, 2021

The Indiana Rail Road said it has completed the installation of a rooftop solar project at its Indianapolis headquarters.

In a news release, INRD said the solar panels provide renewable, clean energy and will help lower costs.

INRD said it has several other sustainability initiatives in place, including a LED lighting retrofitting program, investments in technological advances in fuel efficiency and a commitment to reducing the environmental footprint of operations.

INRD Names New President and CEO

June 14, 2021

The Indiana Rail Road has named Dewayne Swindall as its next president and CEO.

He replaces Peter Mills, who is leaving the company. Mills has headed INRD since July 2015.

Swindall is a former general superintendent at Canadian National who began his railroad career as a conductor and rose through a number of management positions with increasing responsibility.

He also worked for nine years as an executive at short line holding company Genesee & Wyoming.

Laying Ballast

June 13, 2021

We were on our way home as I approached the crossing of the Indiana Rail Road in Greenwood on County Line Road in suburban Indianapolis.

I didn’t expect to see an INRD train because I knew that the only two trains a day on this line operate later in the day.

So I was quite surprised to look left and see an INRD SD40-2 on the point of a work train laying ballast.

I doubled back and parked off to the side of a street aptly named Railroad Avenue that runs parallel to the tracks. I made the image with my phone.

Although not visible, a work gang was spreading the ballast behind the train.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Catching Train SAHW on the Indiana Rail Road

September 25, 2020

Indiana Rail Road train SAHW rounds the curve in Morgantown, Indiana. The railroad’s SD90MACs feature a striking red-based livery.

If you are unfamiliar with the Indiana Rail Road, perhaps the best train to chase is SAHW, a daily except Saturday run from Indianapolis (Senate Avenue Yard) to Jasonville (Hiawatha Yard).

The crew is called at Senate Avenue at 2 p.m. and the train leaves town around 2:30 p.m.

There are numerous locations to photograph the line, including the fabled Tulip Trestle in rural Greene County where the SAHW usually arrives about 5 p.m.

It was on that trestle that I first encountered the SAHW in early August.

I had been out day with two other guys and in true pandemic railfanning fashion we all drove our own vehicles.

One of the guys had a contact at the INRD and had found out what trains would be operating and when.

By the time we got to Tulip Trestle we had already seen four other INRD trains.

The normal operating procedure is for the SAHW to meet its counterpart the HWSA at Switz City.

So if you hang around Tulip Trestle after catching the SAHW, you should get the HWSA an hour or so later.

Both trains are typically pulled by two-unit sets of SD9043MACs painted in an attractive red and white livery.

The trains also carry double-stacked containers that INRD interchanges with Canadian National and which travel between Indianapolis and the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia for export.

The containers are interchanged between INRD and CN in Newton, Illinois. Every time I’ve seen the HWSA there has been a long string of containers so this business must be fairly robust.

The INRD line between Indianapolis and Newton is a former Illinois Central branch line that was in danger of being abandoned before the INRD acquired it in 1986.

Another good place to photograph the SAHW is in Bargersville. The tracks come through the middle of town in a wide swath of right of way and there is public parking on the west side next to the tracks.

There are even grain facilities to use as photo backdrops.

I’m still getting to know the INRD and where there are good photo locations, but things are off to a promising start.

Of course I wasn’t thinking that the first time I tried to catch the SAHW in Bargersville.

I arrived by 2:30 p.m. and had been told that the train should pass through around 3:15 p.m. I waited, and waited and waited, finally giving up at 4 p.m.

I would later learn that something had gone wrong that day and the SAHW didn’t get out of Senate Avenue Yard until 5 p.m.

My luck with the train since then has been much better.

If you just want to see the SAHW you can always enjoy a brew or two along with a meal on the deck of Taxman Brewing Company in Bargerville in mid afternoon next to the INRD tracks. Expect the train to arrive shortly after 3 p.m.

Crossing on Tulip Trestle in Greene County.

Passing through Morgantown, Indiana, located 30 miles south of Indianapolis.

 

Getting a bonus in Bargersville. The SAHW passes a work train with an SD40-2 and a CSX Jordan spreader that is sitting on a siding for the weekend.

Bargersville features a grain elevator to use as a backdrop.

INRD Cancels 2020 Santa Train

September 11, 2020

Another holiday season train has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indiana Rail Road announced on its Facebook page that it has cancelled its Santa Train for 2020.

The post did not mention the pandemic by name, saying only that railroad officials had discussed various ways to operate the train but concluded that could not be done safely.

The post went on to say, “the health, security, and safety or our employees must be our first priority.

INRD said it will seek to operate the Santa train in 2021.

Still Celebrating

August 15, 2020

To observe its 25th anniversary in 2011 the Indiana Rail Road had one of its SD9043MAC locomotives painted in a special livery.

It’s now nine years later and INRD 9025 is still celebrating the short line railroad’s 25th birthday.

Much has happened since INRD began by taking over a former Illinois Central branch line between Indianapolis and Newton, Illinois, that was heavily dependent upon coal traffic.

INRD now owns a former Milwaukee Road line extending southeastward from Terre Haute, Indiana, and has built a few new lines to improve operations and reach the Bear Run coal mine.

Coal is still a significant commodity hauled by INRD but the railroad has steadily sought to diversity its traffic base in the face of an uncertain future for coal traffic.

No. 9025 was captured on Aug. 4 at Latta Junction just south of Jasonville, Indiana.

The train is the turn from Palestine, Illinois, that is taking interchange traffic from Canadian National to INRD’s Hiawatha Yard about a mile or so north of here in Jasonville.

3 Short Lines Lauded for Business Development

July 10, 2020

The efforts of three Midwest short line railroads to grow new business have been honored by a trade organization representing the short line industry.

The three, which were recognized for their efforts to develop new business, are the Ann Arbor Railroad, the Indiana Rail Road and the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern.

They along with a Delaware-based carrier were winners of the 2020 Business Development Awards from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

The Ann Arbor Railroad’s efforts to create an auto distribution center grew out of an analysis of auto sales and production trends in Toledo.

That review found a need for additional capacity in the finished vehicle distribution network, particularly for sport utility vehicles and trucks.

The Ann Arbor created a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to build a distribution center in Toledo that opened in time for the July 2019 launch of the Jeep Gladiator model.

The Silver Creek distribution facility was the Ann Arbor’s fifth vehicle distribution center in Toledo.

Located on 20 acres, the facility has a 12-car rail spot and can accommodate a 90-car autorack train in support of FCA’s Toledo and Detroit assembly production with a daily 1,800-car throughput capacity.

In 2018, the Ann Arbor began using its Temperance yard in Toledo as a dedicated finished vehicle distribution center.

The yard had been used for transloading and mechanical projects but lacked significant volume.

Ann Arbor owner Watco said the distribution center played a key role in reducing FCA’s costs and maintaining its vehicles in Toledo.

That enabled work to remain in Toledo that FCA might have moved elsewhere.

The Indiana Rail Road was recognized for its work with an Indianapolis-based trucking company, Venture Logistics, to build a 406,000 square-foot distribution center in Indianapolis.

Opened in 2016, the facility with its 58 truck docks and 15 indoor rail car spots, has doubled its volume since 2017 to 2,600 carloads.

INRD CEO Pete Mills said the warehouse is a valuable asset in an era in which Class 1 railroads are practicing precision scheduled railroading and seeking to turn freight cars quickly to avoid demurrage payments.

“We can provide service six days a week and turn equipment fast with no demurrage bills,” Mills said.

The dry warehouse initially handled mostly rolled or cut stock paper, but has since expanded into food and building products, and engines and metals.

Venture provided $20 million to build the warehouse while INRD spent less than $1 million for track infrastructure.

The warehouse business has enabled INRD to broaden its traffic base beyond coal, which for many years was the short line’s primary traffic.

“We love coal, but that business is in jeopardy,” Mills said.

In Pennsylvania, the RBN&N undertook a project of providing more transloading services as a way to better serve existing shippers and attract new ones.

The railroad created new transloading facilities in West Hazleton and Ransom, and launched a trucking company that serves all four of its transload facilities.

These facilities enabled RBM&N to pick up 900 new carloads last year, which helped the short line handle a record 34,000-plus carloads for a year-over-year traffic growth of 6 percent.

RBMN purchased a former Proctor and Gamble warehouse in Ransom in October 2018. At 80,000 square feet, it’s three times larger than the railroad’s previous transload facility in the area.

CEO Any Muller said his company prefers not to lease facilities because “a lease is just throwing dollars out the window.”

He said the RBM&N has been transloading for 30 years “and it can be a big part of business, but it’s hard to accomplish. There is lots of competition.”

The Ransom facility serves five customers, handling bales of wood pulp.

The West Hazleton facility , which opened in November 2019, handles steel coils for one customer but could generate 440 carloads per year.

The short line created its own trucking company to serve its transload facilities, which enables it to provide customers with timelier and more seamless services.