Posts Tagged ‘Indiana tourist railroads’

New Indiana Tourist Railroad Being Planned

October 27, 2017

A new Indiana tourist train operation is making plans to commence operations in spring 2018.

Known as the Nickel Plate Express, the trains will be operated by the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad and use a former NKP branch line between Atlanta and Noblesville, Indiana.

The line once ran between Indianapolis and Michigan City, Indiana, but several portions of it have been abandoned.

The line in Hamilton and Marion counties has been inactive in the past year but had previously been used by the Indiana Transportation Museum.

The cities of Fishers and Noblesville want to abandon the tracks between the latter city and Indianapolis in order to create a hike and bike trail. That matter is now pending before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Nickel Plate Express will be headquartered at the Arcadia Heritage Depot.

Although the tourist train operator has created a website, it has not listed any schedules, fare information or a service inauguration date.

However, the site said the trains will operate regular excursions Fridays through Sundays along the 12-mile track between Noblesville and Atlanta.

Departures will take place from Noblesville arriving in Cicero, Arcadia and Atlanta; to Noblesville from Atlanta; from Atlanta to Arcadia and the old spur or “Davon Y” between 216th & 221st Streets.

The website can be found at https://www.nickelplateexpress.net/

Ousted Volunteers Behind ITM Recall Drive

August 30, 2016

Trains magazine reported Monday that a group of former volunteers at the Indiana Transportation Museum is behind a online petition drive seeking to remove the current directors of the museum.

The seven former volunteers have said they were dismissed last March after they complained to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Indiana attorney general’s office about alleged operating and financial improprieties at ITM.

Indiana Transportation MuseumJason Hardister, a spokesman for the volunteers, told Trains that he group began the recall drive.

He noted the ITM bylaws provide for the ouster of members of the board by a vote by members in good standing.

“We’re trying to save the place,” Hardister told Trains. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do all along, and we’ve been open and transparent about it. We don’t want to run the museum into the ground.”

The ITM has been unable to operate any excursions this year because the owner of the track that it uses, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, has not allowed it.

The Port Authority said an inspection found the track was not in good operating condition. The authority has also sought records pertaining to the ITM’s operating crews.

Trains said it was unable to reach ITM Chairman Jeffrey Kehler for comment about the recall effort.

Petition Seeks ITM Board’s Ouster

August 27, 2016

An anonymous online petition is seeking to remove the board of directors of the Indiana Transportation Museum.

Indiana Transportation MuseumThe embattled organization has been unable to run excursion trains this year and reportedly has been or is under investigation by the Indiana attorney general’s office and the Federal Railroad Administration.

The owner of the tracks used by the museum, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, has refused to allow it to use the 37 miles of former Nickel Plate Road rails, citing alleged safety and maintenance violations.

Already, the museum has been forced to cancel its trips during the Indiana State Fair and the likelihood of excursions being held this summer appear slim.

Trains magazine reported on Friday that the museum and the port authority had appeared to come to an understanding about what needs to be done to resume excursions, but it remains to be seen how that is going to work out.

Indiana Fair Train Won’t Run in 2016

August 4, 2016
ITM

Passengers board the Indiana Fair Train in Fishers in August 2011. The train has been particularly popular among families for the past 30 years.

Tourist trains of the Indiana Transportation Museum are still not operating and now the museum will not be operating its Fair Train this year.

The 11-mile, 45-minute daily rail shuttles between Noblesville and the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis had been one of the museum’s most popular and profitable ventures, bringing in $120,000 in revenue.

In some years, the Fair Train has originated in Fishers. The Fair Train operates nine times a day during the Fair and last year carried 10,000 passengers.

But ITM still doesn’t have an operating agreement with the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which owns the former Nickel Plate Road tracks that ITM trains use for its trains.

“We are of course saddened that we will not be able to provide this unique experience for families this year,” said museum Chairman Jeffrey Kehler.

The port authority owns 37 miles of track between Tipton and Fishers that passes the ITM museum location in Noblesville.

The ITM’s operating practices have been reported to be under review by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Indiana attorney general’s office after a group of seven volunteers alleged financial and operational mismanagement.

The seven have since been dismissed by the ITM.

For its part, the port authority has described the suspension of service as a safety issue, saying that rusted and cracked rail fasteners, overgrown vegetation obstructing tracks, and insufficient vision and hearing records for locomotive engineers are behind the cancellation of the Fair Train.

“These issues are not issues that should be rushed through just for the sake of the Fair Train,” said Port Authority President Mike Obergfell in an email sent to local officials. “The liability is too high to waive our requirements in my opinion.”

The Indianapolis Star reported that the port authority halted the Fair Train because the ITM failed to meet requirements the authority had demanded.

These include providing medical certifications for ITM operating personnel, track inspection reports and track maintenance records.

This would have been the 30th year the train served the Indiana State Fair. For three years during the 1980s, the Fair Train ran on former Monon tracks that have since been removed and the right of way converted to a trail.

The Star said that after the seven volunteers were terminated after making their allegations, the ITM was left without an operations board to care for the museum’s equipment and tracks.

The FRA subsequently conducted a limited safety inspection that found that the ITM’s equipment was working.

Obergfell said in his email that ITM did not provide enough information in time to save the Fair Train this year.

He said he rode along the tracks on Wednesday with two independent railroad inspectors and discovered several potentially dangerous places, including on the Fall Creek Bridge, which had “serious rusting” of a critical support structure.

Obergfell said bushes and trees are blocking the sight lines along the tracks through neighborhoods of Indianapolis.

Kehler countered that the track is in good enough condition to run the trains but ITM couldn’t get its engineer and conductor medical records in time.

“We gave the HHPS what we thought were sufficient records, but they asked for more,” he said.

Kehler said ITM personnel have not been allowed to conduct track repairs since March.

He said ITM’s 12 locomotive engineers are disheartened at the cancellation of the Fair Train. “This is the highlight of their year,” Kehler said.

“We will continue to work with HHPA, its rail consultant, and others associated with HHPA,” he said. “Our record of safety is unparalleled in our over 30-year operating history, and we will continue that record as we go forward.”

Lake State to Operate Indiana Short Line

July 27, 2016

Lake State Railway will operate a former Chesapeake & Ohio line in North Judson, Indiana, that is also used by a tourist train operation.

Lake StateThe city’s town council recently voted to lease the track to LSR and negotiations are being conducted to allow the Hoosier Valley Railroad to have access to the track.

Those negotiations are expected to be completed by the middle of August.

The line had previously been operated by the Chesapeake & Indiana Railroad.

Earlier this year, the Hoosier Valley had curtailed its operations due to what it described on its website as a legal dispute over control of the rail line.

The route is a portion of the former C&O of Indiana, which extended from Chicago to Cincinnati.

CSX abandoned most of the route and portions of it have been converted to a hiking and biking trail that is named after Amtrak’s Cardinal, which once traveled the route.

ITM Excursion Trains Still Not Operating

July 1, 2016

The Indiana Transportation Museum has yet to launch its summer excursion train schedule, continuing to be mired in the aftermath of a dispute between the museum’s current administration and group of seven volunteers who have filed various complaints about alleged improprieties in operations and finances.

The museum, based in Noblesville, runs excursions on a 37-mile former Nickel Plate Road route that is owned by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority.

Indiana Transportation MuseumAside from weekend trips, the ITM also operates shuttle trains to the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis in August.

An online report by Trains magazine said the museum is still awaiting permission from the port authority to use its tracks.

ITM chairman Jeffrey Kehler told Trains that the museum has completed all paperwork required by the authority and hopes to get approval to resume excursions no later than July 11, which is when the port authority’s board will next meet.

Port authority executive director Rhonda Klopfenstein said her agency is still reviewing information provided by the museum as to the condition of the railroad and ITM’s operating plans.

In the meantime, the Indiana attorney general’s office is looking into the complaints filed by the volunteers and the Federal Railroad Administration said it is reviewing the museum’s operations. However, an FRA spokesperson said the FRA’s inquiry is not an investigation.

Kehler in a statement issued in June termed the allegations made by the volunteers as false.

The volunteers in turn have characterized Kehler’s statement as false and misleading. They have also claimed that their dismissal was illegal and contrary to the museum’s own rules.

ITM suspended excursion operations in March and it is not clear how soon it could get back into operation once it receives the go ahead from the port authority.

Kehler told Trains that museum workers were unable to undertake the annual spring weed spraying, brush removal and spot track repairs.

Not being able to operate excursions has cost the museum ticket revenue, which it needs to survive. Kehler acknowledged that the dispute has damaged the museum’s reputation.

The museum is also facing the prospect that the FRA might reclassify it from a tourist-train operator to a short-haul passenger railroad. That change would impose on the museum more comprehensive rules and regulations.

Indiana Tourist RR Can go to LaCrosse

May 16, 2016

An Indiana tourist railroad has been given approval to resume excursions to LaCrosse, Indiana, but must comply with several conditions to do so.

The museum will be allowed two runs to LaCrosse, but must give freight operator Chesapeake & Indiana 30 days notice of plans for the trips.

IndianaThe trips must also be approved by the town of North Judson, which owns the 33-mile former Chesapeake & Ohio rail line.

Trains magazine reported that the C&I  apparently wants to use the tracks between English Lake and LaCrosse, which the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum has used in the past for its excursions, to store out-of-service freight cars.

The museum will continue to operate excursions between North Judson and English Lake.
The C&I has said it will no longer be maintaining the track between English Lake and North Judson.

An attorney representing North Judson said the operating contract with the C&I was to expire last December, but it was extended to Aug. 15 to give city officials time to seek operating proposals from other parties.

Freight traffic on the line includes outbound grain shipments and inbound fertilizer.

Indiana Tourist Railroad Shuts Down

September 11, 2013

An Indiana tourist railroad has shut down and put itself up for sale.

The Carthage, Knightstown & Shirley Railroad operated a 5-mile line between Knightstown and Carthage that used a segment of a former New York Central line that ran between Michigan and Louisville, Ky.

The railroad hauled freight for a time, but once the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Pittsburgh-Indianapolis line through Knightstown was abandoned, the short line was cut off from interchange.

The CK&S was virtually a one-man operation run by its owner, 79-year-old Tom Allison.

The railroad has a pair of 45-ton center cab diesel locomotives, a Long Island P54 commuter coach, a Santa Fe steel caboose, and a transfer caboose converted to an open car.

Reports indicate that Allison felt he couldn’t operate the railroad any longer. The line is for sale and may be revived if the right buyer comes forward.