Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

NICTD Makes West Short Project Changes

May 22, 2017

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has released plans for the proposed West Lake Corridor project of the South Shore Line.

The latest plans include a layover facility at the future Hammond Gateway Station in Hammond, Indiana.

The plan also shows that the platform location and parking lot for the Munster Ridge Road Station in Munster, Indiana, has been moved so that NICTD won’t need to acquire a set of homes south of Ridge Road.

In a news release NICTD President Michael Noland said the changes were based on “extensive community input.”

The West Lake Corridor involves extending the South Shore Line 9 miles between Dyer and Hammond on a former Monon Railroad route, part of which is still used by Amtrak and CSX.

West Shore trains would connect with Metra’s Electric District Line to the north.

The project plans call for four stations and building passenger-only tracks.

Operator Sought for Indiana Rail Line

May 3, 2017

The Indiana Fairtrain may not be dead just yet, but it won’t be operating in 2017.

The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority last month approved a request for proposals for an operator of the former Nickel Plate Road branch that was used by the Fairtrain, which last ran in 2015.

The port authority owns the tracks and has appointed a five-member review committee to review the proposals, which must be submitted by June 13.

The review process will begin on July 1 and executives of the top proposals will be interviewed by the committee.

The Port Authority hopes to name an operator for the line by its July meeting but may have to call a special meeting in August to do that.

The Fairtrain has in past years been operated by the Indiana Transportation Museum, but the Port Authority refused in 2016 to renew its operating rights over the tracks in part because the line needs extensive repairs.

“I think we’ve left it pretty open for the proposers to describe what they would do to our line, how they would maintain it,” Port Authority President Mike Obergfrell said. “The other option in there is they would make lease payments in lieu of maintenance.”

Indiana Port Reaches Pact With TNW Logistics

April 13, 2017

The Perry (Indiana) County Port Authority and TNW Logistics Services have reached an agreement to expand the Tell City River Port on the Ohio River.

The port, which includes the Hoosier Southern Railroad, is expected to see the development of additional industrial park facilities and river port operations.

The Hoosier Southern connects with Norfolk Southern at Lincoln City, Indiana.

In a news release, The Dallas-based TNW said this is its first venture into Indiana.

“This is a natural fit for the expertise TNW has gained while developing our rail and multimodal logistics centers in Texas,” said TNW Corp. Chief Executive Officer Paul Treangen in a statement. “We are eager to increase business volume, create economic development opportunities and foster strong relationships with the shippers and local communities.”

The port handles barge traffic from the headwaters of the Ohio River, as well as the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.

It has 38 acres of land with 3,300 square feet of Ohio River frontage covering more than 3,500 feet of undeveloped river frontage. Two large warehouses have more than 46,000 square feet for storage of bulk materials and 75,000 square feet of concrete and asphalt pads also are available.

Indiana Rail Facility Opens

March 24, 2017

A $2 million commercial rail cross-dock facility has opened in Washington, Indiana, with the 18,0000-square foot structure being the first rail expansion in the city in decades.

The new facility is part of a new 40,000 square feet shell building. The  $10 million project included the shell building and wastewater and electrical infrastructure.

The facility is located near the interchange of U.S. Route 50 and Interstate 69.

The cross-dock facility will allow the direct loading of semi-trailers and railroad freight cars.

It is located on the Cincinnati-St. Louis line of the former Baltimore & Ohio. CSX now owns the line, much of which is out of service in Illinois.

Officials say the cross-dock is expected to meet logistics needs and increase efficiencies for regional companies in the area, including Grain Processing Corporation and Alliance Barrier Films.

They also hope that it will encourage expansion of companies with specialty needs in transportation, logistics and distribution.

One Morning in Crawfordsville, Indiana

March 11, 2017
Amtrak train No. 851 approaches the Crawfordsville station in August 2011.

Amtrak train No. 851 approaches the Crawfordsville station in August 2011.

When I lived in Indiana between 1983 and 1991, Amtrak’s Hoosier State was a part of my life for periodic day trips from Indianapolis to Chicago.

I preferred to ride the Cardinal because it had a full-service dining car and slumbercoaches, which offered a reasonable fare for a return trip to Indy.

But the Cardinal only ran three days a week and more often than not I wound up going to Chicago on the Hoosier State.

After leaving Indiana for Pennsylvania and, later, Ohio, I rarely saw the Hoosier State again.

I followed its story from afar, including how it was discontinued in 1995 only to be brought back because operating a hospital train to and from Beech Grove shops in suburban Indianapolis didn’t work out so well.

In August 2011 I was on my way to Illinois for a visit. I stayed overnight in Indianapolis and got up early the next morning to get to Crawfordsville before No. 851 did.

The sun wasn’t yet above the tree line when the Hoosier State arrived, but there was enough light to document the coming and going of the train.

Since making these images, the Hoosier State has continued to have a rough ride with the latest development being the takeover of the train by Iowa Pacific Holdings in July 2015.

IP won high marks for its on-board service, but the Indiana Department of Transportation declined IP’s request for more money.

So IP pulled out and Amtrak has resumed operation of the Hoosier State. Actually, Amtrak was never completely out of the picture with Nos. 850 and 851 because it provided the operating crews and handled relationships with the host railroads.

So now what was the usual state of affairs in Crawfordsville is back again. Here is a look back at a morning not too long ago when the Hoosier State came calling.

A typical Amshack that is so typical in smaller cities served by Amtrak.

A typical Amshack that is so typical in smaller cities served by Amtrak.

The old Monon station is no longer used by Amtrak.

The old Monon station is no longer used by Amtrak.

All aboard for Chicago and all intermediate stops.

All aboard for Chicago and all intermediate stops.

And away it goes to its next stop in Lafayette.

And away it goes to its next stop in Lafayette.

A ;l;ast look at the train, which has two cars being ferried from Beech Grove to Chicago.

A ;l;ast look at the train, which has two cars being ferried from Beech Grove to Chicago.

INDOT, Amtrak Say Relationship has Improved

March 7, 2017

The train name hasn’t changed, but the faces behind the Hoosier State have and that has made for better relations with Amtrak.

Amtrak took over complete responsibility for the quad-weekly Chicago-Indianapolis train on March 1.

Back in 2015, the Indiana Department of Transportation awarded Iowa Pacific Holdings a contract to operate the Hoosier State although Amtrak wasn’t entirely out of the picture.

IP provided locomotives, rolling stock and on-board service and marketing support. Amtrak provided operating crews and handled relations with the host railroads.

But IP didn’t think it was receiving enough money from INDOT and said it would cease operating the train after the state turned down a request for more money.

Amtrak wanted to continue operating the Hoosier State, but state officials say the price was too high.

That sent INDOT seeking another operator. An agreement with a private contractor fell apart, which sent INDOT to IP.

Now INDOT and Amtrak seem to be getting along just fine. What changed?

“Some of the faces have changed in the last several years,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says. “A different governor, a different transportation commissioner, different people at Amtrak, too, sat down with a fresh sheet of paper and said, ‘What can we do?’”

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said the relationship improved when former Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman retired and was replaced by Charles “Wick” Moorman, the former CEO of Norfolk Southern.

“They’ve been an eager partner to work with us,” Wingfield says. “We have good things to say about the new Amtrak CEO and his team.”

Before IP came along, the Hoosier State was a bare-bones train. IP brought food service, free Wi-Fi and business class service.

Amtrak has agreed to continue providing those services even if its food service car won’t be serving the same freshly-prepared meals that IP served.

Wingfield declined to say how much INDOT and its funding partners along the route are paying to continue those services.

He did say, though, that INDOT is using all of the $3 million earmarked for the Hoosier State.

Amtrak also agreed to give INDOT a discount because the Hoosier State is used to shuttle equipment between Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops in suburban Indianapolis and Chicago.

Amtrak’s Magliari said the passenger carrier is looking at growing the business.

“The way you build ridership is to have frequencies that are attractive on a schedule that people can support and see is better than driving, and fares people can afford,” Magliari said. “Those are the three elements of the elixir to grow ridership – frequency, fare and schedule.”

The current contract between INDOT and Amtrak will expire on June 30.

That means the Indiana legislature has to agree to extend the funding. Wingfield said INDOT is asking lawmakers to approve Hoosier State funding for next two years.

Some lawmakers have indicated, though, that they have misgivings about a new deal because of the collapse of the public-private partnership between IP and INDOT.

Indiana Rail Line May Become Trail

March 1, 2017

Two Indiana communities want to convert part of a rail line once used by the Indiana Fairtrain into a hiking and biking trail.

The cities of Fishers and Noblesville have proposed pulling up 9.2 miles of rails of the former Nickel Plate Road branch line and creating a 14-foot wide trail.

IndianaThrough 2015, the tracks hosted the Fairtrain and other excursions of the Indiana Transportation Museum.

The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which owns the rail line, refused to allow ITM to use the tracks last year after an inspection found that it needed $5 million in repairs.

That came on the heels of allegations leveled by a group of former museum volunteers about financial improprieties at the museum and safety issues.

Although the Federal Railroad Administration and the office of the Indiana attorney general have conducted investigations, no charges have been filed.

The Port Authority recently said it is considering issuing a call for proposals to continue providing rail service on the line.

Representatives of Fishers, Noblesville and Hamilton County manage the Port Authority.

The rails would remain in place north of Noblesville and the portion of the trail south of there would be rail banked. The line extends from Indianapolis to Tipton, Indiana, but has no active connections to another railroad and no trains now operate on the route.

The next steps in converting the rail line to a trail will include soliciting public comment, including holding a hearing.

The cities would then go through the rail to trail administrative process, which could take between six to 12 months.

Local officials say the conversion would cost about $9.3 million.

Indiana Rail Line May Become Trail

February 15, 2017

The rail line used to host the Indiana State Fair train may be pulled up and converted into a trail.

IndianaHamilton County officials are considering abandoning the former Nickel Plate Road branch line and making the right of way a hike and bike path.

The Fair Train, operated by the Indiana Transportation Museum, last operated in 2015 when it carried more than 10,000 passengers.

However, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which owns the rail line, would not allow ITM to operate the Fair Train or any other trains on the line in 2016.

The HHPA says that the line needs $5 million in safety investments before it can be used for rail service again.

The line extends from the fairgrounds along 38th Street in Indianapolis northward through Fishers and Noblesville.

The museum is based in Noblesville but in recent years the Fair Train has originated in Fishers.

If built, the trail would be similar to the Monon Trail, which uses a former Monon Railroad right of way that in the 1980s hosted the Fair Train.

Jeffersonville Port Handled 2.2M Tons in 2016

February 14, 2017

During 2016, the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville handled 2.2 million tons of cargo, making it the third consecutive year the port has exceeded 2 million tons of cargo.

In a news release the port said that its annual shipping total was 17 percent higher than the previous five-year average.

Ports of IndianaMajor cargoes handed at the port include steel, grain and fertilizer.

Steel shipments last year in 2016 were the second highest in port history.

There are 14 companies at the port that process or handle steel, aluminum, lubricants or plastics that support the top six automakers in the United States, port officials said.

The port is served by CSX and the Louisville & Indiana Railroad.

Burns Harbor Handled 2.6M Tons in 2016

February 11, 2017

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor said this week that it handled 2.6 million tons of cargo last year, making 2016 the port’s third highest tonnage year in the past decade.

Ports of IndianaIn a news release the port said that major cargoes handled included steel, limestone, carbon products, grain and iron ore. Grain shipments soared 57 percent, while coal shipments climbed 11 percent.

The port also reported an increase in heavy-lift cargoes, saying that large-dimensional cargoes rose 25 percent last year.

These included multiple large cranes and containers of crane components from Europe, storage tanks and wind tower components and blades.

During the past year, Ratner Steel Supply Company said it would add 100,000 square feet to load and unload steel shipments at the port. That $8 million investment is expected to be finished in March.

The port said that during 2016 it invested nearly $2.5 million in infrastructure, including dredging and adding stabilization stones to two berths to increase the number of docks capable of handling full Seaway draft vessels.

Other capital improvements included replacing 2,000 feet of rail and rebuilding three switches. The port is served by Norfolk Southern.