Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

Ex-Monon Segment May Become Trail

January 10, 2018

The south end of the former Monon Railroad in Southern Indiana might become a trail.

Indiana Trail Funds has asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to order CSX to do nothing more to a 62-mile segment of the ex-Monon other than remove the rails, ties and signal systems.

CSX last month filed a letter of exemption with the STB to abandon the ex-Monon between milepost 251.7 (about midway between Bedford and Mitchell) and milepost 314 (Vernia) near New Albany.

In response to the Indiana Trail petition, CSX said it was willing to negotiate with the group for possible interim trail use/rail banking.

In a report to the STB, CSX said no trains have moved over the line for more than two years and its only activity has been car storage.

CSX said it was unlikely any rail-oriented businesses would locate on the line, which it said it does not need for operational purposes.

The line in question is the Hoosier Subdivision, which has been abandoned north of Bedford.

It is not clear why CSX is not seeking to abandon any track within Bedford. The only other railroad to serve Bedford, a branch of the former Milwaukee Road that extended to Terre Haute, Indiana, has been abandoned and converted into a trail.

If the abandonment of the Hoosier Subdivision is approved, Bedford would be cut off from the nation’s rail system.

The STB had in May 2010 gave CSX approval to cease providing rail service on the Hoosier Sub. It had been used under trackage rights granted to the Indiana Rail Road to reach Louisville, Kentucky, but that company has since ceased exercising those rights.

CSX would continue to own 3.7 miles of the ex-Monon in New Albany that connects to Norfolk Southern and the former Kentucky & Indiana Terminal.

In its report to the STB, CSX said its records show there are 21 railroad-owned structures on the line more that are more than 50 years old and may be eligible for listing on the National Register. All of them are bridges.

Records show the main track was rebuilt in the 1980s. At one time the Monon extended between Louisville and Chicago with branches to Michigan City, Indiana, and Indianapolis that diverged at the town of Monon.

CSX continues to use the ex-Monon between Cloverdale and Munster, Indiana. Amtrak’s Cardinal and Hoosier State use the line between Crawfordsville and Munster.

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Indiana Short Lines Get New Managers

December 5, 2017

Two Indiana short line railroads owned by Anacostia Rail Holdings have new executives in the marketing and sales departments.

Kathleen Sackett is the new director of marketing and sales for the Louisville & Indiana Railroad while Matthew Coduti is now the manager of marketing and sales for the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad.

Sackett has more than 16 years of rail sales and marketing experience, most recently with Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, where she began in 2008 as director of sales and marketing. She was named director of commercial in 2017.

Coduti is a former planner of maritime and raw material logistics at ArcelorMittal, where he worked for five years. He also has experience in planning and negotiating initiatives with rail, barge, port, truck and package services.

Indiana Short-Line Railroad Dispute Settled

December 2, 2017

Indiana short-line Chesapeake & Indiana will be able to end operations on 5.45 miles of track between North Judson and English Lake, Indiana.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board this week formalized a settlement to a dispute over the track that had involved the C&I, track owner the town of North Judson, and the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum.

The museum will be able to operate excursion trains between North Judson and English Lake outside STB jurisdiction without impeding the short line’s freight business.

The track in question is part of 28 miles that North Judson acquired in 2003 from CSX between North Judson and Wellsboro, Indiana.

The C&I began using the line for freight service in 2004. The short line is owned by the Indiana Boxcar Corporation.

The museum has argued that the C&I was not allowing excursion trains on the line in violation of the museum’s agreement with the town.

In response, C&I said that the museum had violated Federal Railroad Administration safety rules, and that the short line didn’t want to be held liable if passengers were injured.

Most of the C&I’s freight operations are on the northern end of the line, particularly to grain elevators at Malden and Union Mills that are owned by Co-Alliance LLP.

That business has grown from a few hundred carloads in 2004 to more than 4,000 so far this year.

The C&I expects more growth in 2018 when it begins delivering gypsum to a new wallboard factory. Some of the former Chesapeake & Ohio of Indiana track is used for car storage.

Under the agreement between the town of North Judson and the C&I, the short line will be able to operate over the ex-C&O rails for the next 10 years.

NS to Serve Indiana Coal Loading Facility

November 11, 2017

Norfolk Southern will serve an Indiana coal loading facility in southwestern Indiana.

NS will build a spur to the truck-to-rail coal loading facility of Sunrise Coal, a subsidiary of Hallador Energy.

The terminal is located 6 miles west of Princeton  and when completed next spring will primarily serve utility coal plants that NS serves.

The Princeton Loop will be capable of unloading trucks, blending coal, loading 135-car unit trains in four hours and storing more than 4 million tons of coal.

The coal comes from the Illinois Basin and is used by the electric power generation industry.

Burns Harbor Port Gets FASTLANE Grant

November 2, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor a $9.85 million FASTLANE grant that will be used to fund port expansion.

The grant is part of the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program, now known as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program.

The Port said the money will be used to fund a $19.7 million expansion aimed at increasing the port’s cargo handling capacity and multimodal capabilities.

The expansion will include the construction of a 2.3-acre cargo terminal with multimodal connections for handling cargo transfers between ships, barges, rail cars and trucks.

In addition, 4.4 miles will be added to the port’s existing 14-mile rail network. Two new yards will create storage for 165 rail cars, accommodate a 90-car unit train and provide rail-car switching within the port.

INRD Santa Train Schedule Announced

October 31, 2017

The Indiana Rail Road will operate its annual Santa Train on Dec. 1-3.

The train, which is staffed by railroad employees and volunteers, will depart Indianapolis on Dec. 1 and make its first stop at the town hall in Bargersville between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Other stops that day include the Morgantown fire station (6:30 to 7:30 p.m.) and at Helmsburg Road in Helmsburg between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

On Dec. 2 the train will make stops at the Yoho Store in Solsberry (8 to 10 a.m.), Seminary Street in Bloomfield (11 a.m. to noon), SE C street in Linton (1:30 to 3 p.m.), Main Street in Dugger (4 to 5 p.m., and the city park in Jasonville (6:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

On Dec. 3 stops will be in three cities in Illinois and one in Indiana. The Illinois stops include High School and West Decatur streets in Newton (9 to 10 a.m.), South Range Street in Oblong (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.), and Lincoln Street in Palestine (1:30 to 2:30 p.m.)

The train will then reverse direction and make its last stop of the season in Sullivan, Indiana, at Main Street and Judy Lane between 4 and 5 p.m.

Indiana Short Line Restores Erie Mining F9A

October 30, 2017

An Indiana short line has repainted and overhauled an F unit that once belonged to Erie Mining Company.

The Vermilion Valley Railroad has repainted  F9A No. 4210 into the yellow-and-maroon colors it wore at Erie Mining and has received an EM logo.

Vermilion Valley shop workers also had to rebuild the unit, replacing rusted-out side panels and installing an emergency brake valve in the cab in order to make the locomotive compliant with Federal Railroad Administration regulations. No. 4210 is also expected to receive FRA safety glass in its windshield.

No. 4210 was one of 11 F-units (five A’s and six Bs) built for Erie Mining by EMD in 1956 and used to transport taconite pellets on the private railroad to a processing plant at Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, to an ore dock at Taconite Harbor on Lake Superior’s north shore.

The locomotive’s original livery was blue with a silver band, but in 1963 it was repainted yellow with a maroon band. It later received a black roof.

LTV Steel Corp. bought Erie Mining in May 1986 and renamed it LTV Steel Mining Company. The F unit fleet continued to operate until 1997.

The Vermillion Valley also owns another former Erie Mining F9A, No. 4214, which it plans to eventually repaint in Erie Mining colors.

The Vermilion Valley operates 5.9 miles of former New York Central (Peoria & Eastern) track between Olin, Indiana, and Danville, Illinois.

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/

Chasing NS and Air

October 16, 2017

The remnants of Hurricane Harvey made our plans for Labor Day Weekend easy; go west or get wet.

The brother and I decided to head for Indiana for the weekend on the Thursday prior. Kind of a late decision, but we wanted to be sure that the weather was going to be sunny wherever we went.

Our main goal was to catch some action on the Norfolk Southern’s Marion Branch. We did this a couple of years ago and had a good day.

The only catch was that besides the holiday weekend the Notre Dame football team was home on Saturday and hotels within 100 miles of South Bend were either booked or majorly expensive.

I started the hotel search at Goshen. They showed a half dozen chain motels. The first five I tried were either booked or they only had a single room.

The Hampton Inn had a single room for only $299 plus tax. For that much it better come with a hooker.

The last place in town was the Super 8. They, to my surprise, had rooms available. They were a bit more pricey than I’m used to at an “Eight Ball,” but I took it.

* * * * *

We arrived there Saturday night and were up and out the door after breakfast just after sunrise.

The first spot we staked out was the cemetery at CP 412 on the Chicago Line in Goshen. This is where the Marion Branch begins. It runs alongside the Chicago Line for 0.3 miles until it turns south through a residential neighborhood in Goshen.

The first train we saw was Amtrak No. 29. It sailed past us shortly after we arrived at the cemetery. It was followed by an empty DEEX coal train. Intermodal trains were coming east so we had plenty of action to watch and shoot.

We noticed a green signal at CP 412 for a northbound to come off the Marion Branch. The Toledo West dispatcher called the train and said it was OK to head his way.

We relocated to the residential neighborhood to shoot it. While it’s not street running, there are houses on either side that face the tracks that you can use as photo props.

After shooting the northbound, we went back to the cemetery. Amtrak No. 49 made an appearance upon our return.

Horns to the west, but not like the fast moving horns we had gotten used to, caught our attention. Could this be a Marion Branch train?

It was. A single BNSF GE was leading about 75 auto racks. They were going to make the turn south and head into the wilds of Indiana.

So were we. We shot it at the cemetery and headed out of town. Our next spot was the grain elevator at New Paris. This sits right next to Indiana Route 15; you can’t miss it.

Neither of us could understand what the crew member of the rack train was saying when calling signals. It did not get stabbed at the CSX diamonds at Milford Junction so we were off to the farm fields between Milford and Leesburg.

We shot it here with a red barn in the shot and again at the elevator at Leesburg. A northbound was in the siding here awaiting the arrival of the rack train.

But the rack train did not have a signal to proceed south. Could there be another train coming north?

There was, a junk freight led by Canadian National power showed up about an hour later. By the time the northbound came by we were firmly planted along Hickory Street in Warsaw. This is actual street running for two city blocks. Houses front the east side of the tracks while a bank and a drug store occupy the other side of the street.

After the northbound went by, we headed to a Subway about three blocks away to grab something for lunch. We figured we had time for the northbound to get to Leesburg and our southbound then had to come to us.

We saved lunch for after the passage of the rack train. We would end our chase here and wait for more action on the Marion Branch this afternoon.

We didn’t have to wait long before our quarry made its way past us.

After the last car passed, we dug our sandwiches out of the bag and began to enjoy them.

The brother said out of the blue, “wouldn’t it be great to see a train on the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern now?”

They run on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline that the Marion Branch crosses just south of the street running.

It wasn’t a minute after he said that that we heard horns to the east. A CF&E train was approaching the diamonds.

“Holy cow?”

I was only two bites into my sandwich so I kept on eating. We were not in position to photograph the CF&E train so I settled on watching it.

The brother eats 100 times faster than I do, so he was done long before me.

“Wanna chase the CF&E?”

By now he had about a 10 minute head start on us. I glanced at the map and noticed U.S. 30 roughly follows the tracks to the west.

“If you drive so I can finish my lunch.”

We quickly changed seats and were off. I guided Robert out of town using a county road that parallels the tracks to the south for a couple of miles west to the town of Atwood. Here we would cross the tracks and pick up U.S. 30. Hopefully, it would be a quick way to get caught up to the train.

The road I picked up to get across the CF&E tracks goes under them. There was no sign of our train above as we continued on.

We accessed new U.S. 30, a four-lane divided highway, and began rolling west.

We did not see any signs of our train nor did we hear any radio chatter. But we continued on convinced that we were still behind it.

By the time we got to Grovertown, about 40 miles west of Warsaw, I had to make a pit stop. So we pulled off onto a side road that crossed the tracks to check for any signs of life.

It was obvious that nothing had been across the tracks here. The light coating of rust on the rail from rain showers on Saturday had not been disturbed.

Armed with this knowledge that we were, indeed, ahead, we began to track back. This time we used old U.S. 30, which stayed closer to the tracks, but goes through all the towns along the way.

This allowed us to check out potential photo spots just in case we did encounter the train. We saw several promising spots and made mental notes as to their whereabouts.

We found the former PRR depot in Plymouth still standing but much the worse for wear. I thought they may have stopped to switch here or to work an interchange with NS. The CF&E crosses the former Nickel Plate Road’s Michigan City branch here.

Sill no signs of a train so we continued back east, checking at Inwood, Bourbon, Etna Green and finally back at Atwood. Nothing.

“Where the heck did they go?”

We found them. After crossing the Marion Branch in Warsaw, they went about another three-quarter of a mile and pulled into a siding. The power was now shut down and the crew was long gone. We had been out chasing air. Almost two hours of chasing air. Now what?

“Back to the Marion Branch; maybe we can get something moving there.”

As bad luck would have it, nothing was moving there, either, at least for now. We trolled north looking for something moving.

At Millford Junction we stopped for a leg stretch at the first crossing west of the diamonds on CSX.

Here you can shoot a westbound with the old grain elevator in the photo.

We killed some time. Robert called home to check in, scanned the news wires for what players the Browns were cutting and signing for the upcoming season opener with Pittsburgh, and checked HeritageUnits.com in case any were in the area.

“Lehigh Valley at Goshen a little over two hours ago on 19K. Trailing.”

Wonderful. While we were chasing air the 19K had slipped by us.

About now an EOT on the radio got our attention back to the business at hand.

A headlight to the east on CSX heralded the approach of the westbound. It was a K182 coke train.

We shot it with the old elevator here at Milford Junction and began to head north toward Goshen.

“Hey! There’s an NS sitting at the home signal waiting to go south.”

The power was behind a stand of trees but we saw freight cars standing on single track. As the road got closer to the tracks, the southbound began to move.

I quickly turned around and the chase was on. When the power cleared the trees, we got a good look. A CSX dark future, an NS and the Lehigh Valley. This was the 19K.

We headed to the farm fields north of Leesburg. Since the road is on the west side of the tracks, we were able to get two views of the 19K before it reached the siding at Leesburg.

“Clear, Leesburg.”

No meets this time; they were heading right through.

We were off to Warsaw and the street running. We would make it with time to spare. The train  must be down to restricted speed before it enters the street. Even in moderate city traffic you can make it into town before the train.

After shooting the 19K here, we were still in hot pursuit. We got right out of town and after getting far enough ahead we began to look for another photo spot.

Not finding anything we liked in the countryside, we headed into Claypool. Here the Marion Branch crosses the former NKP main to Chicago. Since we weren’t sure where the 19K was headed, we could also check its routing through town. There are connections at Claypool that are used by some trains.

Claypool is not overly photogenic and the 19K was running on clear signals so we assumed, correctly, that it was heading straight through town.

We were off toward Silver Lake, the last place where you can easily follow the Marion Branch in this area.

After Silver Lake, the tracks head in a southeast direction. The road grid is north-south, east-west. You can lose some time along this stretch unless you hustle.

We made it to North Manchester ahead of the 19K. We saw a spot in town that looked good and only had to wait a minute until the train showed up.

Indiana Route 13 follows the tracks south of North Manchester to Wabash, but there was a bridge out just outside of town. We detoured around the bridge using side roads and got back to the tracks in time to see the last cars passing by.

Getting ahead was easy as the train’s speed was about 40 mph and the state highway was 55 mph. We ended up getting a shot north of Speicherville across a farm field.

The 19K is an Elkhart, Indiana, to Decatur, Illinois, manifest freight. It would use the connecting track at Wabash to access the former mainline of the Wabash Railroad for the remainder of the trip to Decatur.

We arrived at the over/under where the Marion Branch goes under the Wabash and found it shadowed in. The connection is just to the east where the two lines come up side by side.

I thought we were ahead and I still to this day think we were ahead. But we could not find the 19K anywhere. It’s like it was swallowed by a sink hole.

I have since found out that the former Wabash has a radio channel that I was not aware of that they use: 161.380. We did not have that in the scanner so we missed an important radio conversation.

Following the tracks through town to the west, we found a rural crossing and waited for a few minutes. The sun would soon be gone for the day.

We discussed what to do tomorrow. I threw out the idea of heading to Fort Wayne. Or we could head back to Goshen. The forecast for the Monday holiday was sunny in the morning with some showers moving through in the afternoon.

Back to Goshen it was. We would hang around the Marion Branch until the weather arrived then we would head home.

We arrived back at the Super 8 in Goshen to find the same gal working the desk. She gave us the same room as we had had last night.

* * * * *

I hopped out of bed when the alarm went off and looked out the window. Oh no, the weather was already upon us with dark skies to the west and blue skies to the east.

This made it easy to decide what to do today. We would head east along the Chicago Line trying to stay ahead of the weather.

Our first stop was at Ligonier, Indiana. Here a grain elevator sits on the outside of the curve that takes the tracks from an east-west alignment to a northwest-southeast alignment. The lighting was good for an eastbound.

We waited awhile and were rewarded with an eastbound mixed freight that we thought was a Canadian Pacific train. It had a CSX leading a CP.

After it passed, we continued on, our next stop being Waterloo where the former New York Central depot has been moved farther west and used as a waiting area for Amtrak passengers. We found no passengers or trains in Waterloo this morning.

Our next stop was for lunch in Stryker, Ohio. A Subway restaurant sits right next to the Main Street crossing with the Chicago Line one block east of the grain elevator and depot.

We could get NS to run only two westbounds while we were there. The shot is OK, but not as good as for the eastbound.

Our last stop for the day was at Swanton. NS is installing a staging yard for Detroit Edison coal trains here. It looks like a four-track intermodal facility because of the distance between the tracks. But it is for coal trains.

A new control point will be in service at the west end to be called CP 309.

We walked around the park that includes a former Wheeling & Lake Erie caboose before calling it a weekend and hitting the Ohio Turnpike for the miles back to Cleveland.

It was an enjoyable trip in spite of our misadventure with the CF&E. Next time it may pay to check for signs of life a little sooner before you go running off into the Indiana countryside.

Article by Marty Surdyk

South Bend Mayor Wants South Shore Study

October 11, 2017

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is trying to head off a proposed reroute of the South Shore Line that would pass through a residential neighborhood.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he wants to examine alternative routings for the tracks rather than putting them through the Ardmore neighborhood, where up to 40 homes could be displaced.

The proposed realignment would reduce the travel time between Chicago and South Bend by about 90 minutes from 2.5 hours.

The project is expected to cost $290 million and would also involve adding a second track between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

The single-track segment has been the source of delay to passenger trains meeting freight trains at passing sidings.

Other city officials have said they want to see a new alignment that will displace as few residents as possible.

Like the mayor, those officials want another alignment study in addition to the one that was done for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District by a third party engineering firm.

Buttigieg wants the city’s redevelopment commission to hire a consulting firm to prepare three alternatives to the proposed Ardmore routing.

Among the alternatives that would be studied is using an existing freight right-of-way or revamping train stations to increase capacity.

However, the mayor acknowledged that the Ardmore alignment might still be chosen if it proves to be the most ideal.