Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis’

Group Formed to Protest NKP Branch Abandonment

August 8, 2017

A group has formed in Hamilton County, Indiana, to seek to overturn the decision by local officials to convert parts of a former Nickel Plate Road branch line into a hiking and biking trail.

The group, known as Save the Nickel Plate, is seeking to get supporters of keeping the rail line to write to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board in opposition to approval of the line’s abandonment.

Hamilton County along with the cities of Fishers and Noblesville filed a petition with the STB on Aug. 1 to gain regulatory approval to pull up nine miles of the line between Noblesville and Indianapolis.

Through 2015 the line was used by the Indiana Fair Train and other excursions sponsored by the Indiana Transportation Museum.

The Save the Nickel Plate group has raised concerns about what it termed the lack of public input regarding the trail plan, the lack of train service, impediments to rail service caused by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority’s suspension of rail operation, and concern for the process of selecting a new railroad operator that only runs on the northern portion of the railroad.

The group has established a website at http://www.savethenickelplate.org/

Indiana Fair Train Won’t Be Returning

August 2, 2017

The Indiana Fair Train is no more. The Hamilton County Commissioners along with city officials in Fishers and Noblesville have agree to pull up the rails that the Fair train once used between Noblesville and the fairgrounds in Indianapolis and convert the right of way into a hiking and biking trail.

However, the plans including preserving the rails north of Noblesville and allowing a tourist train operator to use them.

The 37-mile former Nickel Plate Road branch line is owned by the county and the two cities.

Under the recently announced plan, nine miles of the branch will be converted to a trail with 28 miles available for rail operations.

The Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad has been chosen to be the operator of the rail line that is being preserved.

The fair train and other excursions over the NKP branch had been operated until 2016 by the Indiana Transportation Museum, which is currently based in Noblesville but has announced plans to relocate to Logansport, Indiana.

Selection of an operator was recently made by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which manages the line.

The authority received five applications to operate the ex-NKP branch and gave the highest score to Iowa Pacific Holdings, which until early this year operated the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State in conjunction with Amtrak.

However, Iowa Pacific wanted to operate the line south of Noblesville and provide freight service. That was at odds with the desire of the cities to remove the rails there to create a trail.

“The proposal  . . . allows for the preservation of the train going north from Noblesville while providing a year-round recreational trail amenity for our residents,” said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness. “The Nickel Plate Railroad played an important role in our history as a city and I believe the Nickel Plate Trail will honor that history while creating an amenity that so many of our residents have requested.”

CSX Plans Major Changes for Indianapolis

June 15, 2017

CSX is planning major changes to its operations in Indianapolis, including closing Avon Yard and its dispatching center, and spending millions to rebuild smaller facilities.

The news was reported on Trainorders.com by a poster who reprinted a memorandum from a railroad labor union officer who attended a meeting held in Indianapolis to be briefed on the changes.

The only date given for the changes was Oct. 31, when dispatching operations now based in Indianapolis will be moved to Jacksonville, Florida.

The CSX Indy dispatch office is a former Conrail facility that now oversees former Conrail territories that CSX acquired in 1999. It also dispatches all former B&O lines in Northeast Ohio operated by CSX.

Avon is a former New York Central hump classification yard that opened in June 1960.

Earlier this month CSX said it would close the locomotive shop there, but now it plans to farm out its other activities to the Hawthorne, Transfer and State Street yards. A new intermodal facility is to be constructed at a site to be named.

All of those facilities will be receive track upgrades and new buildings. The operating plan is to base scheduled jobs out of all yards on all three shifts.

Hawthorne will handle road trains while State and Transfer yards will handle the local and industry work.

As part of the restructuring, the local jobs will be assigned three-person  crews, which CSX management believes will be able to more efficiently handle switching.

Hawthorne, a former Pennsylvania Railroad yard, is a stub-end facility because the ex-PRR mainline on the east side of Indianapolis has been abandoned.

Avon crew pools will change at one of the three yards, although the operating plan is still being worked out.

This will include re-advertising all of the pool jobs to take into account adjustments in mileage and other operating changes.

One report is that some switching now done at Avon will be taken over by the Alton & Southern in the St. Louis region.

In years past, Avon built blocks for Penn Central and Conrail that were interchanged with western railroads in St. Louis and the St. Elmo, Illinois, gateway.

Locomotive fueling now done in Avon will be done throughout the Indianapolis terminal by fuel trucks. Car department repairs will be performed at Hawthorne.

The union memorandum said CSX wants to move quickly on the terminal changes, ideally within the next 45 days.

One impetus for closing Avon might be that the area around it has developed into a busy commercial-residential area and CSX might see an opportunity to sell land to developers.

CSX Closes Locomotive Shop in Indianapolis

June 6, 2017

For now it appears that CSX plans to continue humping operations at Avon Yard near Indianapolis, but the railroad will cease doing locomotive repair work there.

Located on the St. Louis line of CSX, the former New York Central yard and shops are situated west of Indianapolis.

A CSX spokesman said some employees are expected to be furloughed although he wouldn’t say how many. The locomotive repair work will cease immediately.

Avon is one of 12 hump classification yards on the CSX network seven of which have seen their hump operations shuttered this year with more expected to close later.

CN, INRD Continue Cooperative Ventures

June 6, 2017

The Indiana Rail Road and Canadian National continue to work together in moving freight with their latest cooperative venture being construction of a 16,000-foot interchange track in Newton, Illinois, to interchange intermodal and other freight.

The lines of both railroads run parallel west of Newton for three miles. Newton is the eastern terminus of CN’s Effingham District while it is the western end of the INRD line from Indianapolis.

Both rail lines were formerly owned by the Illinois Central.

Before expanding the siding, the only place for the two railroads to interchange freight was a 2,600-foot siding, which has become inadequate due to an increase in intermodal and carload traffic shared by the two railroads.

The expanded siding is also expected to be used by coal and grain traffic as well.

Since launching their joint intermodal service in July 2013, the “direct-to-Indianapolis” intermodal traffic has grown an average of 44 percent a year.

Container moves have grown from 12,500 in 2014 to 17,200 in 2015 to 26,100 units in 2016.

INRD is expanding its Indianapolis intermodal terminal located just south of downtown.

Major improvements at Canadian west coast ports are expected to drive more intermodal traffic growth to Indianapolis.

The Port of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and the Vancouver Deltaport are currently being expanded.

Prince Rupert is the closest port to Asia and is 2.5  days sailing time closer than Los Angeles. Vancouver is 24 hours closer and is the fourth-largest port in North America.

The average transit time from major Asian ports to Indianapolis is 22 days via Prince Rupert and 24.5 days via Vancouver.

Grant Used to Expand INRD Indianapolis Yard

June 5, 2017

The Indiana Rail Road is using a $300,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation to expand its Senate Avenue Terminal in Indianapolis.

The improvement project, which will cost $1.5 million, includes the installation of two 125-foot light towers and the extension of several yard tracks by 3,249 feet or the equivalent of 59 cars of capacity.

Workers will also install a new drainage system in the rail-truck transload lot, which currently has no drainage system. That results in flooding during heavy rain and creates operational and safety issues through damage to wooden ties and rail.

The high-efficiency LED lights will be placed at the north and south ends of the loading/unloading pad will allow for 24-hour operation. The railroad is looking at adding a second shift.

Railroad officials said the lights will also increase safety and security for the entire yard, which is worked 24 hours a day.

Carload growth is putting pressure on INRD’s infrastructure and the freight yard track extension will provide additional capacity and flexibility for switching and storing products in cars weighing up to the industry-maximum 286,000 pounds.

Hayes to Present at Hoosier Traction Meet

March 27, 2017

Former Akron Railroad Club member Blaine Hayes will be among the presenters at the 34th annual Hoosier Traction Meet on Sept. 8-9 in Indianapolis.

Hayes will present a program titled Cleveland Trackless Trolleys.

The event is being held at the Clarion Hotel, 2930 Waterfront Parkway West Drive.

This year’s event will feature free exhibits that will be open on Friday from noon to 10 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Exhibitors will on display items illustrating the principles and nature of mass transportation systems: photos, books, miniature models, timetables and other collectibles.

The presentations will be given in a 150-seat auditorium with audio-visual presentations of live narration and photographs.

Sessions are expected to run from an hour to an hour and a half with 20 to 30 minute breaks between sessions.

Tickets for the presentations are $40 at the door or $19.50 if purchased before August 25.

Presenters include: Ed Conrad, Union Traction – Union Electric interurban; Andy Maginnis. The Philadelphia (Transit) Story; George Gula, Two Keystone Interurbans: Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton and the Northern Electric; Paul Grether, The Return of Cincinnati Streetcars; Richard Aaron, Toronto; Ken Schramm, Michigan’s Detroit United Railway Operations; Tom McNamara, Cincinnati Transit in Transition from Streetcars to Trackless; Charles Bogart, Current Transit Industry News; Bob Olson, Not Just Your Average Garden Variety

Backyard Electric Railroad; Leo Sullivan, Trolley Freight and Express in New England.

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.

Indiana Rail Group Pressuring Indianapolis Officials to Fix Decrepit Union Station

February 9, 2017

The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance is trying to pressure city officials into taking action to rehabilitate Indianapolis Union Station.

indianaThe facility, which is used by Amtrak and Greyhound, has been described by some rail advocates as a “civic embarrassment.”

The Rail Alliance has invited city leaders to meet with them to discuss how the station can be improved.

IPRA member Bill Malcolm said that the station is unwelcoming, unsightly and even scary.

“If it’s a turnoff to even go into that facility, people are not going to take advantage of it, [they won’t] take their families up to go shopping  . . . because it’s just kind of a frightening place,” Malcolm said.

The city’s department of Metropolitan Development operates the station, which is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal and the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State.

Tally on Regional Transit Ballot Measures

November 11, 2016

In a final tally, the Community Transportation Association of America said that 39 transit-related measures were approved by voters on Tuesday.

That included four that involved only rail transit, 17 that dealt only with bus transit, and 25 that covered both modes. Three measure involved only roads while one was aimed only at ferries. Of the 46 measure involving transit, 16 also affected roads.

The issues that involved public transportation in Ohio and nearby states are summarized below:

INDIANA
Marion County (including Indianapolis) approved a 0.25-percent income tax to raise $56 million per year for improved bus service and new Bus Rapid Transit construction as part of the IndyGo transit improvement program. It passed with 59.3 percent of the vote.

MICHIGAN
Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw Counties (including metro Detroit, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor) voters rejected a measure to levy an additional 1.2 percent property tax to raise $2.9 billion for the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority over 20 years for a Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail line and a regional bus rapid transit system. The measure failed by about 18,000 votes with 52.7 percent of Wayne County ( Detroit)  and 56.2 percent in Washtenaw (Ann Arbor) voting yes. However, the measure was turned down in Oakland County (50.09 percent voting no to 49.91 percent yes), and 60.1 percent voting no in Macomb County.

OHIO
• Franklin County (Columbus)  voters renewed a 0.25 percent sales tax for the Central Ohio Transit Authority for 20 years with 72 percent of the vote, which will raise $62 million.
• Lorain County voters rejected a new 0.25 percent sales tax for transportation, with 50 percent of the anticipated $9.9 million annually going to public transit, with 74.2 percent voting no.
• Lucas County (Toledo) voters renewed a 1.5 percent property tax for the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority for 10 years with 58.5 percent of the vote.
• Stark County voters renewed a 0.25 percent sales tax for the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority for 10 years with 63.2 percent of the vote.