Posts Tagged ‘railroads of Indiana’

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/

L&I To Build Overpass in Downtown Columbus, Ind.

July 8, 2017

CSX and the Louisville & Indiana Railroad will join with the city of Columbus, Indiana, and Bartholomew County to pay for an overpass to carry Indiana Route 46 over the L&I tracks in downtown Columbus.

The bridge is part of a $100 million line rehabilitation project on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky.

Although the L&I owns the tracks, CSX has helped the short-line railroad pay for track upgrades.

CSX routes through trains over the line between Louisville and Indianapolis. Some CSX trains use part of the route to go from Louisville to Cincinnati, getting onto the St. Louis line of the former Baltimore & Ohio at Seymour, Indiana.

The upgrading of the L&I line is expected to be completed next year. CSX has indicated that it will increase its use of the line.

Officials said Indiana Route 46 is the primary entrance and exit for motorists and trucks heading into and out of downtown Columbus.

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.

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 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.

New Operator Sought for Indiana Rail Line

January 25, 2017

A new operator is being sought to provide rail service on an Indiana line that once hosted the popular state fair trains.

IndianaThe Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which owns the 37-mile former Nickel Plate route between Indianapolis and Tipton, said it was seeking a new operator after the previous operator, the Indiana Transportation Museum, failed to meet track maintenance agreements.

ITM has been embroiled in an internal dispute involving its management and some volunteers who have alleged that there have been financial improprieties and lack of adequate safety procedures

The museum previously operated the fair train and “polar bear” express excursions. Neither operated in 2016 and officials say the fair train might not operate in 2017 either.

Michael Obergfell, president of the port authority, said ITM could seek to operate the line again, but the authority was unlikely to allow that until several organizational issues are resolved.

Although probes by the Indiana attorney general’s office and Federal Railroad Administration have not made any findings of misconduct or wrong-doing, a consultant hired by the Port Authority concluded that ITM failed to comply with a track maintenance agreement between the museum and the authority.

Obergfell said several groups are interested in running trains on the line.

Paducah & Louisville Names New Executives

January 19, 2017

The Kentucky-based Paducah & Louisville Railway announced this week the promotion and appointment of several executives.

paducah-and-louisvilleTim Wyatt has been named vice president of transportation of labor and will oversee all transportation department operations, dispatching, customer service and labor relations.

He has been with P&L since 2003 and has worked in the railroad industry since 1984.

Kevin McEwan was tabbed to be vice president of marketing and sales where he will be responsible for marketing, sales, pricing, and industrial development. He has been with P&L since 2006, most recently as its marketing director.

Chris Reck will become assistant vice president of sales and industrial development with responsibility for all outside sales and industrial development. He has been with P&L since 2007, serving in positions ranging from conductor to marketing director.

Aside from its flagship railroad in Kentucky, the P&L also manages the Evansville Western Railway in Indiana and the Appalachian and Ohio Railroad in West Virginia.

INDOT Sets Meetings on Rail Plan

November 1, 2016

The Indiana Department of Transportation will conduct a series of public meetings as part of an update to the state’s freight and passenger rail plan.

InDOTThe meeting will be held  at INDOT offices in Vincennes (Nov. 10), LaPorte (Nov. 15) and Indianapolis (Nov. 17).

Brief informal presentations will be given at 5:30 p.m.  and 6:30 p.m.

Staff from INDOT’s rail division and consultant WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff will be available before and after the presentations for members of the public or rail stakeholders who may wish to speak with them. Attendees will also be asked to complete a paper survey

INDOT expects to have a draft rail plan completed for public review in the spring of 2017.

Chasing South Shore Geeps Down the Street

April 2, 2015
A South Shore light power move has just entered the street running on 11th Street in Michigan City, Ind.

A South Shore light power move has just entered the street running on 11th Street in Michigan City, Ind.

One of our objectives in visiting Michigan City, Ind., recently was to photograph the street running done by South Shore trains. Getting a passenger train was all but assured because they run on a published schedule.

But getting a freight train in the street would take having some luck. In a literal sense, we didn’t get that.

But we did get a light power move of two South Shore freight GP35s running down 11th Street. We chased them for a while and got them meeting a passenger train near the Beverly Shores station.

We began our quest by “visiting” the South Shore yard and shops on the east side of town. I say visit in quotations marks because we never went onto the property.

Instead, we viewed the sights from a road bridge that goes over the facility. There were several South Shore freight locomotives in the service area, but nothing seemed to be moving or about to move.

We spent some time photographing Amtrak trains and heard a South Shore crew talking to the dispatcher. The crew said it had No. 2000 facing west and No. 2005 facing east.

Those are freight unit numbers and it gave us hope that a freight train would be operating.

After the passage of an Amtrak train, we swung past the South Shore yard again. Crossing the tracks by the Carroll Avenue Station, we could see that No. 2000 had its headlights and ditch lights on. It must be getting ready to move.

Another radio conversation with the dispatcher confirmed that this crew was headed westward to do some work.

We waited in a parking lot toward the east end of the street running on 11th Street. When we saw the crossing gates going down for East Michigan Avenue, it was time to get into position.

Initially, I was standing in the street, but as the train approached I stepped back up onto the curb. That was a good thing because right as the locomotive arrived and we had finished getting out “coming” photos, a white car passed going the opposition direction of the train and it would have hit me had I not moved.

After photographing the train coming and going, Adam suggested that we chase it down the street. I made some photographs from the passenger seat.

It wasn’t the first train I’ve shot from a moving vehicle, but it was the first one that I photographed that was going down the street ahead of me.

We chased the train west of Michigan City, getting it waiting for a passenger train at the west end of a section of double track. With that we returned to Michigan City to get more photographs and to have lunch.

If you’re ever in Michigan City, I highly recommend the Shoreline Brewery on Wabash Street. It features great food and beer. Besides, how can you go wrong at a place whose logo is shaped and has the same colors as the herald of the South Shore Line?

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Slipping through a residential neighborhood. The houses are on Maple Street.

Slipping through a residential neighborhood. The houses are on Maple Street.

The going away shot with late morning sun illuminating the nose.

The going away shot with late morning sun illuminating the nose.

You've heard of a steeple cab, but how about a steeple coming out of a cab?

You’ve heard of a steeple cab, but how about a steeple coming out of a cab?

I like this image because it conveys a sense of a railroad track running down a street complete with all of the urban clutter of traffic signals, street signs and utility poles. If you look to the right of the nose of No. 2005 you'll see milepost 34 attached to a utility pole.

I like this image because it conveys a sense of a railroad track running down a street complete with all of the urban clutter of traffic signals, street signs and utility poles. If you look to the right of the nose of No. 2005 you’ll see milepost 34 attached to a utility pole.

We've caught up with the South Shore geeps and are pacing them down the street, hanging back a little ways.

We’ve caught up with the South Shore geeps and are pacing them down the street, hanging back a little ways.

That grade crossing signal that you see is to warn traffic about trains on the track that is parallel to them. The light power move is shown making a job during which it will transition onto 10th Street for more street running. In the process, it will cross Kentucky Street and Chicago Street as well as Amtrak's Michigan District. If you don't stop behind that yellow sign you might get clipped as a train comes around the curve.

That grade crossing signal that you see is to warn traffic about trains on the track that is parallel to them. The light power move is shown making a job during which it will transition onto 10th Street for more street running. In the process, it will cross Kentucky Street and Chicago Street as well as Amtrak’s Michigan District. If you don’t stop behind that yellow sign you might get clipped as a train comes around the curve.

The signals at the left edge of the image was the eastward home signals for Amtrak's Michigan District, which crosses the South Shore on a diamond on the edge of 10th Street.

The signals at the left edge of the image was the eastward home signals for Amtrak’s Michigan District, which crosses the South Shore on a diamond on the edge of 10th Street.

The crew has stopped just short of Lake Shore County Road. The crossing gates remained down and when a vehicle approached a crew member would come out of the cab and wave them across.

The crew has stopped just short of Lake Shore County Road. The crossing gates remained down and when a vehicle approached a crew member would come out of the cab and wave them across.

The engineer of No. 2000 has moved down slightly to block Lake Shore County Road as the passenger train approaches in the distance.

The engineer of No. 2000 has moved down slightly to block Lake Shore County Road as the passenger train approaches in the distance.

South Shore freight meets South Shore passenger.

South Shore freight meets South Shore passenger.

With the passenger train out of the way, the light power move has the signal to move onto the single track in Beverly Shores.

With the passenger train out of the way, the light power move has the signal to move onto the single track in Beverly Shores.