Posts Tagged ‘railroads of Indiana’

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.

Advertisements

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.