Railway Preservation News

Nickel Plate Trail
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Author:  AlcoC420 [ Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

I do not know who "Alco guy" is, it is not me.

As for the line having more business then in the N&W days that is not true.
Back when N&W ran the line, they were taking many large capacity 86 foot box cars south to Indianapolis for the GM stamping plant. The loss of this traffic was one of the reasons for N&W, then NS leaving this line and filing for abandonment.

At one time, Indiana Railroad was pulling grain cars from the elevator in downtown Noblesville and adding them to grain car from the Tipton Co-0p elevator. The breakup of the Co-0p seemed to put a stop to this, as most county Co-0ps went their own way.

In my files, I still have a copy of the filing by NS for the abandonment of this line. It was filed under the Interstate Commerce Commission on August 27, 1991.

According to the filing, the last year of N&W service saw a total of 1,955 cars move over this line. The Indianapolis traffic accounted for 1,369 of those cars leaving 586 reported as other than Indy.

For comparison of NS base year of 1987 carloads vs. INRD April 1990 through March 1991:
Atlanta NS 1 carload INRD 2 carloads
Castleton NS 311`carloads INRD 409 carloads
Indianapolis NS 1,533 carloads INRD 750 carloads
Noblesville NS 174 carloads INRD 122 carloads
Tipton NS 362 carloads INRD 852 carloads { see Note }

note: Handled in switching service, 823 for Tipton County Farm Bureau.

These were cars just switched out of the Co-0p and handed to NS at Tipton.
Just switching service.

So there was NO big increase in carloads with INRD service, other than the coal trains, which really came later, after the NS sale to the current owners.

586 carloads for other than Indy, is hardly worth serving a 35 mile railroad.

Author:  AlcoC420 [ Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

"So, if our interpretation is correct, in the INRD on NKP example, they could only be contracted to serve Duke. They could take Duke coal, transformer, pole - doesn't matter. HOWEVER, they would settle freight charges from origin to NKP property line as normal common carrier, and invoice the NKP's pwners for services rendered from interchange point to Duke. So if Duke is only customer to use line and INRD billed correctly, then there is no common carrier obligation - it died when ICC approved abandonment. Even if INRD billed Duke rather than NKP owner, that's probably a minor enough detail that the STB would excuse. But if you can PROVE that INRD ever served any other customers, IN MY OPINION (I am not a lawyer but am involved in this kind of stuff), that very well could/should open the door to allow STB jurisdiction over this line."

That is what I am basing my opinion upon.[/quote]

I could see the service provided to Duke Energy as non-common carrier service if Duke Energy owned the rail line, but they do not.

Since the owners purchased this rail line and never consumated the abandonment, I see service to Duke Energy as common carrier service.

The owners, were indeed operating a railroad and being paid for services preformed over their railroad. Duke Energy was not the owner, jsut paying for service as they would have any way, by the carload or unit train.

I guess someone needs to look at the corporation papers that were filed or should have been filed with the state of Indiana when the port authority was formed. This would tell what the stated purpose of the corporation was. Was their purpose as a port authority just to sit on the property or to promote it as a railroad. If it was to promote it as a railroad, then the port was providing or offering common carrier service. It just so happened that the INRD pulled out after the end of the coal trains as it was not profitable.

Author:  PMC [ Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

None of the evaluative issues you bring up matters to OFA, the only thing that matters is that the line is considered a common carrier. If more than one customer was being served then the line is considered a common carrier, meaning an entity can make an OFA to take over the line. Period. And there is evidence that multiple customers, in addition to Duke, were being served by INRR. In this sense the IMC line is fortunate compared to say the ASRR or the CMRR, which were closed for so long that there are no freight customers left.

Author:  AlcoC420 [ Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

[quote="PMC"]None of the evaluative issues you bring up matters to OFA, the only thing that matters is that the line is considered a common carrier. If more than one customer was being served then the line is considered a common carrier, meaning an entity can make an OFA to take over the line. Period."

NO they can not!
In order to acquire a line through the "OFA" process a formal abandonment application must be filed. Once the abandonment application has been filed, then someone that is qualified can make an offer through the "OFA" procedures. If no one files an "OFA" and there are no objection of merit, then the abandonment will be approved, then the line will become available for railbanking or rails to trails.

Just why do you think that the attorney for the owners has file for a "Petition for Partial Revocation of Exemption"?

It is an attempt to by-pass the abandonment process to avoid someone filing an "OFA". Just plain and simple.

Quote: " And there is evidence that multiple customers, in addition to Duke, were being served by INRR".

I am well aware that the INRD served more than one customer before the NS filed to abandon this line in 1991, I have already posted figures for that.

Where is your evidence that more than one customer was served by INRD after the abandonment was approved by the ICC, after the purchase by the current owners and during the time they ran coal trains?

In the filing for the owners, they state that INRD continued to serve Duke Energy on the southern 17 miles of the railroad, but nothing more. This was to around 2004, almost 14 years ago and has nothing to do with it.

I can tell you right now, that the STB could care less about any claims that you make in regards to evidence without facts to back them up. So, if you think, that there were more than one customer being served on this line, then come up with the proof, such as car billing, way bills, service logs, anything. Just someone saying they saw them go by their house is not proof in the eyes of the STB.

And in all the filing on this case, NO ONE has provided any proof to that claim.

That is simply, because it has nothing to do with it.

Author:  PMC [ Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

AlcoC420 wrote:
I can tell you right now, that the STB could care less about any claims that you make in regards to evidence without facts to back them up. So, if you think, that there were more than one customer being served on this line, then come up with the proof, such as car billing, way bills, service logs, anything. Just someone saying they saw them go by their house is not proof in the eyes of the STB.

This is tiresome, I won't be making any cases to the STB, I don't have a dog in this fight but you apparently do. The issue of whether the track was operated as a common carrier will come up if the HHPA claims it is too late for an OFA, and there are entities opposing the removal who will likely point that out and whose opinion the STB will definitely "care less" about. For example, this formal request by Kokomo Grain, the major grain shipper in Indiana, two months ago:

https://www.stb.gov/filings/all.nsf/ba7 ... 600458b4e/

Here is a section of the letter to the acting STB office of proceedings chair:

"Dear Ms. Begeman,

Our company, Kokomo Grain is one of the largest independent grain companies headquartered in Indiana. It has a total of 10 facilities located in state and in Tennessee with a federally licensed capacity of 50 million bushels. Customers include both domestic and export markets. Successful grain marketing is highly sensitive to price. Cost effective rail service is one of the cornerstones of our business. ...The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority was established to preserve the rail line and benefit Hamilton Tipton and Marion counties. To our knowledge it has shown little or no interest in fulfilling this aspect of its charter. (Nor, did it protest when CSX and NS removed their connections to the line). We believe the evidence shows the line is a substantial asset for north central Indiana with significant commercial potential that could benefit our company and hundreds of area farms. Our estimates based on knowledge of the market suggest that the line could generate as many as 1900 carloads per year of whole grains (Corn STCC 1132, Wheat 1137, Soybeans 1144). We are opposed to effort's to sever or otherwise impair the value of the line to serve its original purpose. We urge the STB to decline the railroad Owners' petition in order to protect and preserve future rail service along this line."

There is another group with their own plan: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vx2uheot90tt0 ... l.pdf?dl=0 Again, not me.

Now, I wonder what someone apparently advocating that a section of track be torn out is doing on a rail preservation board.

Edit: fixed STB link.

Author:  AlcoGuy [ Sat Dec 23, 2017 2:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

AlcoC420,you need to reread my post. I said it was more ACTIVE when INRD ran it compared to when NS LAST RAN THE LINE (NOT NW).I did not say anything about car count or actual business. When NS LAST RAN they were down to three days a week, then at the very end, down to once a week. When INRD started they ran EVERY DAY FIVE DAYS A WEEK.As for my many photos showing both coal drags and general freight, as you know, several groups are working towards saving the line. If photos could be of any help to any of these groups, they can be made available. Whether or not that is considered PROOF in the eyes of the STB i really can't say. My guess is they would not.My experience was always with the old ICC so things have probably changed.....Your passion towards saving this line and your well authored submission to the surf is appreciated.

Author:  AlcoC420 [ Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail


"Now, I wonder what someone apparently advocating that a section of track be torn out is doing on a rail preservation board."

If you think that I am advocating that a section of this line be removed for a trail, then you need to re-read my posts.

I was simply explaining other options that the owners could use, if they loose their current filing with the STB.

I am not trying to step on anyone here with my post and if you feel that way I am sorry.
I do not want any of this line removed, there are way too many good options for it and the powers to be { our elected officals } could care less. The line has never been properly operated to it's potential under the present ownership.

A properly operated "Port Authority" could have served everyones needs; freight, tourist and commuter.

One of the leasons that everyone needs to take from what is happening here, is get involved in your community.

Get out and vote!

The largest problem with Noblesville and Fishers, Indiana, is they are part of Hamilton County, one of the richest counties in Indiana and are all most entirely under Republican control. I am very conservative and vote mostly Republican, but here in Hamilton County, we have very few, if any, to vote for, other then Republicans. We all need to vote in the primary elections, which determine who runs in the general elections.

Author:  J3a-614 [ Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

I just saw this recently.

Facebook link from "Save the Nickel Plate" (pro-rail site):

https://www.facebook.com/SavetheNickelP ... 207056805/

And the text for those who can't get or detest Facebook.

BREAKING NEWS! The STB is listening to the public!

January 5, 2018 - The Surface Transportation Board issued its second decision concerning the proceeding initiated by Fishers, Noblesville, and Hamilton County to railbank the Nickel Plate line.


YOUR EFFORTS ARE PAYING OFF! The STB is accepting all 112 filings submitted so far - against the wishes of the Fishers, Noblesville, and Hamilton County - into the record of the proceeding. The cities and county may submit one final reply and then the case is closed for a final decision to be rendered.

Of those filings:

94 OPPOSED railbanking
8 were from Fishers, Noblesville, and Hamilton County
4 SUPPORTED railbanking
6 were NEUTRAL or supplemental motions to a filing.

"Because of the significant public interest in this proceeding and in the interest of a complete record that embodies the full spectrum of interests involved, the service requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 1104.12(a) will be waived for all pleadings and letters received by the Board as of the date of issuance of this decision, and all of those pleadings and letters will therefore be accepted into the record."

While they did deny STNKP's motion to suspend and investigate the proceeding as well as an additional request for an extension of time; their decision specifically highlights the importance they've placed on "[the] public's interest...and...a complete record that embodies the full spectrum of interests involved"

This is a HUGE milestone and we have YOU to thank! So THANK YOU to all of our supporters who have been so active in this issue! Keep it up and PLEASE continue to INVITE others to "LIKE" and follow our page.

The actual decision, which in my opinion isn't quite as rosy as the announcement, but which does say, as does the announcement, that all letters and opinions will be considered, something that may have been a point of contention in the past.

https://www.stb.gov/Decisions/readingro ... /46165.pdf

Author:  J3a-614 [ Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

Just checked back on this after a long interval, and we have a couple of interesting items.

One, a most interesting read, is a letter to the editor of The Times of Hamilton County by Susan Miller, who has a pretty detailed accounting of what's been going on in Indiana.

https://thetimes24-7.com/PrintArticle.a ... d74bc00d0a

There is also this news release from Nickel Plate Express, the company that will have the operating contract. Sadly, this firm is alleged to have been complicit in the arrangements to discredit or dislocate the Indiana Transportation Museum.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... elease.pdf


https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... +Plan+.pdf

Author:  blueflag [ Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

"Part of the secret plot included plans to fool the citizens with a substitute they thought would appease them when Save the Train signs appeared all over the county. They intend to allow the Hamilton County Tourism Bureau to use hotel tax money to fund a train operation that will run north of Noblesville only. This plan calls for $1.5 million in start-up costs and $100,000 for annual operations. The annual operations costs are to be funded with tax dollars. I am not certain where the $1.5 million came from. This operation is not a historic museum, even though it has the word "historic" in its name, perhaps an attempt to obscure that reality. Nor does it plan to engage in the historic restoration and preservation of rail cars and engines. It has no plans to run the popular Fairtrain to the Indiana State Fair.

Some politicians, including Ditslear, have claimed, "We saved the train," referring to this tax-funded substitute. Anyone who makes that statement is intentionally misleading citizens who don't know the whole story. Honorable?"

That's some pretty damning background. Imagine having 1.5 million in start-up money for your very own tourist railroad... and "$100,000 in annual operating support from Hamilton County Tourism."

Was ITM ever endowed, invested or underwritten in such a fashion? That alone is worth a full-time salary and some expenses. It says a lot that they'd rather import equipment in a highly expensive manner than try and lease, rent or purchase anything operable at ITM.

And it's called the Nickel Plate Express? And the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad? It's neither express nor Nickel Plate or heritage! It's Santa Fe equipment on what amounts to a light branch line. And the images in their promotional brochures are European tracks in an environment where they couldn't even airbrush the graffiti out of.

What a stink show!

Author:  cood101 [ Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

While I find it interesting, and sort of refreshing to see the "new" operation using El-Capitan High levels, the circumstances behind the introduction of this operation are abhorrent.

I would like to underscore the importance of elections on the local level due to this. As we have seen, a small cabal of county commissioners and mayors have conspired not only to rip up utilized rail line, but replace an operator with one more aligned with their viewpoint. If at any point the chain was broken away from those in local power, with at least one of those figures in opposition, we wouldn't be having this discussion, and the future of the trackage, and ITM would not be in doubt. Not due to museum action or inaction, but the hostile entity of a local government.

J3a-614's information is especially damning to the methods invoked by the local government, showing their direct involvement with an attempt to behead a local institution for not falling in line. Under what other circumstances would one appoint a new designated operator, while also diverting government funds to the operator; an option not granted to the previous operator?

Anyone reading this from the Noblestown/Fishers/Hamilton County area needs to take note. Don't focus on the party affiliations of these politicians in relation to yours. They, as people, have shown a willingness to backstab your community and lie to your faces in order to get their way. You need in power anyone willing to work for the community they live in and not against it. Please act accordingly.

Author:  AlcoC420 [ Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

I live in Noblesville, Indiana and have been watching all this unfold. Not all of it has been out in the open, but some of you taking the ITM's side without FULL knowledge of the facts, need to open your eyes.

First, I am totally opposed to the removal of any of the tracks on this rail line. The operations and oversight of this line have been lacking since it's purchase from the NS.

ITM had the opportunity to purchase this line, but their failure resulted in the purchase by the city of Noblesville, city of Fishers and Hamilton County. They in turn formed the port authority which controls the railroad, and they make the decisions.

The port authority sat on their hands and let NS remove the northern connection, but as the operator, the ITM should have also taken a part in trying to stop this connection from being removed. NS did not want to deal with the diamond at Tipton, Indiana, so they removed it. I was also recently told that NS offered to put a switch in off the northeast corner of where the diamond had been at one time. This would have been installed on property that was at that time owned by NS. The port authority chose not to have it done and ITM never push the issue. This property is now owned by the city of Tipton and is a city park.

The city of Tipton also removed several street crossings and NO one did anything to stop that as well.

The southern connection crossed the CSX double track mainline on 2 diamonds to reach the Belt Railway. No one stepped up to the plate to do anything about this removal either. Following the removal of the 2 diamonds at the southern end, someone stepped in and helped theirself to several hundred feet of rail as scrap. I do not know if anyone has been proscuted for this or not.

ITM has always had the DREAM of getting in to downtown Indianapolis and Union Station. While this may have been a great idea, they should have paid greater concern, that they had an outside connection.

There has been incopmentence on the ITM's side as well as the port authority.

ITM has been located in the city park for over 50 years and their current battle with the city and the park board has not been their first.

In the past few years, the number of passenger cars used on the Fair Train has declined as their equipment has become wornout. ITM stopped running to Tipton on a regular basis and as such their maintenance of the track to the north has also declined.

The new operator is getting money to upgrade that track, that they will be running on. Why should a new operator, bring the track back from it's lack of maintenance from the prior operator? I have not seen their contract with the port authority and I know most people who are making negative comments here have not seen it either. I am sure that there are maintenance standards that the new operator will have to meet, if not there should be.

To say that ITM never received any money for track work is not true. Did ITM pay for the repairs to the street running in Noblesville? Or the more recent repairs to the street trackage in front of the courthouse? Who is going to pay for the repairs to the street crossing in Cicero?

ITM has been digging themselves in to a deep hole for a number of years. For those of you, who have never been to the ITM, you need to make a trip and check out the site and equipment for yourselves. They have had and have great ideas, but that takes people to see them through. I have been through the park on many very nice weekends, when you would think there would be work details there working on their equipment, there are few if any people there.

The blame game can only go on for so long.

The "Request for Proposals" was made public and anyone that could or wanted to had the opportunity to submit a proposal. ITM submitted a proposal that had somewhere around 50 pages that were totally blank. Had I been on a panel reviewing the proposals, I would have just thrown it in the trash as incomplete. All the other parties submitted a complete proposal. I have copies of all of them and personal felt that all 5 submitted were lacking or way out in some dream land.

The way the proposal were graded, was also very bias, it did not take a rocket scientist to see that.

ITM has also had it's internal conflicts. The members lost their right to vote for any of the officers or directors of ITM. This came up in court and the court ordered them to hold elections. Sadly, the court put the elections in to the hands of those in power and they got to choose who got to vote.

The internal battle which brought in the FRA and halted the ITM operations did not help as well.

So, put yourself in the position of the port authority board. What would you do? Why not put out Request for Proposal and see if something better could be done with this line?

The behind the scenes play by our public officals is also disgraceful.

A contract has been signed by the powers in charge and whether anyone likes it or not, that is how it is.

This is where people need to get out an vote. Sadly, Hamilton County is a one party county and that needs to change.

I hope that the STB rules against the filing by the cities and the county, but that may not bring back the ITM, if that is what you are looking for.

Author:  Robert Opal [ Thu May 31, 2018 6:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

STB decision served today:

https://www.stb.gov/decisions/readingro ... enDocument

Author:  Chris Webster [ Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nickel Plate Trail

An excerpt of an August 3, 2018 article in the Indianapolis Star newspaper:
For the past year, the debate on what to do with the Nickel Plate rail line in Hamilton and Marion counties has been a choice between a quaint excursion train to the Indiana State Fair or an environment- and health-friendly greenway.

Now, a third option has roared into the squabble: a freight train.

A railroad operator is making a last-ditch bid to buy the Nickel Plate tracks so it can run grain on freight trains into Indianapolis, a move that if successful would thwart plans to convert the corridor to a hiking and biking trail.

Ohio-based U.S. Rail Holdings has asked the federal Surface Transportation Board to force the cities to sell the tracks, arguing that railroad rules give precedence to trains over trails. A Fishers official called the move a “Hail Mary” that should have little chance of approval by regulators.
Link to the full article:
Rails to trails back to rails? Freight train bid could thwart Hamilton County greenway

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