Port Authority Puts Brakes on State Fair Train

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(Image courtesy of the Indiana Transportation Museum) (Image courtesy of the Indiana Transportation Museum)

The organization that maintains and oversees the 37-mile Nickel Plate railroad line between Tipton and Indianapolis says it is suspending use of the line by the nonprofit that operates the Indiana State Fair train just days before this year's fair. Volunteers raised safety concerns about the train earlier this year and the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority outlined 13 items the Indiana Transportation Museum needed to address before it could be reinstated to operate the train.

The authority represents Fishers, Noblesville and Hamilton County and the ITM has been designated operator of the line. The museum says more than 30,000 passengers each year ride the historic train for various trips, including the voyage to and from the Indiana State Fair.

The full statement from the HHPA reads:

On March 24, 2016, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority (HHPA) called an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors and suspended the operations of the Indiana Transportation Museum (ITM) until further notice, due to concerns raised by former volunteers of the ITM in a letter addressed to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. In the following months the HHPA has investigated the safety related portions of those concerns and on July 11th at the HHPA Boards regularly scheduled quarterly meeting, approved a Revised Policy of Use issued to ITM that laid out thirteen items that were required of ITM to gain reinstatement of use privileges. Unfortunately, as of today, the HHPA has informed ITM that the suspension cannot be lifted at this time, due to non-compliance with several of the items listed in the HHPA’s Revised Policy of Use. These thirteen items were deemed critical by the HHPA for safe travel of trains, passengers and users of the roadway system in Marion and Hamilton Counties that cross the Nickel Plate tracks at numerous locations.

HHPA will continue to work with ITM in the hopes that all thirteen items are later received and approved by the HHPA. In addition, the HHPA will be working closely with the ITM to ensure necessary repairs to the track are made that are also critical to safe and efficient travel of ITM’s tourist railroad operations. This suspension was an extremely difficult decision for all involved, and not taken lightly, as the Fair Train and all the excursions provided by ITM are not only important to our communities that own and oversee the Nickel Plate line, but are truly unique treasures that make our communities such great places to live and work. However, at no time will the HHPA compromise on the Policy of Use items that the HHPA has determined are the minimum standards that must be upheld to ensure the safety and welfare of all the citizens of our communities and the public in general.

The museum and restoration facilities are located in Noblesville.

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