The newly-signed operator of a 12-mile, tourism-focused rail line in northern Hamilton County says activity between Atlanta and Noblesville will begin in the summer. Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc. has signed a 15-year operating agreement with the track’s manager, the Hamilton County-based Hoosier Heritage Port Authority. The authority controls 37 miles of track that stretches between Tipton and Indianapolis.
Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc., a nonprofit, says the Nickel Plate Express will offer trips on Saturdays and Sunday’s once restoration efforts are complete. Last month, the organization named Deanna Holt executive director and she will lead programming and marketing efforts. In November, the organization took public feedback on the planned excursions. Atlanta Pacific LLC Rail, owned by the former owner of retired Indiana Rail Road Co. founder Tom Hoback, is the rail service contractor and is expected to deliver the rolling equipment following restoration.
The Noblesville Parks Board at the end of last year announced it would not re-sign the long-serving operator of the Nickel Plate rail line, Indiana Transportation Museum Inc. ITM had to return its Noblesville facility over to the city earlier this year. ITM previously ran the Indiana State Fair Train along much of the tracks. That service was stopped in 2016. Part of the 37-mile rail line — the stretch between 96th Street in Fishers and Pleasant Street in Noblesville — is the focus of rail-to-trail conversion plans announced just over a year ago by the cities.
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