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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Supporters of running Indiana State Fair train face obstacle

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, March 13, 2017 12:32 pm
NOBLESVILLE — The operators of the suspended Indiana State Fair train have devised a plan for expanded service that would feature year-round trains rolling between Noblesville and downtown Indianapolis. The plan by rail enthusiasts at the Indiana Transportation Museum comes as elected officials in Hamilton County prepare to convert the Nickel Plate railroad, which had carried the fair train for 30 years, into a greenway trail, the Indianapolis Star reported. The $9 million project was announced on Jan. 30.

Museum officials said they favor putting the train alongside the tracks and are planning to offer their alternative option at public hearings this month. The museum operated the fair train for 30 years before the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority halted it last summer over safety concerns.

"We are looking at full-length trains that would run weekends all year," said Craig Presler, secretary for the transportation museum. "We were profitable before the suspension and were heading to our best year ever. We think there is a market for this."

Officials from the Fort Wayne Historical Society are joining the museum's effort. The society's vice president, Kelly Lynch, said Fishers and Noblesville will squander a tourism asset if they get rid of the tracks.

"The trend now is for communities to go back to their roots and their cultural heritage, not get rid of it," Lynch said. "It is one thing to say you are a railroad town and another to be one. You'd think they'd like to stay authentic to their heritage."

Fishers spokeswoman Ashley Elrod said the city has received about six letters from railroad backers but said many more people have expressed support for the trail.

"We understand there is a lot of nostalgia related to trains," Elrod said. "But people are really enthusiastic about the trail."

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