Group to submit plan to keep Nickel Plate rail line in operation

A group called the Hoosier Heritage Railroad says they've come up with a plan to save the historic Nickel Plate Road rail line. (WISH Photo)

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — A group called the Hoosier Heritage Railroad is submitting a plan to keep the Nickel Plate Road rail line in operation. The mayors of Fishers and Noblesville have already submitted their own plan to turn the line into a recreational trail.

The historic rail dates back to the mid-19th century. Thousands of Hoosiers remember it as their route to the Indiana State Fair.

Hoosier Heritage Railroad plans to redevelop and eventually extend the rail from Kokomo to Indianapolis. They’d also like to add recreational trails alongside the tracks.

A spokesperson for the City of Fishers said bids are going to the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority. Mayors of Fishers and Noblesville teamed up on a separate bid this year to convert the tracks into a pedestrian and bicycle trail.

A spokesperson for the Fishers mayor said the city still intends to move forward with that idea.

Logan Day of the Hoosier Heritage Railroad said he’s reached out to Fishers and Noblesville to talk about his group’s plan.

“Unfortunately, I believe that both cities don’t really have any desire to keep this rail between them,” Day said. “We’re hoping to collaborate and add part of their vision to the grander vision of what this really can be.”

If the plan becomes a reality, the group said they expect ticket sales to cover a large amount of the costs. They’re also hoping to start a crowdfunding effort and to make the rail operational from Noblesville to Indianapolis in 2018.

“Hoosiers from all over want to ride trains,” said Richard Vonnegut of the Hoosier Heritage Railroad. “They want to walk. They want to bicycle. They want to explore Indiana and having the rail with trail feature provides opportunities to maximize that pinnacle of effort.”

City leaders in Noblesville and Fishers said their trail plan would cost about $9.3 million. It would stretch more than 9 miles across the two cities.

A spokesperson for the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority said the group is reviewing all bids and, at the moment, all bids are confidential.

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