New hope for ‘Fair Train,’ fans in Hamilton County

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NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Fans of the popular Hamilton County Fair Train have new hope that trains could run again on the Nickel Plate Line in the near future.

Earlier this year, leaders of Hamilton County, Fishers and Noblesville announced they planned to turn the rail line into a walking trail between Noblesville and Fishers, similar to the Monon Trail in Carmel.

However, after strong showings from rail enthusiast at two public input sessions on the project, county leaders have decided to open the bidding up for a new railroad operator for the line.

The Indiana Transportation Museum has operated the line for the last 21 years, but the organization stopped running trains on the tracks in April 2016 because of safety concerns.

“I believe there will be a train running on the rails," Indiana Transportation Museum Treasurer John McNichols saidl. "There's certainly a question whether it will be down through Fishers or not, but we’ve partnered with organizations that are advocating rails with trails."

The Indiana Transportation Museum will be one of several operators that put a bid in to run the railroad. Operators are allowed to submit applications to run different sections of the line, meaning there's a chance the trail could come to Fishers and Noblesville and trains could operate on the line north of Noblesville up to Tipton.

Proposals are due to the Hamilton County Port Authority by June 10.

Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger said county leaders will review the bids then and relay the best options to residents at a later date.

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