David L. Shank, APR

Shank Public Relations Counselors, Inc.

(317) 293-5590


Indiana Transportation Museum Plan

Expands Education, Entertainment and Excursion Trains from

Tipton to Lucas Oil Stadium

NOBLESVILLE, Indiana – June, 13, 2017 – A proposal by the Indiana Transportation Museum, operator of the beloved Fair Train(sm) and the Polar Bear Express (sm), to the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority includes increased and diversified programming, a five-year plan for growth and revenue, and future expansion into the downtown Indianapolis market beginning at Mass Ave. and 10th Street.

The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which officially controls operation of the railroad, issued the RFP earlier this year.

We continue to believe maintaining and improving the Nickel Plate railroad is a priority to not only enhance service but continue to provide an historic and safe community asset,” said John McNichols, Museum board chair. The Museum will commit $1.5 million in right-of-way maintenance and improvements over the next five years as part of regularly serving communities from Indianapolis to Tipton. “More importantly, we can begin operations as soon as the Operating Agreement is reached since we already have equipment with access to the Nickel Plate line.”

In exchange, the Museum is asking the HPPA for a long-term operating agreement to achieve a return on the Museum’s investment and operate the railroad as needed to serve its communities and support the costs of the operation. “Such operating expenses require consistent and regular operation to provide and expand the service and programs especially reaching Indianapolis and Tipton,” said McNichols.

The Museum also owns more than two million dollars of working and historic steam and diesel locomotives, historic passenger and business cars.

We are working hard to once again be the operator of the entire Nickel Plate line, as we have done for more than 20 years, without relying on taxpayer funding,” said new Board Member Josh Spencer.

Cameron Nichols, a long-time Museum volunteer and newly appointed board member said, “The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga carried more than 100,000 guests last year in a similar operation. Our independent market analysis conducted by SMARI, Inc. and Stone Consulting, Inc. concluded the proposed ITM expanded operation can easily reach this level as part of our five-year marketing and development program.”

In addition to its traditional excursion trains, ITM has partnered with Bullseye Event Group, an Indianapolis-based event and promotions company which “sees the potential for heritage rail operations for Indianapolis games and events as a huge opportunity for not only the city, but the entire region along the Nickel Plate corridor,” said Bullseye Founding Partner Bobby Milan and ITM board member. Bullseye Event Group has worked with the Masters Golf Tournament, NFL Superbowls, concerts and the Indianapolis Colts. “There is huge untapped potential for train excursions to and from Indianapolis.”

We are committed to developing a statewide tourism asset to support our heritage and economic development. We truly believe this is a regional asset our plan can maximize to its fullest potential with a community-centered approach,” Nichols said.

We have been, and can again be an even greater year-round community asset owned and operated by Hoosiers, without taxpayer subsidy. But most importantly, if we’re successful in being awarded this RFP by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, we can continue bringing the history and legacy of railroading to central Indiana. Railroads created industrial America and all people should have the opportunity to learn and appreciate rail’s great contribution to our American way of life. We ask our communities to support our application to be the continued operator on the Nickel Plate line,” McNichols said.

The Indiana Transportation Museum, headquartered in Forest Park, 825 Park Dr., Noblesville, Indiana, is a non-for-profit museum and heritage railroad operation founded in 1960. The Museum mission is to engage and inspire generations regarding the rich culture and heritage of America’s and Indiana’s railroads by bringing to life the art, science and technology that defined the industry. The institution exists as a community-centered partner for the region and Indiana for education, tourism development, economic benefit and preservation of our rich heritage. The Museum sees visitors from across Indiana, the United States and the world.

Our trains, crews and track are audited and recognized as safe by the Federal Railroad Administration.