Indiana State Fair train won't run in 2016

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The State Fair Train will not run for the 2016 fair, WTHR has confirmed.

According to the Indiana Transportation Museum, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority has suspended the use of the tracks over safety concerns.

The Port Authority provides oversight and maintenance of the line. The Indiana Transportation Museum operates the line during the State Fair.

For thousands of people, the 11-mile trip in a classic train car has become a family tradition. But as much as families are going to miss the train, the Indiana Transportation Museum may miss it more.

"It's a regular event for us, we've been running on this line for at least 30 years," said museum chairman Jeffrey Kehler. "Safely, I might add."

The decision stems from an emergency meeting in March, when the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority (HHPA) Board of Directors suspended Indiana Transportation Museum's operations over concerns raised by former volunteers of the ITM.

The HHPA identified 13 safety issues it wanted addressed by the ITM before it reinstated privileges to run trains on the tracks. In a statement released Wednesday, the HHPA says the issues were "deemed critical by the HHPA for safe travel of trains, passengers and users of the roadway system in Marion and Hamilton Counties that cross the Nickel Plate tracks at numerous locations."

"Time was working against us to make sure to bring the operation off safely and completely, so that was definitely a concern," Kehler said.

The HHPA says it will continue to work with ITM to address the concerns, which include repairs to the tracks.

"We're disappointed that we're not able to run the fair train this year, but I'm positive we'll be back again next year," Kehler said.

"This suspension was an extremely difficult decision for all involved, and not taken lightly, as the Fair Train and all the excursions provided by ITM are not only important to our communities that own and oversee the Nickel Plate line, but are truly unique treasures that make our communities such great places to live and work. However, at no time will the HHPA compromise on the Policy of Use items that the HHPA has determined are the minimum standards that must be upheld to ensure the safety and welfare of all the citizens of our communities and the public in general," an HHPA statement said.

Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear issued the following statement:

“We’re disappointed to hear that the Indiana State Fair Train will not be running this year, but the safety of riders is our top priority. We know thousands of families have a tradition and enjoy riding the train to the fair because of the unique experience it provides. However, we agree with the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority’s decision to keep suspending train operations until we are certain that no one’s safety is in jeopardy.”

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