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Train Operator's New Hub in Logansport Stirs Dreams of Central Indiana Commuter Line

Transportation Museum's second home doesn't affect legal battle over State Fair Train

The operator of the State Fair Train is getting a second home, and positioning itself to revive commuter rail in central Indiana.

The Indiana Transportation Museum is expanding to Logansport, moving some of its trains there with an eye to eventually launching train service to Indianapolis. Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell says that route would let people commute to work while taking advantage of low housing prices north of the Indy suburbs. He says more than half Cass County's residents already work outside the county -- a train could open up a wider orbit of jobs, and reduce traffic jams on U.S. 31.

Logansport has a deep railroad history dating back a century. In the heyday of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Kitchell says Logansport had more routes than any Indiana city except Indy, thanks to its location around the halfway point between Indy and South Bend, Fort Wayne and Lafayette, and Cincinnati and Chicago. Most famously, it was a stop on the fabled "Wabash Cannonball" route from Detroit to Saint Louis.

Kitchell and museum board chairman John McNichols caution a commuter train remains a long-term goal. There's an almost complete route from Indy to Logansport, but with a gap at Tipton that would have to be filled to complete the connection.

The agreement doesn't affect the Fair Train, which remains in limbo after a Hamilton County agency shut it down on safety grounds. The Noblesville-based museum has sued to restart service, contending federal inspections contradict any notion of a safety risk.

(Photo: Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)

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