The Recently Abandoned Bedford-New Albany, IN Line (Past and Future)

One of the more recent railroad abandonments in the United States is the Bedford-New Albany, Indiana line that CSX abandoned in January 2018. Eight years earlier, revenue service was discontinued along the route.

The abandoned right of way is of course on our abandoned and out-of-service railroad lines map.

Image: New Albany City Hall. (WHAS) Just before abandonment in 2018, this is how the right of way looked. The tracks have since been salvaged.

The Monon Railroad, also known as the New Albany & Salem Railroad, constructed the line from Bedford, IN to New Albany, IN, in 1854. 

As part of abandonment or discontinuance requests, environmental reviews, including historical information on the line, are usually required, and the following information comes from the STB's abandonment document environmental review, albeit abridged. Reflecting its reaches, this name was changed to the Louisville New Albany & Chicago railroad in 1859, and reorganized as the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway Company in 1897.

Much like the Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific was more commonly known as the Milwaukee Road, the CI&L was much better known as the Monon.

Image: John F Bjorklund. Milwaukee Road train at Borden, IN along the L&N right of way.

The New Albany-Bedford segment would merge once again into the Louisville and Nashville system, which itself was consolidated into the Seaboard Coast Line, and finally the CSX Railroad in 1980.

In 2016, the last train would run between Bedford and New Albany along the route, and in January of 2018, 62.3 of the 72.2 miles of the former Monon was abandoned between the two cities. The abandonment was part of a larger abandonment of the former Monon that started from Bloomington, IN in 1994.

"This is a southbound Milwaukee Road train in Mitchell, IN, using trackage rights on the L&N (former Monon) between Bedford and Louisville. The train is in the process of crossing over the B&O line that runs between Cincinnati and St. Louis—hence the color position signal overhead. Photo: Richard Koenig; February 28th 1976." (Towns and Nature)

With this line newly-abandoned, the cities of Bedford and New Albany are looking for ways to create new recreation opportunities in the form of one or more rail trails along the right of way. Such projects would improve quality of life in the region, and increase tourism, as well as preserve the right of way to potentially be reconverted into active rail service if the need ever arises in the future. It is primarily for these reasons that we are greatly in favor of rail trails, and believe they are a cost-effective and fantastic resource for reusing abandoned rights of way.

For the most recent railroad abandonments, the Surface Transportation Board reading room is often the best place to find the most recent information, not just about abandonments, but other developments in the railroad industry as well.

Thanks as always for reading!


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