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Steam locomotive 765 to appear at Franklin Park Fest, operate excursion with Metra

CHICAGO, May 4, 2016 – The second weekend in June will mark an historic occasion for rail fans with the return of the Nickel Plate Road’s locomotive No. 765 to the Chicago region.

On Saturday, June 11, this 400-ton historic steam locomotive will make an appearance at Franklin Park’s annual Railroad Daze festival followed by its first public excursion trip in the Chicago region in more than 20 years on Sunday, June 12.

Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 will be on live-steam display for visitors to Franklin Park’s Railroad Daze from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 11. On Sunday, June 12, No. 765 will pull “The Varsity” an exclusive roundtrip excursion train between The Glen of North Glenview stop on Metra’s Milwaukee North Line and Janesville, Wis. The train will also stop for passengers at Metra’s Fox Lake Station.

“The Varsity” will feature vintage passenger cars from the 1930s-1950s and will include accommodations in standard coach, deluxe coach, and first class and dome car.  Tickets can be ordered online or by calling 888-718-4253. Additional information and frequently asked questions can be read at fortwaynerailroad.org/faq.

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“We are thrilled to bring the dramatic sights and sounds of no. 765 to the region,” said Bill Otter, president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). “We could not be more fortunate to be working with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad and the Iowa Pacific to bring this type of experience to thousands of area residents.”

Owned and operated by the FWRHS, no. 765 has operated passenger excursions and public exhibitions throughout the Midwest since 1979. The locomotive and train attract passengers from around the world for numerous sell-out excursions throughout the year. No. 765 was originally built in 1944, restored in 1979 and completely rebuilt in 2005 and is maintained by an all-volunteer crew.

“There is nothing like the sights, sounds and mechanical marvels of a steam locomotive in mainline service! Please join us as we relive a past era of railroading in the Chicago area, and throughout America. Welcome aboard!” stated R.R. Conway, Senior Trainmaster, Metra.

“The Varsity” will operate over the route of its Milwaukee Road namesake train, which originally ran between Chicago and Madison, Wis., until 1971. The No. 765’s excursion June 12 will be the first by a steam locomotive over portions of the route since 1953.

The visit to Railroad Daze and the excursion trip to Janesville are operated in partnership with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, Iowa Pacific and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). In addition, the Indiana Harbor Belt and Norfolk Southern Corp are assisting in the logistics and transportation of No. 765 to and from the events.

The operation and ongoing maintenance of No. 765 is supported by donations, ticket sales and a membership base of around 1,000 supporters.

“These types of operations are incredibly complex, involving countless parties, organizations, railroads and individuals.  All of them prove crucial to inspiring people with the power of the 765,” added Otter.

Additional excursions for No. 765 will be announced later this season.