Momentum is building for improved Amtrak service to and from Michigan with a series of positive developments for intercity rail passengers.
Amtrak Wolverine Service and Blue Water passengers can now expect the return to normal travel times from Kalamazoo to near Dearborn with the completion of track and crossing improvements performed by Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) to eliminate the drastic speed restrictions imposed by NS in March.
Also, Amtrak will issue schedules effective May 21 for the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago Wolverines (Trains 350-355) and the Port Huron-East Lansing-Chicago Blue Water (Trains 364 & 365) accounting for the speed increase this year to 110 mph on the Amtrak-owned Michigan District in Michigan and Indiana. Permanent schedules changes are pending approval of NS for the Chicago to Porter, Ind., segment of the route and from CN, which owns the Blue Water route from Battle Creek to Port Huron and the Wolverine route between Pontiac and Detroit.
Passenger Service Notices about new schedules will be provided at stations, shown as part of the booking process on Amtrak.com and posted at Amtrak.com/Alerts.
Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a $3.2 million grant to further reduce passenger travel times between Chicago and Michigan over the congested Chicago to Porter route owned by NS and used by 12 daily Amtrak trains. The study will consider needed infrastructure improvements to allow faster and more frequent passenger train service along the entire Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac rail corridor.
This week, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board announced the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) can execute its plan to acquire and improve the 135-mile NS line from Kalamazoo to near Dearborn, so Amtrak can run Wolverine Service at speeds of up to 110 mph in the future. MDOT received High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program grants from the FRA of more than $346 million for this purpose.
“Amtrak looks forward to working with the FRA, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana to improve this corridor and better connect these vital cities in the Midwest with travel times far better than driving, more comfortable and productive than flying and with a smaller carbon footprint than either of those modes,” said Joe Boardman, Amtrak President and CEO.