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#1 KevinKorell


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Posted 27 April 2006 - 10:22 PM

From Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP), newsletter for spring 2006:

Amtrak is awaiting approval from the FRA to run its trains at a higher speed through Michigan. Although the locomotives, track, and signaling technology are in place to allow for faster operations between Kalamazoo and a point near Niles, the FRA approval is still needed before train can begin to operate at 110 mph through this stretch. The entire area in question is from Kalamazoo, MI to Porter, IN.

The move of the New Buffalo train station has been put on hold pening a lawsuit over parking spaces near the new station location. Amtrak had planned on having the PERE MARQUETTE (currently the only train stopping in New Buffalo) bypass the town, while the new location would be served by the BLUE WATER and one pair of WOLVERINE trains. The new platforms cannot be constructed until the lawsuit is resolved.

Supporters of rail service rallied in East Lansing, MI for the continuation of Michigan's PERE MARQUETTE and BLUE WATER trains. Both could end service by August is a $1 million shortfall in the Michigan state budget is not reinstated.

The two intercity bus companies that vacated the downtown Kalamazoo Transportation Center (also the Amtrak station) may be returning. Despite an expansion of the terminal facilities, both bus companies left downtown in June 2005 and instead began to serve the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport. The airport was deemed a better location for the carriers because of its proximity to I-94. But now, the buses are causing vehicular congestion problems at the airport, and they may have to move back into their old location. Having Greyhound and Indian Trails at the downtown location greatly improves connections between trains and buses.

In early December, after that day's PERE MARQUETTE was safely put to sleep on its storage track in Grand Rapids, CSX put one of its trains on the ground overnight, trapping the PERE MARQUETTE so it could not get out to start service the next morning. The Chicago-bound train was annulled that morning. However, the derailment was cleared up by midday, so Amtrak ran eastbound service with a new trainset out of Chicago that evening. The first train remained in the yard while the derailment was cleaned up. Then 3 days later, a Supertrain was run, six Superliner cars and 2 locomotives, in order to get both consists back to Chicago. (Superliner equipment is used on this line in the winter.)

There was a false announcement posted in the Niles Amtrak station, stating that it would be closing this summer. The hand-written announcement was posted in January. Ticket agents seemed to know nothing about the signs when MARP visited the station in late January, yet the only sign remaining was in the window of the ticket counter. According to Amtrak, however, there are no plans to close this depot.

Study continues on some type of regional transportation service between Ann Arbor and Detroit. The study itself is at http://www.annarbord...ansitstudy.com/ . Commuter rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit are all being considered. Detroit Metro Airport would be connected to whatever mode is chosen by a shuttle bus. And a light rail or rapid bus line would run up and down Woodward Avenue to connect with the Amtrak station in downtown Detroit.

A special train was run for football fans interested in attending Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Interestingly though, this train never touched the United States. The Budweiser Super Bowl Tailgate Train originated in Toronto, and it ran to Windsor, which is just across the river from Detroit.

Also headed for the Super Bowl on regular Wolverine service Train 352 was private car Sierra Hotel, which brought fans from Chicago.

Kevin Korell

OTOL Board Leader

Howell, NJ

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