Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Detroit’

Detroit Amtrak Station Parking Lot Temporarily Closed

September 14, 2019

The parking lot at the Detroit Amtrak station is temporarily closed through Sept. 16.

The lot is being repaired by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said limited parking is available at an overflow lot south of the station, as well as the railroad embankment at the TechTown parking lot along the west side of Woodward Avenue at Amsterdam Street.

Passengers are being asked to be dropped off and picked up at the station if possible.

Those who must leave their vehicle at the station while traveling may obtain a free parking pass from an Amtrak agent at the depot.

Study Mulls Amtrak Return to Iconic Detroit Station

April 5, 2019

Ford Motor Company and others are reportedly studying whether Amtrak could return to Detroit’s Michigan Central Station.

Bridge Magazine reported that the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority has commissioned a $30,000 feasibility study and that talks are underway involving Ford, the city and other transportation officials.

Ford purchased the abandoned train station for $90 million in 2018 and has launched a $1 billion project to renovate it.

For several years the MC Station has become an icon for urban blight with its numerous broken windows and vacant space.

Amtrak used the station, built in 1913, until Jan. 5, 1988, when it began operating from a temporary modular station it built next to MC Station.

On May 4, 1994, Amtrak opened a new station in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood that the carrier said would be temporary until a permanent intermodal station was built across the tracks. That facility has yet to be built.

Ford has ambitious plans for the MC Station and its surrounding neighborhood that includes bringing 5,000 jobs there to work on autonomous and electric cars.

It is not clear how much it would cost to restore rail service to MC Station and how that would be funded. Some questions surrounding that matter are expected to be answered in the feasibility study.

Port Authority officials said Ford approached it about conducting the study.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said he couldn’t confirm those discussions but said in a statement that Amtrak is “exploring places it can modernize and expand its services and network.”

This includes a proposed Detroit-Toronto service that might also be extended to western Michigan.

Current Amtrak service in Detroit is three daily Wolverine Service roundtrips between Chicago and Pontiac that also stop in Royal Oak, Dearborn and Ann Arbor.

Discussions have been held in previous years about returning Amtrak service to MC Station.

The former owner of the depot, Manuel “Matty” Moroun, looked into the idea at one point.

The prospect of returning rail service to the station has captured the attention of some historic preservationists and historians.

“It’s a building no one thought could be saved,” said Dan Austin, the founder of HistoricDetroit.org. “It hasn’t seen anything but vandals and scrappers in years. And to tell you that Ford is coming in there and not only going to renovate it and restore it to all its glory, but make it a train station again? It’s hard to believe.”

Austin, who studies Detroit’s architectural history, called MC Station one of the city’s “most iconic abandoned buildings.” It is located in Corktown, one of Detroit’s oldest neighborhoods.

Canadian Pacific has tracks near the station. Michael Frezell, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said his agency, which funds Amtrak’s Wolverine Service, is away of the feasibility study but said it’s too early to know what kind of arrangement could be worked out between Amtrak and CP as well as the costs involved.

Ford has not said whether its renovation plans for MC Station involve removing its existing but unused tracks.

It also has avoided discussing whether it could be used again as a train station.

Detroit Diamonds Replaced

August 23, 2018

Amtrak, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Norfolk Southern and CSX teamed up to replace a four-diamond crossing at Wayne in the Detroit area this week.

Work at 7:45 p.m. Aug. 14 after an NS freight passed through.

Workers removed the old diamonds and installing a prefabricated unit. Complicating the work was that the diamond has four crossings, making it a heavy lift and requiring precision alignment to reconnect to existing rail lines.

During the work, Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains terminated at Ann Arbor, Michigan, with passengers riding a bus to stations at Dearborn, Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy, and Pontiac.

CSX and NS trains were rerouted or halted.

The project was completed at 4 p.m. on Aug. 15. Amtrak resumed using the route over the crossing on the morning of Aug. 16.

The project received 75 percent of its funding from CSX and 25 percent from MDOT.

Ford Details Plans for Detroit Station

June 21, 2018

Ford Motor Company said Tuesday that it plans to make the former Michigan Central station in Detroit the focal point of the company’s new mobility hub.

Built in 1913 in the city’s Corktown neighborhood, the station will be renovated to provide offices for its autonomous and electric vehicle teams and partners.

The grand hall will be restored to its original appearance and have local shops and restaurants.

The overall mobility hub project will see construction of 1.2 million square feet of space where by 2022 about 2,500 Ford employees will work.

Ford said it will devote 300,000 square feet of space to a mix of community and retail space and residential housing.

In a statement, Ford described development of the Michigan Central Station as critical to its future as it examines how urban areas are changing the overall role of transportation and the revitalization of cities.

An open house will be held in Michigan Central station June 22-23 that will feature exhibits of historic artifacts, self-guided tours through the station’s first floor, and a preview of an upcoming History Channel documentary showcasing Detroit’s comeback and the station’s critical role in the city’s revitalization efforts.

Amtrak ceased using the station in 1988 in favor of an adjacent modular facility. It later opened a station in the New Center neighborhood.

The 13-story office tower of Michigan Central Station stands 230 feet in height. Passenger service at the station began on Jan. 4, 1914.

In recent years, the station had become a symbol of urban decay with all of its windows broken out, and the building being used by the homeless, for criminal activity and by paintball enthusiasts.

Hundreds of antiques have been stolen from the station site over the years.

Ford May Buy Detroit Train Station

March 28, 2018

Ford Motor Company may purchase the long vacant and dilapidated Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

The station, which was once used by New York Central and later Penn Central and Amtrak passenger trains, is owned by billionaire trucking mogul Manuel “Matty” Moroun and his son, Matthew.

Ford has neither confirmed nor denied a news report by Crain’s Detroit Business that Ford is talking with the Morouns about buying the depot.

Crain’s said an announcement about the sale could come as early as sometime in April.

The report indicated that Ford would use the former station site for offices that could be used by upwards of 1,000 employees.

The business newspaper said a source familiar with Ford’s pursuit of the station said Ford wants to establish a workplace in an urban setting that can attract younger workers.

“Our young people love . . . living and working in urban areas,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. in January at the Detroit auto show.

The news has triggered widespread interest in the purchase of properties surrounding the station site in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood southwest of downtown.

Real estate broker James Tumey said he has received several cash offers, even at the full $540,000 price, for the properties that look out on the 500,000-square-foot depot.

“After this news, people are going crazy. They are buying just based off of Ford maybe coming in, throwing out offers on properties they haven’t even seen,” said Tumey, a Corktown resident who is vice president for Farmington Hills-based Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions.

The abandoned railroad station has been an eyesore in Detroit since the last Amtrak train pulled out in 1988 in favor of a new and smaller station in the New Center neighborhood.

Crain’s cited unnamed sources in saying that Ford is also interested in acquiring the former Detroit Public Schools book depository immediately to the east.

The auto company based in Dearborn has reportedly also looked at other properties not owned by the Morouns in the area for purchase.

Developers say that redevelopment of Michigan Central Station and its office building would cost at least $400 million.

Ford has already announced plans to establish offices for its autonomous/electric vehicle division along Michigan Avenue in Corktown.

Matthew Moroun told Crain’s last year that he has broached the idea of Amtrak returning to Michigan Central Station with Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Steudle has said he’s receptive to the idea and connecting the old train station to the central business district in the same way the QLine streetcar system connects the New Center area with downtown.

The Maroun family has reportedly spent more than $8 million over the past five years rehabilitating the building, including installing a freight elevator in the shaft of the depot’s original smokestack and installing 1,100 windows.

Amtrak Offering $5 Tickets to Detroit

August 3, 2017

Amtrak is offering $5 tickets for travel to Detroit through Sept. 4. The fares are good for travel originating on the Wolverine Service route at Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Royal Oak and Troy.

Once in Detroit, passengers can ride the new QLine, a streetcar route that is offering free rides through Labor Day.

The 3.3-mile route on Woodward Avenue features 12 stops, including Comerica Park, the Fox Theatre and Midtown.

QLine streetcars operate Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In another travel promotion, the Detroit People Mover is offering free rides on Monday between 6:30 a.m. and midnight, in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The fare is normally 75 cents.

Michigan Rail Passenger Advocates Working to Get Amtrak-VIA Bus Connection Detroit-Windsor

April 25, 2017

Michigan rail passengers advocates are working with Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada to revive connecting service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, although that might not necessarily be rail service.

In a campaign that has been dubbed “mind the gap,” the advocates are talking with both railroads about establishing a direct bus connection.

Passengers who now want to connect between Amtrak and VIA must either take a cab or ride three local transit buses.

The advocates noted that the border crossing at Detroit is the busiest between the two countries.

Until 2003, Amtrak and VIA hosted a Chicago-Toronto train known as the International that operated via Flint and Port Huron, Michigan.

A Detroit-New York train, the Niagara Rainbow, operated via Windsor between October 1974 and January 1979, ending when the states of New York and Michigan ended their funding of the train.

An article posted on the website of the National Association of Railroad Passengers said that VIA is in active discussions with bus companies to provide a “bus bridge” between the VIA station in Windsor and the Detroit Amtrak station.

The service may begin by late 2017. The Michigan advocates hope that if the bus connection proves successful that it might provide an impetus for resuming rail service between Detroit and Windsor.