Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Michigan’

Flint Ticket Office Closes

July 11, 2018

Amtrak has removed its station agent and closed the ticket window at its station in Flint, Michigan. The change was effective on July 5.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers waiting to board the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water trains will continue to have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures.

Station hours will be 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight.

Passengers needing assistance will be helped by onboard Amtrak personnel.

There is no checked baggage service available at Flint.

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So Long Durand

June 15, 2018

The passengers have boarded Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water and the conductor has given the highball command on the radio.

Train No. 365 is on time as it departs Durand, Michigan, en route to Chicago. The next stop, though, is East Lansing, Michigan.

P42DC No. 126 is the rear of the train since the Blue Water operates with locomotives on each end so as to avoid having to turn the locomotive or the train in Port Huron, Michigan, during its overnight stay.

Amtrak in Durand uses the Durand Union Station, which once had service provided by the Grand Trunk Western and Ann Arbor railroads.

The station also houses a railroad museum.

Ford Buys Detroit Michigan Central Station

June 11, 2018

Ford Motor Company has purchased the former Michigan Central Station in Detroit and plans to make it the centerpiece of an advanced automotive technology development in the Corktown neighborhood.

The station had been owned by the Moroun family since 1995 and had managed to survive a 2009 order of the Detroit City Council to raze the dilapidated structure.

Ford also acquired an adjacent building known as the Roosevelt Warehouse, which had previously been used as a schoolbook depository.

The 18-story Central Station has long symbolized urban blight in Detroit with its vacant offices and broken windows. It is surrounded by razor wire and a chain link fence.

Amtrak used the station from its 1971 inception until moving to a nearby modular facility in January 1988. Amtrak later built a station in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit that it began using in May 1994.

Matthew Moroun declined to disclose the sale price of the depot. “The deal is complete,” he said. “The future of the depot is assured. The next steward of the building is the right one for its future. The depot will become a shiny symbol of Detroit’s progress and its success.”

Ford plans to share information about its plans for renovating the station at a reception on June 19.

Reports that Ford was negotiating to purchase the station have circulated since March.

Based in suburban Dearborn, Ford has transferred 200 workers on its mobility team into a nearby former factory site and is actively seeking other properties in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood and located just west of downtown.

Opened in 1913, the Beaux Arts-style Michigan Central Station was at the time the world’s tallest train station.

Although the Morouns failed to demolish the station, they did install more than 1,000 new windows, restored a working elevator and cleaned up the interior.

“The Ford move to the train station is the right play at the right time,” said Robert Kolt, a professor of advertising and public relations at Michigan State University, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “Many university grads want to work and live in cool places with an energetic vibe. Ford can remake the area and rebrand what the company does with this type of bold move.”

“I think it’s smart,” Robert Davidman, partner at the Fearless Agency in New York told the Free Press. “If you really want to attract the top talent, you go to where they are. And this allows Ford to take a piece of history and reinvent it. This makes them forward thinkers. Ford is breathing life into something that once was — Ford is going back to their roots, back to where it all began. And it brings back the luster.”

Ford’s plans for the complex it is developing in Corktown include making it the focal point of the company’s efforts to shift toward self-driving, shared and battery-operated cars and logistics.

Corktown is located seven miles down Michigan Avenue from Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn.

Anyone Want to Board Here?

June 8, 2018

An Amtrak conductor stands by an open vestibule of the westbound Blue Water in Durand, Michigan, but all of the passengers are lined up at another vestibule father down.

That’s because the far vestibule aligned with the gate allowing passengers through a fence that separates the tracks of Canadian National (former Grand Trunk Western) and Durand Union Station.

Eventually, a few passengers were directed to board farther down the platform, perhaps because they were holding business class tickets. The cafe car on Train No. 365 was located toward the rear.

The Blue Water departed Durand on time en route to Chicago.

Some Say They are Racially Profiled Aboard Trains, Buses

May 25, 2018

Some Michigan residents have complained that they are being racially profiled by U.S. Border Patrol agents at stations and aboard buses and Amtrak trains.

Those unable to prove their immigration status are being detained.

The American Civil Liberties Union said 82 percent of foreigners stopped in Michigan have been Latinos.

After agents boarded an Amtrak train in Dearborn, Jeffrey Nolish, a 37-year-old U.S. citizen who is Latino and serving in the military, told the Detroit Free Press that he was the only person on the train interrogated by two Border Patrol agents.

Federal law allows Border Patrol agents to work within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

This encompasses all of Michigan, northern Ohio and Indiana, and a large swath of Northwest Pennsylvania.

In Ohio the limits of the 100-mile zone extend as far south as Columbus.

Within that zone Board Patrol agents have additional authority to search people or vehicles.

Because agents were regularly patrolling the Greyhound bus terminal in Detroit, the ACLU of Michigan and other ACLU branches asked Greyhound last March to stop allowing immigration agents to board buses to questions passengers

The ACLU has also filed a lawsuit seeing to force the Border Patrol to provide data on its stops in Michigan.

In its letter to Greyhound, the ACLU said it has found that Border Patrol agents operating on Greyhound buses focus on people of color and never give passengers a reason for the stop,

The Border Patrol denies it targets people based on race, saying its policies prohibit the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation, and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

A Greyhound spokesperson told the Free Press that the company understands the ACLU’s concerns but Greyhound is required to comply with the law.

Greyhound said it has been talking with the Border Patrol to see whether there is anything that can be done to balance the enforcement of federal law with the dignity and its passengers.

However, the Greyound spokesperson said the law affords federal agents more power within the 100-mile zone to inspect vehicles, aircraft, and rail cars.

A Border Patrol spokesperson also cited the the 100-mile zone in saying that agents conduct searches away from the immediate border as a means of “preventing trafficking, smuggling and other criminal organizations from exploiting our public and private transportation infrastructure to travel to the interior of the United States.

The spokesperson said agents “have the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.”

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the rail carrier cooperates fully with federal authorities and federal law. He noted that Amtrak passengers age 18 and older must carry valid photo identification but would not comment on the issue of racial profiling.

Extra Pere Marquettes Set for Golf Tourney

April 11, 2018

Amtrak will operate extra sections of the Pere Marquette to St. Joseph, Michigan on May 26 to accommodate passengers traveling to the Senior PGA Golf Tournament being held that day.

Trains 377 and 378 will operate between Chicago and St. Joseph, stopping at Graham Road, which is walking distance to the golf course.

The trains will also stop at the Amtrak station for Hammond-Whiting, Indiana.

Train 371 will make an extra station stop at Hammond-Whiting to accommodate passengers wishing to stay overnight after golf tournament and return to the Chicago area the next day.

Niles Ticket Office Closed

April 4, 2018

The Amtrak ticket office in Niles, Michigan, closed on April 2. In a service advisory, Amtrak said all Wolverine Service and Blue Water trains scheduled to stop in Niles will continue to do so.

Passengers will continue to have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures during normal station hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

However, three of the eight trains serving Niles stop there after 5 p.m.

Amtrak personnel on the train will assist customers with boarding and detraining.

Passengers who pay cash for their tickets may continue to do so aboard the train, but if they have not already made reservations they will pay at the highest fare and it will be subject to availability.

The closest Amtrak station with an open ticket office is at South Bend, Indiana, located 14 miles south of Niles.

Although Amtrak advised passengers to use that depot if they have unaccompanied minors traveling on Amtrak or need other services provided by employees, the Amtrak service advisory failed to say that none of the trains serving Niles also serve South Bend, which is on the route of the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Jackson Ticket Office Closed

April 4, 2018

Ticket agent staffing of the Jackson, Michigan, Amtrak station ended this week.

Amtrak said that effective April 2, it closed its ticket office in Jackson, but will continue to serve the station with its six daily Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers will continue to have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures during normal station hours of 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

However, half of the Wolverine trains arrive and depart in Jackson outside of during those hours.

Amtrak personnel aboard the trains will assist customers boarding and detraining.

Passengers who pay for their tickets with cash may still do so aboard the train, but such tickets will be priced at the highest fare and subject to availability if not reserved in advance.

Amtrak said passengers who require full customer service for unaccompanied minors traveling on Amtrak or other services provided by employees should travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, located 37 miles east of Jackson.

Extra Trains for Holland Tulip Festival

April 4, 2018

The Michigan Department of Transportation is sponsoring additional Pere Marquette service in May to a tulip festival in Holland, Michigan.

Amtrak will operate extra trains on May 5 and 12 departing Chicago Union Station at 7:05 a.m. and returning at 8:24 p.m. The schedule is set up to allow a day trip to the Tulip Time Festival.

The extra train to Holland will stop at Hammond-Whiting, Indiana, at 7:30 a.m., and make intermediate stops in St. Joseph and Bangor before arriving in Holland at 11:29 a.m.

The return trip to Chicago will leave Holland at 5:50 p.m. The trains will operate as Nos. 374 and 375.

In a news release, MDOT said the festival has been heralded as America’s “Best Flower Festival” and “America’s Best Small-Town Festival,” with more than 5 million tulips in bloom.

Fares on the extra service will range between $26 and $48 each way.

All regular Pere Marquette trains also will stop at Hammond-Whiting on May 5, 6, 12 and 13.

Pere Marquette to Run Faster

January 30, 2018

Amtrak said in service advisory that the running time of the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette will be shortened on Feb. 19.

The schedule changes have not yet been shown on the Amtrak website.

Amtrak said the changes are being prompted by higher speeds being allowed by host railroad CSX between Grand Rapids and Porter, Indiana.