Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Wolverine Service’

Amtrak to Close Kalamazoo Ticket Office in Early 2020

December 10, 2019

Amtrak plans to close its ticket office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in early 2020.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told a Kalamazoo TV station that the closure is being prompted by a decline in sales at ticket offices in favor of online purchases.

He would not comment on how many Amtrak employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closing but said in the past the carrier has given agents the option to transfer to other stations.

Amtrak has been closing ticket offices in the past two years, including offices in Michigan at Niles, Flint, East Lansing and Jackson.

Kalamazoo is served by eight trains a day, including Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service and the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water.

None of those trains offers checked baggage or package express service.

The Kalamazoo station is a also a transfer point for Amtrak Thruway bus service to northern Michigan.

The Rail Passengers Association and Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers said it is working with Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation to develop a station host program for Kalamazoo.

A similar program exists in East Lansing and MARP said it has worked well.

No Extra Amtrak Service to Michigan for Thanksgiving

November 1, 2019

Think Thanksgiving and images of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie come to mind along with football games on TV and extra Amtrak trains to Michigan.

Well, you can scratch the latter from this year’s list of Thanksgiving traditions.

Amtrak will not be operating extra service to Michigan this year as it has in recent years.

The carrier said this week that rather than operate additional trains on its Pere Marquette (Chicago-Grand Rapids) and Wolverine Service (Chicago-Detroit) routes, it will instead assign additional coaches to existing trains.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains magazine that Amtrak made the decision to scrap the extra trains after reviewing ridership data from last year that found travel demand is spread out more evenly across more days than it has been previously.

The passenger carrier also decided to drop additional holiday service to Michigan because of poor on-time performance on host railroad Norfolk Southern in Chicago and northwest Indiana.

NS freight train interference accounted for 58 percent of the 20,143 delay minutes incurred by Amtrak trains traveling on the NS Chicago Line between Chicago and Porter, Indiana, where the routes to Michigan peel off.

About a quarter of the delays have been incurred by Wolverine Service No. 352, which departs Chicago at 1:20 p.m.

“If we try to put additional trains on those tracks and delays occur, this could have a cascading effect delaying outbound trains because inbound equipment didn’t arrive on time,” Magliari said.

So Amtrak will add an additional coach to all Wolverine Service trains operating between Nov. 27 and Dec. 1.

Other trains operating before and after that time period will also gain additional coaches.

Amtrak plans to add a coach to two Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis round-trips, the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, Illini, and all Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, trains.

Extra trains will operate between Chicago and Quincy, and Chicago and Normal-Bloomington, Illinois, on Nov. 27 and Dec. 1.

But falling by the wayside are the additional Chicago-Holland, Michigan, and Chicago-Ann Arbor, Michigan, Thanksgiving holiday trains.

Amtrak Continues to Eye Chicago-Toronto Route

August 13, 2019

Amtrak continues to study the prospect of creating a Chicago-Toronto route via Detroit.

The proposal would extend one of the current Wolverine Service trains east of Detroit via Windsor, Ontario, where it would then operate on tracks used by VIA Rail Canada.

In a presentation last week at the Michigan Rail Conference at Michigan State University, an Amtrak representative said a precursor to launching the service would be upgrading tracks between the Windsor tunnel portal and the VIA station in Windsor/Walkerville as well as constructing a border crossing processing facility.

Wolverine Service trains currently operate between Chicago and Pontiac in the northern Detroit suburbs and is funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The presentation did not indicate how much it would cost to implement the service nor did it identify a funding source.

“There would be multiple railroads to work with that we currently partnership with, and so it would take some cooperation to get such service going,” said MDOT spokesman Michael Frezell.

Operating a connecting bus between the Detroit and Windsor stations was described as a possible short-term move.

Amtrak proposed in March the idea of a Chicago-Toronto route in its federal funding request.

The carrier once operated a train known as the International between Chicago and Toronto via Sarnia, Ontario.

In Michigan, the International used the route of the current Blue Water between Chicago and Port Huron.

The International operated between Oct. 31, 1982, and April 23, 2004.

Buses to Replace Select Wolverines July 16, 17

July 16, 2019

Certain Amtrak Wolverine Service trains will be replaced by chartered buses on July 16 and 17.

Workers are conducting track work and replacing a bridge in Michigan.

On July 16, Train No. 354 from Chicago to Pontiac (Detroit) will terminate at Albion, Michigan, with bus service provided to passengers traveling to Jackson, Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy and Pontiac via Bus 3354.

On July 17 Train 353 will originate in Battle Creek, Michigan, with Bus 3353 picking up passengers at Pontiac, Troy, Royal Oak, Detroit, Dearborn, Ann Arbor and Jackson.

Bus 3353 will not connect to Train 353 and will not stop at Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Dowagiac, Niles, New Buffalo and Hammond-Whiting.

Bus schedules will follow train schedules. All other Wolverine Service trains will operate as scheduled.

Wolverine to Run 15 Minutes Earlier

July 3, 2019

 

NS Track Work in Indiana to Delay Amtrak Trains

June 22, 2019

Wolverine to Skip Troy on April 25

April 23, 2019

Track work being performed on the route used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains in Detroit will result in Train 353 missing its scheduled stop in Troy on April 25.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers traveling to or from Troy on No. 353 should instead board or detrain at Royal Oak or Pontiac.

Amtrak will also rebook those who request it for travel on alternative dates or other Wolverine Service trains serving Troy that are not affected by the track work.

Track, Signal Work Delaying Michigan Trains

April 10, 2019

Track and signal work being conducted are delaying Wolverine Service and Blue Water trains this week.

Amtrak said Trains 350, 352, 354 and 364 are expected to encounter delays of 15 to 20 minutes while operating between Hammond-Whiting, Indiana, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Delays also can be expected through Pontiac or Port Huron.

Trains 351, 353, 355 and 365 are expected to encounter delays of 15 to 20 minutes while operating between Kalamazoo and Hammond-Whiting. Delays can be expected through Chicago.

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.

Polar Vortex Leading to Midwest Cancelations

January 28, 2019

A Polar vortex that is bringing extreme cold to the Midwest has prompted Amtrak to modify its service on Midwest corridor routes radiating from Chicago.

Most of the changes are effective between Jan. 29 and 31.

The carrier said it will operate four round trips between Chicago and Milwaukee: Nos. 330, 331, 334, 335, 338, 339, 341 and 342. Nos. 329, 332, 333, 336, 337 and 340 will be cancelled.

Chicago to Carbondale No. 393 will be cancelled Jan. 28-30 while Carbondale to Chicago No. 390 is cancelled Jan. 29-31.

The City of New Orleans will continue to operate as will Nos. 391 and 392.

Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Nos. 351, 352, 353 and 354 will operate but Nos. 350 and 355 are cancelled on Jan. 29-31.

In the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, Nos. 301 and 304 are cancelled between Jan. 29 and 31. All others Lincoln Service trains as well as the Texas Eagle will continue to operate.

There will be no cancellations on routes linking Chicago with Quincy, Illinois; Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Port Huron, Michigan.

In a service advisory Amtrak said it expects the winter storm to reduce travel demand, but it was also acting out of “an abundance of caution.”

Amtrak said passengers holding reservations on the affected trains will be able to change their reservations for travel on other trains, including on other days, at no charge.