Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Blue Water’

Some Michigan Trains Subject to Delays

August 3, 2017

Amtrak has warned that some Michigan corridor trains are subject to delay due to the performance of system maintenance.

Affected are Wolverine Service trains 350, 355 and Blue Water trains 364 and 365. The service advisory said the trains may experience delays of 15 to 30 minutes.

Amtrak did not say how long the maintenance program would last.

Megabus Leaving East Lansing Market

December 29, 2016

Amtrak will have one less competitor in East Lansing, Michigan, after Megabus stops its service between there and Chicago on Jan. 9.

megabusMegabus currently stops at the Capital Area Multimodal Gateway, which is also used by Amtrak’s Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan Blue Water.

Lack of customer demand and a corporate restructuring were behind the decision to pull out of the East Lansing-Chicago market, said Megabus spokesman Sean Hughes.

He also cited low fuel prices and competition from other bus companies.

Hughes indicated the Megabus next month will be cutting other routes serving Chicago.

Other bus companies that operate between East Lansing and Chicago include Greyhound and Indian Trails.

Megabus currently also serves Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids in Michigan.

News reports have indicated that Megabus will also cease service in Iowa in January where it stops in Davenport, Coralville  (near Iowa City) and Des Moines on a Chicago-Omaha, Nebraska, route.

 

Some Think Parking Too Pricey in East Lansing

December 23, 2016

Some Lansing, Michigan, region Amtrak passengers are grousing about the cost of parking at the East Lansing station.

Amtrak 4It used to be free to park there, but that has not been the case since Amtrak began using the new Capital Area Multimodal Gateway last January.

Capital Area Transportation Authority charges $10 a day with a $50 maximum charge per week. The facility also serves local and intercity buses.

A CATA spokesperson told the Lansing State Journal that the parking fees at the facility were similar to those of other Lansing area parking facilities.

The City of East Lansing charges $15 a day in garages and $20 in surface lots. The City of Lansing charges $10 a day in its parking garages and Capital Regional International Airport has a $12 a day fee in short-term parking lots and $10 a day in long-term lots.

But when compared with the cost of parking at other Amtrak stations in Michigan, East Lansing is pricey.

East Lansing is served by the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water and parking is free at Amtrak stations on the route in Port Huron, Flint, Durand, Battle Creek, Dowagiac, Niles and New Buffalo.

There is no parking at the station in Lapeer and in Kalamazoo Amtrak passengers are directed to use a city lot that charges $9.70 a night on weekdays and $3 on Saturdays. Parking is free in the Kalamazoo city facility on Sunday.

On Amtrak’s Wolverine Service route in Michigan, parking is free in Dearborn and Ann Arbor.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier is a tenant in East Lansing and has no say over parking fees at the station.

Magliari said it is not unusual for parking at or near Amtrak stations to come with a fee.

Although parking used to be free at the former East Lansing Amtrak station, problems arose when Michigan State University students who were not traveling would park there.

The CATA spokewoman said Amtrak passengers who don’t want to pay parking fees can ride a bus home or get a lift from a taxi or Uber driver. Passengers can even have friends drop them off or pick them up.

The parking rate in East Lansing, though, must seem like a bargain to Chicago residents who pay $26 a day to park at Chicago Union Station.

Self-Parking Lot Open in East Lansing

September 6, 2016

The East Lansing, Michigan, Amtrak station has a self-parking lot that is operated by the Capital Area Transit Authority.

michiganThe lot has 150 parking spaces and can be used for short and long-term parking.

Cash and credit cards are accepted to pay parking charges. The charges range from $1 for 30 minutes to $10 for day parking. A week pass is available for $50. Long-term parking passes are available on sliding scale that ranges to $110 for a 15-day pass.

Amtrak patrons may no longer park in an overflow parking lot on the campus of Michigan State University.

There is no charge to briefly park in front of the station to drop off or pick up passengers.

For more information on station parking, contact CATA at (517) 394-1000.

East Lansing is served by the daily Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water.

Train Time in Durand

August 7, 2016
The westbound Blue Water is running ahead of schedule as it makes its Durand, Michigan, station stop.

The westbound Blue Water is running ahead of schedule as it makes its Durand, Michigan, station stop.

People pulling suitcases were already headed toward the station as I pulled in. In about a half-hour Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water would be making its station stop in Durand, Michigan.

Durand is a small town yet quite a few people boarded No. 365 on this Wednesday morning.

The Blue Water is funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation and operates daily between Chicago and Port Huron, Michigan.

Like many other Midwest corridor trains, No. 365 leaves early in the morning for a late morning arrival in Chicago. The return train departs Chicago in late afternoon.

There isn’t much time to spend in Chicago for a day trip, but if all goes well the schedule enables passengers to connect with western long distance trains and other Midwest corridor services.

The return schedule, though, is less favorable for connecting from the western trains, particularly if your train is late.

No. 365 arrived in Durand several minutes early and had to wait for time before departing.

I’ve seen and photographed Amtrak trains in Durand in the past, but this would be my first time to get the Blue Water in Durand.

I had photographed the Chicago-Toronto International, which was scheduled through Durand in both directions in mid-afternoon.

That schedule didn’t afford passengers the opportunity to make a Chicago day trip nor did it connect with many other Amtrak trains.

The tracks used by the Blue Water are today owned by Canadian National, but were originally part of the Grand Trunk Western.

The GTW was controlled by CN so many Grand Trunk passenger trains interchanged with CN at Sarnia, Ontario, to and from Toronto.

The Blue Water began in September 1974, using the GTW between Port Huron and Battle Creek, Michigan, but then using Penn Central into Chicago on the same route as Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit trains.

At the time, Nos. 364/365 operated as the Blue Water Limited. It became a Chicago-Toronto train in October 1982, initially operating as the International Limited.

The name was shorted to International in June 1983. Border crossing issues ultimately led Amtrak to suggest that the train be shorted to Chicago-Port Huron operation and put on a schedule similar to that of the Blue Water Limited.

Michigan agreed and in April 2004 the change was made and patronage greatly increased.

I don’t know if any of those who boarded the Blue Water on this day know any of this history or, for that matter, any history of GTW passenger service in Durand.

Most of those boarding were younger and probably know little if anything about the Grand Trunk or CN in general.

They probably were pleased that their train departed on time for its next station stop in East Lansing and, ultimately, to Chicago.

Passengers are lined up to board Amtrak train No. 365 in Durand. Most of them are probably headed for Chicago and some might be going via Amtrak beyond there.

Passengers are lined up to board Amtrak train No. 365 in Durand. Most of them are probably headed for Chicago and some might be going via Amtrak beyond there.

Right this way and to your left.

Right this way and to your left. The Blue Water consist is the standard Midwest corridor train offering of Horizon fleet coaches and an Amfleet cafe car offering business class service.

Two gentlemen sit on benches in the foreground and watch the last passengers board Amtrak's westbound Blue Water.

Two gentlemen sit on benches in the foreground and watch the last passengers board Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water.

The conductor chats with the Durand station caretaker and two railfans along the fence as No. 365 waits for time before it can depart from Durand.

The conductor chats with the Durand station caretaker and two railfans along the fence as No. 365 waits for time before it can depart from Durand.

A portrait in black and white of Amtrak train time in Durand.

A portrait in black and white of Amtrak train time in Durand.

Crossing the CN Holly Subdivision as Amtrak train No. 365 departs on time from Durand.

Crossing the CN Holly Subdivision as Amtrak train No. 365 departs on time from Durand.

The Blue Water operates with a locomotive on each end to avoid having to turn the train in Port Huron during the overnight layover.

The Blue Water operates with a locomotive on each end to avoid having to turn the train in Port Huron during the overnight layover.