Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Pere Marquette’

Tulip Festival Extra Trains Scrapped

May 2, 2019

Amtrak and Michigan Department of Transportation have canceled a planned extra service between Chicago and Holland, Michigan, to take passengers to the latter’s annual tulip festival.

The train had been planned to depart Chicago in the morning and Holland in the afternoon.

An MDOT spokesman said lack of adequate ticket sales led to the cancellation.

“Unfortunately, due to low reservations, we made a business decision with Amtrak to cancel the two special Tulip Time trains for May 4 and May 11,” said MDOT’s Michael Frezell.

He said those who booked travel on the extras will receive full refunds or they can ride Amtrak’s daily Pere Marquette between Chicago and Holland.

However, taking the Pere Marquette to Holland will require an overnight stay.

In fact, it would require a two-night stay because the Pere Marquette departs Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Holland at 10:31 p.m. The return trip leaves Holland at 6:49 a.m.

The tulip festival special had been scheduled to leave Chicago at 7:05 a.m. and depart Holland at 11:28 a.m.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused passengers,” Frezell said.

The Chicago Tribune reported a passenger who had tickets to ride the special received an email from Amtrak saying her trip had been canceled “due to a schedule change.”

Frezel said additional Chicago-Holland tulip festival service has been an on and off proposition over the years.

MDOT also sponsors extra service during the Thanksgiving travel period and until recent years had also underwritten extra trains during the Christmas travel period.

The tulip festival, known as Tulip Time, has been held for 90 years and draws about 500,000 visitors during its nine-day run.

Frezell said it is undecided if MDOT will sponsor future special train service to the tulip festival.

He said that would need to be worked out with Amtrak, the city of Holland and festival organizers.

“If the train does run again we recommend passengers book early,” he said.

Extra Trains Set for Holland Tulip Festival

March 15, 2019

Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation are offering additional service on May 4 and 11 to the annual Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan.

The service will use the route of Amtrak’s Pere Marquette, departing Chicago Union Station at 7:05 a.m. and returning at 8:24 p.m.

Times at intermediate stations for Train No. 374 are Hammond-Whiting, Indiana, 7:29 a.m.; St. Joseph, Michigan; 10:01 a.m.; and Bangor, Michigan, 10:37 a.m.

Arrival at Holland is expected to be at 11:28 a.m.

Train No. 375 is scheduled to depart Holland at 5:50 p.m., Bangor at 6:33 p.m., St. Joseph at 7:11 p.m., and Hammond-Whiting at 7:51 p.m.

The festival is billed as as the nation’s “Best Flower Festival” and “America’s Best Small-Town Festival.”

Amtrak said in a news release that more than 1,000 customers rode extra Amtrak trains on this route during festival weekends in 2018.

Engine Failure Strands Pere Marquette for 3 Hours

February 7, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Pere Marquette was stranded for three hours on Tuesday night due to locomotive failure near St. Joseph, Michigan.

The train, which had a load of nearly 80 passengers, halted about five miles before reaching the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor station.

“We’re all stopped here . . . My entire unit just shut down,” the engineer was heard saying on a radio recording captured by the Saint Joseph Area Rail and Marine channel of Broadcastify.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the breakdown occurred about 9:45 p.m.

Passengers were eventually taken by bus to their destinations.

The train, which originated in Chicago and was bound for Grand Rapids, Michigan, lacked heat after the engine malfunctioned.

A CSX locomotive was able to move the stranded Amtrak train to the St. Joseph station at about 11:45 p.m. where the 78 passengers remained onboard until buses arrived about 1 a.m.

Although the St. Joseph station also houses a pizza restaurant, that business was closed at the time of the incident.

SW Michigan Wants Reroute of Pere Marquette

January 4, 2019

Transportation planners in southwest Michigan see falling ridership and changing transportation priorities as posing potential threats to the continued operation of Amtrak’s Pere Marquette on its current route between Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

They are hoping that rerouting the train between New Buffalo, Michigan, and Porter, Indiana, to the same route used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains would help save the train.

Although Ryan Fellows, an associate planner with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, said that no changes in service are expected in the short term it is the long term that has him concerned.

Studies have recommended revamping intercity rail service in Michigan to form a coast-to-coast network whose main stem would operate between Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

At Kalamazoo, trains would fan out for Grand Rapids, Detroit and Lansing.

However, the segment of the Pere Marquette route serving St. Joseph, Bangor and Holland might be discontinued and some or all of those cities served by connecting bus service.

What Fellows would like to see is a connection built at New Buffalo between CSX and an Amtrak-owned line that would enable the Pere Marquette to use the same route as Wolverine Service and Blue Water trains.

That route, he noted, would allow the Pere Marquette trains to operate at a top speed of 110 miles per hour while providing connections with other trains serving Michigan.

“A feasibility and engineering study is a necessary step prior to establishing a rail connection in New Buffalo to link the Pere Marquette and Wolverine-Blue Water services,” he said during a presentation to the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study agency.

That agency recently approved a resolution in support of studying building the proposed New Buffalo connection.

The transportation planners fear that funding of the Pere Marquette might fall by the wayside unless the Pere Marquette route become more efficient and reliable.

Between 2007 and 2017 ridership of the Pere Marquette declined by 11 percent, to 93,449 passenger.

During the same period, ridership on the Blue Water rose 46 percent while Wolverine Service trains posted a more modest ridership increase of 2 percent.

Pere Marquette ridership increased by 4.4 percent between 2016 to 2017, generating $3.2 million in ticket revenue.

Planners have pointed to a 2017 Midwest Regional Rail System report that projected that connecting Chicago with Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Detroit would increase ridership from 200,000 to 1.5 million, with connections to cities throughout the region.

However, the existing Pere Marquette route was seen as lacking enough population to attract the ridership that the proposed coast-to-coast network would generate.

Efforts to boost ridership of the Pere Marquette have included making special stops for such events as the Senior PGA at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, and the Tulip Festival in Holland.

Amtrak Performed Well Overall During Holiday Period

November 29, 2018

Amtrak performed reasonably well in winter weather conditions in Chicago during the Thanksgiving travel period, Trains magazine reported.

On the day before Thanksgiving 28 of the 32 trains departed on time with just one significant delay.

The Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, Saluki was two hours tardy leaving from Union Station due to a mechanical problem with the equipment.

Trains reported that three other delayed trains were prompted by an ambitious turn of equipment arriving on late inbound trains.

Primarily, this occurred with extra holiday trains operating on the Wolverine Service, Pere Marquette, Lincoln Service and Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, routes.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving Amtrak trains largely departed without incident despite blizzard conditions in Chicago.

The Illinois Zephyr left 26 minutes late when it’s equipment arrived later than scheduled on an extra move from Quincy.

A locomotive compressor failure that occurred on Lincoln Service train No. 304 near Dwight, Illinois, led to that train being combined with No. 306 to complete the trip to Chicago.

Amtrak extra cars to some trains. The Blue Water had six coaches and two business-class cars. The Texas Eagle operated with an additional coach between Chicago and St. Louis.

Amtrak elected not to add a fifth coach to the Empire Builder between Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Extra Midwest Trains Set for Thanksgiving Travel

November 15, 2018

Amtrak will operate additional trains in the Midwest between Nov. 20-25 to accommodate an expected surge of Thanksgiving holiday travelers.

Other Midwest corridor trains are expected to operate with increased capacity.

During the holiday travel period, reservations will be required for travel aboard the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains.

Holders of monthly or 10-ride tickets are exempt from the reservations requirement, but seating is not guarantee.

On the Wolverine Service corridor, additional trains will operate on Nov. 21, 24 and 25 between Chicago and Ann Arbor, Michigan, with intermediate stops in the Michigan cities of New Buffalo, Niles, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Jackson.

Extra No. 356 will depart Chicago at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Ann Arbor at 2:25 p.m. It will depart Ann Arbor at 4:28 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 8:04 p.m.

On the Pere Marquette route, extra No. 372 is scheduled to depart Chicago at 10 a.m. and arrive in Holland, Michigan, at 2:11 p.m. with intermediate stops in St. Joseph and Bangor, Michigan.

No. 373 is scheduled to depart Holland at 3:10 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:27 p.m. These trains will operate on Nov. 21 and 25.

An extra section of the Carl Sandburg will operate between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois, on Nov. 21 and 25.

No. 385 is scheduled to depart Chicago at 11:30 a.m. and make all scheduled intermediate stops en route to Quincy, where it is set to arrive at 3:53 p.m.

No. 384 is scheduled to depart Quincy at 1 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:22 p.m.

On the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, extra Lincoln Service trains will operate between Chicago and Normal, Illinois, on Nov. 21 and 25.

Extra No. 309 is scheduled to depart Chicago at 10:30 a.m. and make all scheduled intermediate stops en route to Normal-Bloomington, where it is set to arrive at 12:58 p.m.

No. 308 is set to depart Normal at 1:15 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 3:41 p.m.

Pere Marquette Now Arriving

October 10, 2018

Although Amtrak’s Pere Marquette originates and terminates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it didn’t always sit overnight in the station.

For several years the equipment for the Chicago-Grand Rapids train sat overnight in a CSX yard and deadheaded to the station the next morning.

The photo above was made in June 1995 and the train is shown about to arrive at the station.

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.

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.