Posts Tagged ‘Battle Creek Michigan’

Michigan Trains Running Faster Now

January 24, 2018

Most Amtrak trains serving Michigan have faster running times, the Michigan Department of Transportation said this week.

Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) have seen 20 minutes cut from their schedules. Blue Water service between Chicago and Port Huron, Michigan, has seen a smaller running time cut.

Both lines use rails owned by Amtrak between Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Porter, Indiana.

Amtrak dispatchers control the Chicago-Detroit line as far east as Dearborn except for a portion of track in Battle Creek that is owned by Canadian National.

MDOT acquired 135 miles of track from Norfolk Southern in 2012 that are used by Amtrak between Kalamazoo and Dearborn except for the CN track in Battle Creek.

The top speed between Porter and Kalamazoo 110 mph. The maximum speed is 79 mph on the MDOT-owned track, but that is expected to rise to 110 mph this year after the completion of positive train control testing and assignment of Siemens Charger locomotives to the route.

The State of Michigan has used $347 million in federal funds to replace rails, smooth curves, upgrade crossings and signals and improve train signaling and communication systems. These improvements are expected to result in higher running speeds.

MDOT funded a connection in West Detroit for a faster route to a CN line that serves Amtrak stations in Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy and Pontiac.

“At MDOT’s direction, Amtrak work crews have corrected years of deferred maintenance and have taken over dispatching,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president of state-supported services in a statement. “We have created the longest railroad segment outside the northeast that is being made ready for an even more reliable and faster Amtrak service.”

New Michigan Thruway Route Started

February 24, 2017

Amtrak and Indian Trails bus lines are instituting a Thruway bus connecting service between Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains and point in central Michigan, including Mt. Pleasant and Gaylord.

michiganPassengers on Train No. 350 will connect in Battle Creek, Michigan, with the bus heading to Michigan points, while passengers originating at those points will connect with Train No. 355 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The new bus route will travel to various communities along U.S. Route 127 and Interstate 75.

Mt. Pleasant is the home of Central Michigan University.

Indian Trails motorcoaches provide free Wi-Fi, 110V electrical outlets and are wheelchair-accessible.

Amtrak said that the new route expands the  Indian Trails’ network of connections with Amtrak to reach 270,000 people in more than 100 towns throughout Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, as well as Duluth, Minnesota; Chicago and Milwaukee.

MDOT Eyeing 110 mph Speeds in Michigan

August 3, 2015

A Michigan Department of Transportation official is predicting that Amtrak trains will be traveling at 110 mph near Battle Creek within the three years.

MDOT Office of Rail Director Tim Hoeffner said a $3.3 million contract for track and signal improvements is being prepared to send out for bidding.

The work will involve tie and rail replacement as well as installation of new ballast.

The completion date for that work is late 2017 when some 30 minutes will be cut from the travel times between Dearborn and Kalamazoo on track now owned by the state of Michigan.

Currently, Amtrak trains are limited to a 79 p.m. top speed between those points.

On Amtrak-owned tracks between Kalamazoo and Porter, Indiana, trains are already hitting 100 mph on some segments.

MDOT’s goal is to cut the travel time between Chicago and Detroit from 5.5 hours to 4 hours.

“We are trying to increase the frequency and increase the number of trains running between Chicago and Detroit — and increase the reliability,” Hoeffner said. “You really need to do all of those things.”

Nearly 478,000 people rode Wolverine Service trains on the Chicago-Detroit route in 2014. A decade earlier the ridership was 301,000.

Hoeffner said ridership has gone up 50 percent in the past decade while revenue has doubled.

MDOT manages 665 miles of state-owned rail lines. In December 2012, it purchased the 135-mile route between Kalamazoo and Dearborn from Norfolk Southern for $140 million.

In September 2013, the state landed $9 million in federal grant money to rebuild the line.

“Whether it be roads or airports or railroads, transit systems are expensive infrastructures,” Hoeffner said. “These are some complicated systems. Really, what we’re doing is upgrading the existing route.”

Patronage of the route ranges from elderly people avoiding driving to young people looking to enjoy Internet access during a trip. There are also families taking their children on a train ride.

“A lot of younger folks today, really it isn’t that they don’t want to drive, they want to be mobile,” he said. “But being mobile doesn’t necessarily mean to own or drive a car. Mobile means having access to that smart technology. And being on board the train where you can use it, versus being in the driver’s seat of a car and not having access to that smart technology, is adding into more and more younger folks’ travel decisions.”

Federal funding also helped fund $3.6 million renovation in 2012 of the Battle Creek Intermodal Transportation Center.

Battle Creek Transportation Director Larry Bowron said the station and rail line rebuilding underscore the importance of passenger rail to the public transportation system.

“People have a choice,” he said. “I think people are going to continue to choose rail.”

“If they improve on-time performance, if they improve the experience — why wouldn’t people take the train?”