Posts Tagged ‘Niles Michigan’

Niles Station Host Program Set to Launch

December 7, 2018

Hosting open house events is the first step that volunteers in Niles, Michigan, are taking as part of their efforts to launch a train station host program.

Training will be conducted this month for the two dozen people who showed up at the open houses to volunteer for the program.

Eight Amtrak trains a day stop in Niles and the volunteer hosts will be able to work whatever hours they’re able.

Earlier this year, Amtrak removed its ticket agent from Niles and hired caretakers to open, close and clean the station.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the Niles station used to be open only through late afternoon, but with the caretakers and volunteers it is open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.

If the last train of the day is late, someone should be on hand to allow passengers and those meeting them to have access to the waiting room, restrooms and a pay phone.

Serving Niles are six Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) and the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water.

Magliari said the Niles community has been active in helping Amtrak look after the depot, which dates to the days when the trains were operated by the Michigan Central.

During that era a local gardener would present a flower to each woman passing through the Niles station .

For many years the Four Flags Garden Club has maintained the station’s flower beds and decorated the depot for the holidays.

When Amtrak was planning to remove its Niles ticket agent, it contacted the Niles DDA Main Street program to ask it to help organize the effort to start a volunteer host program.

Director Lisa Croteau said the host program will help carry on the station’s “long history of hospitality,”

Croteau said the hosts will greet travelers, share tidbits about the history of the depot and serve as “kind of a concierge for the downtown and the city of Niles,” to tell people where they can get a ride or a bite to eat or whatever they need.

Magliari said the Niles program could serve as a model elsewhere in Michigan or in Elkhart, Indiana.

“It’s something happening in more and more places around the country where communities are engaging with us to have a welcoming presence in the stations,” Magliari said.

One of the Niles volunteers is Pete Womer, who is retired after working 40 years in the utilities department at the University of Notre Dame.

He told the South Bend Tribune that he was looking for a volunteer project, has been a train traveler for more than 50 years, and he loves to meet people and chat.

“In the long run, it makes customers feel a little more comfortable,” Womer said. “It’s a good feeling knowing you’re helping people out.”

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.

Amtrak to Pull Ticket Agents from Niles, Jackson

January 24, 2018

Amtrak ticket agents will be removed on March 1 from stations in Jackson and Niles, Michigan.

Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago, said the move is being made to save money.

He said an overwhelming majority of passengers no longer purchase tickets from station agents.

As a result of the change, Amtrak might keep the Jackson station open later in the afternoon.

The waiting room is now open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. but three of the six Wolverine Service trains that serve Jackson depart after 2:30 p.m.

Amtrak plans to hire a part-time caretaker to open and close the station and Magliari said that worker could work a split shift and close the waiting area later in the day.

Passengers and those waiting on trains must wait outside the former Michigan Central depot when the waiting room is closed.

Staffing of the Jackson ticket office was reduced last August from daily to five days a week. No agent is on duty on Tuesdays and Wednesday.

Man Charged in Michigan Amtrak Stabbings

December 7, 2014

The four people stabbed aboard an Amtrak train Friday night in Niles, Mich., were reported to be in stable condition on Saturday while the man taken into custody in connection with the assaults has been charged with four counts of assault with intent to murder.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, of Saginaw, Mich., was charged Saturday and is being held in the Berrien County Jail. Authorities are still searching for a motive in the case.

Williams was being held on $1 million bond and faces an initial court appearance on Monday. Each count carries a possible life sentence.

The assault occurred at about 7 p.m. aboard the eastbound Blue Water as it made a station stop in Niles en route from Chicago to Port Huron, Mich.

Williams is charged with assaulting an Amtrak conductor and three other people.

Passengers aboard the train who were interviewed by reporters following the incident said that police officers stormed the train and subdued the assailant with a Taser.

Niles Police Chief Jim Millin said that police rushed to the Amtrak station after receiving a call that a passenger was “acting odd and becoming agitated.”

Niles Police were en route to the train station when they were told Williams had stood up and assaulted the four victims.

“When officers arrived at the Amtrak depot they observed a commotion on one of the train cars with numerous passengers exiting that car quickly,” Millin said in a written statement. “Officers pushed their way onto the train past the passengers exiting and were immediately confronted by a male subject armed with a knife. Officers quickly subdued the subject with the use of a Taser and he was taken into custody without further incident.”

“They saw commotion in the train car,” Millin said of his officers. “They had to forcefully work their way through the crowd. As soon as the first officer turned into the car, Mr. Williams was less than 10 feet away and he had the knife in his hand. The officer used his Taser and was able to subdue him.

“Certainly there’s a possibility he could have kept on assaulting passengers and things could have been a lot worse,” the chief told The Associated Press.

“It doesn’t appear he was screaming or in anger against any of these people. He just started cutting and stabbing,” Millin said.

Millin said the victims included a female and three males. Williams was ticketed to travel from Chicago to Flint.

Amtrak said 172 passengers were on board the train at the time of the incident.

The Salvation Army also responded to the scene and provided food, coffee, and hot chocolate for the passengers. They were stranded for more than four hours while police conducted an investigation.

The train finally resumed its journey at 1:20 a.m. Saturday.

“It was pretty incredible that they may have saved some lives,” passenger Tyler Vandermolen said of the police response.

Passenger Caitlin Cipri of Chicago told the South Bend Tribune that she was packing her things to get off the train when she heard screaming. She initially thought the suspect was punching a passenger until she saw the butt of a knife. She said she saw the man stab two other people.

“It was terrifying and you don’t think something like that is going to happen to you,” Cipri said. “It’s terrifying that things like this happen.”

“I was in a mob of four people, and at one point people were falling down and people are getting back up,” Cipri said. “It was such a blur just trying to get to an exit.”

Tyler Vandermolen, who was sitting 10 rows from where the stabbing occurred, said, “You see the police getting a lot for bad press with the stuff going on around the country these days, but you got to give it up for these guys they were there in under… within seconds of this happening it was pretty incredible that they may have saved some lives today.”