Posts Tagged ‘Pere Marquette’

Better Than Most Unstaffed Amtrak Stations

December 12, 2016


Like so many Amtrak stations in small and medium sized cities, there is no ticket agent in Bangor, Michigan.

Unlike some of those stations, the Bangor station offers a warm and dry place to wait for the train.

Shown is the waiting room of the depot used by the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette. It is housed in what used to be a portico of the original brick station.

The Pere Marquette Railway built the depot in 1926 to replace a wood structure destroyed by fire.

The site was used through the end of Chesapeake & Ohio passenger service in 1971 but sat vacant before a model railroad manufacturer occupied the structure in 1981.

Amtrak’s Pere Marquette began using the building in 1984, but vacated it in 1991 when the model railroad company, known as the Kalamazoo Toy Train Factory, closed.

The city of Bangor purchased the station in 2001 and sold most of it in 2004 to a health care provider.  The attic was converted to a second floor and the south portico was enclosed to make a waiting room for Amtrak passengers. The city still owns this portion of the depot.

Just off the waiting room is a restaurant, The Railroad Cafe and Coffee Bar. I don’t know if it is open at train time, but if it is passengers have a place to get something to eat or drink.

The restaurant occupies the original station waiting room. The benches in the station appear to have a railroad heritage and might be original to this depot.

There are ample copies of Amtrak schedules in the racks against the wall, including a stack of the last Amtrak national timetable ever printed.

Extra Trains Set for Thanksgiving Travel Period

October 19, 2016

Amtrak said it will offer extra trains between Chicago and points in Illinois and Michigan during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

Amtrak logoIn Illinois, the additional trains will operate between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, and Chicago and Quincy. All of these trains will operate on Wednesday, Nov. Nov. 23, and Sunday, Nov. 27.

In Michigan, extra trains will operate between Chicago and Ann Arbor on Nov. 23, 26 and 27. Extra trains will also operate between Chicago and Holland on Nov. 23 and 27.

Train No. 309 will depart Chicago at 10:30 a.m. and arrive in Bloomington-Normal at 12:58 p.m., making all intermediate stops served by Lincoln Service trains.

No. 308 will depart Bloomington-Normal at 1:15 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 3:39 p.m.

Train No. 385 will depart Chicago at 11:30 a.m. and arrive in Quincy at 3:53 p.m.

No. 384 will depart Quincy at 1 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:23 p.m. The Chicago-Quincy trains will operate as Carl Sandburg Extra service.

Some regularly scheduled trains will have altered schedules during the holiday period. Lincoln Service train 301 will depart Chicago at 7:30 a.m., a half-hour later than normal, on Nov. 23 and 27.

Lincoln Service train 300 will depart St. Louis on Nov. 23 and 27 at 4 a.m., a half-hour earlier than normal.

Illinois Zephyr No. 383 will depart Chicago on Nov. 23 and 27 at 6:15 p.m., which is 20 minutes later than normal.

In Michigan, the Wolverine Service Extra trains will depart Chicago at 9:30 a.m. and arrive in Ann Arbor at 3:10 p.m., operating as No. 356. Intermediate stops will be made at New Buffalo, Niles, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Jackson.

No. 359 will depart Ann Arbor at 4:05 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 7:47 p.m., making the same intermediate stops as No. 356.

There will no change in schedules for other Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The Pere Marquette Extra will depart Chicago at 10 a.m., operating as No. 372, and arrive in Holland at 2:11 p.m. It will make all intermediate stops also served by the regular Pere Marquette. No. 373 will depart Holland at 3:10 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:27 p.m.

There will be no change in the schedule of the daily Pere Marquette.

Amtrak said that during the holiday travel period it will operate every available passenger car in its fleet.

Checked Bikes Offered on Pere Marquette

May 10, 2016

Amtrak is now offering walk-up checked bike service aboard the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette.

The service began on May 6 and is available at all stations served by the train. Passengers must make a reservation and pay a $10 fee.

Amtrak 4Bike tickets must be presented to the conductor when boarding the train. To reserve a space for a bike, click on “add bike” when booking a reservation at or by calling 800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Bike reservations can also be made at Amtrak ticket offices and at Quik-Trak ticketing kiosks in Chicago, St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids.

Bike reservations cannot be made through Amtrak mobile apps. Only one bike is permitted per person.

Passengers will be provided a bike tag by station employees in Chicago and by the train crew at St. Joseph-Benton, Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids.

Passenger must present their bike tag at the baggage car to retrieve their bike from the train crew at their destination.

Amtrak said passengers checking bikes should arrive 30 minutes prior to train departure to allow sufficient time to obtain their ticket and baggage tag, and to get their bike to the baggage car.

Only standard size bikes will be permitted. Large seat/saddle bags must be removed from bikes. These items can be carried on the train and will count as a carry-on item.

Passengers must be physically capable of lifting their bike up to shoulder height to an employee standing in the baggage car. Passengers are not permitted in this car. Amtrak personnel will store and secure the bike to the bike racks.

Pere Marquette to Get New Schedule on May 4

April 9, 2015

The May 4 schedule change that will have the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marqutte operating on a new schedule will give passengers more time in Chicago.

Amtrak also plans to open a crew base in Grand Rapids, Mich., which it expects will help to resolve the problem of the train departing late for Chicago due to the crew that brought the train in the night before needing more rest because of a late arrival.

At the present time, the Pere Marquette is assigned operating employees who are based in Chicago.

The new schedule of No. 371 will have it departing Grand Rapids more than an hour and a half earlier at 6 a.m. The departure time of No. 370 from Chicago has been moved back to 6:30 p.m. from 4:55 p.m.

Michigan residents will be able to spend more than nine hours in Chicago on business or pleasure. Current schedules allot about six hours of layover time.

Amtrak said the new schedule will also improve the reliability of eastbound connections from late long-distance trains.

The new schedule will place the Pere Marquette in close proximity to the schedule of Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited in both directions.

Officials with Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation, which helps to fund the Pere Marquette, hope that this will enable NS dispatcher to have an easier time creating routes for both trains on a freight-heavy line in and out of Chicago.

Al Johnson, MDOT’s Office of Rail passenger and operations manager, told Trains magazine that the state is studying additional frequencies for the Pere Marquette, Blue Water (Chicago-Port Huron, Mich.) and Wolverine Service (Chicago-Detroit) routes, but new trains cannot be implemented until NS completes the $71 million Indiana Gateway project between Chicago and Porter, Ind.

Amtrak issued its Spring-Fall 2015 system timetable on April 6 and most schedules have received only minor changes. The new timetable replaced the Summer-Fall 2014 schedule issued on June 9, 2014.

Grand Rapids Amtrak Station Opening Set

October 22, 2014

Officials in Grand Rapids, Mich., will celebrate on Oct. 27 the opening of the new Amtrak station.

The dedication ceremony for the $6.1 million multimodal facility will begin at 10 a.m. with Amtrak, state and federal officials speaking

The station, named in honor of the former U.S. Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers, also serves local bus transit routes, intercity buses and taxis.

The facility is closer to the Grand Rapids business district, offers a larger waiting room, restrooms, a covered canopy and is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Other features include a clock tower and 118 parking spots.

Funding for the project came from a $4.6 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant, a $1.5 million match from the Federal Transit Administration, funds from the Michigan Department of Transportation, and from local funds.

Grand Rapids is served by the Pere Marquette, which is scheduled to depart for Chicago at 7:40 a.m. and return at 9.55 p.m.

Pere Marquette Observes 30th Anniversary

September 21, 2014

Supporters of Amtrak’s Pere Marquette recently celebrated the train’s 30th anniversary by noting that patronage has nearly doubled since the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Mich., train debuted in 1984.

At a ceremony last week, local, state and Amtrak officials recognized the role that the train plays. “The demand here in the Grand Rapids area for a passenger train into Chicago continues to grow every year, which is absolutely tremendous,” said Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Ray Lang of Amtrak added that the growth in ridership could spur future service expansion. “I have every reason to believe that there’s enough demand on this corridor for additional frequencies and we would love to entertain that question in the future,” Lang said.

Amtrak officials also said that the carrier is offering a 30 percent fare discount on the Pere Marquette for the rest of September.

The Pere Marquette, Nos. 370 and 371, began service on Aug. 5, 1984, and serves Grand Rapid, Holland, Bangor and St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Mich. It is funded in part by the Michigan Department of Transportation.


CSX Routed Amtrak Train Into Snow Drift

March 3, 2014

A Grand Rapids, Mich., bound Amtrak train finally arrived at its destination three hours late after getting stuck in a snow drift near Holland late last week.

The Pere Marquette got stuck on CSX tracks about 9 p.m. Thursday.

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said the train was about 8 miles west of Holland when a CSX dispatcher directed the train into a side track for a freight train to pass. The Amtrak train got stuck on the side track.

Kulm said a CSX locomotive pulled out the Amtrak train and its 64 passengers arrived in Grand Rapids around midnight.

No one was injured and Kulm said the train never lost power for lights and heat.

2 Michigan Trains Had Rough Sunday Night

November 19, 2013

Getting from Chicago to Michigan was complicated on Sunday by bad weather and mechanical problems.

The Grand Rapids-bound Pere Marquette was halted twice Sunday night due to downed trees across its route.

Meanwhile, a Detroit-bound Wolverine Service train made it a short distance into its journey before being halted by a flat spot on a wheel, a delay that ended up lasting six hours.

The Pere Marquette was initially halted near Michigan City, Ind., after it struck a downed tree.

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said the collision caused an hour-and-a-half delay.

Downed trees then brought the train to a standstill near Holland, Mich., and the 93 passengers were eventually taken by bus to Grand Rapids, arriving about 4:30 a.m. Monday.

The westbound Pere Marquette for Monday morning was annulled and the passengers taken to Chicago by bus.

Kulm said there were many fallen trees on the CSX tracks east of Holland.

Wolverine No. 354 and its 254 passengers didn’t get out of Chicago Union Station Sunday night until 6:30 p.m., a half-hour past its scheduled departure time.

About 10 miles later, the train stopped and the crew found a “flat spot” on the wheel of a coach.

The train returned to Chicago where it sat in the maintenance yards for several hours. During that time, the car with the flat spot was removed from the consist.

At about 12:40 a.m., the train arrived back at Union Station where passengers were given the option to detrain. About an hour later, the train departed for Detroit (Pontiac).

During the delay, the train maintained power and passengers were provided free water and food, Kulm said.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari described a flat spot as a place on the wheel that “stops being round.’’

“It happens from time to time especially this time of year, when leaves and other debris get on the track and the brakes are applied,’ Magliari said. “If there’s too large a flat spot that car can’t continue.’’

Magliari said all passengers were given the option of getting a refund and taking another train, which four people took take advantage of.

Extra Section of Pere Marquette Set for Dec. 1

November 15, 2013

Amtrak will operate an extra section of the Pere Marquette to accommodate Thanksgiving travelers on Sunday, Dec. 1.

No. 372 will depart Chicago Union Station at 10 a.m. and arrive in Holland, Mich., at 2:08 p.m. The equipment will turn and depart as No. 373 at 3:10 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:22 p.m.

Nos. 370/371, the daily Pere Marquette between Chicago and Grand Rapids, Mich., will operate on an altered schedule on Dec. 1.

No. 371 will depart Grand Rapids at 6 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 8:58 a.m. No. 370 will depart Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and arrive in Grand Rapids at 8:58 a.m.

The Pere Marquette is partially funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Amtrak said the Thanksgiving  holiday period is its busiest travel week of the year and to accommodate the expected surge of riders it will operate every available passenger rail car in its fleet and is scheduling extra trains and adding capacity on other routes.