NEWS - Michigan rail line infrastructure enhancements lead to improved Amtrak travel

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 2018


CONTACT:   Michael Frezell, MDOT Office of Communications, 517-335-7176
                   Marc Magliari, Amtrak Media Relations, 312-544-5390

 Michigan rail line infrastructure enhancements
lead to improved Amtrak travel 

Fast Facts:
- New Amtrak schedules take effect Jan. 22.
- New Amtrak Wolverine Service and Blue Water schedules include reduced travel times.
- Capital improvements have been made to 135 miles of MDOT-owned track, allowing for faster speeds.  

January 22, 2018 -- Rail infrastructure improvements along the Chicago - Detroit/Pontiac Michigan Line will allow for safe, dependable, and faster travel along this vital passenger and freight corridor. Passengers on the Amtrak Wolverine Service and Chicago - Port Huron Blue Water will get to their final destinations in less time and with fewer delays. These new times take effect on Jan. 22, with a new Amtrak schedule available online.

            "Between Porter, Ind., and Dearborn, this rail corridor is now dispatched by Amtrak staff, which ensures the efficient movement of passenger trains," said Tim Hoeffner, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Rail director. "We hope this encourages people to consider the train for their next trip, especially with upcoming construction and high traffic volumes along the I-94 corridor." 

            Maximum speeds on the line is 110 mph on the Amtrak-owned section between Porter and Kalamazoo. On the MDOT-owned portion, the maximum speeds are 79 mph, but they are expected to increase to 110 mph this year in certain sections once the testing of the positive train control system is completed and when new locomotives are put into service.   

            MDOT purchased 135 miles of the rail corridor between Kalamazoo and Dearborn from Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in 2012. Thanks to $347 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funding, MDOT was able to acquire and make the following improvements to the line:

-      Replaced worn railroad track and smoothed curves for higher speeds.

-      Upgraded railroad crossings and signals for train and motorist safety.

-      Upgraded the train signaling and communication system for efficient operations.

            Outside of MDOT ownership, other improvements have been made that will benefit the efficient movement of both passenger and freight trains. A new bridge connection was installed in west Detroit allowing for a faster connection for trains bound for Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy, and Pontiac. Amtrak has made continual maintenance improvements to their infrastructure as well.

            "At MDOT’s direction, Amtrak work crews have corrected years of deferred maintenance and have taken over dispatching," said Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president, State-Supported Services. "We have created the longest railroad segment outside the northeast that is being made ready for an even more reliable and faster Amtrak service."

            Projects outside of Michigan have benefits to Amtrak trains. In October 2014, the Englewood Flyover in south Chicago was placed in service, eliminating the at-grade crossing between the Metra Rock Island Line and NS's Chicago Line, which is Amtrak's primary entrance into Chicago from the east. The Indiana Gateway (a partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, Indiana Department of Transportation, NS, and Amtrak) has improved a major congestion point of trains between Porter and the Illinois border.      

             All together, these improvements demonstrate a long-term commitment to safe and faster movement of trains along this growing passenger rail corridor.

About Amtrak®

Amtrak offers a more comfortable and convenient travel experience with free Wi-Fi on most trains, plenty of leg room and no middle seat. With our state and commuter partners, we move people, the economy and the nation forward, carrying more than 30 million Amtrak customers for each of the past seven years. Amtrak operates more than 300 trains daily, connecting more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces, and reaches 400 additional destinations via connecting bus routes. Learn more at  


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