Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

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Proposed Wolverine Stop in Ypsilanti

Postby Station Aficionado » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:33 pm

Note to mods: I couldn't locate the appropriate Michigan service thread. If there is one, this should be folded into it.

There is a proposal for a Wolverine stop in Ypsilanti.
Ypsilanti and Amtrak are discussing plans for a train stop in Depot Town.

The stop would be part of Amtrak's Wolverine line, which runs from Chicago to Pontiac with southeast Michigan stops in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Detroit, Birmingham and Royal Oak.

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City officials have hesitated to release details. On Friday, City Manager Ralph Lange wrote in an email to the Ann Arbor News, "There is no announcement to be made at this time." And on Saturday, Mayor Amanda Edmonds told The Ann Arbor News a Facebook post from The Depot Town Merchant's Association stating that the "train is coming" wasn't true.

On Sunday, Lange underscored in another email that there are no confirmed plans for a commuter rail line or Amtrak stop.

"At this time, the city of Ypsilanti does not have any confirmation of either rail stops," Lange wrote.


As the story alludes to, there was a stop (usually for no more than one train a day in each direction) in Ypsilanti from the mid'70's until about 1984/5.
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Re: Proposed Wolverine Stop in Ypsilanti

Postby Mackensen » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:15 am

Yes, the old Michigan Executive, which was a remnant of the Penn Central Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter service. It's only 30 miles from Ann Arbor to Dearborn; Ypsi seems superfluous for an intercity service.
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Re: Proposed Wolverine Stop in Ypsilanti

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:16 am

Not certain from where Eastern Michigan University draws its student base, but there are 22000 of 'em there - and the campus is "trackside".

While somehow it would appear that Detroit Metropolitan (DTW/KDTW) "raison d'etre" is a hub for Delta Air Lines (there is no jitney service whatever to Downtown Detroit; only taxicabs and a municipal bus route), a commercial carrier, likely of the "low cost" varietal, could start service to Willow Run (YIP/KYIP) and in which case, the existing Wolverine route, is a "stone's throw" away. Possibly such a "low cost" might want to have YIP as a transfer to Amtrak (and/or Mega-bus), allowing the "low cost" passengers ("hey, Spirit stinks, but their fares don't" said two college girls to me traveling NY-Mpls via Spirit, CTA, and Megabus - they fixed a "Widget" on my phone while on the CTA, and I "led them by the hand" to Mega-Bus; nice quid pro quo) to complete their journey on the cheap.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Proposed Wolverine Stop in Ypsilanti

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:46 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Not certain from where Eastern Michigan University draws its student base, but there are 22000 of 'em there - and the campus is "trackside".

While somehow it would appear that Detroit Metropolitan (DTW/KDTW) "raison d'etre" is a hub for Delta Air Lines (there is no jitney service whatever to Downtown Detroit; only taxicabs and a municipal bus route), a commercial carrier, likely of the "low cost" varietal, could start service to Willow Run (YIP/KYIP) and in which case, the existing Wolverine route, is a "stone's throw" away. Possibly such a "low cost" might want to have YIP as a transfer to Amtrak (and/or Mega-bus), allowing the "low cost" passengers ("hey, Spirit stinks, but their fares don't" said two college girls to me traveling NY-Mpls via Spirit, CTA, and Megabus - they fixed a "Widget" on my phone while on the CTA, and I "led them by the hand" to Mega-Bus; nice quid pro quo).

I think it'd be a wonderful idea to have a YIP stop. Since Detroit's metro is so spread-out (the doughnut to most of Detroit's "hole" :( ) it becomes obnoxious to access Amtrak from a suburb that isn't immediately on the system. A Ypsi stop gives not only the Yips but the Cantonese and Romulans :P a more convenient Amtrak stop.

Of course, I feel that all of this is preparatory to a commuter rail line between AA and Pontiac via Detroit New Center (with another Mt. Clemons - Monroe or Port Huron - Toledo at some point in the future.) That'll depend on Detroit and its suburbs/exurbs healing themselves, of course.
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Re: Proposed Wolverine Stop in Ypsilanti

Postby Station Aficionado » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:28 pm

mtuandrew wrote:A Ypsi stop gives not only the Yips but the Cantonese and Romulans :P a more convenient Amtrak stop.

It's really too bad there's not a Klingon, Michigan. :-D
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby Jeff Smith » Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:14 pm

Admin Note: Here I go again, merging madness. News which makes me search for a topic, only to find dozens :wink: .

News on double tracking the Chicago - Detroit corridor: Journal Gazette

Obviously, double-tracking ANY corridor helps capacity, and helps passenger and freight coexist. Is it doable or necessary here?

Double-tracking Amtrak route urged

NILES, Mich. – Two rail transportation advocacy groups say double-tracking the entire roughly 300 miles of an Amtrak line from Chicago to Detroit is the best way to get more frequent and faster trips between the two cities.

The idea is being advocated by the Midwest Association of Railroad Passengers and Midwest High Speed Rail Association. The groups are seeking public support throughout Michigan for the proposal, beginning with a community meeting Wednesday in the southwestern Michigan city of Niles, the South Bend Tribune reported.

The groups want the Michigan Department of Transportation to include double-tracking in plans for upgrades to the train route aimed at increasing reliability, reducing travel times and adding trips. The department isn’t looking at double-tracking the entire route now.
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby Woody » Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:58 pm

Not making sense to me. Michigan DOT already has plans for more sidings and to double-track here and there, as needed, from the state line to Detroit/Pontiac.

Meanwhile the monster problem is South of the Lake. That project is based on the concept of a dedicated passenger-only track from Union Station to Porter, Ind. That's a helluva bigger deal than simply double-tracking would be -- if you could simply double-track, and you can't.

The SOTL project will include building new bridges, installing new signaling, moving electric power lines, and more.

Meanwhile the NS main line is probably the most congested track segment in the nation. Until there's a fairly comprehensive rebuilding from Chicago and thru the industrial shores of Indiana, I don't expect that Michigan will be able to add more than one more frequency. And it will be lucky to squeeze in even one.

There is an important step in the SOTL studies due this month.
The Program Team is in the process of completing the combined Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) for approval by the FRA. … included will be the Program’s selected route and service alternative for the corridor. The Final EIS/ROD is targeted for completion by the end of 2015. The Service Development Plan is also underway and will be completed by early 2016.

http://greatlakesrail.org/~grtlakes/ind ... c-hearings

Perhaps these rail advocates were trying to support the South of the Lake proposals. But they look naive to me, and that ain't good.
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby justalurker66 » Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:10 pm

Woody wrote:Not making sense to me. Michigan DOT already has plans for more sidings and to double-track here and there, as needed, from the state line to Detroit/Pontiac.


The difference is that the groups (Midwest Association of Railroad Passengers and Midwest High Speed Rail Association) want to double track the entire route Porter to Detroit, not just in a few places.

NS is in the process of speeding up their line with additional segments of triple track and new higher speed interlockings. They have completed a couple of projects and are working on the others. Amtrak has one passing siding that is part of the same funding (Indiana Gateway).

The plan for a dedicated passenger track is not the worst idea ... but it is complicated. With yards and industries on both sides of the NS line it isn't as easy as just dropping a new track on one side or the other of the NS line. And a single track does not allow opposing trains to pass ... so there would need to be dedicated sidings or shared use of the freight tracks to allow Amtrak trains to pass each other. (The final goal of dedicated double track Chicago to Porter would require even more real estate and expense.)

The "SOTL" plan is also dated ... improvements have and are being made separate from the plans in the proposal that could affect the availability of the routes discussed. (That may be why the Final EIS has not been released.)

The "Indiana Gateway" under construction helps Amtrak by improving capacity and speed on all tracks - up to just east of Porter (additional NS projects in Indiana will help NS and LD Amtrak trains). I commend those who want to do more ... finding the funding will not be easy.
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby Nicholas Chen » Sun Dec 06, 2015 8:36 am

Would it be possible to double (or triple) track the South Shore Line and use the Grand Crossing project and somehow make a connection at Michigan City instead? Right now on the South Shore Line's "Sunrise Express," it takes about two hours to travel from Chicago to South Bend (it doesn't stop at Michigan City) and it takes about 45 minutes on other trains between South Bend and Michigan City. So I would assume that it takes about an hour and 15 minutes on their express, so it should take several minutes less on an express Amtrak. And besides, I'm assuming an Amtrak regularly gets more than 10 minutes delay in the Chicago area (I've spent 3 hours of delay on the Pere Marquette), there should be some time saving? The current Amtrak timetable shows an hour between Chicago and Michigan City. Aside from the NICTD being unhappy, I don't see issues with this, unless ot would cost significantly more than having NS double track.
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby electricron » Sun Dec 06, 2015 9:43 am

There are obstacles discouraging Amtrak from operating on South Shore's tracks that you're overlooking. Every one of them can be overcomed, some of them at a very high price. The first obstacle being someone else's inter-city rail ever running on South Shore tracks. Amtrak initiating legislation doesn't authorize Amtrak running on South Shore tracks, i.e. assuming passenger operations on a line with continuing inter-city passenger service. The South Shore passenger service would have to cease to exist before Amtrak could run on South Shore's tracks without their permission. Now that doesn't mean they could never reach an agreement. Which brings up the second obstacle, additional insurance requirements that Amtrak places on other railroads. That's usually higher than what most commuter rail operators have, and a move of Amtrak onto South Shore's line will most likely cost South Shore more. Amtrak would not pay it, so this would be a financial discouragement for South Shore reaching an agreement. There's no incentive for South Shore to the make one.

Therefore, while this intellectual discussion is interesting, it's very unlikely in the real world.
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:48 pm

Part of the discussion of running Amtrak on NICTD is included in the DEIS. The route is still under consideration but has drawbacks as noted.
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Dec 09, 2015 3:15 pm

In the "Why doesn't Amtrak use VIA cars" thread, there's been some mention of the International, Chicago - Port Huron - Toronto. We've previously mentioned the desirability of reinstating the service, with a border crossing at Detroit rather than Port Huron, but the current Detroit station doesn't easily allow for that.

Instead, maybe Amtrak and VIA should do both - route a new International on the Wolverine's route from CHI to DET, thence the CN/GTW Mount Clemens Sub to Port Huron and across the border. No track or signal construction necessary (except whatever CN demands), plus there's possibility of Mt. Clemens and Richmond stops. If anyone wants to get to Windsor from Detroit, there's still cabs and buses.

This would be a slow service, especially with the detour, but possibly worthwhile. What do you all think?
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby bdawe » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:49 pm

The Port Huron - Detroit tracks are fairly straight and level no? And how much more time will Kalamazoo- Detroit improvements squeeze out of the Wolverines?
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:56 pm

Has the line from Detroit to Port Huron ever been more than single-track dark railroad with Timetable & Train Order operation? In the 1940's there was one passenger train a day in each direction--a doodlebug--and afaik not a lot of freight. It might need a lot of track work and certainly a lot of signal work.
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Re: Amtrak Michigan: Wolverine, Blue Water, Pere Marquette

Postby Bob Roberts » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:41 pm

I would certainly ride a Chicago -- Toronto train frequently. Given that there is currently no realistic means of traversing the Lake Erie area in daylight it would be a nice option to have. (as an aside, I have ridden the Wolverine to Detroit and then taken the city bus through the tunnel to Windsor and then hoped onto Via. Its doable, but not something that I would want to do again).

The downside to The International is that I have really grown to enjoy Via Business Class service. Riding the Maple Leaf on its Ontario leg is always kinda depressing to me because the service does not carry over to the Amtrak gear.
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