Michigan Central Station

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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:00 am

Short answer: Yes. Until ca. 1931 but very limited.

I am curious about the reference to "West End Ave" in the timetable as that appears to be a different station from MCS. Also saw a reference to "Detroit Union Station" in other material which I believe is MCS.

Interesting that we can now say definitively that Ford Motor Co. was at one time "in the business" as a passenger rail service operator through its ownership of the DT&I.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:36 am

Obviously, the benefactors of the Wolverine service "decreed" that the Corridor would be Chicago-Pontiac and that Detroit was to be an intermediate stop thereon. Locating the station on Woodward Ave, and in sight of the former GM HQ building, enabled running to Pontiac without a direction change.

But it appears that East (TT) of Detroit, there is not all that much business. What thing there is a lot of are operational delays. Volks, that railroad belongs to The Funk, and the on-line auto manufacturing facilities have demanded that the railroads perfect "just in time" logistics - and evidently they have delivered. However, what if some passenger train loving "pol" decided to lean on The Funk to keep the Wolverines on time; it a mighty safe assumption that the Big Three along with the UAW would counter with "a bit more of a lean" than the passenger advocates could bring to bear. After all, there are still plenty of places along I-65, and the L&N (CSX), that they could relocate to with or without presently employed UAW workers; and funny how those locations do "not exactly" know much about the NLRA and Representation Elections.

Those cities East of Detroit have invested much in new stations; so I doubt how receptive they would be to a "busteetoot" to Detroit and MCS.

Finally, while this could change as Detroit attracts more millennials to its Renaissance, Ann Arbor is the busiest station on the route.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:17 am

gokeefe wrote:It occurs to me that it could be very reasonable for Detroit to have two Amtrak stations. There are plenty of other places with a main terminal and a secondary station. The routing is inefficient but I wonder how many passengers ride through Detroit.

A good number of them ride through, I wouldn't assume the dogleg is just for commuters. Detroit is such a wide suburban area and some cities are just less accessible from the highway system (e.g. Royal Oak), so it's easier to reach them by train. That said, I'd like to see Amtrak retreat to DET-CHI with a suburban commuter rail system providing connections.

I have no reason to think Ford wouldn't be a good-faith landlord for a train station and partner to any agency looking to provide service, given that they are moving into the poster child for train service and agitating for light rail to Corktown. Would that a large company moved into Buffalo Central!
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Ridgefielder » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:36 am

gokeefe wrote:Short answer: Yes. Until ca. 1931 but very limited.

I am curious about the reference to "West End Ave" in the timetable as that appears to be a different station from MCS. Also saw a reference to "Detroit Union Station" in other material which I believe is MCS.

Interesting that we can now say definitively that Ford Motor Co. was at one time "in the business" as a passenger rail service operator through its ownership of the DT&I.

The Ford Motor Company might not be currently in the business of running passenger trains. However, members of the Ford family (who still have voting control of the company) do have experience, although with tourists, through their control of the board of The Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn. The museum has a 2-ish mile long 100% steam operation, complete with a working roundhouse. The track's actually connected to the national network just near the Amtrak stop in Dearborn.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:15 pm

In some senses this issue points towards the idea that there could be two services. Wolverine to Detroit (and through to Canada if that ever happens) and a revived Mohawk to Pontiac using Amtrak at Baltimore Street Station (DET). Just for "funsies" I checked and "MCS" is available in Amtrak's list of station codes as is the less interesting "DTR". MCS was formerly "DET".

Also worth noting that while MDOT has had plans for sometime to build a mixed use intermodal transit center at DET they have yet to come to fruition.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:40 pm

gokeefe wrote:Also saw a reference to "Detroit Union Station" in other material which I believe is MCS.

There was a Union Station in Detroit, on Fort (St.), used by the PRR, Wabash, and I think the Pere Marquette.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby WesternNation » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:40 pm

adamj023 wrote:Even if Ford is willing to allow passenger rail, the question is if it is possible based on the rail system as it is today as much has changed.

I am not against reutilization of old terminals but one must think of existing traffic, high speed rail and a lot of complexities to see if remaking the stations is feasible.


Looking at Google Maps, other than the tracks/platforms/other relevant infrastructure, the only thing needed to bring MCS back to the network would be the switch on the east end, ripped out presumably when Amtrak moved to New Center.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Steve B » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:04 am

Some random comments to clarify, correct and expand upon what's been discussed:

The switch that connected the station tracks on the east end to the main was initially removed after the Niagara Rainbow quit. It was reinstalled for the short-lived refrigerated express business or whatever that was in the early 2000's that resulted in the train sheds' demolition. Now the switch is gone again. In fact, all of the existing station tracks were re-installed for the express business. The area behind the station can accommodate a total of about 19 through tracks: 12 passenger, 7 freight.

As of May 1945 the DT&I still had some passenger service in Ohio, but it stopped far short of the Michigan line.

From West Detroit to Durand, there is exactly ONE auto plant left that's still served by CN-- a stamping facility on a short branch line in Pontiac. Orion Assembly has not been switched by CN in years, and Conrail Shared Assets is the sole rail provider to Hamtramck Assembly.

Amtrak handled a total of 63,665 riders at Detroit last year. The three stations timetable east of there served a total of 71,873.

Amtrak and MDOT by 1988 were starting to kick around the concept of serving Pontiac. But that was not the reason Amtrak left MCS. It left because Conrail had moved out, the new owner (Kaybee Corp) wasn't maintaining the building properly, and Amtrak wasn't willing to take over all the maintenance and repairs itself. Amtrak moved into some trailers across the street until the May 1994 move to New Center. As late as 1986, Amtrak was even hoping to move into a new station next to Joe Louis Arena.

The worst moment of the History Channel show was this bit read by the narrator: "With train travel at a new low, Amtrak announces it is halting service to the Motor City." Now, I've gotten used to a certain level of incompetence when it comes to fact checking by media and TV shows, but my jaw still managed to drop when hearing that. You'd think the narrator's script could have been run by one person who, oh I don't know, maybe has a basic grasp of Detroit history?

And Royal Oak is very highway accessible, being located at the junction of I-75 and I-696. The Troy and Pontiac stations are close to I-75 as well.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:35 am

Steve B wrote:From West Detroit to Durand, there is exactly ONE auto plant left that's still served by CN-- a stamping facility on a short branch line in Pontiac. Orion Assembly has not been switched by CN in years, and Conrail Shared Assets is the sole rail provider to Hamtramck Assembly.

Mr. SteveB, is or is not The Funk part of CRSA? I was always of thought that CRSA was established in the NY, Phlia, and Detroit (surprisingly; not Chicago) regions to ensure that former Conrail customers had access to either CSX or NS routings to the same extent they had prior to the Breakup.

Now if the delays reportedly endemic to the DET-PNT segment are not account auto assembly facilities demanding "just in time" service, then how do the delays arise?

Enquiring mind wants to know; enquiring mind also holds such is relevant to discussion of passenger train operations through Detroit.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby WesternNation » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:36 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:
Steve B wrote:From West Detroit to Durand, there is exactly ONE auto plant left that's still served by CN-- a stamping facility on a short branch line in Pontiac. Orion Assembly has not been switched by CN in years, and Conrail Shared Assets is the sole rail provider to Hamtramck Assembly.

Mr. SteveB, is or is not The Funk part of CRSA? I was always of thought that CRSA was established in the NY, Phlia, and Detroit (surprisingly; not Chicago) regions to ensure that former Conrail customers had access to either CSX or NS routings to the same extent they had prior to the Breakup.

Now if the delays reportedly endemic to the DET-PNT segment are not account auto assembly facilities demanding "just in time" service, then how do the delays arise?

Enquiring mind wants to know; enquiring mind also holds such is relevant to discussion of passenger train operations through Detroit.


There’s also a midsize intermodal facility on the line, I think in Ferndale.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Steve B » Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:41 pm

The "Funk" (Grand Trunk Western subsidiary of CN) is not owned by Conrail Shared Assets.

The Moterm facility in Ferndale on GTW does include auto plants among its customers. How much, I have no idea. Another reason for congestion is that between West Detroit and Milwaukee Jct., CN/GTW and CRSA parallel each other and there might be some crossing over going on.

As far as actual lineside auto plants on GTW's line between West Detroit and Durand, the only one directly rail served by GTW is the Pontiac Metal Center, and that's a couple miles off the main. It's also the last production plant in the city of Pontiac.

Orion Assembly, several miles north of Pontiac on a GTW branch, might truck some of its product to the CSX New Boston shipping facility. GTW for whatever reason does not serve that plant anymore and in recent years the only train that has ventured up there is the circus train, staged near the Palace of Auburn Hills. Now both that arena and the circus train are defunct.

Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly was directly served by GTW, but it hasn't been for some years. The switch from GTW's line into the plant trackage has been removed. CRSA now loads multilevels there via a new connection across Mt. Elliott St. from its line.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby gokeefe » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:57 pm

Interesting to note that GM bailed on CN/GTW at two major plants in favor of other carriers.

I am still somewhat in shock at the change in ownership and fate for Michigan Central Station. It is the kind of change that will bend the arc of history for the entire city. Hard to overstate its significance to Detroit. Whoever Ford typically uses as a general contractor for construction work probably just about died the day they found out this was happening.

Here's a question that occurs to me in regards to Amtrak ... How much of the public spaces on the first floor had applications for passenger rail? I'm guessing basically all of it. For example there would have been ticket windows and baggage counters etc. I'm wondering if there are any spaces aside from the platforms that would be excluded from the initial renovation based on what Ford has said so far. To the best of my ability to understand there is nothing other than an access tunnel, the platforms, canopies ("train shed"), tracks and signal that will be left out of an initial "first floor" renovation.

For example there aren't any outbuildings or side annexes with significant passenger (not freight or express) applications that if left out make it harder to restart passenger service(?) ...
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Steve B » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:06 pm

There was much speculation on the local message boards about how CN lost (or bailed on?) that business. It still does a robust business with GM at Lansing Delta Twp Assembly, and Flint Assembly.

Gokeefe, I also still am pinching myself to make sure this isn't a dream. Some people are saying, "well, Ford's a car company and they don't like passenger trains." Well, if it wasn't for Ford, the depot would continue to deteriorate until it started falling down. Nobody else was stepping up. And once it's fixed up, the chance of passenger trains returning will be there, and be realistically doable.

The only outbuildings were two switching towers, a very small engine house, and a commissary/passenger car servicing building. All gone. Incidentally, though some people have wondered about environmental cleanup, I think any "areas of concern" would all out by the CP freight tracks, where the engine house was. Possibly by the commissary also, but that was across the street and I don't know if Ford even bought that parcel.

Unfortunately all the train sheds ("Bush" design, like the DLW's in Hoboken) were torn down in 2000.

Pretty much all the first floor space that was aboveground (the first floor sloped under the tracks, where all the express/baggage/postal stuff was) was passenger-related. Here's a great floor plan from Railway Age, via Wikipedia.
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Michigan_Central_Station_Detroit_floor_plan.jpg
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby bretton88 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:23 pm

Ford has stated it intends to leave room in place for 4 tracks to leave open the possibility (hint, hint) of passenger service. I would think that would be sufficient for the services Detroit would need. I suspect we're going to see serious momentum pick up for the Ann Arbor to Detroit service to get going.
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Re: Michigan Central Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:36 pm

"Visions of Sugar Plums dance in thy heads":

https://www.google.com/search?q=michiga ... Xux4VTvdVM:

Here's an Opinion piece which I guess will garner some "Likes" around here:

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20 ... al-station

Fair Use:

...When Bill Ford laid out his vision for the Michigan Central Station, he held up the ferry terminal in San Francisco as a model:

"The one that really caught my eye was the ferry terminal in San Francisco," Ford said. "It's a working ferry terminal, but it's a meeting spot for everybody in that area. So people meet for coffee, they meet for lunch. They have some really fun and interesting retail experiences. It's just buzzing with activity and buzzing with life. And I love that."

Could this signal an openness on Ford's part to return intercity passenger train service to Michigan Central? Could Michigan Central become a functioning transportation hub once again?

Perhaps these conversations are already taking place between Ford, Amtrak, the Michigan Department of Transportation and other stakeholders. If they aren't, maybe they ought to be.

Once again; reiterate Opinion; IMI Opinion.
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