MDOT Seeking to Rework Rail Cars Lease

The Michigan Department of Transportation is expected to end its lease of idle commuter rail cars in Michigan.

In doing so, MDOT will continue to have access to the cars for commuter railroad service in southeast Michigan for up to five years.

The 23 bi-level galley cars that once ran in Chicago are owned by Great Lakes Central Railroad, which is storing them in Owosso, Michigan.

Great Lakes would have the ability to use the cars for other uses, including subleasing them to other commuter agencies. MDOT would no longer lease the cars after Sept. 30.

MDOT and Great Lakes are currently negotiating contract terms and conditions for the agency’s continued ability to use the cars when commuter rail operations in Michigan begin in 2019 as projected.

“This agreement remove’s MDOT’s lease expense and protects the state’s investment in the commuter rail cars,” Michigan State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle said.

Steudle had set a June 1 target date to finish a new agreement for the cars. If the railroad and state cannot reach an agreement, MDOT has the option to terminate the lease 30 days after issuing a letter to the railroad.

The cars have been rehabilitated in expectation of being used for commuter rail demonstration projects between Dearborn and Detroit, and Howell and Ann Arbor.

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