Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

Some Amtrak Michigan Trains Subject to Delay

August 4, 2017

Amtrak has warned that some Michigan corridor trains are subject to delay due to the performance of system maintenance.

Affected are Wolverine Service trains 350 and 355, and Blue Water trains 364 and 365. The service advisory said the trains may experience delays of 15 to 30 minutes.

Amtrak did not say how long the maintenance program would last.

Pere Marquette 1225 to Pull All-Day Trip in October

July 26, 2017

Pere Marquette No. 1225 will pull an all-day trip in late October.

The 2-8-4 will travel from Alma to Owosso in an excursion named the Curwood Highlander. The Steam Railroading Institute said the Oct. 28 journey would be the first time the engine has pulled an all-day excursion between those two points.

The train is expected to depart from Alma at 10 a.m. Coach tickets are $99 per person and caboose class tickets are $129 per person.

FTA Urges States to Enact Safety Programs

June 21, 2017

Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan are among 30 states that have been reminded by the Federal Transit Administration that they must establish a state safety oversight program by April 15, 2019.

The rule was promulgated in 2016 and sets a three-year time frame for states to obtain certification for their SSO programs.

Failure to do so will mean the  FTA will not obligate funds to transportation agencies in that state until certification is achieved.

The FTA said it is encouraging states to act quickly to enact necessary legislation required to meet certification requirements.

Nine states have yet to enact legislation prior to FTA certification. FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes said that by law the 2019 deadline cannot be waived.

“The affected states should act to establish an FTA-certified SSO program that is compliant with federal law and provides the highest level of safety for their rail-transit riders and workers,” he said in a statement.

Detroit SMART to Serve Troy Amtrak Station

June 15, 2017

Local bus service will return to the Troy Transit Center in suburban Detroit, which is also used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains.

The signing of a court order this week involving the city of Troy and an Oakland County developer paved the way for the return of bus service provided by Detroit’s SMART bus system.

The settlement ended years of litigation that began in 1999 and had kept the buses away. “We’re very happy that the parties were able to reach an agreement without going to trial,” said SMART communications manager Beth Gibbons.

SMART buses will resume picking up and dropping off riders at the Transit Center.

The City of Troy agreed to pay $100,000 to developer Gary Sakwa and his Grand/Sakwa Properties, owners of a 75-acre shopping center and condominium complex that surrounds the transit center.

An earlier lawsuit was settled when Troy agreed to spend $4.15 million in federal transportation funds to buy the 2 acres under the center from Sakwa, whose ownership he claimed under previous legal rulings.

“It certainly is a welcome step in the right direction” for mass transit in southeast Michigan, said Megan Owens, executive director of TRU, or Transportation Riders United, a nonprofit group of bus riders.

Six daily Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains serve the transit center.

Cliffs Moving New Pellet Type by Rail

May 25, 2017

Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources has begun shipping new “Mustang” flux taconite pellets via rail to ArcelorMittal’s Indiana Harbor Mill.

The iron ore is routed from Cliff’s United Taconite facility at Forbes via Canadian National’s foremer Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range dock in Duluth, Minnesota.

The Mustang flux pellets replace Viceroy taconite pellets previously produced at the Empire Mine near Marquette, Michigan, which closed in 2016.

Specially created for ArcelorMittal, the Mustang pellet uses a limestone binder during its production.

CN brings limestone from the Hallett Dock in Duluth to the plant to produce the Mustang pellets.

Cliffs invested $75 million for a new storage facility, silos, and a limestone crusher, conveyors, and rail infrastructure to support production of the Mustang pellet.

Work on the facility began in August 2016. About 40 percent of United Taconite’s production involves the Mustang pellets. About 60 percent of the plant production makes standard iron ore pellets.

Amtrak, Ann Arbor Agree on Tunnel Project

May 24, 2017

While Ann Arbor officials await action on the city’s bid to build a new Amtrak station, it has reached an agreement with the passenger carrier about the first steps in being allowed to build a tunnel beneath the tracks.

The Allen Creek Railroad Berm Opening Project will enable storm water to more easily reach the Huron River and therefore reduce flooding.

The project is expected to allow pedestrians and cyclists to reach riverfront recreation areas.

The tracks used by Amtrak are owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation, but Amtrak is the primary approval agency.

Amtrak is requiring the city to enter into a design-phase agreement and to reimburse the railroad Amtrak for its costs.

By its estimate, Amtrak said work in the design phase of the project will cost $71,940. The Ann Arbor City Council has authorized a reimbursement of up to $97,020.

“The amount being paid to Amtrak at this time is $71,940,” said City Engineer Nick Hutchinson. “As a contingency, we obtained authorization from council for a total amount of $97,000 should more be needed.”

Any unused money for design work will be returned by Amtrak to the city.

“This action by the city of Ann Arbor is another example of our close working relationship with the city, Michigan DOT and Amtrak for improvements to facilities and service at the busiest Amtrak station in the state,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

Ann Arbor officials have said that pedestrians and cyclists will be able to use the tunnel beneath the railroad tracks used by Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service.

Federal Emergency Management Agency grants are expected to cover 75 percent of the storm water portion of the project. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2018.

Steamer to Move From One Park to Another

May 24, 2017

A 2-6-0 steam locomotive on static display in Michigan is moving to a new display site.

Mogul-type No. 6 of the East Jordan & Southern Railroad will move in early June from Memorial Park to Sportsman’s Park about a quarter-mile away.

The steamer has been in its current location since 1961.

The move is being made to make more room at Memorial Park. A city official told Trains magazine that in its new location locomotive will be more accessible to the public.

The city plans to put up signs that tell background of the locomotive.

Expedited FRA Review Sought of Ann Arbor Station Site Environmental Assessment

April 24, 2017

A  Michigan congresswoman is trying to turn up the heat on the Federal Railroad Administration to act sooner rather than later on reviewing an environmental assessment for a new Amtrak station in Ann Arbor.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell has written to the FRA to urge it to expedite that review.

Ann Arbor faces a Sept. 30 deadline to spend a $2.8 million federal grant that it received to develop a station. The FRA had indicated earlier that it would not finish its review until summer, leaving the city little time to spend the grant money on station design work.

In her letter to the FRA, Dingell said it was important that the FRA move in an “urgent and expeditious manner so the city can move forward with improving mass transit in the state of Michigan.”

Once the FRA finishes reviewing the environmental assessment, there will be a 30-day public comment period.

Thus far the city has not revealed the site it prefers for the new station.

Dingell also pointed out in her letter that Amtrak and the State of Michigan have been working to upgrade service between Chicago and Detroit for higher speed service.

Currently, Ann Arbor is served by three Wolverine Service roundtrips although transportation officials have spoken about increasing that level of service at some future time as well as launching commuter rail service to Detroit.

FRA spokesman Marc Willis said the FRA received the environmental assessment from the city.

“We reviewed it and sent it back to them for revisions,” he said, adding there’s no time frame from the city when it will be sent back for FRA review.

City Council Member Zachary Ackerman believes the city is running out of time to build a new Amtrak station

Ackerman said that a new station seems to be less of a reality given the current climate in Washington and he won’t support a new station without significant federal funding.

Michigan Rail Passengers Advocates Pushing for Detroit-Windsor Bus Connection for Amtrak-VIA

April 24, 2017

Michigan rail passenger advocates are working with Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada to revive connecting service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, although that might not necessarily be rail service.

In a campaign that has been dubbed “mind the gap,” the advocates are talking with both railroads about establishing a direct bus connection.

Passengers who now want to connect between Amtrak and VIA must either take a cab or ride three local transit buses.

The advocates noted that the border crossing at Detroit is the busiest between the two countries.

Until 2003, Amtrak and VIA hosted a Chicago-Toronto train known as the International that operated via Flint and Port Huron, Michigan.

A Detroit-New York train, the Niagara Rainbow, operated via Windsor between October 1974 and January 1979, ending when the states of New York and Michigan ended their funding of the train.

An article posted on the website of the National Association of Railroad Passengers said that VIA is in active discussions with bus companies to provide a “bus bridge” between the VIA station in Windsor and the Detroit Amtrak station.

The service may begin by late 2017. The Michigan advocates hope that if the bus connection proves successful that it might provide an impetus for resuming rail service between Detroit and Windsor.

PM 1225 to Pull August Excursions

April 20, 2017

Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225 will pull nine roundtrip excursions on Aug. 19 and 20 between Owosso and Howell, Michigan.

The hour-long trips are being conducted in conjunction with Howell’s annual Melon Festival.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Caboose seating is available for $25 for adults and $20 for children.

The excursions will depart from the Ann Arbor Railroad station in downtown Owosso.

The Lima Locomotive Works Berkshire will be fired up on Aug. 18 for hand on the throttle sessions to allow participants up to 30 minutes to operate the locomotive.