Posts Tagged ‘Pere Marquette’

Another Storm, Another Round of Cancellations

February 16, 2022

Here comes another winter storm and with it another round of Amtrak service cancellations, including a route serving Michigan.

In a service advisory, Amtrak cited “forecasted impacts from the winter storm and for the safety of our customers and employees.”

On Thursday (Feb. 17), Lincoln Service Nos. 304 and 305 (Chicago-St. Louis ) are cancelled. Lincoln Service trains 300, 301, 302, 303, 306 and 307 will operate as schedule.

Lincoln Service Nos. 300 and 301 are canceled on Friday (Feb. 18). Nos. 302, 303, 304, 305, 306 and 307 will operate as scheduled.

Also on Thursday, Missouri River Runner No. 313 is canceled from St. Louis to Kansas City, Missouri. Pere Marquette No. 370 is cancelled from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On Friday (Feb. 18), Missouri River Runner No. 314 is canceled from Kansas City to St. Louis. Pere Marquette No. 371 is cancelled from Grand Rapids to Chicago.

Michigan Rail History Conference Set for 2021

November 20, 2020

Although it was canceled this year the annual Michigan Railroad History Conference has announced plans to meet on Sept. 18, 2021, in Ludington, Michigan.

An announcement said all plans are tentative, but organizers are optimistic the 16th conference will be able to be held as scheduled.

The conference is set to be held at the Ludington Methodist Church.

A call for presenters will go out in early January and be accepted through Feb. 10.

Registration information will be available in March.

Lunch will be provided to conference attendees but may be limited by health and safety protocols.

Other events being planned are an early evening reception and a tour of the Great Lakes boat the Badger.

On Friday, Sept, 17, a bus fieldtrip is being planned focusing on Ludington railroad sites including those of the Pere Marquette, Epworth League Railway and the Ludington & Northern Railway. 

A notebook with information about the railroads and sites will be provided to those making the tour.

PM 1910 Lake Michigan Shipwreck Found

September 10, 2020

A railroad car ferry that sank in Lake Michigan in 1910 has been discovered by divers.

The disaster of Sept. 9, 1910, resulted in the deaths of at least 29 people when the Pere Marquette 18 sank during a trip from Ludington, Michigan, to Milwaukee.

The ship, which was owned by Pere Marquette Railway, was carrying 60 passengers and 30 rail cars.

It began taking on water and the crew began dumping rail cars into the lake in an unsuccessful effort to lighten the load.

However, the ship foundered after several hours and some passengers and all of the crew members went down with it. Rescuers were able to save 32 people.

The remains of the ship were found in about 500 feet of water near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, by a pair of shipwreck hunters.

An Original Van Sweringens’ ‘Bible’

April 21, 2017

Once upon a time two brothers named Van Sweringen controlled the Erie, Chesapeake & Ohio, Nickel Plate Road and Pere Marquette.

They wanted to standardize things on their railroads so they set up a committee to come up with specific standards on everything from mixing concrete to cloth rubber lined fire hoses. You name it, they standardized it.

My girlfriend was in a junk shop near her home in Suffern, New York, and found this book, which is the “bible” of the Van Sweringens’ standards.

There can’t be too many of these 80-year-old books around. There probably weren’t many too many to begin with.

As you can see from the bottom right hand corner of the cover, this copy was used by the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which during this time period was controlled by the Erie.

I think it is neat that each standard is signed off by officials of all the railroads involved. I think you have to agree it is a neat gift for a railroad historian.

Article and photographs by Jack Norris

Detroit-Holland Rail Ridership Study Coming

July 12, 2014

Authorization for the Michigan Department of Transportation to study reinstituting passenger rail service between Detroit and Holland, Mich., via Lansing and Grand Rapids, was part of the fiscal year 2015 budget approved by Gov. Rick Synder.

The study of potential ridership along the route is expected to be conducted later this year.

A grant application has been filed with the Service Development and New Technology program for $100,000 to fund the study. The program is a federal grant program facilitated by MDOT.

The grant is expected to be awarded in August with the study taking six months to complete.

The authorization for the study mandates that the results be reported to the Michigan state legislature by May 2015.

The ridership study will be limited in scope. An alternative analysis and environmental impact study will need to be conducted if the ridership study finds that demand supports the re-establishment of a passenger rail line between Detroit and Holland.

The cost of an alternative analysis and environmental impact study is expected to be between $700,000 to $1 million, according to Dan Sommerville, a policy associate with the Michigan Environmental Council and member of the Michigan By Rail team.

“(The ridership study) is a much lower-cost study, but it’s going to give us the main piece of whether or not to proceed with the rest of the planning process,” he said.

Sommerville said ridership demand would be determined by looking at a such things as traffic patterns along Interstate 96, which runs parallel to the former Pere Marequette route that would be used.

The ridership study will also examine population densities, employment concentration, and people’s origin and destination patterns along the corridor.

“We’ve got a number of statistics and data that shows the ridership demand is there, but essentially what this study does is looks at the ridership demand — what is the real demand for passenger rail service in this corridor,” Sommerville said.

He said a 2002 study only examined the Lansing to Detroit segment of the corridor.

“Since 2002, when that last report came out from Detroit to Lansing, there has been a 78 percent increase in rail ridership just here in Michigan,” he said.

The location of colleges and universities is another factor expected to support ridership demand in the Detroit-Holland corridor.

Sommerville said more than a dozen colleges and universities sit within walking distance of corridor rail stations.

“U of M put out a study that looked at what are the different kinds of riders that we have here in Michigan,” he said. “They broke down who was riding the train, and found that more than 20 percent of Michigan riders are students. That is a considerable source of demand right there.”

Sommerville noted that Michigan is trying to attract young workers, and studies have shown that young workers want a variety of public transportation options.

He said passenger rail is one of the pieces of infrastructure that Michigan needs to invest in to keep young workers from leaving the state.

Economic impact is another factor in favor of passenger rail service.

Sommerville said Grand Valley State University conducted a study in 2009 looking at the annual community benefit of having a rail station in a city. The study found $62 million in annual community benefits that are attributable to having a train station in town.

The study looked at the cost savings to passengers of taking rail over driving or flying, the spending of a rail passenger on retail, restaurants and hotels, and Amtrak’s annual investment in Michigan.

“Amtrak, in 2013, invested over $31 million in goods and services from Michigan companies,” Sommerville said. “That is a sizeable amount of investment that is coming from having rail service in Michigan.”

No cost estimates have been made for bringing the ex-Pere Marequette line – now owned by CSX – up to passenger train utility.

“Upgrading tracks to run trains at a higher speed is much less costly than getting new land and laying new tracks,” Sommerville said. “Essentially, the cost we are looking at here is upgrading the current rails and procuring new train cars.”

Until the May 1, 1971, inception of Amtrak, the Chesapeake & Ohio operated four trains a day between Detroit and Holland.

After Amtrak began, the only intercity rail service in Michigan linked Chicago and Detroit. That route has since been extended to Pontiac.

Michigan funds Amtrak service between Chicago and Grand Rapids, and between Chicago and Port Huron.

CSX Routed Amtrak Train Into a Snow Drift

March 3, 2014

A Grand Rapids, Mich., bound Amtrak train finally arrived at its destination three hours late after getting stuck in a snow drift near Holland late last week.

The Pere Marquette got stuck on CSX tracks about 9 p.m. Thursday.

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said the train was about 8 miles west of Holland when a CSX dispatcher directed the train into a side track for a freight train to pass. The Amtrak train got stuck on the side track.

Kulm said a CSX locomotive pulled out the Amtrak train and its 64 passengers arrived in Grand Rapids around midnight.

No one was injured and Kulm said the train never lost power for lights and heat.

CSX To Remove Signals from 2nd Michigan Line

December 19, 2013

Another CSX route in Michigan is slated to lose its block signals. CSX has notified the Federal Railroad Administration about its plans to deactivate the signals on its Plymouth Subdivision in central Michigan.

The 120-mile ex-Pere Marquette operates between Grand Rapids and Plymouth.

The plan has CSX removing 51 dispatcher-controlled signals and 58 automatic signals. The railroads plans to convert 11 power-operated switches to hand throw operation and to install new approach signals at MP 29.0, MP 53.8, MP 50.9, MP 86.5, MP 83.6, and MP 147.4.

Dispatchers will continue to control signals at Annpere (MP 52.87) and at Trowbridge (MP 84.9) in East Lansing. Annpere is a crossing with the Lake State Railway while Trowbridge is a crossing with Canadian National.

CSX said in its filing that the signal system “is no longer needed for present-day operations.” CSX plans to operate the route with track warrant control, which already exists over 30 miles between Lansing and Lake Odessa.

Canadian Pacific trains once traversed this route on trackage rights trains between Chicago and Detroit. Most of these CP trains now use a Norfolk Southern routing via Elkhart, Ind., and the last operated via CSX in 2010.