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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Amtrak to revise Michigan-to-Chicago service

During a year of record ridership, Amtrak’s International service between Chicago, Michigan and Ontario wasn’t up to par — ridership fell 11 percent during fiscal-year 2003. Now, the national passenger railroad and Michigan Department of Transportation plan to alter the route, increasing Chicago-to-Michigan service and, hopefully, adding passengers.

Scheduled to begin April 26, the Blue Water service will link nine Michigan communities with Amtrak’s Chicago hub. Operating under contract with the Michigan DOT, Amtrak will serve Port Huron, Lapeer, Flint, Durand, East Lansing, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Dowagiac and Niles, Mich.

The new service will operate over the same route as the International, but will not include a connection to Ontario. The International’s current late evening arrivals in Toronto and Chicago mean all daily long-distance connections are missed at Amtrak’s Chicago hub. Blue Water is expected to enable passengers to make day trips between Michigan and Chicago, and connect to Amtrak’s network with departures from the Chicago hub.

The Blue Water schedule is similar to the Grand Rapids-to-Chicago Pere Marquette service, which increased ridership 22 percent in FY2003.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/27/2004