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Amtrak's Michigan trains travel faster after rail upgrades

Amtrak staff now dispatch trains on the rail corridor between Porter, Indiana, and Dearborn, Michigan.
Photo – Michigan DOT's Twitter account


Trains on Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water lines in Michigan have begun traveling faster following recent rail infrastructure improvements, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced yesterday.

Amtrak staff now dispatch trains on the rail corridor between Porter, Indiana, and Dearborn, Michigan — a move that "ensures the efficient movement of passenger trains," said MDOT Office of Rail Director Tim Hoeffner in a press release.

The maximum speed on the Amtrak-owned route between Porter and Kalamazoo, Michigan, is 110 mph. On the MDOT-owned portion, the maximum speed is 79 mph, but it's expected to bump up to 110 mph this year after the completion of positive train control testing and the rollout of new Siemens Charger locomotives.

On the Wolverine service from Detroit to Chicago, MDOT has logged a 20-minute reduction in travel time, The Times Herald reported.

In 2012, MDOT purchased 135 miles of the rail corridor between Kalamazoo and Dearborn from Norfolk Southern Railway. Using $347 million in federal funds, the department replaced worn track and smoothed curves for higher speeds, upgraded crossings and signals, and upgraded the train signaling and communication system.

Crews also installed a new bridge connection in west Detroit to allow for a faster connection for trains bound for Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy and Pontiac, MDOT officials said.

"At MDOT's direction, Amtrak work crews have corrected years of deferred maintenance and have taken over dispatching," said Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president of state-supported services. "We have created the longest railroad segment outside the northeast that is being made ready for an even more reliable and faster Amtrak service."