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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Michigan DOT reaches purchase agreement with NS for Kalamazoo-Dearborn corridor


Yesterday, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced it reached an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway to purchase a 135-mile segment of track between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.

Using Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grants and a state match, MDOT will purchase the track for $140 million. The department will stabilize and upgrade the track, and ultimately plans to operate trains at speeds up to 110 mph along the corridor. Amtrak operates Wolverine service trains along the line.

With MDOT now owning the Kalamazoo-Dearborn segment and Amtrak owning the Kalamazoo-Porter, Ind., section, nearly 80 percent of the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac corridor  “will be in passenger-friendly ownership, giving greater control over the services,” according to a MDOT press release.

NS will retain an exclusive freight easement to preserve and expand its freight business, the release said.

“We plan to work with Norfolk Southern and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to grow the freight business along this corridor, while supporting intercity passenger-rail travel, which has shown remarkable growth in Michigan in the past several years,” said State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle in a prepared statement.

The FRA has awarded Michigan $350 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program funding to acquire and upgrade the line. In addition to the track purchase and upgrades, MDOT will install double track on the busiest freight segment of the line east of Ypsilanti to ensure adequate capacity for both freight and passenger operations. The new track will serve Ford Motor Co., among others.

“Ensuring capacity for freight operations while improving service for passengers will help the Detroit-to-Kalamazoo rail line reach its highest, best use,” said NS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman.