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Amtrak is coming to Northern Michigan & Traverse City

Amtrak in Michigan

The effort to connect people in northern Michigan to the rest of the state and country with a modern passenger train is one step closer. The station stops will be at, AnnArbor, Howell, Durand, Owosso, Alma, Mt. Pleasant, Clare, Cadillac, Kingsley, Traverse City, Kalkaska, & Petoskey.

Mt. Pleasant is a college town and the home for Central Michigan University. The college I graduated from in 1974.

To learn more click here: Metro Detroit News

Hope to see you out rail-fanning: Gary 🚂

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  • Amtrak in Michigan
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After graduating college in the mid-70s I worked on a field exploration crew based out of Gaylord for a little over a year.  Other than the 250 mile one-way drive, the only way to get to Detroit for a flight home was to fly out of Traverse City on Republic Airways, and the cancellation rate on that flight was high.  I hope this will provide a more consistent option.  I have no idea what the service is like today.

I would interpret “one step closer to reality” as there was 0.00% chance of it happening to now there is 0.001%.  Amtrak cannot manage and run what it has, is desperately short of equipment, and that that is a route to nowhere.  That line is nowhere close to being able to support competitive train schedules and a handful of tourists and skiers is not going to be enough to support it.  This is a bigger pipe dream than Columbus to Chicago service.

Bob,

A gentle reminder.  This is not a forum for political rhetoric.  The easiest way to get this entire thread tossed by the moderator is to wander down that path.  It's happened before, often, with Amtrak postings.

Please don't turn it into a political mess.  We already have enough of them come up, and much too frequently, on this forum.

Mike

Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike
@645 posted:

Nope! The entire fleet (21 units) was retired and sold to Chicago's Metra in 2018 where they operate today. See link below for more information.

EMD F59PHI's

EMD F59PH - Wiki

Well, then Metro Detroit News needs to replace that former Surfliner F59PH locomotive photo shown in the first post, with whatever locomotive Amtrak plans to use.

Last edited by Yellowstone Special

That trackage is going to need some upgrades.

Its fine for the small branch line, the Great Lakes Central but not for passenger service. I just ran that line back in June with our motorcar group, Cadillac to Petoskey and then over to Traverse City and back to Cadillac. 3 days on the rails. Part of the line into downtownPetoskey was ripped up a few years ago and made into a public walkway, so the track ends just south of town.

That line is in beautiful country, can't go wrong with the scenery!

I doubt that the existing ROW over the central part of this line can support "normal" passenger train speeds.  Curves would likely have to be widened between Mt. Pleasant and Cadillac, at the least.  (The northern part of the Annie was cobbled together from logging railroads.)  While MDOT has funded track maintenance projects on some of the component lines, that's to support freight traffic at "modest" freight speeds.  There may be ridership potential, but the cost of preparation is likely to be prohibitively high.

Air service to/from TVC is decent, especially in summer, though crowded and pricey.

Yes, not to be outdone by California's budget-busting boondoggle hi-speed rail project from nowhere to next-to-nowhere, Michigan has come up with an equally one-state rail-trail dream, The Après-ski, the slow ride from Motown to snow-town and back.

Two things could get my vote for this project:

1) Forget the F59PH's and their glitzy appearance.  Round up a couple true 'Wind-Splitters'...the McKeen cars...for this service.  The Annie used them.  Why not pay Michigan homage due them, instead of California's cast-off's homage. ()  Besides they're just about the right size for the amount of ridership able to afford this ride, AND they'd be less demanding/damaging to the ROW in its present condition.

McKeen Car

2) If the station-stop at Clare is long enough to get to the Cops & Doughnuts Bakery on McEwan St. and back, I'm all in!

And good luck with that!

KD...(another Michigan taxpayer)

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Last edited by dkdkrd

Bob,

A gentle reminder.  This is not a forum for political rhetoric.  The easiest way to get this entire thread tossed by the moderator is to wander down that path.  It's happened before, often, with Amtrak postings.

Please don't turn it into a political mess.  We already have enough of them come up, and much too frequently, on this forum.

Mike

Um, sorry, but I was carful NOT include one single ounce of political rhetoric in my response, although I certainly COULD have.  If you inferred any, that’s a YOU problem.  Amtrak is and has been a hot mess for fifty years, and it has not made one single bit of difference who was in power politically.  This proposal is a joke from a fiscal and an operational standpoint, never mind what politics may or may not be involved.

@Dieselbob posted:

Um, sorry, but I was carful NOT include one single ounce of political rhetoric in my response, although I certainly COULD have.  If you inferred any, that’s a YOU problem.  Amtrak is and has been a hot mess for fifty years, and it has not made one single bit of difference who was in power politically.  This proposal is a joke from a fiscal and an operational standpoint, never mind what politics may or may not be involved.

I agree with Dieselbob. I’ve learned from experience that Mellow Hudson Mike really isn’t so mellow and will immediately take issue with you if there’s one iota of something in your post that he disagrees with or that he thinks somehow violates forum rules.

I didn’t read anything political in Dieselbob’s post, either. So live up to your handle, Mike, and leave the moderating to the forum moderators.

Your opinions are important ones, and you're certainly entitled to them, but they're the kind that frequently don't pass muster here.  You're welcome and encouraged to take them to a political forum instead.

Why?  Because there's no way, other than politically, that you can back up your claims.  You have no facts, and even fewer details.  Just opinions.

If you have a question about what is political and what isn't you should probably asked the OGR moderators -- and do so before they act.

Many, many of us are getting tired of Amtrak threads getting deleted because of comments just like yours.  Please take them to where they might do some good instead.

Mike

To my knowledge, all passenger rail lines throughout the world, are supported by government subsidies because railroads are energy efficient, provide additional options for travel and disaster services, relieve road congestion,  and are less polluting of the air we breathe than airplanes or automobiles. Indeed, we would not have highways or airports without government action and financing.  Thus if this line needs support from the taxpayer, it will be like every other passenger service in the civilized world.  Whether this particular line is justified in terms of volume, efficiency and social needs is another set of issues.

Last edited by Landsteiner

Your opinions are important ones, and you're certainly entitled to them, but they're the kind that frequently don't pass muster here.  You're welcome and encouraged to take them to a political forum instead.

Why?  Because there's no way, other than politically, that you can back up your claims.  You have no facts, and even fewer details.  Just opinions.

If you have a question about what is political and what isn't you should probably asked the OGR moderators -- and do so before they act.

Many, many of us are getting tired of Amtrak threads getting deleted because of comments just like yours.  Please take them to where they might do some good instead.

Mike

Again, I do NOT see where you are getting politics out of this.  Whether you are 100% in favor of Amtrak and passenger rail systems, 100% against or somewhere in the middle, it doesn’t change one single FACT about this proposal. Outside of a select few locations, Amtrak service is hanging by a thread due to budget, issues, equipment issues, lack of cooperation with the freight railroads and many others.  Amtrak ALWAYS has a wish list of routes they MIGHT like to serve, but almost NONE of them ever come to fruition, basically due to economic realities.  I’ll bet in short order we could name at LEAST 20 proposals that would rank higher up the ladder than connecting northern Michigan to lower Michigan, the highly unlikely Columbus to Chicago proposal being just ONE of them, if for no other reason than you will grow old and die waiting for the State of Indiana to kick in significant funding.  Next, as was accurately stated by others, not just me, the rail line in question is not even REMOTELY close to being adequate for scheduled regular passenger service and it would cost  ungodly amounts of money to make it so.  A 2011 report put the cost of upgrading to even 79 MPH on an existing ROW at 1.23 million dollars per mile just get the track down, and in case you haven’t noticed EVERYTHING costs considerably more now. That 1.123 million number doesn’t even address signaling, PTC requirements, equipment, stations, infrastructure improvements, employees, operating costs or anything else.  Now even if you make the assumption that this service serves some type of serious transportation need, and that ticket buyers cannot be expected to pay anywhere close to the true cost to provide this service, how much money do you think that a state like Michigan that is not exactly awash in cash can afford to provide, or even the US government, in what in the national scheme of things is pretty much a niche service?  I can tell you that late in the Hoosier State era, the state ALONE was subsidizing every ticket purchased to the tune of more than $30.00.  Do you seriously believe this service could be provided for anywhere CLOSE to that number?

Just to clarify what I noted earlier ...

I live NE of Traverse City and would patronize the train, should it ever come to be.  And I've long thought that a revival of "resort" service could be borderline profitable on an operating basis during summer, maybe deer season, and winter weekends.   It doesn't matter to me who operates the service, whether AMTK, GLC, a commuter contract operator, etc.

But it has to do better than 25-35 mph over most of its run, which I doubt is doable with the ROW as it is today.  It will likely be very costly to improve that.  This should be clarified by the feasibility study that's been funded.  But until there are well-researched and well-documented cost estimates that are in the range of the doable, announcements of trains-to-be are premature, IMO.

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