MRC | VIRTUAL Midwest Rail Conference 2020
Tuesday, August 11, 9 AM – 1 PM EDT
Wednesday, August 12, 9 AM – 1 PM EDT
Make your plans now to attend this “virtual” conference. The scope of the annual Michigan Rail Conference has broadened this year to include our neighboring states in a program touching on a wide variety of topics in both freight and passenger rail. Each of the half-day sessions will conclude with a keynote speaker. Joe McHugh, Amtrak Vice-President for State-Supported Services Business Development, will speak on Tuesday. Mike McClellan, Vice-President Strategic Planning at Norfolk Southern will conclude the conference on Wednesday.
Rail Passengers Association CEO and President, Jim Mathews, will be part of the opening day plenary session discussing challenges facing the rail industry in the time of COVID-19. On a panel addressing improvements in the passenger experience, MARP member Joshua Hamilton will talk about the volunteer station host program he helped establish at the East Lansing station.
Opportunities for growth in passenger rail will be addressed by Arun Rao, WisDOT, and Scott Rogers, Chair of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition, a group working to restore passenger train service between Eau Claire WS and St. Paul. Michael Noland, President of the South Shore Line/NICTD, will speak about the Westlake Project which will extend service to four communities south of Hammond IN.
Complete information and the draft program are available at rail.mtu.edu/MRC2020/agenda. You may REGISTER HERE at the rock bottom rate of $25. But, hurry! Registration is limited and will go up on August 1.
Beginning June 29 and 30, Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation are restoring the daily Pere Marquette round-trip trains between Grand Rapids and Chicago in response to anticipated demand. This Amtrak MidwestSM service was temporarily suspended on March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The train will originate in Chicago on June 29 and both Trains 370 & 371 will operate starting June 30. Train 370 departs Chicago at 6:30 p.m., St. Joseph/Benton Harbor at 9:14 p.m., Bangor at 9:50 p.m., Holland at 10:33 p.m. and arrives in Grand Rapids at 11:34 p.m. Train 371 departs Grand Rapids daily at 6:00 a.m., Holland at 6:49 a.m., Bangor at 7:32 a.m., St. Joseph/Benton Harbor at 8:10 a.m., arriving in Chicago at 9:08 a.m. All times Eastern, except Chicago, which is in the Central Time Zone. Business Class and café service will also be available.
Amtrak continues to take extra steps to keep train travel safe, including limiting bookings to less than half of capacity to maintain physical distancing onboard trains. Reservations are required for Amtrak trains on this route, excluding holders of Multi-Ride Tickets. Ticketing is now available on Amtrak.com, our mobile apps or by calling 800-USA-RAIL.
“We are dedicated to doing everything possible to return service safetly. We want everyone to feel comfortable as they navigate this new normal,” said Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn.
In addition to aggressive steps to disinfect stations and trains, additional Amtrak measures deliver a New Standard of Travel by including the following:
- Facial coverings: As part of Amtrak’s ongoing commitment to protect customers and front-line employees in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Amtrak is requiring that all customers in stations, on trains and Thruway Buses wear facial coverings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of simple cloth facial coverings or masks to slow the spread of the virus and prevent transmission.
- Cashless service: As an added measure to ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees, we are temporarily accepting only cashless payments in stations and on trains.
- Physical distancing: Signage has been displayed at our busiest stations to indicate safe distances in high customer traffic areas such as waiting rooms, ticket offices, base/top of escalators, lounge entrances, etc. In addition, clear protective barriers have been installed at stations where there were no barriers.
Amtrak continues to evaluate practices and pilot new opportunities to support personal safety. Visit Amtrak.com for more information about how Amtrak is maintaining a safe environment.
MARP Member Meeting
February 22, 2020
10 a.m – 12 p.m. (Noon)
John D. Dingell Transit Center
21201 Michigan Ave, Dearborn MI
MAP & Directions
Come hear about “The Windsor Connector”, a proposal to facilitate travel by train to Toronto by providing a bus service connecting passengers from Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Detroit to the VIA Rail station in Windsor. Yuri O. Popov will present the work of a committee composed of Larry Krieg, Chuck Merckel, Doug Wilson, Hugh Gurney, Jean Merckel, and Clark Chartnetsky. The committee has come up with a detailed proposal and has received favorable responses from officials with whom they have spoken. Find out what you can do to help bring this project to fruition.
We will also review a “watch list” of projects in which MARP has an interest and discuss priorities for action in the near term. Topping the list in executive committee discussions in December were:
- Windsor Connector
- West Michigan Express (commuter service Grand Rapids to Holland)
- Mini-high platforms at Dearborn, Kalamazoo, East Lansing, & Detroit stations
- CSX/Amtrak connection at New Buffalo
- Additional passing tracks on the Wolverine Line.
A number of desired projects have longer time horizons and the need for considerable capital investment: Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter rail, additional frequencies on the three Michigan routes, the WALLY commuter project, the Coast-to-Coast project (Detroit-Ann Arbor-Lansing-Grand Rapids/Holland, the A2TC project (Ann Arbor-Traverse City), restoration of Chicago-Detroit-Toronto service. Perhaps you have your own ideas. Let’s talk about them.
Questions? Send email to email@example.com.
MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RAILROAD PASSENGERS