Amtrak: Work to relieve passenger rail delays will affect Michigan service in mid-April


Passengers using Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water rail services in Michigan will see normal travel times restored by early May, following work on some sections of track that is set to begin mid-April.

In the meantime, Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation jointly announced track work will result in some cancellations and schedule adjustments while Norfolk Southern, which operates the railroad, completes work April 16-19.

The work is to address safety concerns that last month prompted Norfolk Southern to call for slowdowns on some segments of the track.

The effects to passengers, according to the statement, will include the following:

Train 350, the morning eastbound Wolverine from Chicago to Pontiac, will terminate at Kalamazoo. Passengers continuing east of Kalamazoo will be accommodated on a dedicated bus serving Battle Creek and Jackson, where passengers will reboard a train for the remainder of the trip to Dearborn and intermediate stations. Train 351, the morning westbound Wolverine from Pontiac, will terminate at Jackson. Passengers continuing west of Jackson will be provided with dedicated bus service to Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, where they will reboard a train for service to Chicago and intermediate stations. The Kalamazoo departure of the continuation of train 351 will be 90 minutes later, at 11:20 a.m., arriving in Chicago at 12:54 p.m. CT.

The late morning Wolverine 353 from Pontiac to Chicago is cancelled. The early afternoon Wolverine 352 from Chicago to Pontiac is also cancelled. Wolverine trains 354 (Pontiac to Chicago) and Train 355 (Dearborn to Chicago) will continue to operate with delays until the track repairs are completed.

It is unclear what sort of repairs will occur. Last month, unspecified safety concerns prompted the company to lower speeds to 25-30 mph on some segments of its railroad between Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor, where top speeds of 79 mph had been allowed since early February.

Related:Amtrak passengers heading east from Kalamazoo may take a bus part of the way

The restrictions affected eight of Amtrak’s daily trains in Michigan. At the time, Amtrak and M-DOT called the slowdowns “drastic,” since they added about 90 minutes to an already five-and-a-half hour trip from Chicago to Detroit on the Wolverine line.

There was disagreement at the time over when work would begin. M-DOT and Amtrak said they expected Norfolk Southern to begin repairs in early April, but the company said the speed restrictions would be in place “for the foreseeable future.”

A spokesman for Norfork Southern did not return calls for comment about the current plans to repair segments of track.