Category Archives: Minutes

Minutes – June 16, 2007 – Durand

Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

General Member Meeting

Saturday, June 16, 2007 10:00 am

Durand Union Station

Durand, Michigan

Attendees:Mike Whims, Michael Frezell, John DeLora, Clark Charnetski, Dave Randall, Dick Pekarek, John Langdon, Andrew Kent, Jim Hinkins, Burton TenBrink, Norma Ward, Steve Sobel, Don Monteith, Kay Chase, Robert Meisner, Bob Tischbein, Pat Post, Robert Patterson, Diane Patterson, Duke VanTil, Vi VanTil, Philip Chamberlain, Jared Becker, James Roach, Rich Vavar-Musser, Mike Bagwell and Chris Bagwell 

1.  Chairman Michael Whims called the meeting to order at 10:12am.

2.  Guest Speaker Mike Bagwell, President-Great Lakes Central Railroad, presented information on the proposed Ann Arbor to Howell commuter train and intercity passenger rail.  

3.  Minutes from the May 12, 2007 member meeting were approved after corrections were made. 

4. Executive Director Report:  Executive Director John DeLora reported the U.S. House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee approved $1.4 billion for Amtrak.  Unfortunately, there are amendments being proposed to other bills that have a negative impact on passenger rail and to see the NARP website for details.  Phone calls and fax are the most effective when contacting legislators.  DeLora also reported the Michigan Railroad History conference will be held in November 2007.  There will be presentations on MARP and the history of Amtrak.  DeLora will be creating a Powerpoint presentation that could be used for other future MARP presentations.  DeLora is also tracking Amtrak Wolverine business class sell-outs since January 2007; averaging 2/3 of the time sold out.  MARP can use this data with MDOT and the legislature to argue for more capacity.  Sometimes passengers need to book 6-8 weeks in advance for business class.  This information could also build a case for business class on the Pere Marquette.  


5.  Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer David Randall reported the April 30, 2007 balance is   $5,239.86.  Dues received in May were $43.00, total expenses were $680.34, and the May 31, 2007 ending balance is $4,602.52.  The American Funds May 31, 2007 balance is $15,794.19. The treasurer’s report was accepted by unanimous vote. 


6.  Regional Activity Reports (Eastern, Metro, Northern and Western Regional)

a.  Eastern:  Richard Pekarek reported the Blue Water performance for the past five weeks followed the general pattern established since the first of the year.  Train #365 Chicago arrival time average 50 minutes late (23% OTP) and train #364 Flint arrival time averaged 40 minutes late (34% OTP).  Best performance the past five weeks was on the weekends (Sat/Sun).  Train #’s 365/364 together averaged 30 minutes late with 50% OTP.  Pekarek also reported East/Central region was represent by Jim Wallington at Michigan Day.

b.  Metro:  John DeLora reported that flowers were planted at Detroit station

c.  Northern:  Andrew Kent reported there was an excursion in Standish and left MARP newsletters.  The Standish depot grand opening is in October and work continues on restoring the station.  Don Monteith suggested MARP should come up with plan to bring passenger rail service to Petoskey and Traverse City because there is a lot interest in getting train service. 

d.  Western:  John Langdon reported that a passenger/day has missed the Pere Marquette because of the earlier departure due to CSX trackwork.  Langdon displayed a Michigan Intercity Passenger Rail System map at Michigan Day in Chicago and they also ran out of Travel Michigan brochures.  Langdon suggested getting more Convention and Visitor Bureaus involved with taking the train.  Finally, the platform in New Buffalo is still delayed and he spoke with Ross Capon (NARP) about the issue.  It may require legislation to get this accomplished.

7.  Committee Reports

a)      Outreach Committee: Vice Chair Frezell requested help for the Great Lakes Express convention.  He sent an update outreach schedule soliciting for volunteers.

b)      “Ride the Train Michigan” Committee (Patterson):  No report.

c)      Route Enhancement Committee (Gurney):  Hugh Gurney was not present and Pekarek requested more time for Gurney in Lapeer.  Whims has asked the committee to draft a long-range vision plan for MARP.  DeLora reported that he has used Wolverine ridership data to estimate passenger loads for an additional Pere Marquette train. At a minimum it could be 100 people a day per train, which equates to 6,000 people a month.

d)      Beautification Committee (DeLora): Report made in Executive Director Report.

8. Old Business

a)      Newsletter planning and distribution:  J.R. Valderas reported he has been busy and has not been able to work on the paper.  Valderas stated the regional chairmen handle newsletter distribution and members need to talk to them or the editor if members need a specific amount of papers.  There are about 300 – 330 newspapers per box.  The next newsletter will be done in two weeks. 

b)      NS Michigan Line-update:  Chairman Whims reported that nothing official has transpired on the sale/lease of NS Michigan assets.    

9.  New Business

a)      Nominations for Officer Positions 2007-2009:  Nomination committee chair Andrew Kent reported no new nominations.  The nominating process was then open to the floor. The following nominations from the floor were accepted by the nominees:

  • Jim Wallington for East/Central regional chair. 
  • Andrew Kent for Northern regional chair. 
  • Michael Whims for Metro Detroit regional chair. 
  • John Langdon for Western regional chair. 
  • Hugh Gurney for Secretary. 
  • Don Montieth for Vice Chair. 
  • John DeLora for Chair. 
  • Clark Chartnetski, Kay Chase, Steve Sobel, and Rich Vavar-Musser for At-Large Executive Committee members. 

Michael Whims was agreeable to accepting the Executive Director position and David Randall was agreeable to continue as Treasurer, if so appointed by the incoming Chair in accordance with the bylaws.  DeLora moved to have nominations closed.  All nominations were approved unanimously. 

b)   Howell Depot would be considered for a future meeting location. 

10.  General Member Discussion: 

Norma Ward reported that work is underway on the September annual meeting.  DeLora suggested a $20 registration fee and it was approved. 

Pat Post reported the NMRA Great Lakes Express convention will tour the Durand station in July 2007.


11.  Adjourned at 12:21pm.

Respectfully Submitted Michael Frezell, Vice Chairman.

APPROVED:   _____________________                ___________________

                          Mike Whims                                       John DeLora

                          Chairman                                            Executive Director


                        Michael Frezell

                        Vice Chairman

Minutes – May 12, 2007 – Holland

General Membership Meeting

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Padnos Transportation Center

Holland, Michigan


Those Signing In:: Clark Charnetski, Don Montieth, Kay Chase, Richard Pekarek, John Langdon, Steve Sobel, John Delora, Diane Patterson, Robert Patterson, Mike Whims, Burton TenBrink, Ken Ratzlaff, Hugh Gurney

Also Present: Jesse Auerbach, Environmental Law & Policy Center

Call to Order: Chairman Whims called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. After thanking John Langdon for making the arrangements for the meeting, those present were asked to introduce themselves and where they were from. Whims welcomed Jesse Auerbach from the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago. In the absence of Secretary Jim Wallington, Whims asked Hugh Gurney to record the minutes.

Minutes: Approval of the minutes of the April 14 meeting was moved by Delora, seconded by Sobel, and approved unanimously

Executive Director Report: John Delora reported on the recent NARP meeting he attended in Washington, D.C., saying it was the most encouraging meeting he has attended since he has been on the NARP Board of Directors. Amtrak President Alex Kummant talked about how he wanted to build business, especially in corridors. He particularly mentioned the Chicago-Detroit corridor as one he wanted to target. At this point, Amtrak is looking to grow, not downsize.

A representative from FRA reported that the Lautenberg-Lott bill, currently being reviewed by the U.S. Senate, would help with On Time Performance as someone other than the Attorney General of the United States would have authority to sue the freight railroads for holding up passenger trains. Also, railroad CEO’s would be required to appear personally before Congress to defend their railroad’s performance.

Don Phillips of Trains Magazine predicted that congestion in all modes of transportation would hit the wall within two years. CREATE in Chicago must be done to avoid total gridlock. Electrification beyond the Northeast Corridor is inevitable. Phillips warned that the Transportation Security Agency may start checking trains in similar manner as they do airplanes He also warned of problems ahead as Amtrak equipment ages. There are particular problems with the Horizon cars, where the aluminum/steel contacts are experiencing galvanic corrosion problems. The Acela equipment is also wearing rapidly. Phillips said that the current issue concerning platforms is insane. It may take action by Congress to correct the situation.

Delora concluded by saying that Amtrak turned a corner when gasoline went over $2.00 a gallon.

Treasurer’s Report: In Treasurer Randall’s absence, Chairman Whims handed out the Treasurer’s Report. As of April 30, 2007, the JPMorgan Chase checking account had a balance of $5,239.86 and the Pratt Fund was valued at $15,300.22. It appears that 129 members have yet to renew their membership. With close to 400 members on the books, membership is up by about 30% in the past three years. Approval of the Treasurer’s Report was moved by Langdon, seconded by Charnetski, and approved. Richard Pekarek made a point of thanking John Delora for his decision on how to invest the Pratt Fund several years ago.


Eastern: Richard Pekarek reported that Blue Water Performance for the first three weeks of the past month was the best of the current calendar year. Chicago arrival time for Train #365 averaged 33 minutes late for an On Time Performance average of 28.5%. Flint arrival time for Train #364 averaged 3l minutes late for an ON Time Performance rate of 41%. Fewer very late arrivals improved the average considerably. However, the last week has been much worse, with average arrival times of 73 minutes into Chicago and 70 minutes late into Flint. On May 3, CN halted train operations between Flint and Durand for over five hours because of a fatality at Schwartz Creek. A freight train just ahead of Train #365 hit a woman.

Dave Lorenz of Travel Michigan spoke last month to an advertising group in Flint about his organization’s expanding promotion of Michigan tourism.

Metro: John Delora reported that planning for the Detroit-Ann Arbor regional service is continuing, but he fears that SEMGOG is slowing the schedule progress. Some planners are saying the service will require 5,000 passengers per day to be effective.

Northern: Don Montieth is setting up appointments with Chambers of Commerce in Traverse City and Manistee and Travel Centers in Northern Michigan to urge promotion of rail travel and distribute MARP materials. An August event is planned for Charlevoix. Don emphasized that he needs more brochures and newspapers.

Western: John Langdon reported that his immediate thrust is for quiet cars on the Pere Marquette. They have been very successful on the Hiawathas and Dave Johnson of NARP & Amtrak seems supportive. Ross Capon of NARP has asked Langdon to review his upcoming testimony before the National Surface Transportation Policy & Revenue Study Commission, of which Mary Peters US Secretary of Transportations is Chairman, on platform height issue and plans to cite New Buffalo as a prime example of the problem. Langdon is forwarding information about Amtrak and its student rate programs to all college and university admissions officers along Amtrak lines in Michigan.


Nominating Committee: John Delora plans to send out a letter in the immediate future to all MARP members reviewing the election procedures and asking for suggestions on filling the upcoming vacancies for Chair, Vice Chair, and one member of the Executive Committee.

Outreach Committee: In the absence of Michael Frezell, Chairman Whims passed out the current schedule of meetings and shows where MARP has committed to having an exhibit. Durand Railroad Days is May 19-20. Whims indicated he would help staff the MARP table on Saturday and Gurney and Delora indicated they would be there on Sunday. Charnetski recommended that members hand out newspapers and other MARP material at transportation oriented meetings they attend, such as the one he attended recently in Ann Arbor. Langdon asked that members report attendance and participation in all such meetings, as such attendance is part of the Outreach effort.

Ride the Train Committee: Robert Patterson reported that he is waiting for a response from the Henry Ford relating to his proposal to have current rail passenger equipment on display at Greenfield Village. The Henry Ford has not had an official “Railroad Days” celebration for several years, but Patterson’s proposal would fit with many other events at Greenfield Village.

Route Enhancement Committee: Hugh Gurney passed out copies of the final Route Enhancement Report as approved at the April meeting. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that the report would be considered a working document, and not be posted on the MARP website.

Beautification Committee: John Delora commented that the flowers he planted recently at the Detroit station have had many favorable comments. He plans to be in Ann Arbor on Monday to plant geraniums at the Amtrak station there.


Newspaper: In the absence of editor J. R. Valderas, Chairman Whims reported that the next newspaper will be printed in June. Regional chairs should determine how many copies they need and report that number to Valderas. When received, regional chairs will distribute newspapers to those distributing in their region of the state. Individuals distributing to Amtrak facilities should keep a copy of the Amtrak distribution permit. The original copy is retained by the station agent.

Michigan Day: John Langdon indicated he was all set for the day. Most of the support is coming from the West Coast of Michigan. Bottled water will be handed out on the Pere Marquette that day. Jim Wallington and Langdon will be staffing the exhibit in Chicago and Valderas will be present to do a story for The Michigan Passenger.

NorfolkSouthern Update: The Michigan House of Representatives has passed a resolution opposing transfer of the Norfolk Southern line Ypsilanti-Kalamazoo to a short line operator who may not be able to maintain the line to high-speed passenger rail standars. On May 11, the Norfolk Southern Board of Directors delayed approval of the transfer. They agreed to postpone sending notification to the Surface Transportation Agency for sixty days while they negotiate with Amtrak and MDOT. MARP will be asking what level of service the new operator can and will provide. If the line is maintained poorly, Wolverine service would be slowed considerably.

Jesse Auerbach from the Environmental Law & Policy Center advised the MARP Board to maintain vigilance and watch Surface Transportation Board filings, as NS is not bound to observe the sixty day delay. Kay Chase suggested that MARP communicate directly with our Congressional delegation. We should pressure Amtrak to be proactive and possibly take over the line. Amtrak President Kummant is scheduled to meet with Governor Granholm on May 23 and the NS issue should be on the agenda.

Meeting with Environmental Law & Policy Center and Midwest High Speed Rail Association Representatives: Chairman Whims reported on his recent meeting with representatives of the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in Chicago and asked Jesse Auerbach from ELPC to discuss successful efforts in Illinois to add more regional trains.


Approval of Support for a 9-cent Gas Tax Increase: Chairman Whims reported that the proposal for a nine cent per gallon increase in the tax on gasoline looked promising. At the moment, this proposal would follow the existing formula, meaning that mass transit and rail would receive a portion of the increase. For this reason, transit advocates are supporting this proposal. It was moved by Delora, seconded by Charnetski and approved unanimously that MARP also support the proposal as long some of the increased revenue would go to mass transit and intercity bus and rail.

>MARP/Amtrak Operations Meeting: On May 9, Whims and Delora meet with Don Saunders, Jeff Snowden and Dave Kuhn of Amtrak. On Time Performance was a major issue. Other issues discussed were additional service, business class expansion, reinstitution of baggage service, security at the Detroit station and overnight bus service between Detroit-Chicago.

Legislative Transit Caucus Presentation: Whims handed out copies of his presentation given on May 10 to the Legislative Transit Caucus in Lansing. This group of legislators interested in transit issues was pleased to learn more about MARP and interested in the idea of a second daily Pere Marquette. There is now an official Transit Subcommittee in the Michigan House of Representatives headed by State Rep. Marie Donigan.

Other Business: Auerbach noted that the Lautenberg-Lott bill was approved unanimously in committee. NARP is working to get a companion bill introduced in the House of Representatives.

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.

Respectfully submitted

Hugh Gurney for Secretary Jim Wallington



Michael Whims, Chairman

Minutes – April 14, 2007 – Royal Oak

General membership meeting

Saturday, April 14, 2007, Woody’s Diner, Royal Oak


Attendees who signed in: Executive Committee – Michael Whims, Michael Frezell, John Langdon, Jim Wallington, Clark Charnetski, Dave Randall, Dick Pekarek, Kay Chase, J.R Valderas, John DeLora and Kaz Fujita.

Members – Dwight Phillips, Jim Hinkins, Hugh Gurney, Larry Sobczak, David Williams, Robert Patterson, Bob Tischbein, Ren Farley, Steve Sobel and Don Monteith.

Also – Jeff Godshall (he joined following the meeting) and Roger Webster.

Call to order. Chairman Whims declared there was a quorum for conducting a General Membership meeting and called the meeting to order at 10:07 a.m. He welcomed members to his home city of Royal Oak and to Woody’s Diner, which afforded a full view of the CN Durand-Detroit rail line. He asked each attendee to introduce himself or herself.

Minutes of the March 10, 2007, general membership meeting in Kalamazoo were approved following the deletion of the phase “in the Fall,“ which referred to a proposed display at Greenfield Village by the Ride the Train Committee.

Executive Director — DeLora presented a report that showed that business class was frequently selling out on the Wolverine line, leading to a suggestion that the service be expanded with exclusive business class cars. He also reported that Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant is in favor of boosting service on the Wolverine route.

Financial – Treasurer Randall reported a March 1, 2007 balance of $5,226.29, a significant increase over the $2,238.29 report for February thanks to a $3,008.00 influx of dues. Lone expenses were $20 in bank charges. He also said the AIVSX American Funds investment showed 437.149 shares at $33.70 for a NAV of $14,731.92. His report was accepted.


Eastern: Pekarek lamented the continuing poor on time performance of the Blue Water since it replaced the International service three years ago. He said the westbound Blue Water was on time into Chicago only 28.5 percent in March and April, averaging 55 minutes of tardiness. Eastbound the Blue Water was on time into Flint 20.5 percent, averaging 49 minutes tardiness. Fujita said the Blue Water often loses as much as 30 minutes between East Lansing and Flint because of freight congestion.

Pekarek also handed out an editorial from the Flint Journal supporting passenger rail; it stated that proposed state gasoline tax increase should help finance the state transportation network, including rail.

Metro: DeLora said despite roadblocks that the Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter project is still moving forward.

Western: Langdon said the Pere Marquette’s on time performance has been miserable lately with signal problems a main culprit along with Norfolk Southern freight congestion. He also reported on frequent sellouts on the Grand Rapids-Holland-Chicago service, which indicated more seats are needed. He said Amtrak should add a full coach and not a business class/snack car; he said an aisle food service cart would better serve passengers. He said Westrain does not expect any state funds soon because of the budget crisis.

Northern. No report as Andrew Kent was absent.


Nominating. No report as Andrew Kent was absent.

Outreach. Frezell said many Amtrak timetables were given out at a recent show in Mt. Pleasant. And he was looking for a volunteer living in the Detroit area to accept, store and deliver 30 boxes of timetables for the 2007 National Model Railroad Association Convention in Detroit in July. He had no immediate takers.

Ride the Train. Patterson said he had opened communications with the Greenfield Village board about hosting Amtrak equipment for a public display but had no official response. The Ford and Durand are sites the committee cited for equipment displays.

Route Enhancement. Gurney said the report was finalized since the last meeting and was ready for voting later in the meeting.


Newsletter/Newspaper. Valderas reported that software problems delayed the spring newsletter but were overcome with the help of fellow MARP members; he expected distribution in late April. He put out a call for news stories for upcoming issues and asked for help in distributing the newspaper in Petoskey while the Michigan Arrow special train is there this summer. He asked whether newspapers should be distributed at History Days in Howell and on excursion trains throughout the state. It was suggested that copies be placed in the student unions at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Printing of 1,000 additional papers bringing the total to 5000 papers was discussed.

Michigan Day. Langdon and Wallington will be in Chicago for the Michigan Day tourism promotion among commuters at Union Station.

Passenger Rail Funding.  Whims provided a handout that summarized the current status of federal Amtrak funding for FY 2007 and FY 2008, as well as Michigan state funding for the same time periods.




Norfolk Southern Lease. Whims reported that Norfolk Southern has announced intentions to sell or lease its Michigan line from Ypsilanti to Kalamazoo, which is the home of three daily Amtrak round trips. Apparently it would be taken over by one of the shortlines, which are known to maintain track for slower speeds. He said the state has expressed opposition through a letter and the introduction of legislation. Whims said he would write a letter to Norfolk Southern expressing MARP’s concern about the impact on passenger service.

Route Enhancement Program. Gurney presented the final program developed by the Route Enhancement Committee. DeLora moved and Phillips seconded that the program be approved. It passed by voice vote. Gurney was congratulated for his work on the 10-page document on expanding rail service in the state and integrating inter-city buses.

Patterson Proposal. Member Robert Patterson presented a proposal to include a local or state official, or spokesperson from a local agency on each meeting agenda whenever feasible to speak on legislative or other issues pertinent to passenger rail. It is understood that any appearances by elected officials would comply with MARP’s non-profit IRS status.  The members unanimously approved the proposal.

ELPC Meeting. Whims said he and Langdon would be meeting with The Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago April 18 to discuss the successful strategies they used to add new state passenger rail service in Illinois.

The meeting adjourned at 11:54 a.m.

Submitted by James Wallington, Secretary



Michael Whims, Chairman


FUTURE MEETINGS (no meeting in August)

5/12/07 10 a.m. Holland – Padnos Transportation Center, 261 E 8th St
6/16/07 10 a.m. Durand – Durand Union Station – Conference Room
7/14/07 10 a.m. Lapeer – Amtrak Station meeting room
9/8/07 10 a.m. Annual meeting – Durand – Durand Union Station – upstairs Ballroom

Minutes – March 10, 2007 – Kalamazoo

Minutes of General Member Meeting

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Kalamazoo Metro Transit Office, Kalamazoo, MI

Attendees who signed in: Robert Patterson, Hugh Gurney, Dwight Phillips, Richard Pekarek, John Langdon, Joe Moran, Phil Chamberlain, Gary Tasha, Andrew Kent, Gus Swenson, Burton Ten Brink, David Randall, Christopher Quaill, Jim Hinkins, J. R. Valderas, John Guidinger, Timothy Backhurst, Kay Chase, Aylene Goddard, Keith Martin, Steve Sobel, Clark Charnetski, Mike Whims

Call to Order: Chairman Whims called the meeting to order at 11:20 a.m. and declared that a quorum was available for a general membership meeting. As there were some new faces, those in attendance were asked to introduce themselves. On behalf of MARP, Whims thanked Burt Ten Brink for providing the meeting space and the abundant refreshments.

Minutes of the February 10, 2007 Executive Committee meeting were reviewed and, after minor corrections, unanimously approved

Presentation on the Intermodal Tansit Center Operation: Cancelled due to the illness of Kalamazoo Metro Transit Customer Services Supervisor Heather Stiver.

Executive Director’s Report: In the absence of Executive Director John Delora, Mike Whims reported that Amtrak had decided not to reinstitute baggage service on any Michigan trains in April. Whims will continue to press for this enhancement. He will meet again with the Amtrak Central Division operations team in May.

Treasurer’s Report: Dave Randall passed out the Treasurer’s Report and stated that MARP had a balance of $2278.19 in the JPMorgan Chase checking account as of February 28, 2007. On the same date, the Pratt Fund investment was valued at $14, 564.97. Randall anticipates that most of the 400 people on the mailing list will renew in March. There are currently twelve life members. Acceptance of the Treasurer’s Report was moved by Phillips, seconded by Charnetski, and unanimously approved.

Regional Activity Reports:

• Eastern Region: Dick Pekarek reported that the latest 28 day Blue Water data shows on-time performance continues to worsen. Train #365’s average arrival time into Chicago was l hour 20 minutes late with a 3.7% on time performance. Train #364’s average arrival time into Flint was 1 hour 42 minutes late with a 7.7% on time performance. Delays are occurring in both CN and NS territory.

Lapeer City Parks and Recreation have notified Dick that there will be no rental charge for the use of the Lapeer Station for the MARP meeting on July 14, 2007.

Pekarek alerted the group to the fact that the Durand Union Station administration needs a decision on whether or not our September 8, 2007 Annual Meeting will be at their facility. Mike Whims responded that MARP needs to verify whether or not we will be charged for use of the station ballroom before that decision can be made. Whims agreed to investigate.

• Metro Detroit Region: In the absence of chairman John DeLora, Clark Charnetski reported that, since Amtrak cannot operate commuter trains unless all costs are covered, the proposed service between Ann Arbor and Detroit will be labeled “Regional Service.” Up to ten trains daily each way are anticipated and the proposed new service would be integrated into existing service.

The proposed Ann Arbor North service would operate from a station near Eight Mile Road in Whitmore Lake south to near the intersection of Plymouth and Barton roads in Northeast Ann Arbor with six trains each way during rush hour and four trains operating in the reverse direction during the day. Connecting busses will operate from each terminal. MDOT will pay for track work and Great Lakes Central will provide ex-METRA Gallery cars. UM has agreed to cover the fares for its employees. Service may be extended to Howell in the future.

• Northern Region: Andrew Kent reported that several excursions are scheduled in Northern Michigan during the upcoming summer and fall by Blue Water and Lake Central. Work continues on the restoration of the station in Standish with more work scheduled to get underway in June. Unfortunately, work on the Clare station remains up in the air. The city wants to move the structure to the community’s main street and use it as a community center. Windows would be added which would alter the structure’s historic appearance. The other option is to move the building somewhat north of its present location, put a basement under it, and use it as a ticket office for Lake Central. Both options call for the relocation of the station from its current location at the diamond.

• Western Region: John Langdon reported that MARP is working with MDOT and Amtrak to assure that enough equipment is added to the Pere Marquette trains during the heavy Spring break period. Platform improvements at Holland are stalled because of the lack of final FRA regulations. Amtrak would like to put a tactile curb down now, but MDOT wants to wait for final FRA regulations.

Westrain will be bidding for a new ad agency as required by the state grant. MDOT continues to pay for the MI Train website. The Michigan Day promotion at Chicago Union Station will be chaired this year by the Benton Harbor CVB. Langdon is on the committee. He is looking for volunteers to help. Whims agreed to represent the Blue Water route unless another member from that route area volunteers.

Nominating Committee: Andrew Kent reported that at least three current officers have decided not to stand for election in 2007: Chair Mike Whims, Vice Chair Michael Frezell, and Eastern Regional Chair Dick Pekarek. The current by laws were distributed indicating that nominations are due by the end of June. A mail ballot goes out during the summer and results are announced at the annual meeting in September. Kent asked that people let him know of their interest in serving in the near future. Valderas agreed to put a notice about nominations in the upcoming issue of Michigan Passenger. Charnetski indicated that he would be willing to continue serving on the Executive Committee and Langdon affirmed that he would like to continue as Western Region Chair.

Outreach Committee: In the absence of Michael Frezell, John Langdon handed out a schedule of shows where MARP plans to have a table and asked members to let Frezell know if they can serve. Several members expressed their interest in helping at specific shows. The big one this year is the National Model Railroad Show which will run for the better part of a week in July in Detroit. In addition to staffing the exhibit, MARP is looking for a volunteer to receive a large shipment of promotional materials from Amtrak.

Ride the Train Committee: Robert Patterson reported that the Ride the Train Committee was proposing several actions:

1) A display of Amtrak and other rail equipment in Durand during Durand Railroad Days in May and at Greenfield Village in the fall. Patterson has completed proposals and cover letters for these events to go to Governor Granholm.

2) Ask MDOT to add a map of Amtrak routes to the state transportation map.

3) Develop a new brochure to be handed out at tourist and travel centers around the state.

Route Enhancement Committee: Hugh Gurney handed out a draft of the Route Enhancement Recommendations including specific action items, timelines for each action item and individuals responsible. After the General Membership Meeting today, the committee will meet to refine the report further before presenting it for approval, hopefully at the April meeting.

Old Business:

1) Newsletter: J. R. Valderas reported that the Spring issue of Michigan Passenger should be out by the April meeting. It will include articles about the proposed commuter rail projects, the status of the high speed rail section, ridership statistics, the renewal of the Amtrak contract, and the possible rerouting of the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited through Michigan. Mike Whims has agreed to do the Chairman’s Corner and other articles.

Valderas urged members who want to distribute newspapers to make their requests through the Regional Chairs. He also asked that nobody distribute newspapers to a depot or at a show until the Spring issue has been mailed to members.

A discussion ensued concerning a possible winter edition in a reduced format to keep members abreast of what was going on. John Guidinger indicated he would like to see the winter edition in the existing format and offered to donate half of the possible $1,100.00 needed to purchase new software needed for quality color photos and headliners. It was agreed that MARP would pursue acquisition of new software, either through a donation from Adobe or purchase with donated funds.

At the present time, it costs $400.00 to publish 4,000 copies of Michigan Passenger and $485.00 to publish 5,000 copies, so there was general agreement that we should publish 5,000 copies. A $175.00 delivery charge tacked onto the last order needs to be investigated.

2) Future Meetings: Whims informed the group that future meetings are now scheduled for April 14, 2007 at Woody’s Diner in Royal Oak, May 12, 2007 at the Padnos Transportation Center in Holland, and July 14, 2007 at the Lapeer Station in Lapeer. After some discussion, Langdon moved and Gurney seconded a motion to meet on June 16, 2007 in Standish at a place to be determined by Andrew Kent. The motion passed. There will be no meeting in August. The Annual Meeting is tentatively set for August 8, 2007 at the Durand Union Station if the ballroom is available at no charge.

Whims discussed the joint Midwest High Speed Rail/NARP Regional meeting in Chicago on March 24, 2007, at which President of NARP George Chilson is slated to speak. Whims plans to attend. On the preceding day, Langdon and Chase will attend a National Rail Passenger Leadership Summit as well.

New Business:

1)Ride the Train Proposal: Robert Patterson asked the group to give formal approval to the Ride the Train marketing proposal he discussed earlier. The goal is to make the public more award of the existence of passenger rail service and its convenience. One part of this proposal is to assemble displays of Amtrak and other rail equipment at locations near Amtrak stations. Suggested initial locations would be Greenfield Village in Dearborn and Durand during Railroad Days in May. Equipment displays would build interest in passenger rail by showing contemporary equipment and letting people know what service is now available. By involving Amtrak, MDOT, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, federal, state and local officials, Chambers of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureaus, municipal governments and the travel industry, these shows would build and cement long term relationships between all partners.

Charnetski commented that he had seen similar shows at Greenfield Village in the past and noted that visitors particularly liked the Superliner equipment. Patterson said he thought the Superliner equipment would be great, but stated the first priority would be display of equipment that operates daily in Michigan. Whims stated that MDOT’s $50,000 promotion budget was being administered by Durand Union Station and indicated we needed to begin working with Durand immediately.

Patterson continued by reminding the group that the second part of the Ride the Train proposal was to develop a new brochure to be distributed by Welcome Centers throughout the state. A third part of the proposal would be to update the MI Train website maintained by MDOT.

The proposal was moved by Whims and seconded by Valderas. In the ensuing discussion, Langdon stated that he thought the proposal would improve our relationship with MDOT and encourage them to do more promotion. Whims indicated he saw most of the manpower being provided by the host organizations, not MARP. He emphasized that we were voting on the concept. Actual funding would be voted on when specifics are laid out. A vote was called and the Ride the Train Marketing proposal was unanimously approved.

Member Comments:

Langdon informed the group that Amtrak now requires a permit to distribute non-Amtrak material at stations and on trains. The best policy is to ask the station agent before attempting to put out any material. He also stated that he has material on how much each state spends on Amtrak and the 2008 Amtrak federal budget proposal.

Charnetski expressed concern that a possible outcome of the upcoming Amtrak budget would be the requirement that the Wolverine Service become state supported.

Chase expressed her frustration about on time performance. Can penalties be assessed against freight railroads who hold up Amtrak trains? Tax credits to the freight railroads might be an option. Chase also suggested invitations to MARP members living in a community when MARP is meeting in that locale. She has a template she can share.

The meeting adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Hugh D. Gurney for Secretary James Wallington

Minutes – February 10, 2007 – Durand

Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes


Date:  Saturday, February 10, 2007


Location:  Durand, Michigan


Attendees:  Mike Whims, Michael Frezell, Clark Charnetski, Dave Randall, Dick Pekarek, John Langdon, Andrew Kent, Jim Hinkins, Burton TenBrink, Kazuya Fujita, Norma Ward, Bunnie Surtz, Steve Sobel, and Therese Cody.

  1. 1.                 Chair Whims called the meeting to order at 10:09 am as an Executive Committee meeting with a special thanks to Norma and Bunnie for flowers and cookies.


  1. 2.                 The minutes from the January 2007 meeting were approved.


  1. 3.                 Treasurer’s Report:  Treasurer Dave Randall reported as of January 31, 2007 there was $167.63 in expenses and a final balance of $1,904.41. MARP received $227 in dues.  The Pratt fund had a balance of $14,786.84.  The treasurer’s report was accepted by a motion from John Langdon and seconded by Steve Sobel.


  1. 4.                 Presentation on Blue Water marketing activity & MDOT Update:  Marci Fogal, Executive Director, Blue Water Convention & Visitor’s Bureau was ill and could not attend the meeting.  Therese Cody (MDOT) reported that Marci’s organization is doing billboards to promote the Blue Water service. They are also creating maps and brochures.  MDOT is interested in community oriented marketing for trains.  Grant money of $50,000 is available now for marketing.  Therese handed out Michigan ridership results for January 2007 with a comparison to January 2006.  The report showed the Blue Water had 8.6% increase, the Pere Marquette a 13.3% increase, and the Wolverines a 6.6%.  Ticket revenue results showed the Blue Water a 13.1% increase, the Pere Marquette a 12.8% increase, and the Wolverines a 10.2% increase.  Alex Kummant (Amtrak President and CEO) is scheduled to meet with Michigan’s Governor Granholm on February 14, 2007.     


  1. 5.                 Regional Reports


    1. Central/Eastern Region:  Dick Pekarek reports the Blue Water train # 364 on February 5, 2007 and # 365 on February 6, 2007 were cancelled due to extreme cold weather and shortage of rail cars per Amtrak News release.  Chartered buses were used as alternate.  On Time Performance (OTP) of # 365 for the period of January 13, 2007 through February 9, 2007 (26 days – except February 5, 2007 and February 6, 2007) was as follows:  Average Chicago arrival time was 50 minutes late with arrival time ranging from on-time to two hours and 40 minutes late.  Majority of delays on Canadian National track mainly Port Huron to East Lansing with a couple delays occurring between East Lansing and Battle Creek. Lapeer station is tentatively reserved for the July 2007 MARP meeting.  The membership agreed on July 14, 2007 as the official date.
    2. Western Region:  John Langdon. Waiting rooms are not large enough to accommodate passengers at some Pere Marquette route stations.  There have been no Pere Marquette train cancellations due to cold weather.  CSX is upgrading the signaling from Porter, Indiana to Plymouth, Michigan.  The city of Holland is converting the bus system from a city run operation to an authority.  There is talk of putting track edge on the Holland station platform.  
    3. Northern Region:  Andrew Kent reported about a Bluewater Chapter excursion from Gaylord to West Branch.  Canadian Pacific dome car owner, whose car is stored in Saginaw, is trying to do some excursions.  Nothing to report on the June meeting location.  The membership agreed the meeting could be held in Durand on June 16, 2007 if no northern Michigan location is selected.  
    4. Metro Detroit:  Chair Whims reported the Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter train is proceeding but nothing new to report.  Reportedly, there is discussion with Amtrak. He announced that Michigan Day in Chicago is May 16, 2007, and he, Dick Pekarek and John Langdon will represent MARP.


  1. 6.                 Committee Reports

c.a.                       Outreach Committee:  Vice Chair Michael Frezell discussed outreach events and passed a schedule to members.

d.b.                      Route Enhancement Committee:  None

e.c.                       “Ride the Train Michigan” Committee:  Meeting after lunch.

  1. d.     Nominating Committee:  Andrew Kent reported Mike Whims is stepping down as chair.  Dave Randall is seeking re-election as treasurer.  Dick Pekarek is not seeking re-election.  John Langdon is seeking re-election as Western Michigan Chapter Chair.  Clark Chartnetski is seeking re-election as At-Large Executive.  


7.   Old Business

b.a.          Newspaper Planning:  Chair Whims reported for newspaper editor J.R. Valderas that there would be no winter edition.  March 24, 2007 is the deadline for the Spring 2007 issue, which will be produced as a 12-page publication.  Possible stories for the newsletter include proposed rail service on the Great Lakes Central (former TSBY), moving the Clare depot, proposed Troy-Birmingham Transit Center, proposed Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail service, New Buffalo to receive new Amtrak service, and Ann Arbor to Traverse City passenger service.  J.R. is seeking help from the membership for any news stories (Michigan related), editorial, and photos.  Patterson suggested doing a small newsletter like All Aboard Ohio.  John Langdon volunteered to print one on his computer.  There was discussion on going back to 8 ½” x 11” format.  There was a question from Kaz about surveying members.  A story idea about Chicago Metra train connectivity was discussed.    

  1. b.                 Future Meeting Locations:  April 14, 2007 – Downtown Royal Oak at Woody’s Diner; May 12, 2007 – Holland; June – Durand as backup to northern Michigan; July 14, 2007 – Lapeer; August 11 or 18, 2007 – St Joseph (tentative); September 8, 2007 (annual meeting) – Durand or Lansing.  Norma Ward volunteered to chair the annual meeting committee if Durand is selected.  Cost of the banquet hall at Durand is an issue to be resolved.
  2. c.                  Report of MARP/Amtrak operation meeting:  Chair Whims provided a verbal report of the meeting held with Amtrak operations on February 1 in Detroit.       
  1. New Business    
    1. Passenger Rail Funding:  Chair Whims provided a report on federal and state funding.  For FY 2007, continuing resolution (HJ Res. 20) freezes funding at $1.294 billion, same as FY 2006.  The Amtrak board had asked for $1.873 billion under its “full” request, or $1.597 billion under its “basic” request.   For FY 2008, President Bush has asked for $0.800 billion in direct Amtrak support as follows

Operating Support – $0

Food & Beverage Suport – $0

Capital Grants – $500 million

Efficiency Incentive Grants – $300 million

FY 2007 state support for Amtrak operating subsidy is not to exceed revenues generated, with a cap of $7.1 million.  

    1. Meet Your Legislator Day:  John Langdon will represent MARP for “meet your legislator day” on February 14 in Lansing.  This event is organized by the “Let’s Get Moving” Coalition, of which MARP is a member.
    2. Legislature Committee Members:  Chair Whims reported the names of new state legislature committee members, particularly in appropriations and transportation.   


  1. General Member Comments:  

c.a.                       Charnetski reported Ann Arbor north board US 23 will be worked on first this year.  There is a plan to run a commuter train either from Whitmore Lake or Howell to about one mile north of the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

Adjourned at 12:19 pm


Respectfully Submitted Michael Frezell, Vice Chairman.


APPROVED:   _____________________               ___________________

                      Mike Whims                                John DeLora

                      Chairman                                   Executive Director


                    Michael Frezell

                    Vice Chairman