Infrastructure upgrades, PTC and new rolling stock on Amtrak’s 2010 agenda

January 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

From Progressive Railroading Daily News

With major projects and new initiatives on tap to rebuild infrastructure, increase service and revitalize the nation’s intercity passenger railroad, Amtrak is anticipating “an exciting 2010,” President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said yesterday during a media conference call.

This year, Amtrak plans to undertake major track and bridge construction projects, replace and expand its locomotive and passenger-car fleets, and advance high-speed rail and positive train control (PTC) initiatives.

Major infrastructure projects include the replacement of the 102-year-old movable bridge over the Niantic River in Connecticut; modernization of transformers and other electrical equipment between Washington, D.C., and New York City; track and switch upgrades at Chicago’s Union Station; and construction of new maintenance buildings for passenger-car equipment in Los Angeles and Hialeah, Fla.

Amtrak also plans to renovate a station in Wilmington, Del.; expand the Auto Train station in Sanford, Fla.; restore locomotives and passenger cars in Beech Grove, Ind., and Bear, Del.; complete a multi-year modernization of catenary wires on the Hell Gate Line in New York; and begin upgrading a Seattle maintenance facility.

In addition, the railroad will advance an “aggressive, self-imposed schedule” to install PTC by the end of 2012 — three years prior to the rail industry’s federally mandated deadline. A “significant amount of design and engineering, and some installation work” will occur this year, said Boardman.

Next month, Amtrak also plans to announce a plan to replace and expand its rolling stock fleet to accommodate anticipated ridership growth. The railroad expects to purchase several hundred single-level and bi-level long-distance cars, and more than 100 locomotives, said Boardman.

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/prdailynews/news.asp?id=22333

ACTION ALERT! Tell your state legislator to restore funding for Michigan passenger trains to 2009 levels ($7.3 million) in the new transportation budget

September 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Press Releases 

The Michigan senate slashed fiscal year 2010 funds for Michigan passenger train service by almost half. The Michigan house of representatives followed the governor’s recommended budget and slashed fiscal year 2010 funds by 22%. Two of the state’s three train routes will cease to operate by early or late spring next year under these budgets. What’s worse is that these actions jeopardize the state’s application for $800 million in federal grants to build a high-speed route linking Detroit to Chicago and other destinations throughout the Midwest and to improve train operations and stations throughout Michigan.

Michigan’s continued investment in current train service is essential to leveraging the federal funding available to bring passenger trains into the 21st century, along with the jobs and economic development that will accompany this expansion.

Please PHONE or EMAIL your state senator and representative NOW.

– Tell them YOU RIDE THE TRAIN, and

– Ask them to RESTORE FUNDING for the Pere Marquette and the Blue Water routes to the full $7.3 million provided in the current year.

Phone or email Your Legislator http://senate.michigan.gov/SenatorInfo/find-your-senator.htm – (517) 373-2400 http://house.michigan.gov/find_a_rep.asp – (517) 373-0135

Let Governor Granholm Know You Support Trains http://www.michigan.gov/gov/0,1607,7-168-21995—,00.html – (517) 335-7858 – Constituent Services

The Blue Water route provides daily roundtrip service to Port Huron, Lapeer, Flint, Durand, East Lansing, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Dowagiac and Niles. The Pere Marquette provides daily service for travelers in Grand Rapids, Holland, Bangor, St. Joseph, and New Buffalo.

Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

Citizen group to State Legislature: Seven-day train service vital for Michigan’s downtowns, travelers

July 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Press Releases 

For Immediate Release

30 July 2009

Contact:
John Langdon, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers: 616.218.9009
Tim Fischer, Michigan Environmental Council: 517.487.3606 ext. 12

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers has unanimously approved a resolution of support for continuing seven day a week passenger train service on both the Pere Marquette and Blue Water routes.

“Recent actions in Lansing have prompted us to take this action to protect a travel choice that is more important than ever in this difficult economy,” said John DeLora, who chairs the organization.

Proposed state budget cuts would eliminate at least one and perhaps both of the train routes at a time when more riders than ever rely on them.

“Ridership on these routes has grown more than 50% in the last six years,” DeLora said.

Convenient passenger trains service is an important component of revitalizing Michigan’s economy, said Tim Fischer, deputy policy director with the Michigan Environmental Council.

“Killing rail service will rip vital economic arteries from the hearts of downtowns served by these trains,” Fischer said. “This would be a loss not just for the riders, but for dozens of Michigan towns.”

Passenger trains have become increasingly essential over the last decade despite years of underfunding at the federal level. Last April, President Obama announced a $13 billion initiative to dramatically improve and expand train service throughout the nation.

“Michigan has a good chance to capture some of this funding to complete the high speed rail line connecting Chicago and Detroit,” said John Langdon, governmental affairs coordinator.

The state of Michigan provides operational support for two of the three routes in Michigan. The Pere Marquette, which is celebrating its 25th year of service, serves Grand Rapids, Holland, Bangor, St. Joseph, and New Buffalo. The Blue Water serves Port Huron, Lapeer, Flint, Durand, East Lansing, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Dowagiac, and Niles.

# # #

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1973 to improve passenger train service, travel conditions for passengers, and to work for the preservation of historic rail stations. For more information, visit www.marp.org.

Amtrak Adjusts Schedule of Pere Marquette to Accommodate Track Work

June 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Announcements, News, Press Releases 

Temporary Timings from June 4 to June 21

CHICAGO – Amtrak is temporarily adjusting the westbound schedule for the Pere Marquette service on the Chicago-Grand Rapids route to accommodate track work planned by CSX Transportation, the owner of the train’s route in Michigan. The temporary schedule will begin June 4 and continue through June 21, 2007.

The westbound Pere Marquette (Train 371) will be scheduled to operate one hour earlier from all stations. The eastbound Pere Marquette (Train 370) schedule is unaffected. These changes will compensate for anticipated delays due to the track work.

“While we recognize this temporary schedule change might cause some inconvenience for our passengers, they will eventually benefit from the track improvements with a smoother ride and improved reliability,” said Don Saunders, Amtrak Central Division General Superintendent.

Amtrak Pere Marquette ridership for the fiscal year-to-date (October 2006 through April 2007) was 56,827, an increase of 5.4 percent from the same period a year ago. The train often operates at full capacity, so passengers are reminded of the need to obtain reservations in advance from Amtrak.com, by calling 800-USA-RAIL, using a Quik-Trak(SM) Ticket Express automated ticket machine (including the Grand Rapids, Holland, Saint Joseph and Chicago stations) or through a travel agent.

The plans for this temporary schedule change are correct as of the above date. If these plans are changed, Amtrak will notify passengers who have included personal contact telephone numbers with their reservations.

The Pere Marquette is financed primarily through funds made available by the Michigan Department of Transportation and with the support of Westrain, a grass-roots group representing the communities along the corridor. For more information about Westrain, visit http://www.gvmc.org/transportation/Westrain.shtml.

About Amtrak

Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail services to more than 500 destinations in 46 states on a 21,000-mile route system. For schedules, fares and information, passengers may call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com.

Amtrak Pere Marquette Temporary Schedule
Effective June 4-21, 2007

Train 370 – Chicago to Grand Rapids – Eastbound Pere Marquette

Station Daily
Chicago, IL – Union Station 5:20 p.m. CT (Depart)
New Buffalo, MI 7:35 p.m. ET (Depart)
St. Joseph – Benton Harbor, MI 8:03 p.m. ET (Depart)
Bangor, MI (South Haven) 8:39 p.m. ET (Depart)
Holland, MI 9:21 p.m. ET (Depart)
Grand Rapids, MI 10:20 p.m. ET (Arrive)

Train 371 – Grand Rapids to Chicago – Westbound Pere Marquette

Station Daily
Grand Rapids, MI 6:35 a.m. ET (Depart)
Holland, MI 7:21 a.m. ET (Depart)
Bangor, MI (South Haven) 8:02 a.m. ET (Depart)
St. Joseph – Benton Harbor, MI 8:39 a.m. ET (Depart)
New Buffalo, MI 9:06 a.m. ET (Depart)
Chicago, IL – Union Station 9:30 a.m. CT (Arrive)

This press release was provided by Amtrak and is available at www.amtrak.com

Two Amtrak Wolverine Trains Have New Eastbound Schedules

April 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Announcements, News, Press Releases 
Departures tie better to Milwaukee and allow earlier travel
CHICAGO – Lake Michigan is less of an impediment to travel between the Milwaukee and Detroit areas, effective with the semi-annual Amtrak schedule change on April 2. That’s because Train 350, the morning Wolverine Service train eastbound from Chicago, has a new schedule allowing for a connection from the first Hiawatha Service train arriving in Chicago from Milwaukee.

Additionally, Train 352, the mid-day Wolverine Service, will depart Chicago during the noon hour to offer more attractive arrivals in Michigan. The new schedules are below.

“The Amtrak Wolverine Service continues to post ridership gains and these changes are aimed to better serve our passengers needs by further improving the schedules and connections,” said Harris M. Cohen, Amtrak Program Manager, Business Initiatives.

In figures for the five months ending Feb. 28, 174,275 passengers rode on the six trains on the Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac corridor, an increase of 5.3 percent from the same period a year earlier. Ticket revenue is up by more than $425,000 and is in excess of $5.9 million for the five months of the current Amtrak fiscal year.

Overall, Amtrak ridership across the 46-state network of trains is also up for the Oct. 2006-Feb. 2007 period. The total of 9,934,410 passengers is an increase of more than four percent from the year-ago figure and includes double-digit increases on several routes.

About Amtrak

Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service to more than 500 destinations in 46 states on a 21,000-mile route system. For schedules, fares and information, passengers may call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com.

Amtrak Wolverine Service
Chicago-Battle Creek-Detroit-Pontiac

Eastbound

 

  350 – Daily 352 – Daily 354 – Daily
depart Chicago 8:30 am 12:15 pm 6:00 pm
Hammond-Whiting, Ind. 8:57 am 12:42 pm  
Michigan City, Ind.   1:19 pm  
Niles, Mich. 11:09 am 2:54 pm 8:41 pm
Dowagiac 11:21 am    
Kalamazoo 12:10 pm 3:45 pm 9:30 pm
Battle Creek 12:40 pm 4:15 pm 10:00 pm
Albion   4:43 pm  
Jackson 1:30 pm 5:07 pm 10:50 pm
Ann Arbor 2:09 pm 5:47 pm 11:30 pm
Greenfield Village* 2:38 pm 6:16 pm  
Dearborn 2:46 pm 6:22 pm 11:59 pm
Detroit 3:15 pm 6:49 pm 12:32 am
Royal Oak 3:36 pm 7:10 pm 12:53 am
Birmingham 3:43 pm 7:17 pm 1:00 am
Pontiac, Mich. 4:08 pm 7:44 pm 1:29 am
Westbound

 

  351 – Daily 353 – Daily 355 – Daily
Pontiac, Mich. 6:40 am 11:05 am 5:10 pm
Birmingham 6:53 am 11:18 am 5:23 pm
Royal Oak 7:00 am 11:25 am 5:30 pm
Detroit 7:23 am 11:46 am 5:53 pm
Dearborn 7:46 am 12:13 pm 6:14 pm
Greenfield Village* 7:49 am 12:16 pm 6:17 pm
Ann Arbor 8:23 am 12:56 pm 6:51 pm
Jackson 8:59 am 1:34 pm 7:27 pm
Albion   1:58 pm 7:49 pm
Battle Creek 9:54 am 2:31 pm 8:22 pm
Kalamazoo 10:24 am 3:01 pm 8:52 pm
Dowagiac   3:29 pm 9:21 pm
Niles, Mich.   3:43 pm 9:34 pm
Michigan City, Ind.     9:11 pm
Hammond-Whiting, Ind.   3:45 p.m 9:47 pm
Chicago 11:59 a.m 4:41 pm 10:38 pm
All times local, Central Time in Illinois and Indiana, Eastern Time in Michigan.
*Greenfield Village stop is only made for group travel.
 

This news release was provided by Amtrak.
Click below for the original:

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/News_Release_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1173376437448&ssid=180

 

Full funding proposed for Michigan’s Amtrak services in 2006-07 budget

April 19, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Announcements, Press Releases 

Full funding for Michigan’s Amtrak service (Pere Marquette and Bluewater trains) were included in the Governor’s budget for 2006-07 fiscal year and were introduced to the State House of Representative and the State Senate in February.

The Micigan Legislature cut funding for Amtrak’s Michigan service by $1 million in the 2005-06 budget.

HB 5737, introduced Feb. 21 by Rep. Rich Brown (D-Bessemer) and SB 1097, introduced Feb. 28 by Sen. Jim Barcia (D-Bay City) and Sen. Bob Emerson (D-Flint) both place the Governor’s Executive Budget on the floor. Her budget includes the full $7.1 million for Amtrak funding for 2006-07.

There appears to be no bill that reinstates the $1 million shortfall for passenger rail in the 2005-06 budget yet. The implications for an uninterupted passenger rail service schedule until the end of the budget year (Sept. 30) are unknown as of this date.

##

TWO MICHIGAN AMTRAK ROUTES COULD STOP IN OCTOBER

September 19, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Press Releases 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 19, 2005

CONTACT: Mike Whims, Chairman or John DeLora, Executive Director PHONE: (248) 892-4545 or (313) 575-6608

Many Michigan Amtrak passengers may be left at the station after state Legislators recommended cutting $1 million from Michigan’s fiscal year 2006 passenger rail budget on Thursday. The budget will go to Governor Granholm. If approved, this cut will end the Port Huron – East Lansing – Chicago Blue Water and the Grand Rapids – Holland – Chicago Pere Marquette trains.

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) opposes any cuts to Amtrak, especially at a time when both the Blue Water and Pere Marquette are experiencing ridership increases. During the first half of the current fiscal year, the Blue Water has experienced a 21% ridership increase and the Pere Marquette has seen an 11% increase compared to the same period a year ago.

Amtrak currently receives $7.1 million from the state; however, Senate Bill 281 would cut next year’s budget down to $6.1 million. Cutting $1million from Amtrak’s budget forces both the Blue Water and Pere Marquette to be eliminated under the current contract with the state. The bill contains an amendment by Rich Brown (D-Bessemer) that would restore funding if Amtrak would move a major maintenance facility from Beech Grove, Indiana (near Indianapolis) to Michigan.

“This is political blackmail,” said Mike Whims, MARP Chairman. “Amtrak is not going to move a multi-million dollar facility based solely on getting back the $1 million it already needs for Michigan train operations.”

MARP believes these Amtrak routes are a valuable form of transportation for many Michigan communities. In addition, Amtrak provides jobs to Michigan citizens and purchases goods and services from several Michigan businesses. “The increasing ridership proves that Michigan citizens want the service. High fuel prices and airline bankruptcies make train service even more critical for the future,” said Whims.

Citizens are urged to contact Governor Granholm, state representatives, and state senators to voice support for Amtrak.

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is an all volunteer, non-profit corporation established in 1973 to improve passenger train service, travel conditions for passengers, and to work for the preservation of historic rail stations.

For further information please contact Mike Whims (248) 892-4545 or John DeLora at (313) 575-6608 or visit MARP’s website at http://www.marp.org.

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Town Hall Meeting on Amtrak Funding

June 30, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Announcements 

Please join State Representative John Espinoza, 83rd District and other Amtrak supporters and guests panelists.

WHAT: Discussion on Amtrak’s funding and opposition to proposed cuts to the passenger rail service and how it affects you.

WHEN: Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: St. Clair County Community College
Room 150, Citizens First M-TEC Center
Corner of Glenwood and Erie Streets (Downtown Port Huron)

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MICHIGAN TRAIN RIDE & RALLY TO SAVE AMTRAK

June 21, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Press Releases 

MEDIA ADVISORY

June 21, 2005  

Contacts:
Mike Whims, President, MARP: mwhims@detroittransit.org; 248-892-4545
Ed McArdle, SEMG Sierra Club: ecoed@netzero.net; 313-388-6645
John Langdon, Chair, SWM Chapter MARP: john-langdon@sbcglobal.net, 616-218-9009
Kay Chase, Chair, Kalamazoo Environmental Council: chase@wmich.edu 269-387-5237

Please include in local announcements and calendars.

On Saturday, June 25, there will be a press conference and rally to call attention to state and federal budget cuts that threaten the passenger trains that serve Michigan. A pending cut of $1 million from Michigan’s next fiscal year budget could end the Port Huron – Kalamazoo – Chicago Blue Water train and the Grand Rapids – St Joseph – Chicago – Pere Marquette train. In Congress, the budget recommendation from the transportation committee headed by Michigan’s Rep. Joe Knollenberg would severely impact service on the Wolverine trains that serves the Detroit – Kalamazoo – Chicago corridor.

Organizers invite the community to show their support by joining them at the Kalamazoo Intermodal Center, 459 N. Burdick, to greet train Number 353 when it arrives from the east at approximately 2:50 p.m. on Saturday. Local lawmakers have been invited to attend, as have representatives of Metro Transit, the Chamber of Commerce, the United Transportation Union, and the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

On board the train will be members of Sierra Club’s southeast Michigan group (SEMG), the Michigan Association of Rail Passengers (MARP) and Transit Riders United of Detroit (TRU). The groups will rally earlier in Pontiac and Ann Arbor to “Stop the Great Train Robbery!” Along the way they have distributed information and talked to fellow passengers about the importance of letting decision makers know that train travel is an option people want and need. The group will be joined in Kalamazoo by members of local Sierra Club, the Southwest Region Chapter-Michigan Association of Rail Passengers, the Kalamazoo Environmental Council, and Transportation Action Strategy for Kalamazoo.

“There has been great support for passenger rail by our local leaders,” said Kay Chase, MARP member and frequent train passenger, “and they need to know that we are behind them. Senator George just last week was on the losing side of an effort to restore the $1 million that is crucial to continued operation of the Blue Water train. And in Washington, Congressman Fred Upton has been a strong advocate for our Michigan trains.”

According to Amtrak’s latest ridership reports, Michigan ridership is up 12.8% from last year, serving over 600,000 passengers in 2004. Kalamazoo has the 2nd highest ridership in the state-over 75,000 per year. During the first eight months of the current fiscal year, the Blue Water line, which serves the Port Huron-Kalamazoo-Chicago corridor, experienced a 20.4% ridership gain. Amtrak employs 133 Michigan state residents earning $6.4 million annually in wages and salaries. Their paychecks support local economies across the state. A recent economic impact study found that 60 Michigan vendors have contracts with Amtrak worth $2.8 million per year. Train travel reduces dependence on foreign oil and lessens the impact on global warming. Intercity trains emit up to three times less pollution per passenger mile than automobiles and six times less than airplanes. People are finding train travel to be convenient and cost-effective as airline security becomes more intrusive and highways become more congested.

For more information on the Michigan Association of Rail Passengers, visit www.marp.org

###

 

MICHIGAN TRAIN RIDE & RALLY TO SAVE AMTRAK

AMTRAK BLUE WATER AND PERE MARQUETTE SERVICE THREATENED

June 8, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Press Releases 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 8, 2005

CONTACT: John DeLora, Executive Director or Mike Whims, Chairman PHONE: (313) 575-6608 or (248) 892-4545  

Michigan House Bill 4831, that proposes to cut $1 million from the fiscal year 2006 passenger rail budget, is threatening Amtrak services in Michigan. If approved, this massive reduction could end the Port Huron – East Lansing- Chicago Blue Water and the Grand Rapids – Holland – Chicago Pere Marquette.

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) opposes any cuts to Amtrak, especially at a time when both the Blue Water and Pere Marquette are experiencing ridership increases. During the first half of the current fiscal year, the Blue Water has experienced a 21% ridership increase and the Pere Marquette has seen an 11% increase compared to the same period a year ago.

“This makes no sense to cut funding for these trains,” said John DeLora, MARP executive director. “Both trains are performing very well and Michigan travelers want the service.”

The threat to the two Michigan Amtrak trains comes at a bad time for Amtrak as the Bush Administration has proposed to eliminate the funding nationally. The Bush Administration wants to “reform” Amtrak by eliminating federal operational funding and have each state be fiscally responsible for intercity passenger rail services should they desire to keep trains running through their respective states.

“Obviously having the states foot the bill for passenger rail will not work.” Mike Whims, MARP Chairman, stated. “If we are fighting over a million dollars out of a multi-billion dollar state transportation budget to keep the Blue Water and Pere Marquette trains running, what will it be like to get the state to fund the Chicago – Detroit – Pontiac trains that are now funded nationally? It’s a plan for disaster.”

Cutting $1 million from Amtrak’s budget forces both the Blue Water and Pere Marquette to be eliminated under the current contract with the state. Plus, there is no fair procedure to determine which train to eliminate especially since both trains are performing so well.

Last month, chambers of commerce and convention bureaus from cities along Michigan Amtrak routes, went to Chicago aboard Amtrak to promote tourism to Michigan. Having Amtrak service in Michigan offers important transportation access especially in times of high gas prices, gridlock on highways, and security delays at airports.

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is a non-profit corporation established in 1973 to improve passenger train service, travel conditions for passengers, and to work for the preservation of historic rail stations.

For further information please contact John DeLora at (313) 575-6608 or Mike Whims (248) 892-4545 or visit MARP’s website at http://www.marp.org.

###

Threatened end to Blue Water and Pere Marquette

June 1, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Press Releases 

State Representative Shelley Taub (R-Bloomfield Hills), who sits as chair of the Transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee has announced her intention to propose a $1 million cut in state funding of the Blue Water and Pere Marquette trains. This will be fast-tracked in budget session June 7, 8 and 9.

MDOT has stated that if this occurs, the $7.1 million requirement to operate the trains cannot be met, and both trains will be eliminated. This is because one contract with Amtrak covers operation of both trains, and there is no fair process to determine which train should be eliminated. The remainder of funds, $6.1 million, would be utilized on other rail needs in the state.

Please let your local legislators know your concern about the proposal to eliminate Blue Water and Pere Marquette train service. If this proposal is adopted by the House Appropriations Committee as part of its State Budget, the Senate is likely to go along with it. It is important to email or call your local State Representative and Senator.

Ridership on the Blue Water has increased 21% year to date April 30,2005 compared to the same period last year. The Pere Marqutee has seen an 11% increase. Michigan residents are continuing to discover the practical, financial and safety benefits of riding the train.

Please take a few minutes to call or email your State representatives now. Leaving a message on their office voice mail is effective. Remember to provide your name and address.

Use MARP’s political contact web page to look up your representative’s or sentator’s contact information. Remember the $1 million reduction is proposed by the Michigan Legislature. Contact your U.S. representative or senator about proposed federal reductions in Amtrak’s budget.

Additional key elected officials to contact are:

  • Rep. Shelley Taub
    shelleytaub@house.mi.gov
    517-373-8670 (ph)
    517-373-5868 (fax)
  • Rep. Scott Hummel
    scotthummel@house.mi.gov
    517-373-1778 (ph)
    517-373-5780 (fax)
  • Rep. Gretchen Whitmer
    gretchenwhitmer@house.mi.gov
    517-373-1786 (ph)
    517-373-5717 (fax)
  •  

      REPRESENTATIVES

      SENATORS

    Please pass this information along to others as soon as possible.

     

     

  • Sen. Shirley Johnson
    sensjohnson@senate.michigan.gov
    517-373-2523 (ph)
    517-373-5669 (fax)
  • Sen. Michael Prusi
    senmprusi@senate.michigan.gov
    517-373-7840 (ph)
    517-373-3932 (fax)
  • MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RAILROAD PASSENGERS OPPOSES THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN FOR AMTRAK

    March 24, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
    Filed under: Press Releases 

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    MARCH 24, 2005

    CONTACT: John DeLora, Executive Director or Mike Whims, Chairman
    PHONE: (313) 575-6608 or (248) 892-4545  

    Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta and the Bush Administration think letting Amtrak go into bankruptcy is the solution for intercity passenger rail. However, the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) views this plan weak and irresponsible.

    Secretary Mineta is visiting various cities across the U.S. talking about the Bush Administration’s plan for intercity passenger rail, which includes the “Passenger Rail Investment Act” that will soon be re-introduced to Congress. MARP feels this plan is full of holes and could leave many parts are the country without intercity passenger rail service.

    Part of the Bush Administration’s plan is to shift passenger rail funding to the individual states. This plan is weak for states to be able to afford passenger rail funding when they are suffering from budget woes. Here in Michigan, the state currently funds the operation of the Chicago to Port Huron Blue Water and the Chicago to Grand Rapids Pere Marquette, while Amtrak funds the Chicago to Detroit Wolverine Service. This year, the Michigan Department of Transportation provided $7.1 million in operating subsidies to keep the Blue Water and Pere Marquette trains running. Under the Bush Administration’s plan, those subsidies are expected to significantly increase if the state is responsible to subsidize the Wolverine Service.

    Finding dedicated passenger rail funds will be difficult for the state of Michigan and the federal government. In Michigan, it’s often an annual legislative battle to get transportation dollars while the federal government has to appropriate subsidies from the general fund for Amtrak. Secretary Mineta has not addressed where any dedicated rail passenger funding will come from.

    “Mineta commends states like California for creating a partnership with Amtrak and expanding passenger rail.” Said John DeLora, MARP Executive Director. “He (Mineta) does not mention passenger rail gets funding through a dedicated gas tax that California voters approved in the early 1990′s.”

    DeLora fears Michigan may not support a rise in gas taxes to pay for passenger rail, especially with the current fuel costs. This could mean all Michigan Amtrak could come to a grinding halt if there is no money.

    Mineta contends the long-distance Amtrak trains are the real money losers and the “anchor bringing down the entire Amtrak system.” MARP argues this is not true when the long distance trains help support a bigger network and offer transportation services to places where there are no airlines, buses, or easy access to highways. Mineta thinks it would be cheaper to give a passenger an airline ticket versus subsidizing an Amtrak train. How can this be done in cities like Port Huron, Lapeer, Durand, or Niles where there are no airports or bus services?

    The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is a non-profit corporation established in 1973 to improve passenger train service, travel conditions for passengers, and to work for the preservation of historic rail stations.

    For further information please contact John DeLora at (313) 575-6608 or Mike Whims (248) 892-4545 or visit MARP’s website at http://www.marp.org.

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    Proposed Amtrak cuts could hurt Michigan

    February 10, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
    Filed under: Press Releases 

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    CONTACT: John DeLora, Executive Director or Mike Whims, Chairman
    PHONE: (313) 575-6608 or (248) 892-4545  

    The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) is deeply concerned about President George Bush’s Fiscal 2006 budget proposal. His administration proposes eliminating all funding for Amtrak, which would be detrimental to all Amtrak Michigan passenger rail services.

    Amtrak currently serves three corridors in Michigan, which include Chicago to Detroit (Wolverine Services), Chicago to Port Huron (the Blue Water), and Chicago to Grand Rapids (the Pere Marquette), with a total of ten daily trains. The State of Michigan currently funds the operation of the Blue Water and the Pere Marquette, while Amtrak funds the Wolverine Service.

    Should Congress approve zero funding for Amtrak, and then it will be up to each state to foot the bill for all operating costs. Michigan, like many other states, is suffering from budget deficits and cannot afford to make up these costs.

    John DeLora, MARP Executive Director, feels these proposed cuts make no sense when ridership is increasing on all Michigan Amtrak trains.

    “Over 600,000 Michigan passengers use Amtrak per year.” DeLora states. “It also serves several Michigan cities which do not have air or bus services.”

    The loss of Amtrak trains could hit hard on college students traveling from cities like Ann Arbor, East Lansing, or Kalamazoo, business travelers from the Detroit area, and even weekend travelers going to Chicago from Grand Rapids. The train provides the best access to downtown Chicago compared to air. Also, many travelers like to avoid the heavy traffic on the highways by riding the train.

    Congestion is getting worse on many roads and airports like Chicago’s O’Hare. Expanding Amtrak services and not eliminating it should be the goal of the Bush Administration to improve overall mobility of the country.

    The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is a non-profit corporation established in 1973 to improve passenger train service, travel conditions for passengers, and to work for the preservation of historic rail stations.

    For further information please contact John DeLora at (313) 575-6608 or Mike Whims (248) 892-4545 or visit MARP’s website at http://www.marp.org.

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    HELP SAY “YES” FOR MICHIGAN TRAINS !

    February 1, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
    Filed under: Press Releases 

    PRESIDENT SAYS “NO” TO PASSENGER RAIL

    Passenger rail service in the United States is seriously threatened! President Bush has proposed to CUT ALL FUNDING to Amtrak beginning October 1, 2005. The national passenger rail system gives Americans a necessary travel choice to highways and airplanes, and is the ONLY intercity service to many communities without air or intercity bus connections.

    Nationwide rail travel is at record levels this year, increasing 4.3% over last year. Since September 11, 2001, rail travel is gaining national popularity and purpose. Over 25 million passengers rode Amtrak last year.

    Michigan rail ridership has been steadily increasing at double-digit percentages over the past two years. (See chart) The State of Michigan supports passenger rail service with funding for the Pere Marquette and Blue Water trains, but these trains and the Pontiac-Chicago Wolverine service will end unless Congress acts to save and expand the federal support of Amtrak.

    Contact your elected officials and let them know that you support continued funding of national passenger rail. Include a personal story about why Amtrak is important to you, if possible. See contact information below.

    Call, fax or email your elected officials (postal letters are subject to long security delays). Include the President, Congressional representatives, State leaders and your local mayor and/ or councilpersons in your correspondence.

    The President: ph. (202) 456-1111, fax (202) 456-2461, email president@whitehouse.gov
    U.S. Senate/House switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or go to www.senate.gov, www.house.gov
    The Governor: (517) 373-3400
    Michigan Senate switchboard: (517) 373-2400, or go to www.senate.michigan.gov
    Michigan House switchboard: (517) 373-0135, or go to house.michigan.gov

    Amtrak Timeliness Study Results

    October 1, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
    Filed under: Reports 

    September, 2004

    Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) has conducted a timeliness study for AMTRAK trains serving the state of Michigan. The study period covers September 1 through September 30, 2004. Data for the study was obtained directly from AMTRAK’s website-based train status database.

    Data was collected by four MARP members who were each assigned specific trains: Blue Water-Kaz Fujita; Pere Marquette-John Langdon; Wolverine eastbound-Jim Wallington; and Wolverine westbound-Mike Whims. MARP wishes to thank these members for their valuable efforts.

    The study was prompted by continued complaints from passengers regarding AMTRAK’s timeliness performance. A preliminary study conducted by MARP in June-July, 2004 indicated serious timeliness delays, some of which were considered perhaps due to startup problems on the Blue Water and other non-recurring events. The September study is both a confirmatory study and a baseline against which future studies will be compared.

    The results of the September study indicate that serious deficiencies exist in AMTRAK’s ability to deliver timely service on Michigan’s ten (10) daily trains. On average, an eastbound passenger could rely on reaching a train’s final Michigan destination city on-schedule only 36% of the time, and a westbound passenger could rely on an on-schedule arrival in Chicago only 9% of the time.

    The September study results indicate that performance varies from train to train. The westbound trips are clearly less reliable than eastbound, and the somewhat subjective honor of the worst performance is shared by the Blue Water westbound and the Wolverine mid-day westbound #353 trains. In fact, anyone who rode the #353 Wolverine train never reached Chicago on time during September.

    This report includes a summary sheet of performance data by train, followed by the actual data collected by each member. Although data format used by each member differs, a standard convention is utilized where (+) indicates lateness. Also, an early arrival is counted as on time in the summaries. A cancelled train (due to freight problems for instance) was not counted in the averaging.

          MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RAILROAD PASSENGERS				
                     September, 2004 AMTRAK Timeliness Study Results				
    
    BLUE WATER West #365 			Dp PTH	Dp LNS	Dp BTL	Ar CHI
    % of time train met schedule		90%	20%	7%	3%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	0.8	32.8	45.0	71.8
    
    BLUE WATER East #364 			Dp CHI	Dp BTL	Dp LNS	Ar PTH
    % of time train met schedule		87%	10%	0%	30%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	7.5	27.4	37.6	39.4
    
    PERE MARQUETTE West #371 		Dp GRR	Dp HOM	Dp NBM	Ar CHI
    % of time train met schedule		100%	7%	3%	10%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	0.0	6.3	18.6	25.5
    
    PERE MARQUETTE East #370 		Dp CHI	Dp NBM	Dp HOM	Ar GRR
    % of time train met schedule		90%	28%	24%	31%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	0.4	14.3	16.3	14.3
    
    WOLVERINE early West #351 		Dp PNT	Dp DET	Dp BTL	Ar CHI
    % of time train met schedule		69%	0%	0%	10%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	5.1	18.9	33.1	32
    
    WOLVERINE mid-day West #353 		Dp PNT	Dp DET	Dp BTL	Ar CHI
    % of time train met schedule		38%	0%	0%	0%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	14.7	26.6	46.0	42.5
    
    WOLVERINE evening West #355 		Dp PNT	Dp DET	Dp BTL	Ar CHI
    % of time train met schedule		79%	18%	3%	23%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	7.5	19.6	30.4	28.3
    
    WOLVERINE early East #350 		Dp CHI	Dp BTL	Dp DET	Ar PNT
    % of time train met schedule		80%	17%	30%	30%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	9.8	25.3	29.5	31.9
    
    WOLVERINE mid-day East #352 		Dp CHI	Dp BTL	Dp DET	Ar PNT
    % of time train met schedule		83%	23%	17%	20%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	3.8	25.3	30.6	29.1
    
    WOLVERINE evening East #354 		Dp CHI	Dp BTL	Dp DET	Ar PNT
    % of time train met schedule		90%	20%	33%	30%
    Ave. departure from schedule (min.)	1.1	15.6	15.1	16.3
    
    Data source: AMTRAK

    Battle Creek meet

    November 17, 2001 by · Leave a Comment
    Filed under: Photo Gallery 

    Amtrak’s trains now known as the Wolverine and Lake Cities meet Nov. 17, 2001 in Battle Creek. Click HERE for more information about Amtrak’s services in Michigan.  (Photo courtesy of J.R. Valderas)