Michigan will seek up to $25 million from a $2.3 billion federal fund to help cover costs for repair work on four rail bridges located between Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo that serve Amtrak passenger trains, according to a Detroit News report.
According to the report, Director of the Michigan Transportation Department’s Office of Rail Peter Anastor said his department will apply to the new federal program, which “allows states to apply for grants to establish new intercity passenger and high-speed rail services, as well as upgrade rail corridors.”
According to The Detroit News report, Amtrak offers three passenger routes in Michigan: The Wolverine between Pontiac and Chicago, the Pere Marquette between Grand Rapids and Chicago, and the Blue Water between Port Huron and Chicago. Amtrak operates three trains daily in each direction on the Wolverine between Chicago and Pontiac.
According to The Detroit News report, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers Government Affairs Coordinator Steven Vagnozzi said the organization “supports keeping infrastructure reliable but also wants improvements for the Amtrak rail system,” including increased services and additional destinations.
Director of the Illinois-based Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission Laura Kliewer is also “concerned about the availability and frequency of train routes in Michigan,” The Detroit News reports, adding that “Michigan has a long list of rail plans, one of which is to increase frequency on the Blue Water, Wolverine, and Pere Marquette routes,” according to Kliewer.
Next on the list, Kliewer said, would be adding a service to Toledo and Cleveland from Detroit, as well as between Toronto and Detroit, according to The Detroit News report.
According to The Detroit News report, the rail passenger advocacy group is also “pressing for improved sidings so freight trains can better yield to Amtrak trains.” Passing sides are additional tracks that allow a train to permit another train to pass.
“The state would like to see expanded service and increased frequency but there is insufficient equipment and funding,” Anastor said, adding that “the legislature and governor would need to address long-term funding to expand passenger service across the state,” according to the report.