Economy
12:01 am
Sun March 18, 2012

Amtrak travelers should expect delays over next several weeks

Travelers who plan to take Amtrak trains between Kalamazoo and Detroit can expect significant delays for at least the next three weeks.

Less than a month ago, Amtrak announced it was increasing train speeds to 110 mph in some areas.

But Norfolk Southern now says those trains will to have to slow to 25 to 30 mph on some segments of track because it’s upgrading ties and rail.

Janet Foran is with the Michigan Department of Transportation. She says the news came as a surprise, because MDOT spent millions of dollars to upgrade the line at the state's expense last year.

Foran  worries travelers will be discouraged from using Amtrak because of the extra time it'll take to reach their destinations.

"There will be delays up to 45 to 90 minutes on the Wolverine Service that affects the travel between Detroit-Pontiac and Chicago," Foran says.

She says there will be fewer delays on Blue Water passengers traveling from Port Huron via East Lansing and Flint into Chicago.

She says ridership was just getting back to  normal after a service disruption last year.

"This is clearly a step backward in the state of Michigan," Foran says. "Passengers were really flocking to train travel right now, so this is really going to put us back, no question about it."

She also says MDOT has been in discussions with Norfolk Southern to buy the segments of track that will cause the slowdowns.