Train from Detroit to Chicago, time out for good news

Oct 6, 2011

AccuWeather, the  respected private weather forecasting service based in Pennsylvania, is  predicting this will be a horrible winter, worse even than the last one. This  news came on the very day it became certain that it will
soon be faster to  escape to Chicago.

After negotiating for months, the Michigan  Department of Transportation announced yesterday a deal to buy one hundred and  thirty miles of track between Kalamazoo and Dearborn. This track badly needs  improving, and next summer, they’ll pour close to two hundred million dollars  into expanding and improving it, so trains can go up to one hundred and ten  miles an hour.

That will be a good thing, partly because federal funds  are going to be used to pay for virtually all of this. When the work is done, it  should be possible to get to Chicago by train almost as fast as by air, when you  count the time standing in line for security.

Train travel is also  cheaper and far more comfortable than air these days. But, what does this  welcome bit of news have to do with the weather? Simply this. Originally, the  track was supposed to be upgraded this year, but
negotiations took longer than  expected.

That may sound like bad news, but it is a blessing in  disguise. The weather in Chicago this winter is supposed to be the worst of all.  So there will be no point in trying to escape to the Windy City this year. So,  everything
works out for the best. Or, we hope so, anyway.

But if a  few of us are thinking about trains, a few million more are hoping fervently  that the Detroit Tigers manage to beat the New York Yankees tonight. If the Tigers win, they go on to play Texas for the pennant, in what  you could see as a sports metaphor for the battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination.

Actually I am  probably the only person who would see it that way, but I am a political  analyst. Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, you have to root for the Tigers;  another round of playoffs would mean a few million more
dollars pumped into  Detroit’s struggling economy.

Selfishly, some of us want the Tigers to  keep winning so we can spend less time thinking about other things, like the  economy and crooked politicians. Not to mention the weather. These  days, there are so many playoffs that
the World Series frequently extends into  November, not long before AccuWeather says the first killer snowstorms may  hit.

It would be something if the World Series were to be snowed out.  But as anyone over the age of six knows, weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable, and meteorologists disagree.

The Old Farmers Almanac in  fact predicts the opposite of Accuweather, and says this will be a milder than  normal winter. Frankly. I have to hope they are right. See, when they  told me the improvements to the railroad tracks would be made this summer, I  bought tickets to take the train to Chicago next January.

But if I end  up stuck in Chicago till spring, there are consolations. Whatever happens with  the Yankees, we know the Tigers can at least beat the White Sox.