WUOMFM

commuter rail

Amtrak

Michigan’s passenger rail system doesn’t seem to generate a lot of enthusiasm.

We received this anonymous question on our M-I Curious page: “Why doesn't Michigan have a good passenger train system?”

The question simply begged for clarification, such as, “Who says?” and, “What would you consider good?”

Although the question got a lot of votes, we never heard from "Anonymous" again. 

So we went to the Amtrak station in Ann Arbor to see what we could see.

The train is late, but the train is still great

morgueFile

A state official says $3,000-a-day lease payments on idle train cars should end by Sept. 30.   

The Michigan Transportation Department is negotiating with a railroad to change a contract that has been a costly embarrassment.

The state has spent more than $10 million since 2010 to lease and refurbish the rail cars, although commuter rail service in southeastern Michigan appears to be years away. 

Prayitno / Creative Commons

A group that's estimating demand for a commuter rail line between Detroit and Grand Rapids is looking for input.

Technically, you can buy a train ticket from Grand Rapids to Detroit, but you have to ride a bus to Kalamazoo first. This rail line would be direct, from Detroit to Holland, with stops in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

morgueFile

The Michigan Department of Transportation is close to re-negotiating a deal on leased rail cars that are sitting un-used in a state lot.

The state’s already paid $11 million to the Great Lakes Central Railroad on the leases.  

Tim Hoeffner is the director of the Office of Rail in the Michigan Department of Transportation.

He says the arrangement would allow the state to suspend its lease payments for up to five years “and the Great Lakes Central Railroad would try to lease the equipment, sub-lease the equipment and try to generate revenue from these other lease opportunities.”