railroad

Rail company to keep trying for Toledo link funds

Jan 12, 2014
http://www.abrailroad.com

BLISSFIELD, Mich. (AP) - A railroad company in southeastern Michigan's Lenawee County says it will keep pushing for financial help in reestablishing a freight line to Toledo, Ohio.

The Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co. lost out on 2013 grant awards through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. Railroad owner Mark Dobronski says it will reapply for the next round and also is pursuing other financing.

Officials say the lack of a rail link hampers economic development in the county.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Beginning Tuesday, the subsidy that Amtrak gets from the state of Michigan is about to triple, from $8 million to nearly $25 million a year.   

The reason for the increase is a 2008 federal law that requires greater cost sharing between the federal government and the states where Amtrak operates.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will hold another hearing tomorrow on legislation intended to crack down on scrap metal theft in Michigan.

The legislation would require scrap yards to keep better records and ban cash transactions for commonly stolen items, like catalytic converters and copper wire.

Police, prosecutors and larger industries often victimized by scrap metal thieves support the legislation.

But not scrap metal dealers and recyclers, who complain the new regulations would be a burden.

NILES, Mich. (AP) - Federal officials say railroad accidents last year in Michigan and Illinois were caused by workers not following required safety precautions.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that both the Feb. 28 accident in Madison, Ill., and the Oct. 21 accident near the southwestern Michigan city of Niles involved signal maintenance operations. It issued recommendations to address the improper use of jumper wires during maintenance and repairs.

The Amtrak "Wolverine" arriving in Ann Arbor.
smaedli / flickr

An Amtrak passenger train bound for Detroit derailed Sunday morning near Niles, MI.

The train cars, carrying 174 passengers and 4 crew members, stayed upright and remained in line with each other despite jumping the rails.

From the Detroit Free Press:

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Jackson will be the place to be this weekend for Amtrak aficionados. 

The national passenger rail service is marking its 40th anniversary this year.  This weekend, Amtrak is bringing a rolling museum of its four decade history to Jackson’s rail road station. 

Christina Leeds is an Amtrak spokeswoman.  She says passionate lovers of all things Amtrak have been flocking to the rolling exhibit’s previous stops around the country. 

Federal Railroad Administration

The Federal Railroad Administration has obligated $28,204,450 to the Michigan Department of Transportation to build a new Dearborn train station.

U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-Dearborn) made the announcement in a press release today:

This funding will allow the City of Dearborn to consolidate its two passenger rail stations into a intermodal station in the west section of downtown Dearborn... The intermodal facility will be designed for the planned Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter rail as well as future high-speed intercity passenger rail service.  The station will accommodate city, regional and intercity bus systems; local and tourist shuttles; bicycle and greenway linkages; and, auto, taxi, and limousine connections to Detroit International Airport.

In the release, Dingell said "modernizing rail travel will help attract small business development, increase job growth, and enhance the livelihood of communities and business, by helping to expedite the time and efficiency of people and goods getting from point A to point B."

Last May, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced an investment of $196.5 million to improve track and signal systems between Dearborn and Kalamazoo.

The improvements, the federal government said, would reduce trip times between Detroit and Chicago by 30 minutes.

The Federal Railroad Administration selected the Dearborn rail station to be funded under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program.

In total, the government plans to spend $10.1 billion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to improve passenger rail service in the U.S.

The Dearborn Press & Guide reports the announcement puts an end to questions about whether the money would come or not:

[The money] was awarded more than two years ago as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Although the money was awarded, until this week it still had not been obligated and Congressional Republicans are proposing to rescind all non-obligated ARRA funds as part of the upcoming federal budget process.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly was quoted as saying he was relieved by the news, "I was panicked that our shovel-ready project would never come to fruition. This really is key for Dearborn, as we'll now be central to any future transportation planning for the region."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The future of Michigan’s passenger and freight rail services is the subject of a series of public hearings next month. Michigan has thousands of miles of rail lines. Much of it is owned by freight haulers. But the state has some input about the future of those rail lines.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is holding a series of six public hearings in June from Grand Rapids and Battle Creek to Detroit and Flint. 

Larry Karnes is with the Michigan Department of Transportation. He says they want the public’s input on what the future of Michigan’s rail service should look like.

 “It will include a look at some of the issues….and challenges facing the rail system…and needs….and then come up with some strategies for addressing those needs…in the future.”  

High speed rail will play some role in Michigan’s future rail planning. The federal government has committed about $400 million toward high speed projects in Michigan.

We’ve had so much bad news for so long it’s sometimes hard to absorb when something goes right. But it did this week, when the federal government awarded Michigan $200 million dollars to improve railroad service between Detroit and Chicago.

The future of passenger rail service in Michigan may take a big leap forward today. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation will be in Detroit this afternoon for an announcement concerning “high speed rail." 

Michigan’s been down this track before. State transportation officials had high hopes last year when the Obama  administration planned to invest billions of dollars in developing  high speed rail projects across the country.  

State officials lobbied hard for the federal government to upgrade the  rail link between Detroit and Chicago, so trains could travel between the two cities at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. But, while the administration designated billions of dollars for projects in Illinois, California and Florida. Michigan only received a small amount of money to upgrade some Amtrak stations.  

But, Florida’s new governor decided his state didn’t want the two billion dollars the Obama administration was offering.  It appears Michigan and New York may end up splitting the money. We’ll find out  specifics later today. 

Florida’s not the first state to say “no” to federal high speed rail  money.  Wisconsin and Ohio also declined.  

Amtrak reported last month that ridership is rising on all three  passenger rail lines it operates in Michigan.

Amtrak train near Chicago
Steven Vance - Flickr

UPDATE 12/9/2010 3:33pm:

Michigan's been left off the list of state getting more federal money for high speed rail projects.  The New York Times reports:

The biggest winners of Ohio and Wisconsin’s money were California, which will receive another $624 million on top of the nearly $3 billion it has received so far toward the construction of a high-speed train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and Florida, which will get another $342 million on top of the roughly $2 billion it has received to build a high-speed train between Orlando and Tampa.

The other states that will get Ohio and Wisconsin’s money will be Washington, which will get up to $161 million; Illinois, which will get $42.3 million; and Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont, which will all get less than $10 million.