Faster trains will save 1:45Published 11:28pm Thursday, February 16, 2012
A train trip from Chicago to Detroit which today takes 5 1/2 hours will be reduced by an hour and 45 minutes to three hours and 45 minutes when 110-mile speeds are possible along the entire corridor by 2015.
For now, 10 minutes are saved on the 90-mile track section between Kalamazoo and Porter, Ind., making it possible to be in downtown Chicago from Dowagiac in less than two hours.
“It’s a significant turning point for passenger rail service in our state,” Janet Foran of the Michigan Department of Transportation said Thursday.
Amtrak and MDOT got a green light from the Federal Railroad Administration for higher passenger train speeds on key Michigan routes.
Officials, including Dowagiac Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin (who was quoted on WGN) and City Clerk James Snow, rode the train at 110 miles per hour Wednesday from Chicago to Kalamazoo to celebrate the faster speed on Michigan’s Wolverine service.
The Detroit-Chicago route through Dowagiac serves as an example for the rest of the United States. FRA approved higher speeds following a successful safety system upgrade on the Amtrak-owned track between Kalamazoo and Porter, Ind.
All public crossings from Kalamazoo to the state line now have crossing gates, flashers and new train control safety technology developed by General Electric Transportation.
The 110-mph speed is the most allowed on Amtrak trains “west of the Alleghenies,” setting the stage for expansion of accelerated services from Kalamazoo to Dearborn.
The Wolverine makes three daily round trips between Pontiac and Chicago via Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Amtrak Blue Water, which recently set ridership records, makes daily trips between Port Huron and Chicago via East Lansing.