News

The Detroit News: Grand Rapids, Detroit train idea taking shape

7/29/15

Passenger train service between Detroit and Grand Rapids could be reinstated in the next decade if state transportation experts determine the public has an appetite for a new line and can figure out how to pay for it.

Supporters say the idea of connecting Michigan’s two largest cities by train is gaining appeal on both sides of the state as each undergo economic and cultural revivals making passenger service more appealing to business travelers and tourists.

The Michigan Environmental Council, the Lansing-based group that supports increasing public transportation options, has undertaken a $100,000 feasibility study and embarked on a series of hearings this summer along the route to get the public’s input.

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QCOnline: Moline may kick in $875K to start passenger rail station

6/23/15

MOLINE — A budget stalemate in Springfield is causing Moline and Metrolink to step in with alternative funding to save the passenger rail station project.

Moline city administrator Lew Steinbrecher said the state informed the city it will not, at this time, provide the $2.5 million in matching funds it promised in 2010 to help build the $16.6 million station at 12th Street and 4th Avenue.

He said work needs to get underway or Moline could lose a $10 million federal TIGER II grant that expires Sept. 30, 2017.

Since taking office, Gov. Bruce Rauner has launched a review of all large capital projects that will use state funds, including the planned station and passenger rail route between Chicago and Moline.

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MLive: 5 reactions to Grand Rapids to Detroit passenger rail service

6/22/15

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — It’s arguable Michigan once had a better passenger rail system than it does today.

A coast-to-coast line connected Grand Rapids to Detroit before 1971 and, since then, there have been pushes to unite the cities once again. Amtrak currently serves those cities — and points in between — but a direct link no longer exists without a convoluted journey.

The latest effort to link Michigan’s most populous destinations drew about 30 people to the Michigan Environmental Council’s first Grand Rapids public meeting Monday evening at The Rapid Central Station.

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MLive: Early plans for passenger rail service from Detroit to Grand Rapids includes 3 possible routes

6/10/15

LANSING, MI — To get from Detroit to Grand Rapids by train in 2015, you have to go through Chicago. Or transfer to a bus in Kalamazoo.

That could change under early and developing plans for “coast-to-coast” passenger rail service that would link Michigan’s two largest cities.

“It’s all about connecting Michigan,” Liz Treutel of the Michigan Environmental Council said Tuesday night at a public meeting in Lansing.

It was the first of 16 public meetings across the state this year as Michigan by Rail, an informal group led by the MEC, works to collect feedback and gauge interest as part of a feasibility study.

Initial plans include three possible routes for the rail service, with each including stops in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Holland.

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WLNS.com: Meetings planned on possible new passenger rail service

6/8/15

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Public meetings are planned on proposed new passenger rail service that could connect Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Holland.

The first of three rounds of public meetings starts Tuesday for the Detroit-Holland Passenger Rail Ridership and Cost Estimate Study, also known as the Coast-to-Coast Passenger Rail Study.

Meetings are scheduled Tuesday in Lansing, Thursday in Kent County’s Cascade Township, June 15 in Grand Rapids, June 18 in Detroit and June 22 in Ann Arbor. They’re to provide an opportunity for the public to share ideas and input.

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Center for American Progress: Understanding Amtrak and the importance of passenger rail in the United States

6/8/15

Passenger rail is an essential element of America’s surface transportation system. The main provider of intercity passenger rail service is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak. Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states. Passenger rail service supports economic development, connects rural communities to the nation, and helps reduce roadway congestion in major metropolitan regions. In addition, Amtrak facilities and services are vital to commuter rail agencies, allowing 840,000 commuters to reach their destinations every weekday.

The most heavily traveled portion of the national passenger rail system is the Northeast Corridor, or NEC, which stretches from Washington, D.C., to Boston, Massachusetts. The Northeast megaregion is home to one in every seven Americans, or more than 50 million people. All told, the region accounts for $1 out of every $5 of economic productivity.

Congestion within the region takes a heavy toll on the economy. Four of the five airports with the greatest congestion and worst on-time performance—including LaGuardia, Kennedy, Newark Liberty, and Philadelphia—are located within the Northeast, and these airports account for one-third of all aviation delays nationally. The economic cost of congestion at these airports is expected to more than double by 2025, to $7 billion annually.

As highway congestion within the region has grown, so has Amtrak’s role as an efficient alternative to driving.

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Portland Press Herald: Coalition pushes Maine lawmakers for passenger rail expansion

6/3/15

A coalition that includes rail advocates, municipal officials and the Sierra Club pushed for expanded passenger rail service in Maine on Tuesday, arguing before lawmakers the economic and environmental benefits of public transit.

The group is rallying around three bills: a $25 million bond to upgrade rail infrastructure; a bill that allocates $500,000 to study extending passenger service to Auburn and Lewiston; and a bill that allows communities to work together to borrow or raise money for transportation projects.

Their main pitch: Passenger rail spurs economic development.

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Indiana Gazette Editorial: Commentary: Nation needs passenger rail

6/2/15

Less than a day after a passenger train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and blocking lines up and down the Eastern Seaboard, a U.S. House panel voted to cut Amtrak’s budget by $252 million, or one-fifth.

True, the cuts were on capital improvements, not safety features. Still, this vote shows the short-sightedness that is crippling transportation.

America needs passenger trains, but for the most part, we don’t have them. … Even where train service is available, the cars are often old, the tracks rickety and the equipment mostly outdated.

Americans who think we’re the most advanced nation on Earth need to travel more. In Europe, in Brazil, in Japan or China, they’ll see slick modern trains in beautiful, smoothly run stations, cruising at speeds of 125 mph or more between cities.

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The Desert Sun Editorial: Other Voices: U.S. should invest in passenger rail

6/1/15

Less than a day after a passenger train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and blocking lines up and down the Eastern Seaboard, a U.S. House panel voted to cut Amtrak’s budget by $252 million, or one-fifth.

True, the cuts were on capital improvements, not safety features. Still, this vote shows the short-sightedness that is crippling transportation.

America needs passenger trains, but for the most part, we don’t have them. Wilmington lost its last passenger rail route in 1968. To catch a train, folks here must get to Fayetteville, then wait till late at night for the right train to arrive.

Even where train service is available, the cars are often old, the tracks rickety and the equipment mostly outdated. (A safety device that could have slowed the Philadelphia train before it jumped the tracks won’t be installed on the line till later this year, maybe.)

Americans who think we’re the most advanced nation on Earth need to travel more. In Europe, in Brazil, in Japan or China, they’ll see slick modern trains in beautiful, smoothly run stations, cruising at speeds of 125 mph or more between cities. By contrast, some of our rail terminals, and even airports, seem like bus stations.

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GazetteXtra: All Aboard Wisconsin wants to expand passenger rail service in state

5/26/15

JANESVILLE—A century ago, Janesvillians hopped on electric, rail-riding streetcars to get to Beloit and Rockford, Illinois.

Automobiles and uncounted billions of dollars invested in roads changed things forever, so forget about widespread passenger rail service, right?

A coalition of railroad fans thinks not.

All Aboard Wisconsin wants to go back to the future, and it’s holding a public meeting in Janesville next Wednesday, May 13, to spread its message and hear what Rock County residents think.

All Aboard Wisconsin started holding community meetings in 2013. This year, Janesville and Milwaukee are meeting sites.

The plan is to find out what people think and to present those ideas to state officials in hopes of getting a state commitment to subsidize passenger rail service, said the organization’s Dave Mumma.

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