Passenger rail groups want Michigan to double-track to Chicago

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NILES, Mich. — Two passenger rail advocacy groups see the future of Amtrak’s Wolverine service on a double-track high speed line.

According to the Associated Press, both the Midwest Association of Railroad Passengers and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association are seeking public input on improving passenger service on the Chicago to Pontiac, Mich., line. The two groups met last week in Niles, which is in the southwest portion of the mitten-shaped state.

Both groups want the Michigan Department of Transportation to consider double-tracking the route to increase reliability, reduce transit times and add more daily trips.

“We think the state should be planning for a lot of growth on the corridor,” says Rick Harnish, the executive director for the Midwest group.

State transportation department spokesman, Michael Frezell, says the agency has considered double-tracking the route, but has decided against it. The need for additional track is made redundant by the efficiencies of signaling, GPS, and other technologies.

“MDOT is being fiscally responsible by not double-tracking the entire railroad now,” Frezell says. “If conditions change in the future there is always the opportunity to expand capacity in the existing right of way because the railroad was once double-tracked and the rail bed remains.”
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