24.3.15

RECLAIMING THE PRE-AMTRAK NETWORK?

The editorial board of the Grand Rapids Press calls for a return of the Pere Marquettes.
There are many compelling reasons to connect Grand Rapids and Detroit by passenger train. Both cities are up-and-coming; Grand Rapids is enjoying a much-storied renaissance, and Detroit is beginning to rebuild after bankruptcy. The future holds much promise for each, and new connections between the two -- physical and otherwise -- are a plus.

Rail travel also has become increasingly popular among the younger generation. Fewer are buying cars, and more are choosing to live in cities that have or are connected to formidable public transit systems.

There's also been increased demand in recent years for Amtrak's Grand Rapids-to-Chicago Pere Marquette Line, which has seen near-record ridership numbers. As Detroit raises its profile and grows, it is increasingly likely that demand for a Grand Rapids-Detroit train will grow even more.
There was twice-daily service (except Sunday) on this route up to the coming of Amtrak.  "Limited baggage service" and no food service.  The one Grand Rapids - Chicago train of the era wasn't as conducive to long-distance commuters or shoppers as Amtrak's morning-west, evening-east is.

The Chesapeake and Ohio never offered connecting service at Grand Rapids, as going Chicago to Detroit by way of Grand Rapids is the long way around, compared with the Michigan Central via Kalamazoo (the current 110 mph line) or the Grand Trunk by way of Lansing and Durand (Amtrak almost gets to Durand with its Michigan service turning at Pontiac.)

I wonder how much longer Michigan's Republican governor will continue to work with his Department of Transportation providing expanded Passenger Rail service, before his colleagues in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin excommunicate him.

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