Wolverine to Toronto?

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Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby PM1946 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:33 pm

Let's see if this goes beyond the "nice idea" stage.
https://www.woodtv.com/news/national/am ... o-toronto/
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Manistique » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:19 am

In the late 1970's Amtrak ran the Niagara Rainbow that originated in Detroit at the Michigan Central Station and ran through Windsor and across Ontario on the Canada Southern (Conrail) to Buffalo (later routed directly to Niagara Falls) to NYC daily and return. It originally had E-units and old equipment but was upgraded to F40's and new coaches in 1978 before it was discontinued in 1979.

The International was started in 1982 to run between Toronto and Detroit via Port Huron/Sarnia. It was a joint Amtrak/Via train with each railroad providing a set of equipment. Back then VIA was still running MLW FP-A's and B's and they would often be seen on this train in Chicago. It stopped going through the St. Clair Tunnel shortly after 9/11 and became the Blue Water out of Port Huron. I heard one reason was border security concerns, which would still apply today.

Around 1995, when Amtrak abandoned using Michigan Central Station in Detroit and built the temporary (still in use) station on Woodward in the New Center Area of Detroit, it was running one of its three Wolverine trains (they all had individual names still back then) to Toledo for a bit and then two went up the Pontiac. Around this time Amtrak was talking of extending one of them to Toronto via Windsor, along with other big expansion plans throughout the country, but it never happened. After a year or so the Toledo train was stopped and sent to Pontiac too, where they still run to today as the collective Wolverine route.

So it would be nice if Amtrak did start a train to Toronto from Michigan again. I hope it isn't just a bunch of dreaming and is a sign of what Amtrak is actually planning. It wouldn't be as easy now as Canada Southern is pretty much gone and there would be a lot of weaving around Windsor and Ontario with the existing trackage there to get to Toronto. That is what the article alluded to.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby NS3322 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:30 am

Manistique wrote:So it would be nice if Amtrak did start a train to Toronto from Michigan again. I hope it isn't just a bunch of dreaming and is a sign of what Amtrak is actually planning. It wouldn't be as easy now as Canada Southern is pretty much gone and there would be a lot of weaving around Windsor and Ontario with the existing trackage there to get to Toronto. That is what the article alluded to.


I mapped out a route from the tunnel to the current trackage used for Windsor to Toronto service. The weaving around Windsor is not as bad as I initially thought it would be.
The blue dot is where the current VIA station is, which would probably have to be rebuilt.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Steve B » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:17 am

It was very shortsighted for VIA to build a new station a few years ago in the same awkward spot as the previous one. Hopefully that won't be used as one of the various rationales that will probably be ultimately given as to why service from Detroit is unworkable.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Ypsi » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:37 am

Technically speaking you could probably get away with bypassing Windsor. Yes it would be decent to go Windsor to Toronto, however my guess is they are trying to get people to go between Toronto and Chicago and it stops like Ann Arbor and Toronto. If you want to go to Toronto from Windsor you’ll take the existing via. You can also drive over to Detroit/ Dearborn if you’re set on taking Amtrak to Chicago, and the bridge/ tunnel would be faster than how Amtrak handles boarder patrol. The Windsor station is a decently new station and I wouldn’t rebuild it for one Amtrak train. Keep in mind this would also hinge on Amtrak using the MC or skipping Detroit’s current station. That’s not the biggest deal IMO as Dearborn is right there.

The connection to the line is a wye IIRC so if you wanted to you could run to the new via station and then switch ends/ back up to the wye and continue to Toronto or Detroit. A Detroit/ Windsor stop won’t be fast anyway due to customs.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby ConrailDetr​oit » Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:11 am

NS3322 wrote:
Manistique wrote:So it would be nice if Amtrak did start a train to Toronto from Michigan again. I hope it isn't just a bunch of dreaming and is a sign of what Amtrak is actually planning. It wouldn't be as easy now as Canada Southern is pretty much gone and there would be a lot of weaving around Windsor and Ontario with the existing trackage there to get to Toronto. That is what the article alluded to.


I mapped out a route from the tunnel to the current trackage used for Windsor to Toronto service. The weaving around Windsor is not as bad as I initially thought it would be.
The blue dot is where the current VIA station is, which would probably have to be rebuilt.


Incorrect Routing through Windsor. That track between Lakeshore Jct (McDougall St) to George Ave is Essex Terminal. It does not connect to the Chatham Sub that VIA uses anymore, that track runs across from the VIA Station to the Hiram Walker Plant.

With no changes in trackage the routing from the Tunnel would be CP Windsor Sub to the CN Chrysler Spur at the east end of Walkerville Yard (Pilette St) where the CN trackage turns north and connects to the Chatham Sub at the Jefferson Wye which is where the VIA trains are turned around after arriving from Toronto. The proposed Amtrak / VIA trains would have to back in or out of the Windsor station to the wye.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby DaveO » Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:22 am

The question that remains to be answered... Does Amtrak expect Michigan to pay for Detroit-Toronto?
If so Michigan should expect the timetable to benefit Michigan residents, not Chicago or Toronto residents.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby NSSD70ACe » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:47 pm

DaveO wrote:The question that remains to be answered... Does Amtrak expect Michigan to pay for Detroit-Toronto?
If so Michigan should expect the timetable to benefit Michigan residents, not Chicago or Toronto residents.


It will be answered in due course.

Amtrak will likely consider this proposal along with the proposal to move operations back to MCS. We'll just have to see.

As for the border issues, look at the Cascades. They have a preclearance facility in Vancouver that reduces the customs stop to 10 or 15 minutes on average. A similar arrangement could be made between Detroit and Windsor.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby GTW6401 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:28 pm

The 2008 passenger rail investment and improvement framework stipulates that states must provide funding to routes under 750 miles.

The killing of the Hoosier State is a great example of this.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Steve B » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:35 pm

ConrailDetr​oit wrote:
Incorrect Routing through Windsor. That track between Lakeshore Jct (McDougall St) to George Ave is Essex Terminal. It does not connect to the Chatham Sub that VIA uses anymore


We're all just speculating; you don't have the basis to definitively claim "Incorrect Routing." I speculate it wouldn't be a deal breaker to add a switch at George Ave. so that Amtrak can get onto the VIA line from Essex Terminal. Who knows, maybe it'd be easier to cooperate with the ET than it would be to get CN's OK to use the Chrysler Spur. It's all hypothetical at this point, at least from our non-insider view.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby trainjunkie47 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:38 pm

Why not run it up the MtClemens sub to Port Huron and Sarnia? It would avoid the headache of Windsor as the tracks are aligned. No new connections would be required, though a modification to the station in Port Huron would be required unless the train was backed in or out of the current spur.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Man o' War » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:21 am

trainjunkie47 wrote:Why not run it up the MtClemens sub to Port Huron and Sarnia? It would avoid the headache of Windsor as the tracks are aligned. No new connections would be required, though a modification to the station in Port Huron would be required unless the train was backed in or out of the current spur.


It certainly would be worth considering, especially now that the entire subdivision is CTC controlled and the speeds have been jacked up. Straight shot from the Detroit station to Port Huron, and with the possibility of future stops in Mount Clemens and Richmond for added business. There are quite a few East siders that make the trek to Pontiac or Troy right now, and with proper promotion you would think that they could drum up some business on that line. With only a half dozen trains north of Nolan currently utilizing the MTC sub, congestion would not be a problem, and even with additional freight traffic, there CTC passing sidings and double track to ease any issues. Logistically, this would seem to be the easiest option for a Chicago - Toronto route, when considering that no awkward movement would be necessary to get from the Detroit tunnel to the Detroit Amtrak station.
That being said, it is possible that such a routing has never crossed the minds of those who "plan" such projects. Anyway, it's just an additional idea about restoring international service.

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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Saturnalia » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:30 am

NSSD70ACe wrote:As for the border issues, look at the Cascades. They have a preclearance facility in Vancouver that reduces the customs stop to 10 or 15 minutes on average. A similar arrangement could be made between Detroit and Windsor.

The problem you're forgetting is that Vancouver, BC is the ONLY Canadian stop, so it's easy to do customs there. A CHI-TOR would likely entail may intermediate stops on each side of the border, meaning pre-clearance isn't a workable option. One could do on-time inspectors while underway, but considering both Port Huron/Sarnia and Detroit/Windsor would likely entail stations on both sides of the river, it seems fairly unworkable.

As purebred American as I am, I do wonder if at some point it would be a good idea to form a mutual customs relationship between the US and Canada, like much of the EU has done. With essentially the same laws for both countries, shared criminal databases, etc, there's very little except tariffs to worry about, for as much fuss about the border as we endure.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby PatAzo » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:44 am

Saturnalia wrote: With essentially the same laws for both countries, shared criminal databases, etc, there's very little except tariffs to worry about, for as much fuss about the border as we endure.


Guns going north and immigrants coming south. Plenty for both sides to worry about.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby penn central » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:33 am

The Bluewater inaugural train was in April of 2004. The International lasted 2 and a half years after 911. I was told back then that delays at the border where to much after 911. I was at the Durand station and remember a high school band playing on the station platform. Got shots of the eastbound and westbound inaugural Bluewater.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:38 am

PatAzo wrote:
Saturnalia wrote: With essentially the same laws for both countries, shared criminal databases, etc, there's very little except tariffs to worry about, for as much fuss about the border as we endure.


Guns going north and immigrants coming south. Plenty for both sides to worry about.


Additionally, hundreds of pounds of cocaine have been seized at Detroit and Port Huron crossings this year.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Steve B » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:57 pm

It might be easier to get permission from the various RRs for a Windsor routing rather than through Mt. Clemens. The vast majority of the Windsor route already has passenger trains on it, and minimal freight traffic from Windsor to London on VIA-CN. It seems unlikely CN would want to accommodate passenger trains on 51 miles in Michigan, plus the Sarnia tunnel, that don't have them now.

CP got an "A" this spring from Amtrak for passenger train handling. That would bode well for the Detroit tunnel and adjoining trackage. CN got a "D."
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby NSSD70ACe » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:17 pm

Steve B wrote:It might be easier to get permission from the various RRs for a Windsor routing rather than through Mt. Clemens. The vast majority of the Windsor route already has passenger trains on it, and minimal freight traffic from Windsor to London on VIA-CN. It seems unlikely CN would want to accommodate passenger trains on 51 miles in Michigan, plus the Sarnia tunnel, that don't have them now.

CP got an "A" this spring from Amtrak for passenger train handling. That would bode well for the Detroit tunnel and adjoining trackage. CN got a "D."


I’ve seen all this talk about just bringing the International back. Here’s the problem(s):

Statistically, the BTL-PTH corridor is not as popular as the BTL-DET corridor. The only two “big cities” you really hit are Lansing and Flint. On the Wolverine route, you get Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit. AA alone beats out both Lansing and Flint in terms of ridership. Link is from 2017 but I doubt it’s changed much since then. https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... IGAN17.pdf

You’d have to traverse over CN’s primary route between Chicago and eastern Canada. We all know about the land barges and the delays to the Blue Water. Not only would you avoid the problematic CN for the A-rated CP, you also wouldn’t be paying trackage rights over the southern corridor because it’s Amtrak operated. Why pay more for a route with less ridership and more delays? Yes, the AML has bad OTP right now but I expect it to increase once the upgrades and equipment changeovers are completed.

Forget the old International routing.
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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby Man o' War » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:14 pm

NSSD70ACe wrote:
Steve B wrote:It might be easier to get permission from the various RRs for a Windsor routing rather than through Mt. Clemens. The vast majority of the Windsor route already has passenger trains on it, and minimal freight traffic from Windsor to London on VIA-CN. It seems unlikely CN would want to accommodate passenger trains on 51 miles in Michigan, plus the Sarnia tunnel, that don't have them now.

CP got an "A" this spring from Amtrak for passenger train handling. That would bode well for the Detroit tunnel and adjoining trackage. CN got a "D."


I’ve seen all this talk about just bringing the International back. Here’s the problem(s):

Statistically, the BTL-PTH corridor is not as popular as the BTL-DET corridor. The only two “big cities” you really hit are Lansing and Flint. On the Wolverine route, you get Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit. AA alone beats out both Lansing and Flint in terms of ridership. Link is from 2017 but I doubt it’s changed much since then. https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... IGAN17.pdf

You’d have to traverse over CN’s primary route between Chicago and eastern Canada. We all know about the land barges and the delays to the Blue Water. Not only would you avoid the problematic CN for the A-rated CP, you also wouldn’t be paying trackage rights over the southern corridor because it’s Amtrak operated. Why pay more for a route with less ridership and more delays? Yes, the AML has bad OTP right now but I expect it to increase once the upgrades and equipment changeovers are completed.

Forget the old International routing.


You still have that somewhat cumbersome logistical issue of getting from the Detroit station to the tunnel trackage. Leaving the route to travel up to what would essentially be a stub ended stop, and then having to return to West Detroit would kill much time. If it ever were to come to fruition, perhaps the best alternative for Detroit riders would be to travel to Dearborn to board for Toronto. By the time studies are made, and money is found, and participating railroads are happy, most reading this thread will be quite a bit longer in tooth - if not passed into the next dimension. And oh yeah, maybe that new Ford Motor place over on Michigan Avenue could serve as a boarding place for Detroiters. Wouldn't that be a novel idea...

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Re: Wolverine to Toronto?

Unread postby NS3322 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:23 pm

NSSD70ACe wrote:Statistically, the BTL-PTH corridor is not as popular as the BTL-DET corridor. The only two “big cities” you really hit are Lansing and Flint. On the Wolverine route, you get Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit. AA alone beats out both Lansing and Flint in terms of ridership. Link is from 2017 but I doubt it’s changed much since then.


While I agree with your thoughts, do not forget that both East Lansing and Flint only have 1 round trip per day. AA and the rest on the Wolverine route have 3 round trips per day.
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