Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

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Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby NSSD70ACe » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:35 pm

This one came out of the woods as far as I can tell. Didn’t know anything about the PM being threatened.

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — Planners in southwestern Michigan are trying to keep a passenger train operating between Chicago and Grand Rapids.


The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reports that the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study has passed resolutions in support of the Pere Marquette Amtrak train. A recommendation also was made to increase service by connecting tracks to New Buffalo.

The train now passes through St. Joseph, Bangor and Holland.

Most of the line is owned by CSX Railroad and accommodates freight as well as Amtrak service. Ridership has been dropping.


Ryan Fellows of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission says the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study is committed to seeing that the Pere Marquette remains a successful line by promoting improvements to increase efficiency and ridership.


https://wwmt.com/news/local/planners-wa ... w-michigan
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby J T » Tue Jan 01, 2019 12:46 am

The PM needs a second train, at the very least Fri-Sun, not some stupid GR-Kzoo-Chi routing.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby NS3322 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:14 am

J T wrote:The PM needs a second train, at the very least Fri-Sun, not some stupid GR-Kzoo-Chi routing.


Amen!

I do like the idea of adding New Buffalo as a stop (which would require a reroute and new connection).
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby Super Chief » Tue Jan 01, 2019 8:48 am

They had a stop at the Railroad Museum in New Buffalo on the CSX line. Only half a mile from downtown towards the casino. Why would Amtrak want to spend money for a re-route on the Michigan line to get these people downtown? They didn't have the ridership to leave the shelter there. The casino runs a bus to the current trains on the Michigan line. I saw the bus go meet the scheduled trains that stop there and nobody got on the bus. Why is ridership down on the PM is the bigger question? All the people in New Buffalo riding and getting on, the majority are going to and from Chicago. The condos along the beach and a few riders that motor in to catch the train have have all the service they need. The planners must have forgot about the shelter and parking lot that existed east of the coaling tower at the crossing?
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby fmilhaupt » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:29 am

Adding a new connection to route the Pere Marquette into New Buffalo on the Amtrak Michigan Line, in addition to costing a lot of money for very little gain, would also require assigning the train ITCS-equipped locomotives, wouldn't it?
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby Plannerdad » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:04 pm

Happy New Year! Before ruling out the a Holland/Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo connection long term, we should consider where most of the public money available for passenger rail in Michigan is likely going to be spent. Based on the investment already made in the Michigan Line, for purchase and upgrade, the answer should be obvious. I like the PM as much as anyone in GR, but it has very limited growth potential and does not support the primary rail higher-speed passenger corridor. That's almost 1 million people in WM without access other than a bus to the High Speed corridor, which hurts WM and the corridor trains. And it cuts off the GR area from the rest of Michigan by rail.

It would cost a lot ($50-70 million +) to upgrade GR-KZ, but long-term it might be a better investment. Consider keeping the existing PM's one RT/day, then at some point, purchase some push-pull equipment that could run multiple round trips per day between Holland-GR and Kalamazoo with a cross platform connection to the corridor trains in Kalamazoo. It could almost double as a commuter service with all of the growing on-line communities and attractions, from Holland, Zeeland, Hudsonville, Georgetown, GR, Wayland, the Gun Lake Casino, Plainwell, etc.

But it would be cheaper to just add a second PM train....
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby Super Chief » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:09 pm

Yes it would require that equipment. Plus you have the South Shore option in Michigan City for Chicago. Cost/Benefit is zero. What is this commission thinking with this plan it won't gain more riders between towns plus add more time as 110 mph wouldn't benefit this train at all since it only starts at Porter?
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby NS3322 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:53 pm

Going over the numbers it appears New Buffalo's ridership was up 19.7% in 2017, with 24,868 riders.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby Super Chief » Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:58 pm

Amtrak pulled the plug on the aluminum shelter on the CSX line because nobody used it. So then the downtown shelter and platform was put in which drops off the condo owners and others at their doorstep. New Buffalo isn't worried as they won't lose any service and they have a paved parking lot for 20-30 cars to boot. The PM line will have to pull its own weight to survive.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby TSS » Tue Jan 01, 2019 8:59 pm

What is the current track speed between Porter and New Buffalo on the Michigan line? Is it 110?
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby Saturnalia » Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:10 pm

TSS wrote:What is the current track speed between Porter and New Buffalo on the Michigan line? Is it 110?

Yes

The idea of a new connection has been thoroughly shot up by everybody but the consultants and dreamers who don’t understand the actual costs and benefits. It would cost a fortune and ultimately save almost nothing.

There are several much more effective ways to invest monies into the state’s rail network, including a second run on both the PM and BW lines as well as actually finishing the Michigan alone between Jackson and Ypsilanti. Those projects would actually be helpful and much more within the funding scope of the government.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby NS3322 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:32 pm

Saturnalia wrote:There are several much more effective ways to invest monies into the state’s rail network, including a second run on both the PM and BW lines as well as actually finishing the Michigan alone between Jackson and Ypsilanti. Those projects would actually be helpful and much more within the funding scope of the government.


I absolutely agree. It would be a lot easier to commute from/to Port Huron or Grand Rapids via train if there was a second round trip on both the BW and PM. When I rode the special Tulip Train last May from St. Joe to Holland (to see the line in the daytime), I noticed a lot of people riding it to actually commute rather than ride solely for the festival. There has to be only 3-5 CSX movements per day between Porter and GR right?

I wish i could see the statistics to see how much ridership has dropped.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby TSS » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:02 pm

Saturnalia wrote:When I rode the special Tulip Train last May from St. Joe to Holland (to see the line in the daytime), I noticed a lot of people riding it to actually commute rather than ride solely for the festival. There has to be only 3-5 CSX movements per day between Porter and GR right?


I was on the Tulip Time train as well, and I was surprised to see people getting off at St. Joseph. To me that is proof that a market for a second trip exists--the fact that some random person went on the Amtrak website, searched CHI-SJM and found that train to ride.

A second round trip, or even some incremental speed improvements on the existing line, makes far more sense than a connector track at New Buffalo.

Look at the Hoosier State/Cardinal between Chicago and Indy...five railroads, seven (?) dispatcher territories, and obscure routing yields a dismally slow, late, and unpredictable train. Meanwhile, the Pere Marquette is reasonably consistent and reliable...and the consultant/dreamer types think it is worth it to add another railroad and dispatcher for 23 miles of 110 mph running between Porter and New Buffalo. Sounds like a recipe to ruin a good thing.

To me, the connector at New Buffalo would be the real killer. Used twice a day by the Pere Marquette, I can picture it icing up and snowing in..and then what? The PM sits there for two hours while an Amtrak maintainer comes from Niles?

The only way the connector could ever be useful is if they create the "South of the Lake" passenger train only mainline directly linking the Michigan line at Porter with CUS. But the chances of that ever being built in my lifetime are slim.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby trainjunkie47 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:44 pm

J T wrote:The PM needs a second train, at the very least Fri-Sun, not some stupid GR-Kzoo-Chi routing.


Putting in a connection on the northwest quadrant in Kalamazoo would certainly be feasible. I would have to imagine quite a bit of track work would need to take place between GR and K-Zoo.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby DLM » Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:48 pm

Rode the South Shore last weekend into Chicago from Michigan City. Got off two blocks from my hotel on Michigan Avenue. $41 round trip for two people. Free parking. Lots of departures to choose from. I can't see myself ever riding Amtrak from Holland again.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby Steve B » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:00 pm

All the stats are here. December's data won't be ready until about Jan. 28.

https://mdotjboss.state.mi.us/RailStats ... tsHome.htm

The attached screenshot gives yearly totals for each route going back to 1994. Keep in mind that last year's figures don't include December yet.
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby NS3322 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:11 pm

Steve B wrote:All the stats are here. December's data won't be ready until about Jan. 28.

https://mdotjboss.state.mi.us/RailStats ... tsHome.htm

The attached screenshot gives yearly totals for each route going back to 1994. Keep in mind that last year's figures don't include December yet.


Well the article is misleading. Ridership has never been steady...
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Re: Planners File Resolution to Keep 370/371

Unread postby Saturnalia » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:19 pm

The schedule changed to the current one in September, 2015...and a decline in ridership followed. It has been stable, but lower than under the old schedule. As I presumed at the time, 6am is too early and midnight is too late for Grand Rapids. Yes it made the day trips longer in Chicago, but it makes the whole day REALLY long and cuts out some of the utility because of that. Granted before the change, 7:40 was much too late of a morning departure. I think a 06:45/07:00 GRR departure and a 22:00/22:30 arrival would make more sense.

From the Herald Palladium at the time of the change:
Come May 4, Amtrak Pere Marquette riders will find themselves enjoying longer day trips to Chicago and quicker connections to other Amtrak trains under a new schedule, Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation announced.

Trains will leave Grand Rapids at 6 a.m., stop in Bangor at 7:38 a.m., St. Joseph at 8:16 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 10:11 a.m. (Eastern time).

Return trains will leave Chicago at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern), stop in St. Joseph at 9:15 p.m., Bangor at 9:51 p.m. and arrive in Grand Rapids at 11:39 p.m.

The changes increase Chicago day trips from about 6 hours to 9 hours, the agencies reported. The change should give riders more time for work or pleasure, including attending sports events.

The change is driven by Amtrak staffing changes permitted by construction of a new station in Grand Rapids, the agencies reported. The new station allows Amtrak to maintain train crews in Grand Rapids.
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