According to the Missouri Rail Passenger Advisory Committee’s (MORPAC) third quarter report released yesterday, Amtrak has big plans for rail service improvements and extensions across the Unites States.
Michigan – Amtrak is working with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to make upgrades to track on routes from Kalamazoo to Central and Eastern Michigan, which includes Amtrak’s Wolverine Service and Blue Water trains. In December of last year, MDOT received a grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to purchase 135 miles of Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) track. The NS line connects to Amtrak’s Michigan District rail lines, which means that 80 percent of the route between Chicago and Detroit is now publicly owned and will be maintained for higher speed passenger rail. Amtrak and MDOT plan to expand track for 110-mph trains eastward over the next three years and cut travel time between Chicago to Detroit down to five hours. Other major track work, as well as signal improvements, will also be completed along the Michigan rail corridor.
Virginia – Passenger rail services in Virginia may be extended from Lynchburg to Roanoke if funding can be secured. Buses currently service the corridor, which has become a heavily-used route. A new passenger train would replace bus service and connect to the existing Lynchburg train station. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell included funding for the extension in the transportation bill that the General Assembly is reviewing.
California – Amtrak is collaborating with the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to find commercial service train sets that are capable of operating on high-speed rail, up to 220-mph. High-speed capable trains will be needed for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor as well as the high-speed corridor California is currently planning, and this partnership between the two rail service organizations will help create uniformity and efficiency for the nation’s emerging high-speed rail system. Ideally, they will locate a domestic manufacturer that can produce trains for use in U.S. rail service, and also export abroad.