Amtrak Construction Will Make Rides Shorter - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Amtrak Construction Will Make Rides Shorter

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) - Some Amtrak train passengers are boarding the bus Monday because some of the track, between Jackson and Dearborn, is closed for construction. The work is part of the Federally-funded project that will bring faster train service to Amtrak's Wolverine Line running across Michigan.

The rail improvements between Jackson and Dearborn are the first phase of the three-part Accelerated Rail Program. Phase one is slated for completion by the end of November.

Eastbound and westbound tracks between Jackson and Dearborn will be closed Monday through Thursday for the remainder of September. Crews will work 10-hour days to complete the upgrades and get trains between Jackson and Dearborn running. This first phase alone, which also includes upgrading electronics, once complete, should shorten travel time between Chicago and Detroit 30 minutes.

"I love the train. I've always loved trains. I love to travel by train," said Elizabeth Barns, who's headed from Chicago to Pontiac and doesn't mind getting off in Jackson to finish her trip on a bus.

MDOT's Rail Director Tim Hoeffner says the Accelerated Rail Program, a $200 million Federally-funded project, is in-part a response to riders who, like Barns, are calling for faster rail service.

"Michigan's Accelerated Rail Program is really providing the riders of the future what they're looking for: a shorter trip time, more reliable arrival and departures, and new equipment," said Hoeffner. When completed, he said, all trains will be enabled with Wi-Fi. 

Hoeffner says the entire project is slated for completion by the end of 2015. And because trains along the Wolverine Line will travel up to 110 miles per hour, the trip from Chicago to Detroit will be two hours faster. Barring delays, the trip is more than 6 hours right now. 

Barns travels back and forth to see family in Metro Detroit and says one month of riding the bus is a minor inconvenience to endure for faster rail service in the long-run.

"I could have flown there just as easily, but I do love the train and I'm very sorry to hear that Wisconsin isn't getting high speed rail. So anything on behalf of high-speed rail, I'm happy to do," said Barns.

The only inconvenience, she says, Amtrak doesn't permit dogs on trains.

Last week Amtrak officials announced passengers on the Blue Water Line are now permitted to bring bicycles. But unfortunately for Barns and fellow dog lovers, man's best friend isn't allowed to ride the rail, yet.

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