How's the Chicago-Pontiac Wolverine route doing with track upgrades to 110 mph?

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PerRock

Conductor
Joined
Sep 16, 2006
Messages
1,939
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Ann Arbor, MI
Slow & steady... last update I heard on Tuesday is that they were/are replacing track in Michigan City. For the most part once you get onto the Amtrak/MDOT track the line is as fast as it's going to get. The big slowdown is getting thru the bottleneck that is Indiana. It's was never going to be 110 the entire way, as especially the eastern section, is quite curvy & would need to be realigned for faster speeds.

The big thing we're waiting for right now is the new Venture cars, which have been having a lead-water issue fixed on them almost all year.

peter
 

Cal

Foamer
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Jan 23, 2021
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3,156
Location
Socal
Are there any 110 sections on other Michigan trains to Grand Rapids and Port Huron? Both routes look very safe.


And on a different note, get the Surfline to 110 :D
 

neroden

Engineer
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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,942
Location
Ithaca, NY
Last I heard, the big sources of delay on the Michigan Line were (1) crossing CN at Battle Creek, since the CN dispatchers are uncooperative; (2) NS traffic congestion / bad dispatching in Indiana; (2) that lift bridge over the Chicago River. The rest of it is going according to plan, steady upgrades bit by bit.
 

MikefromCrete

Engineer
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
2,740
Location
Crete, IL
110 top speed has been in effect for many years on the Amtrak-owned trackage between Porter, IN, and Kalamazoo. Michigan is looking to up the top speed on its owned-trackage between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.
 

amtrakpass

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 21, 2016
Messages
150
They did raise the speeds east of Kalamazoo higher than 79mph for the first time earlier this year. I saw 365 on the asm train tracker at 91mph between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo today for instance. I think it is up to 110mph depending on curves as far as Albion Michigan now but I could be mistaken. Lately the trains seem to be getting across the NS railway section to Chicago better on average than they were a few months ago. Which is a repeating pattern over the years if you watch it closely. They will be pretty good for a while, months at time, then it might be very rough timekeeping for a while. I know people like to talk about Porter to Chicago as if it is a gordian knot of some sort but the fact is it is already 2 and 3 track mainline with crossovers every couple miles. That drawbridge people mention is already 2 track main. They already built a flyover at Englewood for the Metra Rock Island Line. If NS is running their railroad ok with enough crews so trains aren't tied down everywhere on the main line, there is more than enough capacity to run the current Amtrak trains at least close to on-time. The issue with the freights the last couple years especially has been huge cost cutting and cuts of crews in the yards for example so their own trains can't move in and out of the area quickly. All in the name of a quick bump to the share price.
One minor thing Amtrak could
do to help out in my view is make quicker station stops in Michigan. I don't know if the crews are checking tickets on the platform or only opening one door or something but the trains seem to lose a few minutes more at the station stops than you would expect. I realize it is tough without full high level platforms so like I said that is a pretty minor issue
 

PerRock

Conductor
Joined
Sep 16, 2006
Messages
1,939
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
One minor thing Amtrak could do to help out in my view is make quicker station stops in Michigan. I don't know if the crews are checking tickets on the platform or only opening one door or something but the trains seem to lose a few minutes more at the station stops than you would expect.
I know in Ann Arbor, they frequently only open one pair of doors on the raised platform. When I last took the Wolverine out of there during the pandemic in April, the station staff demanded we all crowd up onto the small raised platform to board; which made no sense at all because there then wasn't room for disembarking passengers, not to mention not enough space to socially distance.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,942
Location
Ithaca, NY
They did raise the speeds east of Kalamazoo higher than 79mph for the first time earlier this year. I saw 365 on the asm train tracker at 91mph between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo today for instance. I think it is up to 110mph depending on curves as far as Albion Michigan now but I could be mistaken. Lately the trains seem to be getting across the NS railway section to Chicago better on average than they were a few months ago. Which is a repeating pattern over the years if you watch it closely. They will be pretty good for a while, months at time, then it might be very rough timekeeping for a while. I know people like to talk about Porter to Chicago as if it is a gordian knot of some sort but the fact is it is already 2 and 3 track mainline with crossovers every couple miles.
Porter to Chicago has just got massive traffic. Also, and this is understandable given the number of tracks, the passenger trains basically slow to 30 mph for most of the way, probably to keep pace with the other traffic. If the other two tracks which used to be there were reinstated, passenger trains could *fly* past the freight trains, since it's very straight; double the speed and cut half an hour off the trip time probably.

That drawbridge people mention is already 2 track main.
Yeah, the issue with it is boat traffic. It's the lowest bridge on the Chicago river so it has to open more often than any other. Due to Coast Guard rules, it opens *on demand* which means the trains have to wait for the boats! This causes random disruptions. The best thing to do there would be to get a special rule from the Coast Guard so that boats have to wait for the trains. Also because it's old it apparently sometimes gets stuck open, which is bad, but basically just requires maintenance.

They already built a flyover at Englewood for the Metra Rock Island Line. If NS is running their railroad ok with enough crews so trains aren't tied down everywhere on the main line, there is more than enough capacity to run the current Amtrak trains at least close to on-time.
Yeah. But we could cut the trip time meaningfully if there were exclusive passenger tracks.

The issue with the freights the last couple years especially has been huge cost cutting and cuts of crews in the yards for example so their own trains can't move in and out of the area quickly. All in the name of a quick bump to the share price.
Yeah. :-(
 
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