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New Michigan service for Labor Day weekend

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Trogdor

Conductor
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Aug 3, 2004
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For anyone in western Michigan looking for another option into Chicago, for Labor Day weekend, trains 356 (2-6 September) and 357 (3-7 September) have been added to the schedule, between Kalamazoo and Chicago.

Train 357 offers a morning arrival (7:30 am), while train 356 offers a late-night departure (10:00 pm).

The trains are aimed at holiday traffic between Chicago and the New Buffalo/western Michigan area.
 

Eric S

Conductor
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
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Milwaukee
This is interesting. I don't recall this being done in prior years. I seem to recall reading recently that there has been a push in Michigan to permanently add similar trains.
 

Mackensen

Lead Service Attendant
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Jul 29, 2009
Messages
394
Location
Lehigh Valley
Sweet! MDOT has asked for Amtrak to add a train like this for some time; hopefully it'll become permanent.
 

rtabern

Conductor
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Nov 15, 2006
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Suburban Chicago
Amtrak will operate an additional round trip between Chicago and Kalamazoo over Labor Day weekend. Stops include Niles, MI and the beachfront station at New Buffalo. The westbound will arrive in Chicago at 7:30 am. The eastbound will depart Chicago at 10:00 pm.

It is important to get people on the trains this weekend. This may be a trial run of a new schedule pattern that will have 5 daily departures, spread out throughout the day, making Western Michigan to Chicago day trips practical.
 

Mackensen

Lead Service Attendant
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Jul 29, 2009
Messages
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Lehigh Valley
Well, I'm just back from using this pair for a day-trip into Chicago. Patronage wasn't very good: we have less than a dozen inbound from Kalamazoo to Chicago. We added maybe one or two people in Dowagiac and Niles; none that I noticed in New Buffalo or Michigan City. No stop in Hammond-Whiting. The return trip we had two dozen at most, all in the first coach. The consist was a standard Wolverine (and the train was called that in all announcements/postings): Amfleet half-cafe/business class car and five Horizon Fleet coaches. I didn't pop for BC but I wish I had on the return because it's really hard to get any sleep in a Horizon seat. I asked the conductor about where the store the train overnight (~4 hours) and apparently they just back it up and park opposite Western Michigan's football stadium.

Pretty good experience but I'd be surprised if it's permanent.
 
R

retired Amtrak Supervisor

Guest
Well, I'm just back from using this pair for a day-trip into Chicago. Patronage wasn't very good: we have less than a dozen inbound from Kalamazoo to Chicago. We added maybe one or two people in Dowagiac and Niles; none that I noticed in New Buffalo or Michigan City. No stop in Hammond-Whiting. The return trip we had two dozen at most, all in the first coach. The consist was a standard Wolverine (and the train was called that in all announcements/postings): Amfleet half-cafe/business class car and five Horizon Fleet coaches. I didn't pop for BC but I wish I had on the return because it's really hard to get any sleep in a Horizon seat. I asked the conductor about where the store the train overnight (~4 hours) and apparently they just back it up and park opposite Western Michigan's football stadium.

Pretty good experience but I'd be surprised if it's permanent.
Saw an article in NARP Newsletter today. They described the ridership as "strong". Don't know where they got their information, but most of my friends still at Amtrak agree with you. Not a big enough market for a train at these times.
 

AlanB

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Aug 22, 2002
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I suspect that part of the issue was simply not enough publicity.

However, when they should really try this is for Thanksgiving.
 

MikefromCrete

Conductor
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Mar 24, 2009
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Crete, IL
I suspect that part of the issue was simply not enough publicity.

However, when they should really try this is for Thanksgiving.
I agree,Norfolk Southern only agreed to let the train run on the Porter-Chicago line about a week in advance of the trips, so the word didn't get around much. A better publicized Thanksgiving weekend effort should prove fruitful. I also believe that this could be a strong part of the regular timetable, offering morning commuter timings (afternoon return on the Wolverines, of course) from western Michigan to Chicago. Southwest Michigan is becoming part of the Chicago Metro area, so Amtrak should take advantage of this.
 
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