KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan will soon have the first state-owned rail corridor with passenger trains traveling up to 110 mph.
Recent federal approval will allow Amtrak trains to increase speeds on sections of the 45-mile stretch between Kalamazoo and Albion, the company and the Michigan Department of Transportation announced Monday.
The change, which comes after infrastructure improvements, will begin May 25. Testing of their train control safety system was successful, officials said.
“We’re going to be going from 79 miles per hour to 110 miles an hour on either side of Battle Creek,” Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari told News 8.
Amtrak and MDOT say the speedup will help improve on-time performance. The adjustment is part of safety improvements that are being implemented in phases. The two groups say speeds will increase on tracks between Albion and Dearborn over the next several years, helping cut time on the 304-mile route.
“It’s certainly our goal with MDOT to shorten the entire schedule between the Detroit Metro area and Chicago,” Magliari said. “We want to get some operating experience over this route before we start shortening schedules.”
In March 2020, Amtrak suspended rides due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since last fall, Amtrak has only been running a one-round trip train from the metro Detroit area to Chicago.
In January, Amtrak says it saw a steady uptick in ridership. Because of that, the Pontiac/Detroit-Chicago round-trip service will be returning July 19. As travel demand continues to increase and more get vaccinated for COVID-19, Amtrak and MDOT will look into restoring a third round-trip operation.
“Perhaps later this year, we’ll be back to normal, which is three daily round trips between Chicago, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and the Detroit Metro area,” Magliari said.
Amtrak is reminding people to use caution when near tracks, adding that trains can appear quieter and not as fast as they actually are.
More information on booking a trip and coronavirus updates with Amtrak can be found on its website. Amtrak can also be reached by calling 1.800.USA.RAIL.