Lawmakers Push for More Amtrak Service

Area Lawmakers Want to Add Nighttime, Early Morning Routes to Current Blue Water and Wolverine Lines

By WILLIAM F. AST III – H-P Staff Writer

NILES – Local state legislators have asked the Michigan Department of Transportation to make a formal request to Amtrak to add additional train service between Chicago and Kalamazoo.

The legislators last week sent a letter to MDOT asking for an additional train leaving Chicago Union Station every evening at 10 p.m., and a return trip leaving Kalamazoo at 6 a.m. each morning. The proposed train would make stops in Hammond, Ind., New Buffalo, Niles, Dowagiac and then Kalamazoo.

Currently there are two trains between Chicago and Kalamazoo. Amtrak’s Blue Water train leaves Chicago Union Station at 4:10 p.m., arriving in Niles at 6:51 p.m., and the Wolverine leaves Chicago at 6 p.m. and arrives in Niles at 8:43 p.m.

Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman based in Chicago, said Amtrak should be able to reach a decision on the request within a year, “perhaps even by this fall.”

“We would have to explore what the costs are and what the anticipated revenues would be,” Magliari said. “Unlike requests for new routes, this is an existing route where we own a large chunk of the tracks. It should not be a year to get this resolved … We hope to get back to the state promptly on this.”

Legislators signing the letter were state Reps. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, Sharon Tyler, R-Niles, Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and Matt Lori, R-Constantine, and state Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks.

Amtrak also provides daily train service between Chicago and Grand Rapids. The Pere Marquette train leaves St. Joseph at 9:39 a.m. and arrives at Chicago Union Station at 10:33 a.m.

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