Consider Taking Amtrak For Your Holiday Travels

In a world where we are constantly connected, the holiday season offers us a chance to cast the worries of our everyday life aside and really reconnect with our loved ones.

If you will be traveling this holiday season to gather with family and friends, I encourage you to consider taking the train.
Amtrak is a great way for people to travel without worrying about traffic, weather or gas prices.

Riding the train offers a unique opportunity for riders to sit back and unwind as they travel, while also helping ease the pressure on gas prices and reduce road congestion.

Amtrak ridership in Michigan increased 4 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Nearly 909,000 people rode the train in Michigan last year — up from about 874,000.

Most traffic was on the Wolverine route that travels through Pontiac, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and several cities on its way to Chicago. Michigan also has the Pere Marquette between Grand Rapids and Chicago and the Blue Water route that features stops in East Lansing and Kalamazoo as it connects Port Huron to Chicago.

With Amtrak more popular than ever, I encourage Southwest Michigan residents who are considering taking the train for the family holiday trip to make their reservations early.

Check out Amtrak.com for further information. Residents may book trips, change reservations and print eTickets through Amtrak’s eTicketing site at: http://www.amtrak.com/deals.

Amtrak continues to give Michigan families options to enjoy their travels.

Most importantly, Amtrak can help residents gather together with loved ones and enjoy the Christmas holiday.

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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.