Passengers waiting for the train at Ann Arbor's Amtrak station are often crowded close together, particularly on weekends. As the station with the most riders in Michigan, city officials are considering options for a new station. There are reasons to think the station will be getting even more crowded as ridership may be rising in the future.
Faster service, more comfortable cars, and better reliability are all expected to boost ridership on the Detroit to Chicago line. Some track improvements have already been made, while others are underway or planned in the next few years.
Now the State Senate has given the go-ahead for the purchase of a pair of new trains that will be stopping in Ann Arbor several times a day. The new equipment costs $58 million and can travel at speeds up to 110 miles per hour along the route.
Larry Krieg is Chair of the Michigan Association of Rail Passengers Executive Committee and takes the train from Ann Arbor five to six times a year. He says train engineers compare the equipment to a sports car that can take curves at higher speeds and accelerate more quickly. "I find them very comfortable. I've ridden on them a couple of times out on the west coast and they are comfortable. They ride very smoothly," Krieg says.
Krieg says if the new equipment is well maintained they'll keep that new train smell for awhile, especially compared to the 30- to 40-year-old equipment currently used. Krieg expects the new train cars will also be more reliable.