Friday, April 13, 2012

NS, MichDOT, Amtrak resolve slow-order spat

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Michigan's Department of Transportation, Norfolk Southern Corp., and Amtrak reportedly have reached agreement on work designed to remove or reduce slow orders NS imposed last month on right-of-way between Kalamazoo, and Dearborn, Mich., the latter city just west of Detroit.

NS, which owns the route pending a sale to Michigan, will employ crews to begin work on Monday that will allow resumption of original passenger rail speeds. NS will work through April 19, but Amtrak train service will be affected or cancelled, with some bus substitution offered, in order to facilitate ongoing work.NS logo square

NS imposed the restrictions on March 15, noting at the time it had given advance warning to both MichDOT and Amtrak on the move.

Amtrak Vice President of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications Joe McHugh, addressing Railway Supply Institute members at Amtrak's Washington, D.C., headquarters Thursday, says Amtrak looks forward to Michigan's purchase of 135 miles of the route, adding to Amtrak's own portion from Kalamazoo to Porter, Ind., already operating trains at 110 mph speeds.

Amtrak expects ridership to increase significantly in Michigan, though McHugh acknowledged congestion on the route between Porter, Ind., and Chicago remains problematic for the railroad.

Michigan DOT has filed with the Surface Transportation Board for an Acquisition Exemption to acquire NS right-of-way totaling roughly 135 miles.