The route is used by Amtrak trains between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Mich., part of Amtrak’s Detroit-to-Chicago service. Amtrak owns right-of-way west of Kalamazoo.
Norfolk Southern retains exclusive trackage rights along the route for freight operations.
The agreement, reached on Dec. 7, is designed to accelerate higher-speed rail (HrSR) improvements on the line to improve passenger train speeds up to 110 mph, with a goal of reducing Detroit-Chicago trip times by 30 minutes, to roughly five hours.
Transition to MDOT ownership will be gradual, with completion anticipated by spring. At that point, Amtrak will oversee infrastructure upgrades, including installation of welded rail, tie replacement, grade crossing safety improvements, and fiber-optic C&S additions.
Funding for the MDOT purchase came from FRA’s High-speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, matched by $37.5 million from Michigan. . The FRA also awarded $196.5 million to MDOT for infrastructure improvements.