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Removing a barrier to high speed rail from Detroit to Chicago

Amtrak Acela train
(courtesy of Amtrak)
Amtrak Acela train

Today could be a significant day for the future of high speed rail in Michigan.    

Consultants have until today to submit their proposals to study how to solve a crucial problem for high speed rail between Detroit and Chicago.  

The problem: a railroad bottleneck between northwest Indiana and Chicago.     

A high volume of passenger and freight traffic already overwhelms the existing rail lines and threatens to put the brakes on high speed trains.   

“It’s like with a highway project where you have to add a lane," said Tim Hoeffner, the administrator of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s High Speed Rail office. "This is looking at what do we need to do to improve the infrastructure to get more trains through that Porter, Indiana to Chicago line.”   

Hoeffner expects it will take up to two years for a consultant to come up with a plan to weave a dedicated high speed line through the rail choke point.   

He said until that’s done don’t expect Amtrak to add any additional trains between Detroit and Chicago even with upgrades to the tracks in Michigan that would let trains move faster.       

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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