RAIL

The rail workgroup works to promote and encourage investment in rail, increase ridership and revitalize Michigan’s cities and towns through an enhanced rail system.

The State of Michigan has an extensive rail system consisting of both freight and passenger rail services. While passenger service lines do not reach as far as they once did, over the past decade ridership has increased 58% on Amtrak’s three current Michigan service routes, creating a 112% increase in Michigan Amtrak revenue. Record-breaking Amtrak ridership was achieved in fiscal year 2012 – both nationwide and in Michigan. Commuters and travelers are increasingly choosing rail because of shortened travel times, increased reliability, cost-competitiveness, ride conveniences, energy-efficiency, safety and security advantages, and increased capacity during peak holiday travel periods. Additionally, Amtrak invested more than $31 million in procurement of goods and services from over 80 Michigan companies keep its rail lines running last year. The rail system is an important component of Michigan’s economy and will continue to evolve with state, national and global economic trends.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has developed a State Rail Plan to guide the future development of Michigan’s rail system for both passenger and freight rail over the next 20 years. The plan identifies current and future system needs and makes recommendations to encourage ongoing rail investments. The plan meets the requirements established by the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which positions the state to receive additional federal funding for rail projects.

Trans4M’s rail workgroup is currently dominated by work from the powerful Michigan by Rail campaign team.

The goal of the Michigan By Rail campaign is to increase the diversification of transportation options in Michigan through the reinstatement of former passenger rail services around the state. Currently, the Michigan By Rail team is working to support the re-establishment of fixed-route commuter and passenger connections through the Holland-Grand Rapids-Lansing-Detroit corridor. The project seeks to connect three of the state’s major population and employment centers under one service and link local transit services to it.

Trans4M’s Michigan By Rail team includes the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, Michigan Land Use Institute, Michigan Technological University Rail Transportation Program, Freshwater Transit, and the Friends of WALLY. Some past projects of the team include the MDOT’s Great Lakes Rail Corridor Study and the 2010 Michigan By Rail Forums.

Click here to view the Michigan by Rail site, and make sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter. For more information regarding the Michigan By Rail campaign, contact Liz Treutel, liz@environmentalcouncil.org, at the Michigan Environmental Council.

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