• Amtrak considers extending Wolverine line from Chicago to Toronto via (VIA?) Detroit

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Tadman
Amtrak proposal would connect Chicago to Toronto by closing gap between Windsor and Detroit
Same bad idea, new year. And quite a few people are getting six figure salaries for rinse/repeat.

The train is a Chicago Metro-to-Detroit Metro operation. Quite a few riders have either Chicago or Detroit metro areas as destination and the exurbs as originating points, such as New buffalo, Kalamazoo or Battle Creek. I was a frequent user and rarely did I go Chicago-Detroit. I flew often on that route. But when I was in New Buffalo or Niles, the Wolverine was a good way to get to business in Chicago, Detroit, and Jackson.

By extending it to Toronto, you are adding all kinds of potential for delay such as border crossings and more class-I handoffs. You are also scooping up another corridor with unlike ridership and merging them.

here's what happens:

1. It's always late
2. Because Amtrak refuses to cut/add coaches in response to demand, you are either under-capacity for Chicago and Michigan or over-capacity for SW Ontario.
3. Both Amtrak and Via will look at this as a five hour operation, and equip it as such. In reality, this is a 5:40 Michigan train and a 4:30 Ontario train, plus at least an hour for customs, so now you have an 11 hour train just like the International once was. Then they put you on short-distance corridor coaches and give you an amcafe with $10 microwave cheesebugers.

But all of this is historical record from the days of the International. It sounded cool but it was a dog.
  by dowlingm
I think this is a bonkers idea and have no idea why Amtrak are persisting with it, but the one thing I guess it has going for it now is both companies are using Charger/Venture equipment which might help in some respect. Extending Blue Water to Sarnia seems so much more straight forward especially if processing requires leaving the train anyway.
  by Tadman
charlesriverbranch wrote: Tue Nov 21, 2023 8:04 am Open the damned border and get rid of the passport controls. The Europeans figured out how to do this long ago; why do we have to be stuck in the twentieth century?
This would make a lot of senese. For some reason the two largest trading partners in the world, probably the most peaceful border in the world, and we have a fairly strict border. Every time I drive into Canada they try to ask a couple tough questions.

"Coming from New orleans eh? Why cross a border in Washington State?"

"Uh, its like half price to fly into Seattle over vancouver???"

"ok have a good time"

An open border would make a very good case for terminating the Windsor trains in Detroit, but I'm still against a through-train. There's no sense delaying mid-Michigan passengers due to problems on CN in London or such.
  by TurningOfTheWheel
I think a good solution for international trains would be to have a setup similar to US Customs Preclearance. Passengers boarding in Detroit (or Buffalo, or Seattle, as the case may be), would go through Canadian customs at those stations stateside. Once past customs and in the waiting area/on the train, you'd legally be in Canada, and the train wouldn't make any station stops until you cross the border. Passengers traveling from Chicago could transfer from the Wolverine to the Detroit-Toronto route, assuming you time the departures correctly.

This would be more difficult to implement for the New York routes since there are so many stops stateside, but in a reality where passenger service is frequent and time-competitive enough I could see nonstop services with preclearance being an interesting option.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Why is it yet to be mentioned that the existing Detroit station is located on the Funk and that the Ford Technical Center (or whatever name King Henry's successors have for it), while clearly visible from the GTW, does not appear to have ready, short of a backup, access.

After all, were the Commodore's minions about to allow "that other road owned by those Canadians" into his temple? They could jolly well build their own comparative shack.

All told, additional trains would be needed if the "Ford..." were to be served. Access to what now appears to be the CPKC's tunnel is a separate issue. If no additional trains are added, then the existing direct service to Pontiac would be lost - and that appears to be something "benefactor MDOT" wants.
  by urr304
charlesriverbranch wrote: Tue Nov 21, 2023 8:04 am Open the damned border and get rid of the passport controls. The Europeans figured out how to do this long ago; why do we have to be stuck in the twentieth century?
Just an aside, the passport nonsense was post 911; previous to that you only have to give minimal identification.

So, if you want to establish the market, why don't have aa bus transfer between current Detroit and Windsor stations while you figure out how to reinvent the rail connection. Just to get this thing off the ground. Of course, that would probably too easy or not enough money spent.
  by TurningOfTheWheel
I mean, this would provide yet another great excuse for Amtrak to buy up some of the existing ROW between CHI and Porter and create designated passenger tracks south of the lake. Add the Toronto trains to the list of routes that would benefit from it (the Michigan routes, LSL, Capitol Limited, the hypothetical Cleveland corridor services...). Maybe you could even (gasp) electrify it!
  by ryanwc
This article is written with language just vague enough that I can't be certain, but Amtrak planners may be following the wisdom of some posters above in looking at a mere extension to Windsor rather than a Chicago-Toronto train. That seems to be what the Detroit Free Press thinks:
https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/ ... 844250007/
  by ryanwc
This Trains article gives the same impression, so I'm feeling better about this proposal:
https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... -revealed/

>Establishing a joint facility at Windsor/Walkerville means that Amtrak and VIA would not necessarily have to share equipment; the Amtrak train from Chicago could simply reverse at Windsor for the late afternoon return to the Windy City as it does now at Pontiac, Mich. In that case, passengers would transfer.
  by JimBoylan
jbvb wrote: Thu Dec 14, 2023 7:01 pmAlmost 50 years ago, I rode the Montrealer all the way north and returned to NYC on the Adirondack using only my draft card and maybe my college ID. No sky was observed falling...
But you robbed the Federal Government of the $93 fee for a passport.
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