Mini Transportation Odyssey, aboard Amtrak Wolverine #351
Monday Aug. 15, 2016, 8 AM
By Larry Krieg
The Mini-Odyssey has begun!About 70 people were waiting at Ann Arbor’s Amtrak station as Wolverine #351 rolled in, 9 minutes late, at 7:06 AM. For the last 20 minutes, kids were squealing excitedly that the train was coming, every time a car’s lights shone through the trees on Depot Street.
People boarded on the raised platform and by climbing the steps from ground level; we were all in and (mostly) seated by 7:10, when two toots sounded and we pulled gently away.
The sun is shining through light fog as we roll through the loops of the Huron River.
But we’re going slowly, as work crews are deployed along the line, working to bring it up to higher speed – easing curves, smoothing the roadbed, installing new signals, and changing the timing on crossing gates.
This is the only west-bound train all day, and the east-bound return won’t pass here until after 10 PM, so the crews will have all day to work. That’s good, because the higher-speed upgrade is supposed to be complete by the end of the third week of September. Then we’ll get our three daily trains back – and perhaps even the Lakeshore Limited between Chicago and New York + Boston.
That deal hasn’t been officially announced yet, but the word on the grapevine is that this will be a one-month test to see how things work. The westbound Lakeshore would turn north from Toledo, thread its way through the industrial maze of downriver Detroit and stop at Dearborn, sometime in the morning after #351 and before #353. Eastbound, the Lakeshore would follow sometime after #354, entering Michigan just before midnight, and leaving in the wee hours. It’s always been an inconvenient time for Michigan to catch a train to the Big Apple or Beantown, but better than waiting in Elkhart or Toledo.
I’ll check in with you again when we’re “South of the Lake” – in the congested area between Porter, Indiana, and south Chicago.
–till then – Larry