95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Expanding and improving Michigan passenger rail service


  The 3rd Annual Michigan Rail Conference was held in Grand Rapids this week. From freight to passenger rail service, the discussion focused on infrastructure funding and regional partnerships improving service. Vital components for growing Michigan’s passenger rail initiatives. WGVU’s Patrick Center has the story.

Increased federal transportation funding is paying dividends along the Michigan rail corridor from Detroit to Chicago. Within the next two years, 82-percent of that passenger line will have sustained speeds of 110 miles per hour. But that’s only 82 percent.

“While speed is good and while speed is ultimately going to help reduce the total trip time, until you get the absolute reliability you don’t have what the travelling public deserves or the business traveler is going to demand.”

Joe Szabo is the Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and former administrator with the Federal Railroad Administration. He says currently the on-time performance is 45 percent. But at full build out, relieving bottlenecks along the line, the on-time performance will be 95 percent reducing the Detroit to Chicago trip to 3:45.

“Now you’ve got something that is superior to the auto and when you talk about travelling city center to city center it’s actually going to be comparative with air travel, and it’s going to be a much more comfortable, convenient and productive way for business traveler to travel.”

Szabo’s concern is a lack of transportation funding improving both rail and highway infrastructure explain, “No economy can grow any faster than it’s transportation network can carry it.”

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.