Amtrak and Michigan Department of Transportation are warning train travelers and freight shippers to expect delays of up to 90 minutes because of new speed restrictions put in place by railroad owner Norfolk Southern, which cited safety concerns.
Trains that had previously run at top speeds of 79 mph have been ordered to slow to 25-to-30 mph on certain track segments between Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor. As a result, Amtrak says passengers should expect delays of 45 to 90 minutes on Wolverine Service trains to and from Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac, including Jackson and Dearborn. Lesser delays are expected on the Blue Water train to and from Chicago and Port Huron.
“The decision by Norfolk Southern to reduce train speeds on the track shared with the Amtrak Wolverine and Blue Water services will have a serious impact on passenger service, and could cause delays for freight shippers, too,” said Tim Hoeffner, director of the MDOT's Office of Rail.
While the duration of the service delays is unknown, Norfolk Southern has pledged to being track improvement work in three weeks. The company is in negotiations to sell the rail line to the State of Michigan.