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Ann Arbor - Detroit Regional Rail Project


MiTrain at Howell Melon Festival, August 15-17
We are pleased to announce that a static display of the MiTrain cars will be at the Howell Melon Festival on August 15, 16, and 17. In addition, the Steam Railroad Institute has leased three of the cars for use in an excursion train. This is the first time the public will have the opportunity to ride on these beautifully refurbished railcars which will be used on the proposed MiTrain commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit. The trains will operate for a one-hour trip to the north and back on Saturday and Sunday.

MiTrain Southeast Michigan Commuter Rail Service Brochure 

This project implements one of the key recommendations from SEMCOG's Improving Transit in Southeast Michigan: A Framework for Action (PDF 16.25 MB) plan. The project will provide commuter rail service between Ann Arbor  and Detroit which is a segment of the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago Amtrak corridor.  As a result much of the existing infrastructure is in place and will be used whenever possible. Moreover, the recent announcement of over a half billion dollars in Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) High Speed Rail (HSR) funds is good news for both the Amtrak trains and the Ann Arbor-Detroit Commuter service as many of the necessary improvements will benefit both. SEMCOG and MDOT are working closely with FRA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to ensure that the capital improvements for both commuter and Amtrak service are coordinated.

The project began as the Ann Arbor to Detroit Rapid Transit Study Alternatives Analysis. Upon completion of the Alternatives Analysis FTA officials indicated that given the study results, the region should consider suspending the formal federal process on a preferred alternative and initiate a locally funded project to demonstrate that costs and ridership would be in a range to better qualify the project in the federal New or Small Starts program. The federal process can be continued at a later date.

Since that time much progress has been made toward implementation of service. This includes the identification and agreement with host railroads on key track improvements, refurbishment of passenger cars, work toward acquiring the necessary locomotives, preliminary design of stations and layover facilities, and coordination with Amtrak. One major capital improvement, the West Detroit connecting track, is expected to be under construction this spring. The next step toward commuter service is to conduct a capacity analysis that considers both HSR and the Ann Arbor to Detroit services.  This will identify remaining capital improvements so that environmental work can proceed and corridor improvements implemented.

In the meantime, the project team is working with Amtrak to identify events to provide special trains to and from using the completed passenger cars.

For more information on the Ann Arbor-Detroit Regional Rail Project, review the regular updates below and/or contact the SEMCOG Information Center at 313-324-3330. 

Complete meeting audio (MP3)
PowerPoint presentation (PPT)

Most recent Ann Arbor-Detroit Rail Project update
Winter 2015

Past Ann Arbor-Detroit Rail Project updates
February 2014
June 2013 
January 2013
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
December 2011
October 21, 2011
September 2011
April 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010

Project Specifics
The current project is to provide commuter rail service in the Detroit-Ann Arbor corridor with stops in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Dearborn, and Detroit. The project takes advantage of existing infrastructure where possible and requires adding new station stops in Ypsilanti and at Detroit Metro Airport.

The project is being managed by SEMCOG along with partners that include representatives of all communities in the corridor, Wayne and Washtenaw County officials, state and federal representatives, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the local transit operators (AATA, DDOT, and SMART), Amtrak, representatives of Norfolk Southern (NS) and Canadian National (CN) Railroads, and members of the business community.

Currently, the freight railroads are analyzing capacity on the proposed passenger rail line and will be providing an estimate of the capital costs that will be needed to allow passenger and freight trains to safely co-exist with reliable service in the same corridor. Other activities currently underway include identifying equipment costs, developing ridership estimates, building potential service schedules, and exploring funding options. To learn more about the project, please view the Ann Arbor-Detroit Regional Rail Project Updates.

Please call or e-mail Carmine Palombo at (313) 961-4266 with comments or questions.