As efforts to improve passenger rail service between Pontiac and Jackson and Washtenaw and Livingston counties plugs along refurbished commuter rail cars are being tested on Amtrak lines.
Six bi-level, stainless steel cars, refurbished at a cost of $310,000 each by Owosso-based Great Lakes Central Railroad, came from Illinois and will eventually be used on the proposed Detroit-to-Ann Arbor line that is being planned by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and on the WALLY line between Livingston and Washtenaw counties, a project of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.
The refurbished cars were previously used by METRA, the northeast Illinois community rail system. They were paid for with federal and state grant from Departments of Transportation that are pushing commuter rail improvements as economic and community development.
Funding for the proposed commuter rail services is not yet lined up, but the testing is a step in the process to obtain funding.
Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Janet Foran, Communications, Michigan Department of Transportation