Could an Ann Arbor-Traverse City passenger train be on horizon?

Study estimates trains could generate $100M annually by 2040

Trees on the shores of Lake Michigan (Credit: Aaron Burden)
Trees on the shores of Lake Michigan (Credit: Aaron Burden)

ANN ARBOR – Trains running between Ann Arbor and Traverse City (or "A2TC") would generate $100 million annually by 2040, with an expected 1.5 million riders a year, a study released Monday by the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities shows.

In February 2015, the Michigan Land Use Institute launched a campaign to bring the trains back into service. The route would operate on an existing railway corridor from Ann Arbor to Traverse City and Petoskey that would need to undergo repairs to support a robust, regular train service.

Related reading: Train service from Traverse City to Ann Arbor could be restored

If the project receives proper funding and community support, trains could be operating as early as 2025.

Video campaign for A2TC by the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

It would require an estimated $40 million in capital costs for 60 mph service (a five-hour trip). Trains reaching speeds of 110 mph would require track upgrades closer to $1 billion and would shave 1 1/2 hours off travel times to 3 1/2 hours.

"As travel to the Traverse City region increases, the train could take thousands of cars off the roads and provide people with a direct, downtown-to-downtown connection between Michigan’s cities," Groundwork deputy director, Jim Bruckbauer said in a statement.



Map detailing the proposed A2TC route (Credit: Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities)

"The passenger rail project will be valuable in attracting the next generation workforce that wants to live and thrive in Michigan without always depending on a car to get around," he said. "Trips Up North or downstate often feel too far to drive, yet too close to fly."

Sounds too good to wait seven years for? You might be in luck.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning to do extensive repairs on tracks surrounding Traverse City, which could mean a special events train service could be up and running to the area as soon as 2020.

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