The line is used by three daily Amtrak Wolverine services which link
Chicago with Detroit and Pontiac. However in recent months these
services have suffered heavy delays due to the deteriorating condition
of track and signalling. This stems from the expiry in 1996 of Amtrak's
25 year level of utility agreement with the freight railways, which
guaranteed 1971 journey times would be maintained. With low freight
volumes giving the line's owner little incentive to invest, Amtrak has
been left to choose between paying for maintenance and reducing speeds.

wolverine.jpgThe Wolverine carried a record 480,000 passengers in the 2010 financial
year, and performance is expected to exceed that figure by 13% this
year. Amtrak plans to upgrade the line to allow 177km/h operation on
80% of the route between Chicago and Detroit, reducing journey times by
up to 30 minutes. $US 350m in Federal funding has already been
allocated to the upgrade.
Amtrak already owns the 156km section between Porter, Indiana, and
Kalamazoo, which means passenger trains will have priority on a 373km
stretch of the 489km Chicago - Pontiac route.

In preparation for the launch of 177km/h operation, the Incremental
Train Control System (ITCS) is currently being tested west
of Kalamazoo and will eventually be rolled out along the whole Porter -
Dearborn section.
Photo:M. D. Woods-deWitt