Michigan Transportation Department awarded federal funds for rail service improvements

Amtrak arrival in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Federal Railroad Administration announced new funding on Dec. 8 that will bring changes to Michigan railroads in the coming years, including a new rail service to Canada.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has received a grant of up to $500,000 from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Corridor Identification and Development Program to plan improvements to existing rail service and the development of new service for passengers traveling throughout the state. 

“We appreciate the work of our federal partners in Congress and the Federal Rail Administration in providing funds to help us identify areas in these rail corridors where we can make investments to improve reliability and reduce bottlenecks,” MDOT Director Bradley Wieferich said in a statement.

In total, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded up to $34.5 million to 69 corridor projects across 44 states.

The proposed projects in Michigan include connecting existing service between the Detroit to Chicago corridor with an extension to Windsor, Ontario. Other funding will be used to increase rail service frequency and address reliability between Port Huron and Chicago, and to expand rail service between Grand Rapids and Chicago.

Michigan passengers would also be able to take advantage of a project from the Ohio Rail Development Commission, which plans to develop a service route connecting Detroit and Cleveland.

“By investing in development of new and improved passenger rail service, we have an opportunity to transform how Michiganders travel across our state and region,”  Sen. Gary Peters said in a statement. “I advocated for each of these MDOT projects because this funding will make rail transportation a more available and reliable option for travelers while spurring economic development.” Similarly, Sen. Debbie Stabenow called the investment “long overdue.”

“This investment will improve the reliability of our passenger trains so that people can count on more convenient schedules and trains that run on time,” she said.

The rail corridor program was established under President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021. The Biden-Harris administration has announced $30 billion in investments for the nation’s rail system to date, including the recently awarded corridor projects.

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law gave us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to think smart and think big about the future of rail in America, and we are taking full advantage of the resources we have to advance world-class passenger rail services nationwide,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose.