Wednesday, December 17, 2008


In Michigan state, all levels of government and the private sector are coming together to upgrade a 44km section of single track rail to serve as a commuter line between Ann Arbor, Michigan (POP: 341,000) and Howell, Michigan (POP: 9,232). These communities are near Detroit. This project was proposed by the government because they had the choice of spending $500 million to add an additional lane of highway between these communities, or spending $33 million to get a simple commuter rail system up and running. They will be upgrading the signaling, crossings, tracks, and adding some passing sidings. Capital funding for the rail upgrade are in process. The short line operator, Great Lakes Central Railroad, will be providing the train-sets and operating the line. It is expected that passenger revenue and a government subsidy will cover the operating cost. They plan on running eight trains a day to start.

I wanted to point this project out for three reasons. First, it shows that you don’t need to spend lots of money to get a simple rail system going. Second, there are some parallels to our Interurban line. (short line operator, underutilized line, etc.) Third, you don’t need a large population to get a rail system up and running.

I invite you to read the business plan for this project.

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