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Wolverine (train)

Amtrak No. 351 westbound from Pontiac to Chicago passes Hammond-Whiting station
Service type Higher-speed inter-city rail
First service May 1, 1971
Current operator(s) Amtrak
Former operator(s) Penn Central
Ridership 509,100 (FY13)[1]
Start Chicago, Illinois
Stops 17
End Pontiac, Michigan
Distance travelled 304 miles (489 km)
Average journey time 6 hours 20 minutes
Service frequency Thrice daily
Train number(s) 350–355
Rolling stock P42DC locomotives, Amfleet cars, Horizon cars.
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Operating speed Up to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h)
Track owner(s) NS, CN, Amtrak, CR
Route map
Dist. Station
0 mi 
0 km 
16 mi 
26 km 
52 mi 
84 km 
Michigan City
62 mi 
100 km 
New Buffalo
89 mi 
143 km 
102 mi 
164 km 
138 mi 
222 km 
160 mi 
257 km 
Battle Creek
184 mi 
296 km 
205 mi 
330 km 
243 mi 
391 km 
Ann Arbor
Greenfield Village
273 mi 
439 km 
281 mi 
452 km 
292 mi 
470 km 
Royal Oak
296 mi 
476 km 
304 mi 
489 km 

The Wolverine is a higher-speed passenger train service operated by Amtrak as part of its Michigan Services. The 304-mile (489 km)[2] line provides three daily round-trips along the Pontiac–Detroit–Chicago route. It carries a heritage train name descended from the New York Central (Michigan Central).

During fiscal year 2011, the Wolverine carried 503,290 passengers, a 4.9% increase from FY 2010's total of 479,782 passengers.[3] The service had a total revenue of US$18.8 million in FY 2011, an 11% increase from FY 2010's $16.9 million total revenue.[3]


  • History 1
    • Higher-speed operation 1.1
  • Route details 2
  • Station stops 3
  • Equipment 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Prior to Amtrak's takeover of most private-sector passenger service in 1971 the Wolverine was one of three trains which operated over the Michigan Central route between Chicago and Detroit. Under Penn Central operation it continued through South-Western Ontario (Canada) to Buffalo, New York. Amtrak retained two trains (the other was the renamed St. Clair) and truncated the operation to Detroit but otherwise changed little. In April 1975, Amtrak introduced French-built Turboliner equipment to the Michigan route and added a third round-trip. A pool of three Turboliner trainsets served the route, and the three round-trip pairs were numbered 350—355, train numbers which are still in use today. Amtrak dropped the individual train names and rebranded all three Turboliner, in common with similar services to St. Louis, Missouri and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The new equipment led to massive gains in ridership, topping 340,000 in 1975 and 370,000 in 1976.[4]:195–196

A Turboliner at Porter, Indiana in 1977.
The Turboliner's replacement: an EMD F40PH with Amfleet coaches at Ann Arbor in 1976.

The Turboliners became a victim of their own success. Although fast (and flashy), they were unable to reach their design speed of 125 miles per hour (201 km/h) because of the poor quality of the Penn Central track in Michigan. The five-car fixed consists had a maximum capacity of 292 passengers, which was often not enough. Starting in March 1976 Amtrak began replacing some of the Turboliners with conventional equipment, including new Amfleet coaches. Individual names returned to the corridor, with the heretofore unnamed third train becoming the Twilight Limited.[4]:195–196 The last Turboliners left the corridor in 1981.[4]:202

Amtrak extended the Wolverine and Twilight Limited to Pontiac on May 5, 1994. With this change service began at a new station in Detroit's New Center. Although the Michigan Central Station in Corktown, Detroit had closed on January 6, 1988, trains continued to stop at a temporary platform just east of the old station. Besides Pontiac, new stations were opened at Royal Oak and Troy. The Lake Cities also began serving Pontiac after the end of Toledo service in 1995.[4]:199–200[5]

Amtrak dropped individual names again in 2004 and named all three trains Wolverine.

Due to the increased ridership on these trains, Amtrak executive Morell Savoy, the Central Division Superintendent, spearheaded a test run of Chicago-Kalamazoo Wolverines from September 2, 2010, to September 7, 2010. This was done to determine all that would be involved in operations should Amtrak decide to initiate such service in the future.[6]

Higher-speed operation

The federal government considers high-speed rail service to be rail service which at any time reaches the speed of 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) or higher.[7] In 2006 the Detroit–Chicago corridor was designated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a high-speed rail corridor[8] and in October 2010, the State of Michigan received US$150 million from the federal government to increase track speeds to 110 mph (180 km/h) between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.[9]

Amtrak owns the 97-mile (156 km) stretch of the Wolverine's route from Porter, Indiana to Kalamazoo, Michigan and it is the longest segment of track owned by Amtrak outside of the Northeast Corridor.[8] Starting in January 2002 Amtrak began track improvements to increase the allowed speed along this section of track. Amtrak trains currently travel at top speeds of 110 mph (180 km/h) along this section of track.[10]

On October 5, 2011, MDOT announced that it had reached an agreement with Norfolk Southern to purchase the 135 miles (217 km) of track between Kalamazoo and Dearborn. This will make it easier to maintain track and eventually upgrade it to 110-mile-per-hour (180 km/h) running. As part of the purchase agreement, MDOT also agreed to double-track the line east of Ypsilanti.[11]

Route details

Amtrak Wolverine (interactive map)

The Wolverine operates over Norfolk Southern Railway, Amtrak, and Canadian National Railway trackage:

Station stops

State Town/City Station Connections
Illinois Chicago Chicago Union Station Amtrak: Blue Water, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Carl Sandburg, California Zephyr, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, Hiawatha Service, Hoosier State, Illini, Illinois Zephyr, Lake Shore Limited, Lincoln Service, Pere Marquette, Saluki, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Thruway Motorcoach
CTA Buses: 1, 7, 14, 19, 20, X20, X28, 56, 60, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 128, 129, 130, 151, 156, 157, 192
Megabus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M7
Metra: North Central Service, Milwaukee District/North Line, Milwaukee District/West Line, BNSF Railway Line, Heritage Corridor, SouthWest Service
Indiana Hammond Hammond–Whiting Amtrak Station
Michigan City Michigan City Station Michigan City Transit: Route 1
Michigan New Buffalo New Buffalo Amtrak Station none
Niles Niles station
Dowagiac Dowagiac station
Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Transportation Center Greyhound
Indian Trails
Metro Transit: 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15
Battle Creek Battle Creek station Amtrak: Blue Water, Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
Battle Creek Transit: 3E
Albion Albion station none
Jackson Jackson station Greyhound
JTA: 1,4,6,8
Ann Arbor Ann Arbor station Amtrak: Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
TheRide: Route 17
Dearborn Greenfield Village station Weiser Railroad at Smith's Creek Depot (Only for Henry Ford Museum tour groups of 20 or more)
Dearborn station SMART: Route 200
Detroit Detroit station Amtrak: Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
DDOT: 16, 20, 53
SMART: 415/420, 450/460, 445, 465, 475, 495
Royal Oak Royal Oak Transit Center SMART: 430, 460, 730, 740
Troy Troy Transit Center SMART: 460, 475, 780
Pontiac Pontiac station SMART: 450, 753, 756


As of 2014, each Wolverine operates with two General Electric Genesis P42DC locomotives, 3-5 Horizon coaches, and an Amfleet cafe/business class car. In the winter, Superliners are sometimes used. The equipment pool for the Wolverines comprises 14 Horizon coaches and 3.5 Amfleet cafe/business class cars (one is shared with the Blue Water), split across three consists. The locomotives usually operate in a push-pull configuration, however sometimes both will be at the head end. Due to the FRA requirement of positive train control for operations above 79 MPH, locomotives on the Wolverine are required to have Positive Train Control, supplied by Amtrak's Incremental Train Control System. Because of this modification the units are usually captive to the Michigan services.

Between 2016-2018 Michigan expects to take delivery of new bilevel cars which will displace the Horizons and Amfleets in regular service. In addition, in early 2014 the Michigan Department of Transportation issued a request for proposal aimed at acquiring additional passenger equipment for use between 2014-2017.[2]

In September 2014, the state of Michigan reached an agreement with Talgo, a Spanish railcar manufacturer, to buy two trainsets for the Wolverine, at a cost of $58 million.[12] The trains had been previously built for the state of Wisconsin, before plans for expanded passenger rail service in that state were canceled and the trainsets placed in storage.[12] The new equipment will provide a substantial upgrade in passenger amenities over the Amtrak-owned railcars used on the route.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "Annual Ridership Summary". MDOT Rail Statistics. MDOT. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b  
  3. ^ a b "Amtrak reports record Michigan ridership". The Grand Rapids Press. October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, IN:  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ "Amtrak Tests Kalamazoo-Chicago Round Trips", Trains, December 2010, 21.
  7. ^ "High-Speed Rail Strategic Plan: Press Release & Highlights" (PDF). U.S. Department of Transportation. April 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  8. ^ a b "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2006" (PDF). State of Michigan. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  9. ^ "Michigan awarded $150M for high-speed rail route". The Detroit News. October 25, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 
  10. ^ Amtrak Press Release, February 15, 2012, AMTRAK 110 MPH MICHIGAN SERVICE CELEBRATION,"Amtrak extended ITCS coverage to the western and eastern ends of the line between Porter and Kalamazoo last year, completing the system across 97 miles of track and permitting the higher speeds on about 80 miles of the route, 64 miles in Michigan and 16 in Indiana. The FRA granted approval for regular service at 110 mph (177 kph) on Jan. 27, 2012."
  11. ^ MDOT - MDOT seeks to improve both passenger and freight rail lines with purchase of Norfolk Southern Railway track
  12. ^ a b c "Amtrak's Detroit-Chicago trip to get faster, plusher with upgrades". The Detroit News. September 15, 2014. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 

External links

  • Official Amtrak site
  • Amtrak Michigan Services Website
  • Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

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