JACKSON, Mich. - Promoters of commuter rail lines in southeastern Michigan have made a test run with six refurbished bi-level passenger cars on a route from Jackson to Detroit.
Officials say they hope to hear next week whether the cars passed the test to enter into service, according to Annarbor.com (http://bit.ly/Upw8qs ). If so, the public could have a chance to take demonstration trips next year.
Tuesday's test used an Amtrak engine to take the cars on a run that began in Pontiac and included stops at Birmingham, Royal Oak, Detroit's New Center area, Dearborn, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Dexter, Chelsea and Jackson.
The cars were tested at normal operating speeds of up to 79 mph.
"Things seemed to go well," said Carmine Palombo, director of transportation programs for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, also known as SEMCOG.
The Michigan Department of Transportation and SEMCOG are testing the cars for a Detroit-Ann Arbor line and a Howell-Ann Arbor line.
Palombo said the Ann Arbor-Detroit service won't begin soon but said he's hopeful demonstration trains could run during special events next year.
"We don't have dedicated funding for the project yet, but this testing is the next step in the process," he said. "When the testing is completed, and hopefully we pass, the next step is to hold these event trains sometime next year, hopefully several of them."
At the Michigan Rail Summit in Lansing one year ago, Gov. Rick Snyder said it was long overdue for a rail system connecting Detroit, Michigan's largest city, with Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located. He said such a line should be the centerpiece of a long-discussed push to make the state's public transit system faster and more expansive.
Snyder said he wanted to see faster and expanded rail service throughout the state, but especially in southeastern Michigan. It's the largest metropolitan area in America to not have a high capacity rapid transit service in place or under development.
Information from: AnnArbor.com, http://www.annarbor.com