The drive from Traverse City to Ann Arbor takes about four hours, and that’s without stopping for food or gas.
However, the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities just finished a study that looks at three different trains that would operate between Traverse City and Ann Arbor. Each one runs at a different speed and has its own budget.
The first train would run at 60 miles per hour and would cost $151 million.
Jim Bruckbauer, deputy director of the Groundwork Center, says the trains would mostly use existing rail lines but some would need to be repaired or replaced.
“The state has allocated some funding to repair the tracks in Traverse City,” Bruckbauer says. “We’re expecting that repair work to be done in the spring of 2019.”
The first train could be up and running by 2020, and it would be used for special events like the Traverse City Film Festival. Bruckbauer says this would give investors a chance to see how the train would operate.
Over the next 20 years, the service could be expanded to fit more passengers and travel at higher speeds. The final train that would run at 110 miles per hour and cost anywhere from $100 to $400 million.
Bruckbauer says the project could be funded by a mix of private and public investment.
“Because of the ridership and revenue potential, you’re seeing that these trains can more than make up some of the operational costs and also recoup the capital costs,” Bruckbauer says.
According to the study, the train would attract one and a half million people to northern Michigan annually.
The Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities is one of IPR’s corporate sponsors.