Amtrak No. 10021 "Pacific Cape", No. 10031 "Ocean View" and No. 10001 "Beech Grove" at Kalamazoo on the Blue Water, May 13, 2011.
By Charles Fulton (Flickr: IMG_0547) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Amtrak 364 (the Blue Water) arrives in Kalamazoo MI. The consist was a former F40PH cabbage car, five Superliner coaches and a GE Genesis in push mode.
By Charles Fulton (originally posted to Flickr as img_0340) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Blue Water
The Blue Water is a higher-speed passenger train service operated by Amtrak as part of its Michigan Services. The 319-mile (513 km) line connects Port Huron, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois, via East Lansing, Michigan.
The Lansing area, home of the Michigan state capitol and Michigan State University, was left out of Amtrak's original system. Beginning in 1973, Amtrak and the state discussed restoring service over the Grand Trunk Western Railway within the state, although the new route would join Amtrak's other Michigan trains on the Penn Central west of Battle Creek, Michigan, eschewing the Grand Trunk's traditional route to Chicago. New stations were built in Port Huron and East Lansing, and the state spent $1 million on track rehabilitation. Service began September 15, 1974, between Chicago and Port Huron, with the intention of eventually restoring the Port Huron–Toronto leg.
Amtrak renamed the train the Blue Water Limited on October 26, 1975, and re-equipped it with French-built Turboliner trainsets on May 20, 1976. The new Turboliners were capable of, but never reached, 125 mph (201 km/h) and ran with fixed five-car consists with an overall capacity of 292 passengers. The Turboliners were withdrawn on October 25, 1981, replaced by conventional locomotives pulling Amfleet coaches.
The long-discussed extension to Toronto finally occurred on October 31, 1982. The extended service received the name International Limited, the name of an old Canadian National/Grand Trunk Chicago–Detroit–Montreal train. Amtrak and Via Rail, the independent Canadian Crown corporation rail company, jointly operated the International Limited (later just International) until April 25, 2004, when cross-border service was discontinued. Massive border delays post-September 11 led to falling ridership; Amtrak and Michigan agreed to truncate service at Port Huron and bring back the old Blue Water. On the Canadian side service ends at Sarnia as part of the VIA Rail's Corridor route.
With a more favorable intrastate schedule and fewer delays, the Blue Water's ridership showed immediate improvements, carrying 94,378 passengers in fiscal year 2004 (compared to 80,890 in FY 2003). Blue Water ridership in FY 2011 totaled 187,065, an increase of 18.0 percent from FY 2010's total of 157,709, and the highest total ever recorded by the train. During FY 2011, the train had a total revenue of $5.8 million, a 22.3 percent increase from FY 2010's total of $4.7 million.
The Blue Water operates over Norfolk Southern Railway, Amtrak, and Grand Trunk Western Railroad trackage:
NS Chicago Line, Chicago to Porter, Indiana
Amtrak Chicago–Detroit Line, Porter, Indiana, to Kalamazoo, Michigan
MDOT Michigan Line, Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Battle Creek, Michigan
CN/GTW Flint Subdivision, Battle Creek, Michigan, to Port Huron, Michigan
The Detroit–Chicago corridor has been designated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a high-speed rail corridor. A 97-mile (156 km) stretch along the route of Blue Water from Porter, Indiana to Kalamazoo, Michigan is the longest segment of track owned by Amtrak outside of the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak began speed increases along this stretch in January 2002. Ultimately, speed increased to 110 mph (180 km/h)
The Blue Water Line was featured in a song by that name written by Dora Graf and Martin Seligson and popularized by The Brothers Four.
Today, a normal Amtrak Blue Water consists of:
One GE Genesis P40DC or P42DC locomotive
One non-powered cab car, rebuilt from an EMD F40PH
Five or Six Horizon Fleet or Amfleet I coaches
One or Two Horizon Fleet or Amfleet I cafe/business cars
Classic Streamliners - TRAINCYCLOPEDIA
Amtrak's Blue Water pulling into the East Lansing station.
By Shadowlink1014 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Blue Water Route Map.
By JKan997 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
00 mi - Chicago - 00 km
62 mi - New Buffalo - 100 km
89 mi - Niles - 143 km
102 mi - Dowagiac - 164 km
138 mi - Kalamazoo - 222 km
160 mi - Battle Creek - 257 km
208 mi - East Lansing - 335 km
238 mi - Durand - 383 km
256 mi - Flint - 412 km
274 mi - Lapeer - 441 km
319 mi - Port Huron - 513 km
Blue Water Overview
Service type: Inter-city rail, higher-speed rail
First service: April 25, 2004
Current operator: Amtrak
Ridership: 191,106 (FY13)
Start: Chicago, Illinois
End: Port Huron, Michigan
Distance traveled: 319 miles (513 km)
Service frequency: Daily
Train numbers: 364, 365
Track gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Track owners: CN/GTW, Amtrak, MDOT NS
Blue Water / Blue Water Limited Overview
Text: wikipedia.org. Images: Public Domain; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org (unless otherwise specified) and 17 U.S. Code § 107 fair use. References: Lewis, Robert G. The Handbook of American Railroads. New York: Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation, 1951, 2nd Edition 1956. Site Map Contact webmaster HERE.
Purchases through our Merchant Links and Store help to defray the costs of operating the non-profit Classic Streamliners website, and at no additional cost to you. All of the staff at Classic Streamliners are unpaid volunteers who have all devoted thousands of hours of their own time to bring the site into fruition. We would like to sincerely thank all those who have already helped support this worthy cause. For more information click HERE.