Railroad: Amtrak - the National Railroad Passenger Corporation

Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, is a U.S. government agency which was formed in 1976 during the failure of the Penn Central corporation and other railroads that operated failing passenger trains around the country. In Michigan, Amtrak owns the former Michigan Central line from Kalamazoo to Porter, Indiana via Niles and New Buffalo. More recently, Amtrak now operates the same line between Town Line (Dearborn) and Kalamazoo which is owned by the State of Michigan.

Penn CentralAmtrakin operation

Became: Purchased the line from Kalamazoo to Porter, Indiana from Penn Central in 1976.

Reference: [MRRC]


The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, known as Amtrak, was created out of the bankruptcy of the Penn Central and other railroads in the 1970's. The purpose of Amtrak was to take over most intercity passenger railroad operations from struggling common carrier railroad companies. Amtrak began operations in 1971. In 1976, Amtrak purchased from Penn Central their former main line from Kalamazoo to Porter, Indiana which they had been using with little freight operation present. Amtrak continues to own this line as of 2016 and parts of it have been brought up to 125 mph operation.

Time Line

1974: September. The Blue Water Limited makes its inaugural run through Battle Creek. [BCE-1974-0919]

1975. April. The Amtrak Turboliner begins Chicago-Detroit service. BCE-1975-0408]

1976: July. Amtrak begins use of new "Amfleet" cars on their Detroit-Chicago run on May 18, 1976. They also begin use of EMD F40PH units in the same corridor. [RNE-1976-07]

1979. March. Amtrak announces they will discontinue their Niagra Rainbow train from Detroit to Canada. [RNE-19779-03:11]

1983. December. Amtrak announces tthey will halt Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter trains. [AAN-1983-1220:1]

2014: The State of Michigan purchased the remainder of the line between Kalamazoo and Detroit from the Norfolk Southern railroad, the successor owner of a series of railroads beginning with the State's central line, the Michigan Central, the New York Central, Penn Central and Conrail.


The following sources are utilized in this website. [SOURCE-YEAR-MMDD-PG]:

  • [AAB| = All Aboard!, by Willis Dunbar, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids ©1969.
  • [AAN] = Alpena Argus newspaper.
  • [AARQJ] = American Association of Railroads Quiz Jr. pamphlet. © 1956
  • [AATHA] = Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association newsletter "The Double A"
  • [AB] = Information provided at Michigan History Conference from Andrew Bailey, Port Huron, MI

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