Ann Arbor—First Stop in $12M MDOT “Rail Debacle?”

March 7, 2015

IN 2004, Superior Twp. resident Louis P. Ferris, Jr., purchased dozens of double-decker, stainless-steel passenger rail cars. According to an article published on Feb. 10, 2015 in the Detroit Free Press, “Metra, which operates the Chicago transit system, a Metra-related suburban rail service sold the 23 cars — plus 26 similar cars to a company affiliated with Great Lakes Railroad for $5.6 million. Each coach car cost the railroad about $101,000 and each cab car cost about $125,000…”

According to a piece published on Feb. 1, 2015 in the Detroit Free Press: “The 1950s and ‘60s-era double-decker cars are sitting in a rail yard in Owosso, where they are expected to remain for the indefinite future.” As a result of The Free Press article, MDOT officials have come under intense fire for spending $12 million since 2010 to refurbish and lease Ferris’s rail cars for commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Howell, a commuter rail project that has never materialized…

The state has paid the owner of the rail cars, Great Lakes Central Railroad, almost $7.6 million for refurbishment and another $2.7 million in lease charges for the cars. According to Paul Egan’s reporting, “the per-car lease costs more than doubled in 2013 and 2014 as refurbishments were completed and the cars were certified as rail-worthy. Under the terms of the state’s contract with the railroad, MDOT then had to start paying ‘in-service’ rates that total about $3,000 a day…”

Read the rest of the story in the Ann Arbor Independent, 7 March 2015

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