Corridor Capital Confirms Discussions With Michigan About New Passenger Trains

July 18, 2013


CONTACT: Fritz Plous
(312) 205-1060

CHICAGO (July 18, 2013) – Corridor Capital LLC confirmed it has been in discussions with Michigan officials regarding the state’s potential acquisition of remanufactured stainless- steel passenger railroad cars that would provide the state with additional capacity to accommodate ridership which is growing faster than anticipated.

“Our company has met several times with officials of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) as well as with people in the governor’s office,” said Corridor Capital LLC Chairman James E. Coston. “We have rolling stock that could help the state build its supply of seats and capture more passenger revenue.”

Coston said Michigan officials expressed concern about a lack of seating capacity because a 2008 act of Congress requires Amtrak to start imposing steep new increases this year on its monthly charges to Michigan for operating the state’s passenger trains.

“If Michigan had more seats and more daily departures it could carry more passengers, and the additional ticket revenue would cover much the cost of the new Amtrak charges,” Coston said, noting that a prompt deployment of modern double-decked coaches, business-class cars and food- service cars could make it possible for Michigan’s trains to pay for themselves.

“Our projections indicate that at the rate Michigan’s ridership has been growing, passenger revenues could be covering all of Amtrak’s operating expenses and eliminating the need for a state subsidy by 2020,” Coston said.

“But that can happen only if Michigan starts deploying more seats and more trains starting in 2016,” he said. “Amtrak’s fleet is tapped out. It has no more equipment to spare. New trains funded by the 2008 federal Stimulus Act aren’t expected to start arriving until late in 2017, and the number of new cars allocated to Michigan is too small to meet the state’s needs.”

Amtrak runs three daily round trips between the Detroit area and Chicago, one daily round trip into Chicago from Grand Rapids and one from Port Huron and Lansing. Coston said all of the trains are running full during peak travel periods, mainly from Thursday through Monday.

“A full train may look economically healthy, but when every seat is full that means potential passengers are being turned away,” Coston said. “You can’t collect any revenue from a passenger who isn’t riding.”

Hi-Level Coach, Hi-Level Business Class, Hi-Level Business Cafe

Coston said the rolling stock owned by Corridor Capital would be ideal for the Michigan trains once it is re- engineered and remanufactured to modern standards of performance, comfort and safety.

“Our company owns or has options on 50 double-deck stainless-steel cars that were built in two separate orders for the Santa Fe Railway – one order in 1955-56 and another in 1964,” he said.

“These are not commuter coaches,” Coston said. “They are rugged, all-stainless steel double-deck cars known as ‘Hi- Levels’ built to run as long-distance luxury coaches on the Santa Fe’s premier overnight trains – the El Capitan from Chicago to Los Angeles, the San Francisco Chief from Chicago to Oakland, and the Texas Chief from Chicago to Houston.”

When the federal government’s new company Amtrak took over the nation’s intercity passenger trains in 1971, Santa Fe contributed the Hi-Levels to the new company, and they remained in service until 2002, when Amtrak mothballed them because it lacked the budget for a needed overhaul. Most of the cars were sold to private collectors, from whom Corridor Capital later acquired them.

Coston said if Michigan elects to acquire Hi-Level coaches Corridor Capital will first “tube them out” by stripping them down to their chassis and then remanufacturing them as if they were new cars.

“Everything inside the body has to go – the plumbing, the heating and air conditioning, the electrical, the seats, the interior walls – even the glass in the windows,” he said. ”All of the technology and amenities will be replaced with the same State of the Art equipment and materials being used in the latest generation of American passenger railcars.”

Hi-Level Fleet Fact Sheet Illustrated
Hi-Level Fleet Fact Sheet
(9 pages, PDF)

The interiors of the cars also will be reconfigured to reflect contemporary travel patterns and tastes.

“The Hi-Level coaches were designed for 40-hour train trips between Chicago and Los Angeles in which passengers spent two nights on the train,” Coston said. “For sleeping comfort the seats reclined to an almost fully horizontal position, so there were only 72 of them in each coach.

“We have proposed to reconfigure the cars for daytime corridor travel,” he said. “The seats will be closer together so each car can carry more than 90 people, but the pitch between the seats will still be greater than in the business- class section of a typical jet airliner and the seat backs will recline about 45 degrees. The lower level of each coach will include handicapped seating and a large rest room able to accommodate a wheelchair, and handicapped passengers will be able to board the lower level without any steps and without the need for a wheelchair lift.”

Coston said the cars will have no trouble maintaining the 110-mile-per- hour speeds expected to be in effect on 229 miles of the Detroit-Chicago Wolverine route by the fall of 2016.

“The Budd Company of Philadelphia engineered the Hi-Levels for 110 miles per hour, and the cars traveled at that speed daily for 20 years over hundreds of miles of the Santa Fe main line in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California,” he said. ”Occasionally they were clocked at speeds as high as 117 miles per hour when late trains were making up time.

“The ride was so smooth most of the passengers never realized how fast they were going,” Coston said. “The 110- mile-per-hour track Michigan and Amtrak are about to build between Kalamazoo and Dearborn is far more advanced than anything the Santa Fe had in 1956, so Michigan passengers will probably sleep sounder aboard these cars in daylight than the Santa Fe’s passengers did in the middle of the night.”

Corridor Capital LLC is a passenger-rail development company which assembles and integrates the multiple elements needed to provide a successful intercity passenger-train service. The company is managed by seasoned transportation professionals with decades of successful experience in planning and operating passenger trains. The company owns uniform passenger rolling stock and commands the professional skills of several dozen additional veteran passenger train professionals, including civil and mechanical engineers, passenger car and locomotive builders, station and terminal managers, locomotive and car maintenance specialists, planners, financiers, information technologists, travel marketing and ticketing specialists and contractors providing onboard food, beverage and hospitality services.

– End –

Further information about Corridor Capital and the Hi-Level fleet, including artwork, is available at the company’s website

Corridor Capital LLC
105 West Adams Street, Suite 1400
Chicago, Illinois 60603

Fritz Plous, Media Contact
312-205-1060 •

James E. Coston, Chairman
312-205-1050 •

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