Michigan DOT to stop paying $3,000 a day for idle commuter railcars after $12 million invested since 2010

August 30, 2015

A February report in the Free Press prompted scrutiny of MDOT paying $3,000 a day for railcars it can’t use; now the payments are to stop.

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Transportation, responding to criticism from lawmakers and taxpayers after the Free Press reported the state agency is paying more than $1 million a year to lease railcars it can’t even use, is finalizing an agreement to halt the payments on Sept. 30, according to the state’s top rail official.

Tim Hoeffner, director of MDOT’s Office of Rail, said details aren’t finalized, but this much is agreed between MDOT and the owner of the cars, Great Lakes Central Railroad: The state will stop the lease payments of $3,000 a day, but the railroad will still promise to make the railcars available to MDOT, should they be needed, for up to five years.

MDOT wants the double-decker passenger cars, formerly used by commuter train operator Metra around Chicago, for proposed commuter services between Detroit and Ann Arbor and between Howell and Ann Arbor. But neither service has been approved or funded, some of the tracks the trains would use are not ready and officials say start dates are likely about four years away.

Read reporter Paul Egan’s full story in the Detroit Free Press by clicking here.


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