Proposed New Amtrak/VIA connection between Detroit and Windsor

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The mayor of Windsor, Ontario, released a “fact sheet” to local media last week which outlines a $44 million plan to convert a daily Wolverine Corridor Amtrak round trip and a Southwest Ontario VIA Rail Canada round-trip from Toronto into a Chicago-Toronto train....

The plan

Multistory office-building-type structure next to railroad tracks
Tank cars of a Canadian Pacific freight train emerging from the Detroit River tunnel pass in front of the former Michigan Central Station on Sept. 20, 2019. Now-blocked passages from the station would need to be restored if new platforms are built. Bob Johnston

Instead of serving Amtrak’s current Detroit station on Canadian National rails in the New Center area at Woodward Avenue and continuing on to Pontiac, Mich., the fact sheet says trains from Chicago would serve a new platform constructed adjacent to Michigan Central Station. The massive former office complex is undergoing a $740 million rehabilitation a “Global Innovation Hub” largely bankrolled by the Ford Motor Co.

Detroit’s Michigan Central once hosted New York Central’s Chicago-New York Wolverine and an Amtrak New York-Buffalo-Detroit daytime round-trip from Oct. 31, 1974, to Jan. 31, 1979. The station is situated next to tracks leading directly to CPKC’s tunnel under the Detroit River. Many trains once also stopped at Canadian Pacific Windsor station just east of the tunnel, but that was eliminated after Amtrak service ceased. Because VIA acquired Canadian National’s former route into the area that had been abandoned, trains from Toronto terminate about 3 miles north at Walkerville, named for the nearby Johnny Walker distillery.