toronto chicago train

Amtrak wants to start running trains between Toronto and Chicago

The largest passenger railroad service in U.S. is considering a proposal that, if approved, would see trains running directly from Chicago to Toronto and back. 

As discussed at the Michigan Rail Conference in East Lansing last week, Amtrak wants to extend its Wolverine line — which currently sees trains moving back and forth between Pontiac, MI, and Chicago, IL, three times per day — all the way up to Canada's largest city.

A presentation slide shared by an official Michigan Department of Transportation Twitter account on Thursday shows that Amtrak wants to extend "at least one" Wolverine train into Ontario, "where it could continue as a VIA Rail Canada corridor service from Windsor/Walkerville to Toronto."

It won't happen overnight, and there's plenty of work to be done in order for the train service to work, including the construction of a new border processing facility.

Amtrak also noted during the presentation that it would need to work out partnership agreements with multiple railroads, upgrade portions of the track between the Windsor Tunnel Portal and VIA Rail's Walkerville Station, as well as determine a "slot" through the rail tunnel between Detroit and Windsor.

"For many of our regional routes, our primary competition is the automobile," said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari to Streetsblog USA this week.

"As anyone who has driven between here in Chicago and Toronto over the years including me knows, there has to be a better way than slogging across I-94 (and I-69) and then the 401 (or 402)."

Amtrak has already submitted a funding request to America's federal government for the restoration of train service between Toronto and Detroit — a route that was cancelled in 1971.

As it stands now, people who want to travel between Toronto and Chicago via land can take a four-hour train ride to the U.S./Canada border, take the Detroit-Windsor tunnel bus across, and then jump on another train for roughly five-and-a-half hours.

It's either that, a much slower version involving Greyhound buses, or finagling yourself the use of a car.

Lead photo by

Amtrak


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