The Michigan Line, sometimes known as the Chicago–Detroit Line, is a railroad corridor that runs from Porter, Indiana, to Dearborn, Michigan. It carries Amtrak's Blue Water and Wolverine services.
It is owned by Amtrak for 98 miles (158 km) from Porter, Indiana, to Kalamazoo, Michigan, the longest stretch of Amtrak-owned rail outside of the Northeastern U.S. The 135 miles of the line between Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Dearborn, Michigan was purchased by the State of Michigan in early 2013, with the exception of a short stretch in Battle Creek, Michigan; the state-owned track is now dispatched and maintained by Amtrak as part of the Michigan Line. The purchase agreement retains exclusive trackage right for freight by Norfolk Southern (NS), the previous owner of the line.
The entire line was originally the mainline of the Michigan Central Railroad.
In 2002, the section from Porter to Kalamazoo became the first passenger rail line in the United States to have positive train control (PTC) technology installed, specifically GE Transportation Systems' Incremental Train Control System (ITCS). In 2005, Amtrak received approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to run trains at up to 95 miles per hour (153 km/h) Most Amtrak trains outside of the Northeast are limited to 79 mph (127 km/h) due to federal regulations. Regular service at 110 mph began from Porter to Kalamazoo on February 15, 2012.
In November 2011, Michigan was awarded $150 million to expand its high-speed rail line to allow speeds of up to 110 mph (177 km/h) along the rest of the line from Kalamazoo to Dearborn, for a total 77% of the routes of Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago.
Despite the presence of the safety system on the Michigan Line, a derailment occurred just east of Niles, Michigan, on October 21, 2012, after a Wolverine train exited the main line and entered a freight yard due to a misaligned switch. The train had a green signal and was traveling at about 60 mph when it hit the switch. The incident was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and was found to be Amtrak's fault, caused by one of its employees improperly applying jumper wires to the signal system, bypassing safeguards that had been designed to prevent such an occurrence.