State says lease payments to end soon on idle rail cars

Aug 30, 2015

Credit morgueFile

A state official says $3,000-a-day lease payments on idle train cars should end by Sept. 30.   

The Michigan Transportation Department is negotiating with a railroad to change a contract that has been a costly embarrassment.

The state has spent more than $10 million since 2010 to lease and refurbish the rail cars, although commuter rail service in southeastern Michigan appears to be years away. 

State rail official Tim Hoeffner tells the Detroit Free Press that Great Lakes Central Railroad has agreed to stop accepting lease payments but still will make the rail cars available for up to five years. Final details are being discussed. 

Earlier this year, Michigan transportation director Kirk Steudle told lawmakers that he would work to "stop the bleeding." About two dozen rail cars are sitting at an Owosso train yard.