Archive for the ‘Amtrak stations’ Category

Newark Airport Station to Temporarily Close

June 16, 2019

Amtrak said in a service advisory that passengers traveling to Newark Liberty Airport will need to access shuttle buses at Raymond Plaza West, in the front of Newark Penn Station.

The Newark Penn Station waiting room will be open during this time, but no seating will be available.

Buses will “load and go” and will not follow train schedules.

New Jersey Transit personnel will check New Jersey Transit and Amtrak tickets as passengers board the bus.

Amtrak Resumes Serving Springfield Union Station

June 13, 2019

Amtrak has resumed using the Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts, following the completion of a station renovation project.

In a news release, Amtrak said that features of the station include passenger information display boards, train announcements and a customer service desk that is staffed from 5 a.m. to noon daily.

The depot also serves the CTrail New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line and various bus routes.’

Springfield is served by Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains, the Lake Shore Limited and the Vermonter.

Amtrak had been using a temporary facility during the station upgrade project.

City, County at Odds Over Elyria Train Station

June 7, 2019

The city council in Elyria, Ohio, and the Lorain County Commissioners are at loggerheads over a stalled project to move the Amtrak stop in the city to a former New York Central station.

Now known as the Lorain County Transportation and Community Center, the efforts to make it an Amtrak station date back five years.

City and county officials disagree over why that effort has halted.

Mayor Holly Brinda blames county officials, saying they’ve refused to meet with city and state officials to discuss the project.

However, commissioner Matt Lundy blames Norfolk Southern, saying it has made a number of demands in return for its cooperation.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited use NS tracks through Elyria. Both trains stop at an Amtrak-built shelter

“I think it is important for city council and the citizens of Elyria to understand that the city of Elyria is not the reason this project is not moving forward at this time,” Brinda said during a council meeting this week. “On the contrary, the city has gone out of its way to offer assistance, and we are still hopeful the project can be saved.”

She contended that the Lorain County commissioners also “haven’t embraced the help” the city has offered including indemnifying the county against liability.

Lundy said the county is “committed to trying to make the project work.”

However, he said NS wants an open indemnification for an endless period of time.

“That’s something we can’t do. If, God forbid, something should go wrong, then obviously the county would be open to potential litigation and liability,” he said.

Lundy said the county tried to negotiate with NS but is legally forbidden from exposing the county and taxpayers to liability.

Brinda called that false issue, saying she has spoken with the Ohio Rail Development Commission about acting as a neutral third party to assess the station plan and offer assistance.

But that can’t happen without the cooperation of the county she said.

She also said NS said two years ago it was willing to work through the liability issues.

Elyria Law Director Scott Serazin said officials in Toledo and Sandusky have found ways to address the liability issues.

Lundy, though, said the situation in Elryia differs from projects in Sandusky and Toledo.

In Elyria the project design includes a skywalk above the tracks so that passengers would have access to both tracks at the station site.

Lundy said the skywalk is a large liability issue for safety over the tracks, which will have to remain active during construction.

Serazin suggested that the Elyria Community Improvement Corporation could purchase insurance coverage to cover any liability created by the project.

The city has $250,000 available that it said could be spent on the station project while Lorain County has Federal Transit Administration funds, more than $3.6 million in grants and a $2.9 million commitment from Amtrak.

Brinda suggested taking out a “co-insurance” policy to be funded by the city and the county.

Lundy acknowledged that there have been numerous emails, phone calls and letter exchanged about the project and its legal issues. “We have had endless discussions with Amtrak and Norfolk Southern and legally, we can’t do it,” he said.

Brinda and Lundy met last year to discuss the issues but neither could recall when that meeting occurred.

Lundy also contends that Amtrak has been unwilling to make a long-term commitment to serving Elyria.

It has offered a five-year commitment balked at the county’s request for a 25- or 30-year commitment.

“We have been at this for a long time, and it’s not something we’ve taken lightly,” Lundy said. “We looked at every angle possible. We have a responsibility to the taxpayers to not expose the county and the taxpayers to an open liability potential unless we can get the railroad to agree to limited liability . . . it’s a misrepresentation that we didn’t try to make it work.”

Sturtevant Station to be Refurbished

June 7, 2019

The village board of trustees in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, has agreed to pay for repairs to the city’s Amtrak station.

The work includes sandblasting and repainting the pedestrian bridge over the Canadian Pacific tracks at the station.

Jeff Seitz, village engineer and Department of Public Works director, told the board that without that work the structural steel in the bridge will fail “and then we’d have a much larger project to do.”

The trustees awarded a $179,533 contract to Thomas A. Mason Company of Milwaukee. Amtrak is expected to pay 85 percent of the project cost.

The work will be done at night when fewer trains are operating through the station. The village will pay pay Canadian Pacific for flagging costs, estimated to be approximately $10,000.

The work will take about four weeks to complete.

Martinsburg Station Work to be Finished in 2020

June 7, 2019

Rehabilitation of the Amtrak station in Martinsburg, West Virginia, is expected to be complete by spring 2020.

The $2 million project will bring the Caperton Train Station into compliance with Americans With Disabilities Act standards.

The work includes building a new platform, upgrades to sidewalks leading to the platform, new directional signage, and the replacement of curbs and sidewalks.

Interior work will include alterations to the existing elevator, handrails and doors. The city of Martinsburg owns the station.

Funding is being provided in part by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The project received approval in April 2018 from the Martinsburg Planning Commission and was reviewed by the city’s Historic Preservation Review Commission and the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority.

As part of the project, workers will install new fencing and gates for the historic Baltimore and Ohio Railroad shop buildings next to the station.

Martinsburg is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

Proposal New Chicago Transit Hub Includes Amtrak

June 6, 2019

Chicago may be getting a second Amtrak station if a Wisconsin developer is able to follow through on an ambitious proposal.

Landmark Development wants to create a transit center across Lake Shore Drive near Soldier Field on the southside of downtown Chicago. The location is close to the site of Central Station, which the Illinois Central razed in the middle 1970s after Amtrak ceased using it in March 1972.

The center would serve Metra, CTA and Amtrak. The developer also plans to build a $20 billion residential and commercial complex on a platform that would span the tracks running alongside Lake Shore Drive.

Those tracks are used by Metra Electric trains and Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, Illini and Saluki.

A recent state capital funding plan approved by the Illinois General Assembly would make $5 billion in state funding available to help finance the transit center.

The proposal calls for extending the CTA Orange Line and Metra’s BNSF route to the site.

It is not clear if that would mean that Metra BNSF route trains would no longer use Chicago Union Station.

The transit center would have parking for 6,500 vehicles and feature a bus line connecting it to Navy Pier, museums and other tourist attractions along the Lake Michigan shore in and near downtown Chicago.

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce paid for a study that concluded that the transit center, to be known as One Central, generate $120 billion in new tax and fee revenues to state and local governments over 40 years.

Student funding is necessarily for the project to qualify for federal transportation funding.

All of Amtrak’s trains serving Chicago originate and terminate at Union Station. Some of those Amtrak routes have suburban stops, but no Amtrak train stops for passengers within Chicago other that at Union Station.

Rehabilitation Finished at Jacksonville Station

June 6, 2019

Amtrak has finished refurbishments of its station in Jacksonville, Florida, that cost $1.1 million.

The work made the station located on Clifford Lane compatible with standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The work included new curb ramps and landings, a path-to-transit drop off area; bollard mounted parking signage, and establishment of a customer drop-off area.

Jacksonville is served by Amtrak’s New York-Miami Silver Meteor and Silver Star.

Students Share Ideas for Proposed Amtrak Station

June 3, 2019

Christiansburg, Virginia, is a long way from getting an Amtrak station, but a group of students at nearby Virginia Tech University have created a plan for what that station might be.

The 15 architecture students were given a class project that one of them used to design a model station that would feature vertical louvers that could be adjusted throughout the year to keep heating and air costs down.

In the assignment, the students were told to design a real-life project, which turned out to be a train station for Christiansburg.

Although the ideas the students came up with may or may not be incorporated into the actual station that may be built someday, the professor overseeing the project said the primary purpose of the assignment was to bring attention to expanding passenger rail service.

“It helps to raise awareness and support for passenger rail,” said architecture professor Jack Davis. “It’s an undeveloped corridor of progress for Southwest Virginia.”

In their models, the students were instructed to take into account the actual landscape and conditions of the station’s targeted site in Christiansburg near the town Aquatic Center off Franklin Street.

That prompted one student to use layers of cardboard to reflect the site’s steep grade.

The intention was to require as little excavation as possible as well as take into account possible future growth.

All of the models therefore featured two station platforms rather than just one.

Another student, who said he had an interest in trains and had observed rail travel in Japan, designed an entrance building that directly connects to a bridge over the tracks and to another building that would have a cafe and seating area.

The designs drew [praise from Kevin Byrd, executive director of the New River Valley Regional Commission that is working to develop the station.

“I think it’s exciting when we’re able to utilize students right here in our backyard for some real-life applications,” he said. “All in all, they did a really good job.

Byrd acknowledged that officials are not yet close to designing the station to be used, but said the project “helps keep interest among the New River Valley rail leadership group.”

A recent study estimated that the cost of the station will be $4 million.

Officials are looking at creating an authority of Virginia Tech, Christiansburg, Blacksburg and Montgomery County to oversee creation of the station.

In the meantime city officials have begun acquiring land to be used for the station .

Christiansburg is located west of Roanoke, Virginia, which is the terminus of an Amtrak Northeast Regional route that is paid for by the state.

State and local officials have been seeking to extend that route further into southwest Virginia.

At one time Amtrak’s Hilltopper stopped in Christiansburg before it was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979.

Amtrak Spending $72.5M on Station Improvements

June 2, 2019

Amtrak said last week that it will spend $72.5 million in station improvements in fiscal year 2019, which ends on Sept. 30.

The carrier said in a news release that it spent $19 million in FY2019. Those figures do not include general repairs performed and managed locally.

This year projects will be launched at 53 stations in 35 states, including large-scale work at 23 stations.

Much of the money being spent this year is for bringing stations into compliance with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Amtrak said much of the work is for long-overdue renovations at facilities where travelers have had inadequate bathroom facilities or were forced to board trains from platforms that are no higher than tie level.

FRA Suspends Study of New Petersburg Station

May 28, 2019

Efforts to create a new Amtrak station in Petersburg, Virginia, have stalled after the Federal Federal Railroad Administration suspended work on an environmental assessment of the project.

In a letter sent to the Tri-Cities Metropolitan Planning Organization, the FRA did not explain why work on the study had been suspended, but an FRA spokesman later said the agency would be willing to consider the project at an unspecified later date.

“We have not abandoned plans to evaluate the feasibility of building a new station, and will continue to discuss the next steps with the Tri-Cities MPO,” the FRA spokesman said in a statement.

Amtrak currently serves Petersburg at a station located in Ettrick. That facility was one of three locations under consideration for a new station.

The other locations are the CSX Collier Yard in Petersburg and a former department store in Colonial Heights.

Studies of a new station began five years ago and the FRA had indicated last year that it favored the Colonial Heights location, a former Nichols Department Store because of its proximity to Interstate 95.

Officials have said the station in Ettrick is 74 years old and is located near Virginia State University.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation had also favored revitalizing the Ettrick station.

Expressing disappointment in the FRA decision, David Hyder, transportation director of the Crater Planning District Commission, said he would welcome the opportunity to revive the new station study.

Petersburg is served by Amtrak’s Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Carolinian and Palmetto.