Archive for the ‘Amtrak stations’ Category

San Diego Amtrak Station Sold

October 14, 2017

The Amtrak station in San Diego has been sold to an unidentified investor who is considering developing it. Amtrak operations at the 102-year-old former Santa Fe depot are not expected to change.

Located at Broadway and Kettner Boulevard, no immediate changes are expected, but a San Diego architecture firm has been hired to complete an assessment report and recommend needed maintenance and restoration steps.

Officials said Amtrak will continue to lease space in the station and any changes likely are years away.

The buyer was identified as Santa Fe Depot LLC. The seller was Prologis Inc. The sale price was not disclosed.

“The sale is significant to the San Diego community and represents the seller’s deep commitment to preserving the landmark asset,” said real estate broker Kipp Gstettenbauer of Voit Real Estate Services, which represented the seller.

The San Diego station is located amid new development near the waterfront. The depot has 10,000 square feet of space and is zoned for retail use.

“By working closely with the buyer and Heritage Architecture, we will be able to restore parts of the building that have gone unused for more than 50 years, while providing additional services in the station, expanding ridership for Amtrak and increasing the building’s historic value,” Gstettenbauer said.

Santa Fe built the station, which features California mission and Spanish colonial style design, to serve the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition held in Balboa Park.

The railroad considered razing the station in the 1970s and building two-high rise office towers on the site.

But that plan was fought by the Save Our Heritage Organization as well as then-Mayor Pete Wilson. The depot was subsequently placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego later acquired the former baggage building and a master plan was written to oversee redevelopment of the land around the depot.

Bosa Development has built several condominium towers adjacent to the station.

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Schenectady Station Bid to be Opened

October 11, 2017

Bids for a new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York, will be opened on Oct. 19, the New York Department of Transportation said.

The bids to be opened are the second phase of the project, which involves construction of the station and parking lot.

That work is expected to occur in 2018 with the depot slated to open in October 2018.

The first phase of the project, demolition of the existing station, plus platform concrete work and new culverts was earlier awarded to Bette & Cring, which submitted the low bid of $5,409,091.

The new station, which is projected to cost $23.5 million, will replace an Amtrak-built facility that opened in 1979.

Transportation department officials have said the design of the new Amtrak station will have architectural features reminiscent of the Schenectady Union Station, which was built in 1908 and razed in 1971.

This will include a wraparound awning outside the building, a weather vane in the shape of New York state on top of a gold dome on the roof, and tall arched windows similar to those in the original Union Station.

Schenectady is served by Empire Corridor trains, including the Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-New York/Boston), Maple Leaf (New York-Toronto) and Adirondack (New York-Montreal).

Amtrak to Rename Philly 30th Street Station

October 11, 2017

After a delay of three years, Amtrak has told a Pennsylvania senator that it will move ahead on renaming 30th Street Station in Philadelphia as William H. Gray 30th Street Station.

Senator Bob Casey made the announcement after meeting with Amtrak co-CEO Richard H. Anderson.

“I was encouraged by my recent meeting with Amtrak leadership about Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station,” Casey said in a statement. “For the first time, Amtrak has committed to implementing the 2014 federal law renaming the station in honor of the late Congressman William H. Gray, III.”

The name change was mandated in legislation approved in August 2014.

Amtrak has never explained why it delayed renaming the station and it is still not saying when the renaming will occur.

Casey and a group of state and city officials held a news conference last week to pressure Amtrak into acting.

Gray died in 2013 and during his time in office helped to raise millions of dollars for SEPTA, a commuter rail agency that uses the station.

Gray also regularly commuted on Amtrak between Philadelphia and Washington.

He was the first African American to chair the House Budget Committee and the first to serve as minority whip, the third highest-ranking position in the U.S. House. Gray represented the 2nd Congressional District from 1979 to 1991.

New Rochester Station Opens

October 9, 2017

The new Amtrak station in Rochester, New York, opened last Friday at the same location as the previous Amtrak-built modular facility.

The new station is fully ADA-compliant and has a new high-level platform serving two dedicated boarding tracks.

Attending a ribbon cutting ceremony were Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. During the ceremony, the eastbound and westbound Maple Leaf’s met at the new station.

Aside from the Maple Leaf, Rochester is served by the Lake Shore Limited and four Empire Service trains between New York and Niagara Falls, New York.

New Carlinville Station Close to Opening

October 6, 2017

A new Amtrak station in Carlinville, Illinois, is expected to open soon.

A least lease agreement between the city of Carlinville, which owns the building, and Union Pacific, which owns the ground, has been reached.

But the city must work out a lease agreement with Amtrak, but the negotiations have snagged over liability insurance.

“We’re still dilly dallying with the Amtrak lease of the station and the platforms,” said City attorney Rick Bertinetti.” Everything is pretty well getting ironed out in that agreement except for one significant major item that pertains to liability and insurance.”

Bertinetti said he placed language in the lease stating Amtrak would indemnify the city over anything that happens with regard to Amtrak’s use of the platform, its agents, its employees and its passengers.

“We do have a good clause in there as far as indemnity that they have approved,” he said. “Now, we’re just trying to put together what insurances we do have to carry and maintain in effect because of our other agreement to lease the property — the platform in particular — from Union Pacific Railroad.”

Mayor Deanna Demuzio said a meeting has been scheduled with an attorney from Amtrak.

“We hope to get everything finalized very, very soon. This is something we’ve been working on for over a year.”

The Carlinville City Council recently approved a stipulation by the Illinois Department of Transportation for a passenger information display system that will provide passengers with infromation regarding arriving and departing trains.

Bertinetti said the PIDS agreement had to be approved by the council since the displays are improvements to the property and included a grant received by the city.

“We don’t have any monetary obligation here, other than we are the owner,” he said. “We have to carry insurance on it and we’re basically responsible if it gets damaged, vandalized, stolen, something like that. We’ll carry insurance on it, just as we have to carry insurance on the station itself.

Carlinville is served by Amtrak’s Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Williams Junction Shuttle to End

September 28, 2017

Grand Canyon Railway will discontinue its shuttle service to the Amtrak station at Williams Junction, Arizona, on Jan. 1, 2018.

The tourist railroad provides the only shuttle service between the stop for the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief and the town of Williams.

Bruce Brossman, director of sales and marketing for Grand Canyon Railway, said the shuttle service is not conducive to the operation of the railway.

The Amtrak station is located in an isolated area three miles out of town.

The eastbound Chief is scheduled to arrive at Williams Junction at 3:50 a.m. and the shuttle takes detraining passengers to the lobby of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.

The train to the Grand Canyon leaves at 9:30 a.m. “The conflicts have become too much,” he said. “We have people sleeping in our lobby, disrupting our guests and making our employees nervous.”

Brossman said another factor in ending the shuttle service is that train arrivals and departures have become unpredictable and van drivers must be on call at night.

“There was a lot of labor involved,” Brossman said. “We had to hire CDL drivers and deal with wear and tear on the vehicles.”

He recommended that passengers traveling to Williams to ride the Grand Canyon Railway disembark at the Amtrak station in Flagstaff station where they can take a shuttle to Williams.

“Their depot is open 24-hours a day and there are restaurants in town open later than we are,” he said. “It’s only 25 minutes or so to Williams where they can pick up the train to the Grand Canyon. They can then return to Williams and take a shuttle back.”

Grand Canyon Railway still plans to work with Amtrak Vacations and Yankee Holidays where customers can purchase travel packages.

CUS Restoration Work Gets Underway

September 26, 2017

A $22 million project to renovate and restore the Great Hall at Chicago Union Station is underway.

Amtrak said the work includes repainting the hall into its original colors and restoring the skylight.

The 219-foot-long skylight that sits 115 feet above the Great Hall floor and over the years it has deteriorated due to water damage and flaws within the original design.

Natural light is expected to increase by about 50 percent by replacing the 2,052 pieces of glass in frames that had been made bigger over the years in a failed effort to prevent leaks in the skylight, Amtrak officials said.

Workers will construct an energy-efficient skylight above the historic skylight in order to maintain its historic appearance and overcome complications of an existing drainage system.

After the skylight and roof work is finished, the historic skylight and water-damaged plaster and stone will be restored.

A suspended work deck and swing stations are being used to minimize disruption to passengers.

A crane erected on Clinton Street is being used to move materials through the building and above the Great Hall.

The painting and plaster repairs have been divided into phases to further provide full public access to the Great Hall during the repairs.

Union Station opened in 1925 and was designed by Daniel Burnham and successor firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White.

Goettsch Parkets is the architect on the project and Berglund Construction is the contractor for the restoration project, which is being funded by Amtrak.

Fuller Park Favored for New Ann Arbor Station

September 18, 2017

A draft environmental assessment favors placing the new Amtrak station in Ann Arbor in Fuller Park.

The long-awaited 212-page report was released on Monday after the Federal Railroad Administration gave the go ahead to do so.

Public comments are being accepted through Nov. 2 and opposition is expected given that many in Ann Arbor have already spoken against using a city park for a new train station.

The city also considered sites along Depot Street, where the existing Amtrak station is located.

Ann Arbor officials have long favored the Fuller Park site in front of the University of Michigan Hospital.

The new station would be elevated over the tracks in order to connect with a city-owned parking lot leased to the University of Michigan.

Development of the station is projected to occur in two stages. Phase I includes:

  • Construct station above the tracks
  • Construct five-level intermodal operations and parking structure to accommodate transit operations, 435 long-term parking spaces, 50 short-term parking spaces, 150 parks user parking spaces and motorcycle parking, bicycle parking, shared bicycle service and bicycle room in parking structure
  • Construct vertical circulation element on north side of the tracks
  • Construct platform on the north side of the tracks with two warming shelters and 650 feet of canopy
  • Construct new 250-foot, eastbound, right-turn lane at the Fuller Road/West Site driveway intersection
  • Construct new 250-foot, eastbound, right-turn lane at the Fuller Road/East Site driveway intersection
  • Relocate and reconstruct the Fuller Road crossovers, including 250 foot, left-turn bays at each crossover
  • Construct four bus bays

Phase II includes:

  • Construct additional parking structure levels to accommodate 870 total long-term parking spaces, 50 short-term spaces, 150 parks user parking spaces
  • Construct five additional bus bays to equal nine bus bays

If a commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit is implemented, the station project would also include:

  • Construct second 800-foot platform on south side of the tracks with two warming shelters and 650 feet of canopy
  • Construct vertical circulation elements (elevators and stairs for pedestrians) on south side of the tracks
  • Construct an additional 250 spaces (1,320 total)

The environmental assessment noted that the Fuller Road site can be developed on property owned by the city and the Michigan Department of Transportation, thereby eliminating the need to acquire additional property.

However, the station will require the will require use of 3.2 acres of Fuller Park, which in turn must be approved by Ann Arbor’s Park Advisory Commission and City Council approval.

Another factor weighing in favor of the Fuller Park site was lower costs, which were estimated at $81 million. Development of a station along Depot Street would cost between $94 million to $98 million.

Ticket Agent Hours Cut in Jackson, Mich.

September 18, 2017

Amtrak has reduced ticket agent service in Jackson, Michigan.

The changes, which became effective on Aug. 29, means the ticket office will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Amtrak has hired a caretaker to open and close the station on those days. Ticket office hours on other days of the week will be 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said that Tuesday and Wednesday are typically the lowest travel days in the Midwest.

He also said that many Amtrak passengers are printing their tickets at home or having them scanned on their smart phones aboard the train.

“Overwhelmingly, our passengers choose electronic ticketing,” Magliari said. “Most people are using the eTicketing and a lot of people are doing it without talking to a human.”

Magliari also quipped that “the days of people pushing coins and folded dollars across the counter to a ticket agent with a big stamping machine are pretty well gone. It’s all through automated systems.”

Jackson lacks any Quik-Trak Self-Service Ticketing Kiosks and Magliari said those are being phased out.

At the present time, Amtrak has no plans to remove its ticket agent from Jackson, Magliari said.

Jackson is served by six Wolverine Service trains a day between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

Ann Arbor Station Cost Rises to $89M

September 15, 2017

Ann Arbor City Council members got an unexpected surprise this week when they learned that the price tag for a new Amtrak station has shot up by $25 million.

The station, which has been in the talking and planning stages for more than 10 years, was to have cost $65 million, but now it is expected to cost $80 million.

Furthermore, the city will need to find additional funding sources to pay for design and construction work once an environmental assessment is completed.

The news came at a session at which the city’s  chief financial officer said there isn’t enough money to do all of the capital projects that council has discussed.

The current Amtrak station on Depot Street is small and the city has been eyeing sites for a new station along that street or on Fuller Road near the University of Michigan Hospital.

In response to a question by Council Member Jane Lumm of how the project had ballooned in cost, city chief financial officer Tom Crawford had few details.

“This is not intended to be a project update,” Crawford said. “I just grabbed something that I saw and threw it in.”

City Administrator Howard Lazarus said discussions are continuing with the Federal Railroad Administration and that the environmental assessment package could be available for public review as early as next week.

Lazarus acknowledged that schedule estimates on releasing the report have been notoriously unreliable, “but I think we’re pretty close to the end.”

The city is still assuming that 80 percent of the money for the station will come from the federal government and 20 percent will be local funds.