Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New York-Pittsfield Rail Service Studied

December 12, 2017

A study of rail service between New York City and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is underway.

The proposal would have trains use Amtrak’s Empire Corridor from New York to Rensselaer, New York, and then reverse direction and travel to Pittsfield via a CSX route now used by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

This route would be unlikely to require any significant additional investment in new track, signals or land purchases on the Amtrak-owned segments.

However, facilities will be needed in Pittsfield for overnight storage and servicing of equipment.

Eddie Sporn, a West Stockbridge resident who heads real estate and planning firm Robin Road Consulting, said another option that would avoid running through Rensselaer is being eyes, but the Rensselaer option appears to be the favored.

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Renovated OKC Station Opens

December 8, 2017

The former Santa Fe station in downtown Oklahoma City has reopened following the completion of the first phase of its renovation and restoration.

The station, which is the northern terminus of Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer route, opened in 1934.

The restoration project restored the interior of the station to what it looked like in the 1930s.

This included matching paint from samples chipped from the wall and installing replica art deco light fixtures.

A new sculpture, titled Connectivity and created by Marsh Scott, fills the window over the west entrance.

Additional limestone traced to the same Texas quarry as the original pieces was also used in the restoration work.

“This is a gem to be involved in,” said Rick Lueb of TAP Architecture.

Most of the money for the $28.4 million project was provided by a federal transportation grant.

Lueb said photographs provided by a railroad enthusiast proved invaluable in recreating the original station.

Aside from serving Amtrak, the station will house city transit offices and retail businesses.

The next phase of the project will involve building a tunnel under the tracks to create a walkway to Bricktown and a plaza. That work is expected to be finished in June 2019.

OKC Mayor Mick Cornett said the restoration shows community values at work, preserving what could be lost.

The Heartland Flyer operates daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, where it connects with Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The OKC station might also some day serve a proposed light rail line.

Restoration of Lawrence Station Moves Ahead

December 8, 2017

Restoration of a former Santa Fe passenger station used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief in Lawrence, Kansas, is moving forward.

The project stalled after the Kansas Department of Transportation received no bids for the work.

However, the Lawrence city council recently approved a resolution directing KDOT to award the restoration work bid to First Construction of Lawrence in the amount of about $1.8 million.

Another $240,000 has been spent on engineering work for the project to restore the station, which was built in the 1950s.

A KDOT grant will pay for 80 percent of the restoration costs while the city will pay up to $409,000 for its share of the project.

That is far more than the $24,000 the city expected to pay when the restoration work was proposed in 2014

A memo written by city staff indicated that the possible sale of historic tax credits and reimbursement from Amtrak for upgrades required by the Americans with Disabilities Act will make up the difference.

BNSF owns the property on which the one-story brick station is located, but has donated the station to the city.

The depot is an example of mid-century modern architecture. The restoration work is expected to be finished in 2018.

Renovated Macomb Station Dedicated

December 8, 2017

The renovation of the Amtrak station in Macomb, Illinois, was celebrated on Dec. 5 with a ribbon cutting conducted by the Ambassador Committee of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Macomb and Amtrak officials.

The station work included making the depot ADA accessibile, installing a new exterior ramp, interior and exterior door modifications, and remodeling the bathrooms and seating area inside the station.

Work on the Macomb station was a pilot program for similar projects slated for other Amtrak stations nationwide.

“We were happy to be chosen by Amtrak to be part of this pilot project,” said Mayor Mike Inman. “We believe the local approach taken with this project, saved tax payer dollars.”

Macomb is located on the Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, corridor and served daily by the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg.

Downeasters to Skip Woburn on Dec. 2-3

November 30, 2017

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on Dc. 2 and 3 will result in some Downeaster skipping the stop at Woburn, Massachusetts on those dates.

Southbound Trains 690, 692, 694, 696 and 698 and northbound Trains 691, 693, 695, 697 and 699 will detour between Boston North Station and Haverhill, Massachusetts, and will not stop at Woburn.

Alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

110 mph Running Delayed Until Next Year

November 25, 2017

Top speeds of 110 miles per hour are not expected to come to the Chicago-St. Louis corridor until 2018, the Illinois Department of Transportation has said.

IDOT said construction of the $2 billion high-speed rail project has taken longer than expected.

The original goal when the project began seven years ago was to have the higher speeds in place by late 2017.

Officials have not said when in 2018 the higher speeds will be allowed.

The latest delays have occurred in Springfield where five crossings have been closed while workers install safety fencing and make signal and gate upgrades.

The city of Springfield is seeking federal approval to establish a “quiet zone” of no train horns once the safety improvements are completed.

Trains began running at speeds up to 110 mph in 2012 between Pontiac and Dwight.

Lyft Becomes Amtrak Ski Train Sponsor

November 15, 2017

Ride sharing service Lyft has become a sponsor of Amtrak’s Winter Park Express ski train.

In a news release, Amtrak said Lyft is offering new customers an AMTRAKLYFT promo code for $5 off their first four rides.

Lyft will provide a larger vehicle for snow boards and skis as well as drop off and pick up passengers at Denver Union Station. The arrangement begins on Jan. 5.

The seasonal service begins Jan. 5, and operates every Saturday and Sunday through March 25, with additional service on Fridays on Jan. 5, Feb. 2, and March 2.

The train departs Denver at 7 a.m. and arrives at the Winter Park Resort at approximately 9 a.m. The return trip leaves Winter Park at 4:30 p.m., returning to Union Station at 6:40 p.m.

Also as part of the new partnership, three railcars will be wrapped in Lyft’s hot pink design and remain on display at Union Station during the week.

After the Winter Park Express season ends, the wrapped railcars will continue in service on other national Amtrak routes throughout the West and Midwest.

Michigan City Eyes Commuter Rail Service

November 9, 2017

A Michigan city near Grand Rapids is eyeing the institution of commuter rail service on the route of the Amtrak’s Pere Marquette.

News reports indicate that city officials in Hudsonville recently met with Michigan Department of Transportation officials to discuss a possible revival of commuter service.

Attending the meeting were Hudsonville City Manager Patrick Waterman, MDOT’s Tim Hoeffner and Greg Holcombe of Urban Innovations.

Hudsonville officials have proposed running trains every hour on existing CSX tracks, with more trains possibly scheduled during peak travel times.

Waterman said the idea is still in the early stages and that studies are needed to determine costs, potential ridership and establish the best form of technology to use on the route.

The community leaders promoting the service envision something akin to an interurban rail line that operated 100 years ago in the region.

Hudsonville is not a stop for the Pere Marquette trains that operate between Grand Rapids and Chicago.

Front Range Commission to Draft Rail Legislation

November 8, 2017

A commission studying the institution of intercity rail passenger service on the Interstate 25 corridor in Colorado has presented its findings to the state legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee.

The Front Range Rail Commission has detailed how to implement rail service between Trinidad and Fort Collins.

The next step will be for the Commission to draft legislation to present to the Colorado legislature by Dec. 1.
Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said the Commission still need to research how the rail route would best serve the needs of Colorado residents.

That include making a determination about whether to locate the Denver station downtown or at the Denver International Airport.

Hiawatha Passengers Need Reservations for Thanksgiving Travel

October 31, 2017

Amtrak will require reservations for travel aboard its Hiawatha Service trains during the Thanksgiving holiday period

In a service advisory, Amtrak said reservations will be required on all Chicago-Milwaukee trains from Tuesday, Nov. 21 through Monday, Nov. 27.

During that period, a ticket will only be valid on the train for which a passenger holds a reservation.

Amtrak said it is adding cars to provide overflow seating on selected trains on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22.

Monthly and 10-ride ticket holders will not need reservations.