Posts Tagged ‘abandoned Amtrak stations’

The Next Train is Probably Never

May 12, 2018

Until November 1990, Amtrak served Canton, Ohio, with four trains a day.

Passengers could board the Broadway Limited for New York or Chicago and the Capitol Limited for Washington and Chicago.

But Conrail wanted Amtrak to assume all costs of maintaining a portion of the former Pennsylvania Railroad route used by the trains near Gary, Indiana, which Conrail said it no longer used or needed.

Amtrak balked at that and after a few years of disputing the matter it agreed to reroute both trains.

That left Canton without intercity rail passenger service for the first time in more than a century.

I made this image of the former Amtrak boarding platform in Canton on July 10, 2008.

At the time, the modular station Amtrak had built in the 1970s to serve Canton still stood, but had been re-purposed as a restaurant and that was closed at the time of my visit.

It is probably a matter of time before Norfolk Southern removes the platforms and remains of the PRR umbrella shed.

There is no realistic proposal for Amtrak to return to Canton. The tracks are in good condition as far west as Crestline, Ohio, but beyond there the rails are not maintained to passenger standards.

More than likely, the last passenger has boarded a train from this platform.

FRA Grants Raise Hopes that New Rail Service is Getting Closer to Coming to Fruition

December 22, 2016

The allocation this week by the Federal Railroad Administration of $2.5 million for stations improvements has officials in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi hopeful that intercity rail passenger service between New Orleans and Florida, and New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is closer to getting launched.

FRAThe service to Baton Rouge is seen as commuter service, but the service east of the Crescent City would be a restoration of an Amtrak route lost when Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005.

Until then, Amtrak’s Sunset Limited operated between Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida, via New Orleans, Mobile, Alabama, and Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida.

Three cities, Baton Rouge, Gonzales and LaPlace, will split $350,000 to begin planning for passengers stations on the proposed commuter train route.

The rest of the money will be allocated to cities in Mississippi (Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Pascagoula) and Mobile for station development.

Some of the grant money is being distributed to the Alabama cities of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Anniston for station work on the New York-New Orleans Crescent route.

Officials say it will be several years before the New Orleans-Baton Rouge service could start. Funding for the service has yet to be secured.

A study conducted in 2015 estimated the service would cost $6.7 million a year based on annual ridership of 210,000 paying a one-way fare of $10 per trip.

Restoring Amtrak service to the Gulf Coast could happen in 18 to 24 months said John Spain, a Louisiana representatives on the Southern Rail Commission.

Amtrak extended the Sunset Limited to Florida in 1993, operating tri-weekly. State-funded service to portions of the Gulf Coast from New Orleans have come and gone over the years.

The SRC noted in a 2015 report that the Sunset Limited was plagued by poor timekeeping due, in part, to freight train congestion.

Ex-Amtrak Station Frozen in Time in Akron

December 21, 2016
That tree growing behind the former Amtrak station in Akron wasn't originally part of the station, but it does add a touch of color in autumn.

That tree growing behind the former Amtrak station in Akron wasn’t originally part of the station complex, but it adds a touch of color in autumn.

Akron was left off Amtrak’s initial route map in 1971. The city saw an occasional Amtrak detour move over the years, most notably during the 1970s, but it didn’t become an Amtrak city until November 1990 when the Broadway Limited was removed from Conrail’s Fort Wayne Line and routed onto the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline of CSX (former Baltimore & Ohio).

Although Akron Union Depot still stood, it had been taken over by the University of Akron. Amtrak built a modular station and used part of the platform area of the former union depot.

The Broadway Limited was discontinued in September 1995 in a massive route restructuring. That might have been the end of the story of Amtrak in Akron, but the New York-Pittsburgh Three Rivers was extended west to Chicago in November 1996.

That train, though, blew through Akron without stopping until August 1998. The Three Rivers used the same station and platform as the Broadway Limited, but the hang up had been who would pay for whatever repairs were needed to the facilities — such as they were — before Amtrak would agree to stop the Three Rivers in Akron.

During the Broadway Limited days, the Akron station had a ticket agent. But during the Three Rivers days, the station had a caretaker.

The Three Rivers made its last trips through Akron in March 2005, a victim of low patronage, and the end of the great mail and express gambit. Carriage of the latter was the primary reason why the Three Rivers had been extended west of Pittsburgh.

More than a decade after Nos. 40 and 41 halted in Akron for the final time, the Amtrak station in the Rubber City is frozen in time.

I paid a visit to the station in early November to see what remained. It has changed little since my last visit there in March 2012 and, for that matter, it had not changed much since service ended in 2005.

There is a tree growing behind the building that didn’t used to be there and the exterior appearance of the station is the same save for the plywood placed behind the front windows that wasn’t there in 2005. Remarkably, the building is largely free of vandalism and graffiti.

Taped to a front window is a November 2004 schedule for the Three Rivers, various notifications about Amtrak policies, a sign that says this is an unstaffed station, and a sign that says the Three Rivers no longer stops at this station. In fact there is no Three Rivers anymore anywhere.

What is missing is the platform,which CSX ripped out in 2012 when it was conducting a clearance project as part of the development of its National Gateway.

Otherwise, Amtrak’s Akron station remains frozen in time more than a decade after the trains left for good.

The front of the former Amtrak station in Akron.

The front of the former Amtrak station in Akron as seen in March 2012. It still looks like this four years later.

Unless you looked carefully and found this sign you might think that Amtrak still served Akron.

Unless you looked carefully. you might miss this sign and think that Amtrak still served Akron.

In this March 2012 view work has begun to remove the Amtrak platform. The walkway from the station to the platform had already been removed.

In this March 2012 view, work has begun to remove the Amtrak platform. The walkway from the station to the platform had already been removed.

The Amtrak platform has since been removed by CSX. The view is looking west toward the site of the former Akron Union Depot.

The Amtrak boarding platform was removed by CSX in 2012. The view is looking west toward the site of the former Akron Union Depot.

Quaker Square looms over the former Amtrak station in Akron, but even it has changed. It is now owned by the University of Akron and used for student housing and special events.

Although Quaker Square still looms over the former Amtrak station in Akron, even it has changed. It is now owned by the University of Akron and used for student housing and special events.

A schedule from 2004 remains taped to the front window of the Akron Amtrak station despite the fact the train was discontinued more than a decade ago.

A schedule dated Nov. 1, 2004, remains taped to the front window of the Akron Amtrak station even though the train was discontinued more than a decade ago.

Abandoned and Forlorn in Crestline

December 9, 2016

x-crestline-amshack

Unless you are familiar with the Fort Wayne Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Penn Central and Conrail, you might be puzzled that when Amtrak began service on May 1, 1971, its Chicago-New York/Washington Broadway Limited stopped at Crestline, Ohio.

This village of 4,600 is near Mansfield, which has a population of 46,000. But Amtrak chose to stop in Crestline and not Mansfield. In fact, Amtrak never stopped in Mansfield even though between 1971 and 1990 it put four trains a day through the county seat of Richland County.

Crestline was a crew change point for Penn Central, which probably had a lot to do with why it was chosen rather than Mansfield as an Amtrak stop.

Amtrak’s early planners sought to minimize the number of station stops on most routes and therefore the Broadway Limited would serve just three stations in Ohio: Lima, Crestline and Canton.

Crestline wasn’t any ordinary town. The PRR had a roundhouse and yard here. There was a large union station in the northeast quadrant of the diamonds where the PRR crossed the Cleveland-St. Louis line of the New York Central. There was a railroad YMCA.

The union station and YMCA were gone by the time I first visited Crestline. In fact, Amtrak was also gone, the Broadway Limited having been rerouted off the Fort Wayne Line in November 1990.

This image was made in September 1998. Amtrak had been gone for nearly eight years and the Amshack that it had used in Crestline was in disrepair.

I haven’t been back to Crestline for several years, but I believe this structure was removed when the Fort Wayne Line was reworked after the Conrail split. There isn’t much of the railroads left in Crestline except the tracks themselves.

There was no need to keep the Amshack given that Amtrak is unlikely to return to the Fort Wayne Line through Crestline.