Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

Master Developer Chosen for CUS Project

May 26, 2017

Amtrak said it has chosen Riverside Investment & Development Company to be the master developer for a planned project at commercial expansion of Chicago Union Station nearby properties that Amtrak owns.

In a news release, Amtrak said that the initial conceptual design proposed by Riverside, in conjunction with co-developer and co-venture partner Convexity Properties, will include three phases that are to be completed in about six years.

This will include improved street entrances and pedestrian traffic flow entering and leaving Union Station, as well as improved pedestrian-friendly landscaping and open spaces.

Key components of the first phase of the project, which will involve 3.1 million square feet in the station’s headhouse and concourse, include:

  • 110,000 square feet of new and reconfigured retail with a new food hall
  • Street level retail to be added to enhance the pedestrian experience
  • Renovation of the headhouse and Great Hall
  • 100,000 square feet of office space and a new proposed hotel above the Great Hall
  • Two new 12-story residential towers above the headhouse

The second phase will involve construction of two new office towers along with retail and parking. This includes:

  • Two new 750,000 square foot office towers with ground floor retail and approximately 800 parking spaces
  • Ample publicly-accessible green spaces including terraces and plazas, including above the current Union Station Transit Center.

The final phase of the project will involve a plaza and tower on southeast corner of Jackson and Canal that will have 500,000 square foot retail and a residential tower developed over active rail lines with open space and plazas at street level

Amtrak said the development of Union Station was made possible through the City of Chicago’s agreement to modernize and transform the transportation infrastructure though the Amtrak Chicago Union Station Master Plan.

The project will not require any federal, state or local funding and is subject to further revision and consideration by the City of Chicago Plan Commission, Landmark Commission, Zoning Committee and City Council.

“This building was envisioned by Daniel Burnham in the 1909 Plan for Chicago as the city’s primary rail station. It is in that spirit, we have big plans for both this Headhouse building and nearby properties owned by Amtrak,” said Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman in a statement. “We have initiated real estate developments such as this to create revenue streams to invest in our core business, to improve facilities, to provide amenities to all users of the station – and to attract new ones. We are certain we will do that here in Chicago.”

New Charlotte Station Still Awaiting Agreements

May 24, 2017

Two years after being awarded a $30 million federal grant to build a new Amtrak station in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, the city is still waiting for the work to begin.

The proposed Charlotte Gateway Station was lauded with much fanfare in October 2015 by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, who was once the mayor of Charlotte.

Foxx said that the groundbreaking could occur within 18 months.

But now the Charlotte Area Transit System doesn’t think it can have a station ready until 2024.

Plans for a temporary station to replace what many in Charlotte describe as the existing small and dingy station off North Tryon Street apparently have been dropped.

Gateway Station is planned for Graham, Fourth and West Trade streets near BB&T Ballpark. The current station is located well north of downtown.

CATS officials recently told the Charlotte City Council that a new agreement and timetable with the state must be negotiated, a process they expect to occur by late June.

But if that agreement is not reached, then the federal funding for the new station could be at risk of being taken back by the federal government.

Charlotte is the southern terminus of the Carolinian, which originated in New York City, and the Piedmont trains that originated in Raleigh, North Carolina. The New York-New Orleans Crescent also serves Charlotte.

CATS still needs to find several million more dollars to fund the Gateway Station in addition to the federal, state and local grants it has lined up thus far. Gateway Station is expected to cost between $150 and $200 million.

The station is envisioned to become a mixed-use project that houses offices and residential units. The CATS rail line to Lake Norman would serve Gateway as well as city buses and the streetcar Gold Line.

CATS has funding pledges of $30 million in federal funds, $48.75 million from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and $33 million from the city of Charlotte.

If funding is lined up, construction would begin in 2018. Track, signal and platform work would be finished in 2021 under the current timeline.

The station itself would be built within three years of the track, signal and platform work being completed. Amtrak won’t begin using Gateway until the station is finished.

Lake Forest Hopes Pedestrian Tunnel Will Help Attract an Amtrak Hiawatha Service Stop

May 23, 2017

Lake Forest, Illinois, is seeking to get a pedestrian underpass built beneath the tracks carrying Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service trains.

Aside from safety reasons, the underpass might strengthen the city’s efforts to get Amtrak to stop in the northern Chicago suburb.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier would consider a number of factors before agreeing to establish a stop in Lake Forest.

Magliari said these include potential passenger traffic and how a stop might affect current or future operations of Amtrak, Metra or Canadian Pacific freight trains.

He said having a pedestrian underpass would make the Metra station in Lake Forest more accessible.

“We’d want both tracks to be accessible,” Magliari said. “Operationally, if there was only a platform on one side, you’re delaying trains. We’d want to be able to stop on both tracks. There would be less interference with our operation and Metra and freight operations to have safe access on both sides of the track for all people.”

Amtrak would also need to consult with the departments of transportation in Illinois and Wisconsin, which provide funding for the Hiawatha Service trains.

The station underpass has been discussed since at least 2009 and the city council has approved paying a consultant to create a preliminary engineering design.

Lake Forest has been interested in becoming an Amtrak stop since January 2010 when the city council approved a recommendation supporting an Amtrak stop at its west train station.

Signs Point to Shift to Grand Central for Amtrak

May 22, 2017

Amtrak has yet to comment on reports that it plans to shift some Empire Corridor trains this summer to New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, but there are increasing signs that it will happen.

Gary Prophet of the Empire State Passengers Association told New York radio station WCBS that he has spoken with Amtrak train crews who said they are being trained to operate on the route to Grand Central Terminal.

A New York state legislator who represent the Albany, New York, area, said Amtrak using Grand Central is a real possibility.

“The fact that there’s ongoing discussion and communication . . . indicates that it’s still very much in play,” he said.

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman didn’t address using Grand Central in speaking to a state legislative panel last week, but said that “for perspective on this, Grand Central Terminal handles only roughly two-thirds the number of daily trains on double the number of train tracks, compared to Penn Station.”

Amtrak has announced that it plans to conduct a track repair project at New York’s Penn Station this summer and that during that work 25 percent of the station’s track capacity will be out of service. That project will begin on July 7.

Penn Station handles 1,300 passenger trains a day. Amtrak has not used Grand Central Terminal since 1991.

Amtrak Might Return to Grand Central Terminal

May 15, 2017

Amtrak is considering terminating some of its Empire Corridor trains at New York Grand Central Terminal this summer as one way to deal with limited track capacity as an emergency repair program is undertaken at Penn Station.

It is not clear if the move would affect all trains operating via Albany, New York, including such long-distance and medium-distance trains as the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and Ethan Allen Express.

Amtrak used Grand Central until 1991 when it opened a line to feed trains using the former New York Central Water Level Route into Penn Station.

The Penn Station track and switch replacement project is expected to reduce that station’s train capacity by as much as 25 percent when it gets underway on July 7 and lasts for 44 days.

A news report in the Times-Union of Albany, New York, indicated that at least some Empire Corridor trains would use Grand Central, suggesting that some trains would continue to originate and terminate at Penn Station.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying that Amtrak crews are being offered the opportunity to bid for job operating trains running to Grand Central.

Grand Central is used by Metro North Commuter Railroad trains.

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman has noted that Penn Station serves 1,300-plus weekday train movements using an infrastructure network designed in 1910 to accommodate less than half of its current volume.

Also using Penn Station are New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.

Grand Central serves about two-thirds the volume of Penn Station.

One advantage of using Grand Central for Amtrak is that the terminal has a loop track that can be used to turn inbound trains after they have unloaded their passengers.

Kirkwood Taking Lead on Station Renovation

May 8, 2017

Kirkwood, Missouri, officials say the city plans to take an active role in infrastructure improvements planned for the Amtrak station.

The work include a storm water drainage project and renovation of the former Missouri Pacific depot, which dates from 1893.

The city has asked the Kirkwood Train Station Foundation to delay its fundraising activities on behalf of the station until planning is finished.

The group is comprised of volunteers who work at the station, which is the third busiest Amtrak stop in Missouri.

Aside from serving four Missouri River Runner trains a day between St. Louis and Kansas City, the station is rented about 250 times a year for private parties and events. The city acquired the station in 2003.

Kirkwood Chief Administrative Officer Russell Hawes said the storm water project is expected to cost $2 million while station rehabilitation will cost an estimated $3.5 million.

The renovation will include tuckpointing; converting the current baggage room to bathrooms; adding a platform on the east side of the building; replacing flooring, roofing, paneling and lighting; and soundproofing the ceiling.

Amtrak plans to fund installation of a new handicapped-accessible station platform and some new exterior and interior electronic arrival and departure signs, as well as other customer amenities.

Hawes said the design work will take about six months and construction is expected to begin in the next year or so.

The station will remain open during the renovation work.

Lawrence Expects to Take Ownership of Station

May 2, 2017

The Lawrence, Kansas, city commission will review today an agreement with BNSF that would give the city ownership and control of the Amtrak station later this year.

City officials said BNSF has decided to give up its stake in the former Santa Fe depot and property on which it sits.

The commission had earlier approved a pace with the railroad regarding station ownership.

“It’s very good for us, because we will have significant investment in the building itself and also in the site,” said Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard. “And for us to be able to control it at the local level long term will be to our advantage.”

The station, which is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, was built in the 1950s and has received minimal maintenance in recent years.

Lawrence will use a $1.2 million state transportation grant to renovate the building. The city’s contribution is expected to be $160,000.

Under the agreement being considered by the city, BNSF will donate the depot and land to the city. An earlier agreement by which BNSF would lease back or repurchase the station has been dropped.

BNSF officials said that they dropped their demands for a lease back or repurchase clause in order to simply the negotiations.

However, Stoddard said those changes in BNSF’s stance came from the CEO-level of the railroad.

“Donating the land with the building allowed us to streamline the transfer process,” said BNSF Public Affairs Director Andy Williams, adding that the railroad doesn’t anticipate needing the station in the future.

Stoddard also said the elimination of the lease-back provision means the station will be able to be used for various uses during daytime hours when Amtrak is not using it.

“With that no longer in play, it does provide a host of options for the city to consider with regard to the use of the building into the future,” Stoddard said. “Those things will need to be determined over time.”

Coast Starlight Disrupted until Mid-May

May 2, 2017

Amtrak has announced that the Coast Starlight will not operate between Sacramento, California, and Seattle through mid-May due to bridge damage on its Union Pacific Railroad route.

Nos. 11 and 14 will run on their normal schedule between Los Angeles and Sacramento, but Pacific Parlour Car service will not be available.

Coast Starlight passengers traveling between Seattle and Eugene are being referred to Cascades trains between those points.

Likewise, Coast Starlight customers traveling between Seattle and Eugene who are connecting to or from the Empire Builder in Seattle or Portland will be re-accommodated aboard the Amtrak Cascades.

Passengers ticketed for travel to or from Chico, Redding, Dunsmuir, California; or Klamath Falls and Chemult, Oregon should contact Amtrak at 800-USA-RAIL for further information and options, as there is no service at these cities.

During the duration of the service disruption, Redmond Airport-Cheult, Oregon, Thruway bus service Nos. 6111 and 6211 are suspended.

Thruway buses 6114 and 6214 will stop at Klamath Falls and Chemult, but there will not be a train connection in Klamath Falls.

The Coast Starlight service disruption was triggered by a UP freight train derailment on April 25 that damaged a bridge near Redding, California.

Amtrak said in a service advisory that UP is repairing the bridge and will restore service.

City Might Take Over Jackson Union Station

April 28, 2017

Plagued by security issues and a deteriorating physical structure, the Amtrak station in Jackson, Mississippi, may be getting a new owner.

The Jackson Redevelopment Authority Board of Commissioners, which owns Union Station, has asked the City of Jackson to consider taking over the downtown transit hub, which serves Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, and Greyhound and local buses.

The Redevelopment Authority said that among the problems at Union Station are criminal activity, burglaries, leaking roofs, security issues and financial concerns.

City Councilman Kenneth Stokes cited these issues in saying that the future of Union Station is in jeopardy.

“We cannot wait until Union Station completely falls down before we do something,” Stokes said. “We’re still on some solid ground. Let’s take it over now, let’s make the necessary repairs and bring Union Station back up.”

Stokes said the police department might have to establish a substation at the depot to ensure that it is safe.

He said he will put the matter of a possible transfer of ownership and title of Union Station to the city on the next city council agenda for discussion.

Amtrak Station in Tucson

April 27, 2017

The streetside view of the former Southern Pacific station in Tucson, which is now used in part by Amtrak.

Last October I was  on vacation in Tucson, Arizona. I paid a visit to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, which uses a portion of the former Southern Pacific station.

Amtrak still uses the SP station, although it shares it with Maynard’s Market, a deli-type operation.

I was there on a Thursday and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited was not scheduled to operate in either direction. Tucson is still a staffed station with checked baggage service.

The size of the Amtrak facilities appear to be appropriate for the use that the station gets and the depot has been nicely restored.

The streetside entrance to the Amtrak station. The depot is located on Toole Street.

The exterior of the station as seen from the trackside view.

The Amtrak ticket office in the Tucson station.

Another angle of the Tucson ticket office.

One end of the waiting room. In the distance is the former CTC machine used by Southern Pacific dispatchers to control traffic on the Sunset Route.

The other end of the waiting room, which has a number of historic photographs on the wall. The ticket office is to the left and straight ahead.

The door to the platform as seen from inside the waiting room.

On the platform. The building on the other side of the tracks is the maintenance facility for the Tucson streetcar network.