Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

New Platforms Open in Meriden

November 21, 2017

New platforms and a pedestrian bridge have opened at the Amtrak station in Meriden, Connecticut, but additional work still needs to be completed.

“Amtrak trains are now pulling up to the new platforms and the [pedestrian bridge] is open to customers,” said John Bernick, assistant rail administrator. “Both platforms opened up to allow for the completion of the track work and the removal of the temporary platform.”

Meriden is served by Northeast Regional Service trains between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts.

City Planner Robert Seale said sidewalk and landscaping work remains to be done in front of the station.

The pedestrian bridge will enable residents of the city’s east and west sides to more easily move between the two areas. Local officials said the tracks have long constituted a barrier.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station is expected to be held soon.

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Colorado Museum in Amtrak Depot to Close

November 21, 2017

A Colorado railroad museum housed in a depot that serves Amtrak will close next Monday.

The Glenwood Railroad Museum was unable to reach a lease agreement with the depot owner, the Union Pacific Railroad, in Glenwood Springs.

The museum’s five-year, $250-per-year lease expired at the end of 2016.

UP demanded the museum pay market-rate rent, which museum officials said would be more than $25,000 annually.

That would have eaten up the museum’s total income. “It’s just sad that we’re unable to raise the funding necessary to preserve what I think is a very important part of the history, the story of this county and this community,” said Pat Thrasher, museum manager and president of the Western Colorado Chapter of National Railway Society.

The museum plans to return to their donors some of the artifacts on display and is seeking to donate the remaining artifacts elsewhere.

Thrasher said museum officials considered relocating, but he thinks it is essential to be located adjacent to an active railroad depot.

“I would like to think we’re more than just a place where Amtrak passengers hang out while they’re waiting for a train,” he said.

The Glenwood museum had scheduled its hours around train times for Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Roanoke Eyes Building Amtrak Station

November 20, 2017

Now that Amtrak is serving Roanoke, Virginia, the city is now talking about building a train station.

Roanoke City Manager Robert Cowell said a deal is not imminent, but the city council has meet four times in secret sessions to discuss transit facilities, including acquisition of property to build a new mass-transit passenger center that could serve Amtrak.

“It’s a pretty fairly complex set of questions that the council is really wrestling with, never mind how to pay for any of this,” Cowell said.

Roanoke city buses are currently served by the Campbell Court bus station, which belongs to Valley Metro, and is located 250 feet from the railroad tracks used by Amtrak.

The three-floor facility is largely vacant and described as antiquated.

One idea being floated in the city is to build a multi-modal facility near the tracks and repurpose Campbell Court into stores, offices and housing.

The city had budgeted $4.5 million for the intermodal station project, which is less than half of what a consultant estimated the facility would cost.

Valley Metro does not own any land adjacent to the railroad tracks used by Amtrak.

City council member David Trinkle said the council is looking at creating a public-private partnership. “There’s just no way that facility is going to be built without that,” he said.

The council has justified its closed door meetings to discuss the proposed intermodal facility as consideration of the purchase of “real property” for public use or the “disposition” of the 13 real estate parcels that make up Campbell Court, or both, according to a purpose statement for the meetings.

The council has cited a clause in Virginia’s open meetings law that allows for when meeting publicly would “adversely affect” its bargaining power or negotiating strategy.

The Roanoke Times reported that there are four obvious locations for a train and bus station near the tracks.

These properties immediately adjacent to the Amtrak boarding platform include a renovated buildings known as Warehouse Row, which are leased to tenants; the Roanoke Station Garage, a parking deck; the surface parking lot across from Campbell Court operated by Tennessee-based Premier Parking; and the corner of Jefferson Street and Norfolk Avenue, occupied by multiple commercial buildings with tenants.

Carlinville OKs Amtrak Station Contract

November 16, 2017

The Carlinville, Illinois, city council has approved a contract that should pave the way for the opening of a new Amtrak station.

The contract had been delayed as state and local officials worked out with Amtrak language pertaining to the liability part of the lease.

The station has been completed for some time. Once Amtrak signs the contract, the station can be opened and a dedication ceremony scheduled.

Located on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, Carlinville is served by Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.

2nd Penn Station Track Project Begins in January

November 16, 2017

The project will extend through May 28 and involve work performed mostly on weekends.

In a news release, Amtrak said there will be a series of continuous single-track closures that will result in minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations.

“After a successful summer, it is essential that we continue to upgrade the infrastructure so that we can continue to improve the reliability of service for all the customers that use New York Penn Station,” said Amtrak co-CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

The following schedule changes will take place during the infrastructure renewal work:

  • Amtrak is cancelling Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington to New York and 127 from New York to Washington.
  • Northbound Keystone Train 640 will terminate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Keystone Train 643 will originate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Train 173 will stop at Newark Airport
  • Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 will all have earlier departure times.
  • Train 170 will also depart Washington early, stop at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resume its schedule from Trenton
  • Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit are also expected to announce service schedule adjustments

The projects will occur in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement that will be similar to the work done on Track 10 last summer and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal.

Amtrak also will renew and replace three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which is at the east end of the station and directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard.

While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required.

Additional information and updates will be posted on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal

 

Cary NC Ranked Amtrak’s Top Station

November 15, 2017

A customer satisfaction survey has found Cary, North Carolina, to have the highest-rated Amtrak station.

The station, which is served by the Piedmont, Carolinian and Silver Star trains, earned the highest score for “overall station experience” with a score of 97 percent.

The Cary station topped more than 450 Amtrak stations across the country.

The survey asked Amtrak passengers to judge stations based on such criteria as cleanliness, safety, clarity of signs, friendliness of station workers and ease in boarding trains.

Cary served 85,000 passengers in 2016 boarding and alighting from eight trains a day. The station was built in 1996 to replace a depot that was razed in the 1970s. It is the fourth busiest Amtrak station in North Carolina.

2nd Penn Station Project Begins in January

November 15, 2017

Amtrak will begin the next phase of its track rebuilding at New York Penn Station on Jan. 5, 2018.

The project will extend through May 28 and involved work performed mostly on weekends.

In a news release, Amtrak said there will be a series of continuous single-track closures that will result in minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations.

“After a successful summer, it is essential that we continue to upgrade the infrastructure so that we can continue to improve the reliability of service for all the customers that use New York Penn Station,” said Amtrak co-CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

The following schedule changes will take place during the infrastructure renewal work:

  • Amtrak is cancelling Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington to New York and 127 from New York to Washington.
  • Northbound Keystone Train 640 will terminate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Keystone Train 643 will originate at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Train 173 will stop at Newark Airport
  • Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 will all have earlier departure times.
  • Train 170 will also depart Washington early, stop at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resume its schedule from Trenton
  • Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit are also expected to announce service schedule adjustments

The projects will occur in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement (similar to the work on Track 10 during the summer of 2017), and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal within Penn Station New York.

Amtrak also will renew and replace three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which is at the east end of the station and directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard.

While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required.

Additional information and updates will be posted on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal

Fort Madison Reaches Pacts for New Boarding Platform

November 8, 2017

Officials in Fort Madison, Iowa, have approved three agreements that will make possible moving the Amtrak station to the former Santa Fe depot.

City Manager David Varley said the agreements will provide for construction of a new platform that Amtrak will use once it is completed. The passenger carrier has agreed to pay $150,000 toward the construction costs.

Amtrak also has agreed to pay $400 month in rent to use the recently restored station for 20 years. Amtrak will use 813 square feet of the depot while the city will be responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Varley said the agreements involving the $1.2 million project took a long time to reach because of the multiple parties involved.

“So BNSF will own the platform because it is on their property,” he said. “And then BNSF will lease it to Amtrak. And since we own and operate the depot, and the platform will be attached to the depot, they lease it from Amtrak back to the city. It sounds kind of crazy but it’s because of the ownership of the property.”

Varley said the depot project is a good candidate for funding from hotel-motel tax funds, and recommended a 60/40 percent split of operation costs between the hotel-motel tax and the general fund, respectively.

He estimated that first year operation costs for running the station will be about $50,000, but after some one-time costs, the annual number will drop to about $35,000.

Going with the lower number would mean an annual cost of $21,000 from the hotel-motel tax and $14,000 from the city’s general fund.

Fort Madison is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief and handles about 6,600 passengers annually.

2 New Amtrak Stations Placed in Service

November 8, 2017

New stations have gone into service on Amtrak routes in California and Conneticut.

The new station in California is located at Fairfield-Vacaville and is the 18th Capitol Corridor station.

The unstaffed facility has a Quick-Trak ticket machine and 139 regular parking spaces and five for people who are disabled. Outdoor seating along with eight bike rack spaces at the station. E-bike lockers are also available.

The station is about 5 miles from the Suisun City station, which will remain open.

Work on the station, which also included an overpass began in November 2014 and cost

$78 million.

In Connecticut, a new station opened in Wallingford on the route between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts. That depot will eventually serve the, CTrail commuter line to Hartford, Connecticut when it begins in May 2018. CTrail will feature increased commuter trips between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.

Port Huron Area Officials Debate Where to Put a New Amtrak Station

October 30, 2017

Officials in Port Huron, Michigan, are at odds over what to do about the town’s Amtrak station. Some want a new station, but where to place it has triggered disagreements.

The current station is located in an out-of-the-way location in the southern part of town, is not lighted well and is easy to miss.

Other gripes include lack of adequate parking, no room for a bus turnaround or access to other travel options, and no nearby restaurants or overnight amenities.

However, there is wide disagreement about what to do about that, including whether to renovate the current depot or build a new station closer to freeways or downtown Port Huron.

And the City of Port Huron thinks that some government entities are conspiring to move the station outside the city.

For now, a $125,000 study is underway to evaluate the current station and potential locations for a new one.

The station is the eastern terminus of the Blue Water from Chicago, a service funded by the State of Michigan.

Heading the station study is the Blue Water Area Transit, which hired Bergmann Associates to do the study.

Dave McElroy, assistant general manager and finance director for BWAT, said resolving the station situation will take time and it will not be inexpensive. As for what is likely to happen, he is not sure.

“It just depends on what the study comes up with,” he said. “Where it is, what the community decides they’d really like to see.”

Talks about a new Port Huron station have been going since at least 2011.

Former Port Huron City Manager Bruce Brown spoke with Amtrak, the Michigan Department of Transportation and Canadian National Railroad about new station sites.

One was the Thomas Edison Depot Museum while the other was near the former Thomas Edison Inn property. But those proposals went nowhere.

Various the agencies got involved, including Port Huron Township.

After Amtrak said it had talked with the township about relocating its Port Huron station, Port Huron City Manager James Freed objected.

“I think they’re trying to move our train station outside the city without talking with our city residents, let alone those around that neighborhood,” he said.

Freed expressed similar sentiments during the first of two public hearings led by Bergmann Associations on Oct. 19.

Freed noted that property owned by CN was mentioned by station study project manager Jeremy Hedden in a presentation as a potential site candidate.

“My concern with the guy doing the study is he shows up, (says) that no decision has been made yet, that they want an open and fair conversation,” he said. “Yet, he starts the conversation off with several statements like this spot’s closer to the highway than this spot.”

The site in question is along Griswold Road between 24th Street and Michigan Road near Interstate 69.

Port Huron Township Supervisor Bob Lewandowski said that just because that site was at a hearing discussed doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee to be the location of a new station.

Lewandowski would like to see the township get the station. Some have argued that the station site selection process needs to take into account the greater needs of the region.

“For us right now, we’re advocating we would like to see it out here,” Lewandowski said. “We think we’ve got a better space to be able to provide more for a station as far as if we can’t get them to do the maintenance on the train here. (We could) have a few more jobs here. The space is there to have a platform to move (the train) to some sort of maintenance facility.”

Lewandowski said there’s also more space to accommodate other amenities for travelers — which could jump-start economic growth, such as a small hotel or restaurant nearby.

Freed is concerned about economic development as well, saying Port Huron uses its status as a city serviced by Amtrak “to the fullest of its capabilities” — both keeping the city a destination and making an transportation travel option available to a local population who needs it.

He said he thinks passenger rail is going to grow and that will bolster hotels and restaurants.

If the station were to remain in Port Huron, Freed said the current station on 16th Street could be upgraded, the original Grand Trunk Western station could be used or a new site could host a depot

Some have even advocated establishing a station in a location that would attract passengers from Sarnia, Ontario.

Mabel Higgins, vice president for Rail Advocacy in Lambton, said at the Oct. 19 hearing that a station in Port Huron Township would be accessible to Canadians coming by highway for travel to Chicago.

The station study underway is expected to be completed by February or March. The next step would be to conduct an environmental assessment of various station options.

In a best case scenario, construction on a new or renovated station is no closer than two years and it may be five years before completion.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said station renovations and replacements are almost always locally-driven projects.

He said Amtrak has many ongoing discussions with various communities, including Port Huron, about station renovation or replacement.

Magliari said transit agencies are often the “perfect group” to lead Amtrak station projects.

“They already have the transportation focus and willing people,” he said. “In some cases, it’s led by community groups who have an idea. That can work too. (Or it can be) a regional planning organization or council of governments.”

McElroy said BWAT expects to continue to lead the station project and that the two public hearing held thus far won’t be the public’s last opportunity to comment.

“Any input that Bergmann gets that is meaningful, there will be follow up, I’m sure,” McElroy said. “And like they tried to point out, if anything transpires from this study, there’s a lot more input that takes place. A lot more in depth, a lot more detail.”

Freed agreed that having BWAT take the lead makes sense. CN and MDOT are also expected to play a role in the process.

CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said he was familiar with discussion of a new station previously but wasn’t up to date if anything has resurfaced more recently.

Regional MDOT spokeswoman Jocelyn Hall said frequency, passenger boards, and community size are among the “many considerations when building a station.”

One of those is ridership history. MDOT said ridership at Port Huron rose from 13,162 in 2009 to 29,792 in 2013, a 125 percent plus increase.

However, Amtrak patronage has declined since then to 22,682 in 2015, 20,205 in 2016 and 15,850 through September of this year. The lowest ridership in the last decade was at 12,619 in 2007.

Another factor is where the money to pay for a new station will come.

“That’s a great question because funding for that has not been identified yet,” McElroy said. “The community, I’m sure we’ll go out and try to receive some federal and state grants. To be competitive, sometimes you have to throw in local money as well.”