Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

Renovated Tomah Station to be Dedicated

February 10, 2019

The newly renovated Amtrak station in Tomah, Wisconsin, will open on Feb. 13 with a dedication ceremony.

That will take place at 4:30 p.m. and be followed by a town hall meeting with a representative of the Wisconsin Rail Passenger Association to discuss the prospects of adding a second Amtrak train between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

The Tomah station was built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific in the early 1900.

The rebuilding began in 2016 and was interrupted before resuming in September 2018.

Tomah is now served by the daily Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder, which is scheduled to stop there at 11:26 a.m. eastbound and 6:27 p.m. westbound.

The town hall meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Tomah City Hall.



Philly ClubAcela Lounge Being Renovated

February 10, 2019

Starting Feb. 18, the ClubAcela lounge at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station will undergo renovations during three evenings through Feb. 20.

The lounge will continue to be open for normal hours of operation: 6 a.m. to – 9 p.m. daily.

Flip-Flap Board Nostalgia Will Abate in Time

February 7, 2019

Reader Greg Knapp recently wrote to ask why some folks in Philadelphia are obsessed with the removal of the Solari board at 30th Street Station.

You might think that someone had suggested moving the Liberty Bell to Washington or New York.

Knapp wrote that given the challenges that intercity rail faces in the United States, the end of this tradition is minor. He is correct of course.

Much of this story has been driven by nostalgia and the fact that the retired Solari board was the last of its kind.

Featuring a flip-flap mechanism, it was a marvel to behold. When train times were updated the board came to life with numbers and names whirling around at a fast clip.

If you looked carefully, you might see names of trains that are gone and destinations Amtrak no longer serves from Philly.

The many news stories I’ve read quoted people as saying they would miss the sound of the flaps flipping over.

I can understand that to a point even if I’ve never lived on the East Coast nor traveled all that much in the Northeast Corridor.

I’ve come to associate the whirling flaps and the noise they made with a way of life that is long gone in the Midwest where I’ve spent most of my life.

One of my fondest memories is sitting in New York’s Penn Station on a Saturday night back in the early 1980s and watching that station’s Solari board in action while hearing the station public address announcer give train boarding announcements every few minutes.

Except in Chicago, even the large Midwestern union terminals have never had the level of train service that continues to exist in the NEC, particularly if you take the existence of commuter trains into account.

The retirement of Amtrak’s last Solari board might have gone largely unnoticed beyond a news story or two but for the efforts of a Philadelphia congressman who made an issue of its removal.

Online petitions imploring Amtrak to keep the board drew 2,500 signatures.

A Philly company chimed in to say it could design a digital train board for 30th Street that would approximate the look and sound of a flip-flap board.

Nonetheless, I would not be surprised if the passion many have for a digital flip-flap board cools off as those clamoring for it move on to other concerns.

The news media outlets that kept this story alive will move on to other stories. The loss of a tradition made for good copy for a while, but not indefinitely.

Amtrak has been noncommittal about a digital flip-flap board for 30th Street and it might quietly tell the company offering to build it one “thanks, but no thanks.”

The digital board in Philadelphia won’t have the same character of a flip-flap board, but the trains continue to run as they always have and passengers are finding their trains just fine.

Solari Board May Return to 30th Street Station

February 7, 2019

The plot surrounding the fabled Solari board at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station continues to twist and turn with the latest development being a report that Amtrak might return the board to the depot after all.

The Philadelphia news website Billy Penn reported this week that Amtrak is requiring that the Solari board be used in the station in some capacity.

That mandate is reportedly part of a request for proposals for a $37 million development project at the station, which is formally known as William H Gray III 30th Street Station.

The board was removed from the station in late January and news reports have said that it will be displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Billy Penn reported that an Amtrak official told it that the developer must “utilize the Solari Board as part of the master development.”

The website also said that the Solari board that was removed last month was not the original one installed in the 1970s but a replacement board installed sometime between 1986 and 1990.

Removal of the Solari board prompted a public protest that was led by a Philadelphia congressman.

Many people waxed nostalgically about watching the flaps of the board turn over when train information was updated and how pleasing that clicking sound was.

The latest report indicated that Amtrak is unsure how it will use the Italian-made Solari board in the Neoclassical station, which was built in 1933.

The passenger carrier will apparently ask the developer for its opinion of how to best use the board, which after its removal was transported to the museum in Strasburg.

That board was the last of its kind used by Amtrak. It has been replaced with a temporary video display.

Amtrak plans to eventually employ a large “video wall” to display train information.

Workers are replacing wiring with fiber optics and once that is complete will install display screens.

After software testing and personnel training, Amtrak expected the display to be in operation by sometime in March.

Bedford to Seek Grant for Amtrak Station

January 29, 2019

The Bedford, Virginia, town council is backing a bid by the Bedford/Franklin Regional Rail Initiative Committee to seek a $9.8 million grant from the state’s Department of Rail and Transportation to create an Amtrak station in Bedford.

The grant application also has received the support of the Bedford County Board of Supervisors.

Bedford interests are seeking a stop of an Amtrak Northeast Regional train that now terminates and originates in Roanoke, Virginia, to the west.

Bedford is located between Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia, both of which are served by Amtrak with Lynchburg also being served by the New York-New Orleans Crescent.

Amtrak began operating to Roanoke in October 2017.

“We have to apply for this grant in order to move forward on a feasibility study on a rail station,” Town Manager Bart Warner said. “This is not going to obligate us to anything, but is just part of the process.”

Officials estimate the station, expected to be located on Plunkett Street near Court Street, would be about $9 million, most of which would be paid for by the grant.

Bedford would have to pay for some site improvements with its own funds.

The BFRRI efforts began after the extension to Roanoke was announced but Bedford was not named as an intermediate stop.

Wende Gaylor, executive director for the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce, said a meeting with Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine last November to discuss the station project went well.

Bedford previously was an Amtrak stop for the Hilltopper, which was discontinued in 1979.

Glimpse of NYC’s Planned Metropolitan Lounge

January 29, 2019

Although its opening is two years away, some media outlets have been giving a glimpse at the plans for a new Metropolitan lounge for Amtrak passengers at New York’s Penn Station. The accounts are based on artist drawings that Amtrak has released.

The lounge is to be built in the Moynihan Train Hall, which expected to open in early 2021.

It will feature updated seating with USB ports and numerous electric outlets, a business center and dedicated customer service agents.

Passengers using the lounge will receive priority boarding. A rotating selection of hot and cold food items will be offered along with the availability of alcoholic beverages.

That would be an upgrade over the existing ClubAcela lounge located near Tracks 7 and 8 with its limited selection of snacks, soda and coffee.

The new lounge will be located 20 feet above the central hall, thus providing a prime people-watching spot.

Passengers entitled to use the lounge will include those holding Acela First Class or sleeping car tickets as well as Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus and Select Executive members.

The Moynihan hall will offer all passengers free Wi-Fi and a lactation lounge.

Philly Solari Board Removed

January 28, 2019

The venerable Solari train information board at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station has been removed and replaced by a digital screen.

The board, which has been widely described as a flip board, was removed late Saturday night as onlookers recorded the event on their cell phones.

At the bottom of the board before its removal was a message “farewell Philadelphia.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the board was being sent to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg.

For now, a temporary digital screen has been placed near where the Solari board once stood.

The board’s removal has evoked nostalgia from many who said that its click-clacking alpha-numeric split-flaps were part of the ambiance of the station.

Installed in the 1970s, the Solari board was the last of its kind still in use by Amtrak. It was named after its Italian manufacturer.

The Solari board was placed in shrink wrap and put into a create for transport to the museum.

The Inquirer also noted that an old-style train bulletin chalk board that had remained in a hallway at 30th Street Station was also being removed to be taken to the museum.

Johnston Station Elevator Out of Service

January 19, 2019

Amtrak said on Friday that the elevator serving its station in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is out of service until further notice.

Amtrak suggested those who need the elevator to reach their train should board in Altoona, Pennsylvania, located about an hour northeast of Johnstown.

A service advisory also suggested that passengers allow extra time to reach the boarding platform in Johnstown due to having to use a stairway.

Johnstown is served by the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Old Saybrook Station Closed

January 19, 2019

Amtrak has closed its station at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, due to structural concerns with the facility.

Access to the platform is still available to board trains. In a service advisory Amtrak said the closure will remain in effect until further notice.

There will be no ticketing at this station for Amtrak or Shore Line East trains, but an Amtrak customer service representative will be available to assist passengers from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily.

Taxi pick up and service to Shore Line East and Amtrak trains remains unchanged.

Amtrak Seeks Contractor for WUS Overhaul

January 15, 2019

Amtrak is seeking a general contractor to revitalize the Claytor Concourse at Washington Union Station.

It issued earlier this month a request for qualifications as part of a two-phase process to select a contractor to modernize the Claytor Concourse.

In a news release, Amtrak said construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed in 2022.

The passenger carrier is conducting the project in cooperation with U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Union Station Redevelopment Corporation and commuter and transit partners.

The Claytor Concourse was built in the 1980s and has waiting areas for Amtrak passengers as well as retail and food establishments, and customer amenities.

Also using the concourse are Virginia Railway Express and Maryland Area Regional Commuter passengers.

The work will double the capacity of the concourse in order to alleviate congestion and enhance comfort and accessibility.

Amtrak the project will also brighten the space with new architectural finishes and more natural light.

Other project work includes the addition of more restrooms and the construction of a new Metropolitan Lounge .

Office space will be added for support services and customer service representatives.