Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

Philly Station Project Gets Leader

June 23, 2020

Amtrak said it has selected the North American affiliate of Australia infrastructure investment firm the Plenary Group to lead the project to develop Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

The passenger carrier said the Plenary team, which also includes Gilbane Building Co. of Rhode Island, was chosen based on its proposal and it record of project delivery, extensive experience with complex mixed-use properties and adaptive reuse of historic buildings.

Officials are still talking about financial terms for the project, which is part of the 30th Street Station District Plan involving long-term redevelopment of 175 acres around the terminal.

Amtrak La Junta Station Temporarily Unstaffed

June 12, 2020

Amtrak said this week that the waiting room of the station in La Junta, Colorado, is being temporarily unstaffed effective June 12.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the waiting room will be open to passengers prior to train departure but friends and family picking up arriving passengers are not permitted in the station and are asked to wait in their vehicles.

The advisory did not say how long the situation will remain.

La Junta is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Construction Limits Access to Grand Forks Station

June 8, 2020

Passengers boarding Amtrak’s Empire Builder are being urged to use caution when using the station at Grand Forks, North Dakota, during construction.

Work got underway last week to replace the boarding platform and remodel the restrooms to make them ADA compliant.

Normal access to the station is limited by fencing around the station and platform.

Work will be done in two phases, with access to the station limited during both. Portable restrooms have been installed next to the station building.

The project is estimated to be completed in six months.

Pacific Surfliner Skeds to Change June 1

May 30, 2020

Amtrak plans to implement on June 1 some service changes to Pacific Surfliner service that will restore some previously suspended service.

Three trains in each direction will operate north of Los Angeles with two terminating in Santa Barbara/Goleta and terminating in San Luis Obispo.

Thruway bus service will provide supplemental travel options connecting with trains in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

Effective June 2, Train 774 will originate in San Luis Obispo instead of Los Angeles.

Thruway bus connections will be retimed to improve spacing of departure options and shorten layovers.

Two bus trips will operate from Oakland to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. One bus trip will operate between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

Trains 562, 566/1566, 572/1572, 578, 590/1590, 782 and 792 remain canceled.

Train 777 will terminate in San Luis Obispo instead of Goleta. Train 785 will terminate in Goleta instead of Los Angeles.

Thruway bus connections will be retimed to improve spacing of departure options and shorten layovers.

One bus trip will operate between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and two bus trips will operate between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo to Oakland.

Trains 561/1761, 565/1565, 569/1569, 573/1573, 583, 591/1591, 595 and 759 remain canceled.

The Coast Starlight will continue to operate one trip daily through San Luis Obispo.

Waiting Room to Reopen in Washington State

May 30, 2020

The waiting room of the Amtrak station in Olympia-Lacey, Washington, will re-open on June 1. The station will be open daily from 9 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If the northbound Coast Starlight is late, the station will remain open until its arrival.

Amtrak said station hours may change based on service adjustments.

In other station news, the Amtrak station at Camarillo, California, on the Pacific Surfliner route will have new boarding procedures effective June 1.

All southbound trains and northbound train 759 will use Track 2. All other northbound trains will use Track 1

Track 2 will be accessible from the pedestrian bridge located at the end of the platform near the freeway overpass and the street at 71 N. Dawson Drive.

Amtrak said it is an approximately 10 minute walk from one track to the other.

Amtrak Takes CUS Dispute to STB (Again)

May 29, 2020

For the third time a dispute between Amtrak and Chicago commuter railroad operator Metra has landed before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Amtrak has asked the agency to settle a dispute between the two over terms and compensation for Metra’s use of Chicago Union Station, which Amtrak owns.

The STB in 2018 turned aside a request from Metra to settle dispute, calling Metra’s request premature.

The agency has yet to act on a 2019 request by Amtrak to help settle the dispute.

Amtrak’s latest STB petition is seeking more than $17 million annually from Metra and includes a list of 17 terms that the intercity passenger carrier wants to impose on Metra in a contract that would last 10 years.

A Metra spokesman said his agency will have a response to the Amtrak petition by late June and that discussions between the two sides are ongoing.

Amtrak contends that Metra should be paying $15.3 million under its allocation formula for operating costs, including maintenance of way, dispatching, station operation and maintenance, and policing.

Another $1.7 million would be Metra’s fee for “tier 1” capital expenditures with an amount to be determined for “tier 2” expenditures.

Amtrak has long argued that Metra is “drastically under contributing” to the station complex’s capital costs.

Although Amtrak provided an exact dollar figures of how much it argues that Metra should be paying, it along with other information was redacted from the petition.

As recently as 2018, Metra paid Amtrak $9.66 million to use CUS.

Among the terms that Amtrak wants the STB to impose upon Metra are providing a written request to increase or modify service levels.

Currently Metra can add service at its discretion but Amtrak wants the two sides to evaluate the station’s ability to accommodate service changes before they are made.

Other conditions sought by Amtrak include basing Metra’s annual fee on the operation of 111,497 trains annually with with additional fees for each additional train, including specials and test trains.

Amtrak is seeking the right to remove from service any Metra equipment “that does not meet Amtrak’s written safety or operation standards, or legal or regulatory requirements.”

The copy of the petition available to the public redacted such information as the percentage of trains using the station by each carrier.

It is widely believed that Metra accounts for 90 percent of that total.

Also redacted is the percentage of passengers for each carrier who use the station, the portion of the station’s 489,555 square feet used by each carrier and the number of Amtrak police offices assigned to CUS.

Amtrak Acknowledges 15 Ticket Offices to Reopen

May 23, 2020

Amtrak acknowledged on Friday that it will reinstate ticket agents in Cincinnati and 14 other stations that lost them in 2018.

The action is in response to a congressional mandate.

Other stations set to regain ticket agents include Marshall, Texas; Texarkana, Arkansas; Topeka, Kansas; Meridian, Mississippi; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hammond, Louisiana; Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Madison, Iowa; Ottumwa, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas; La Junta, Colorado; Lamy, New Mexico; Shelby, Montana; and Havre, Montana.

Those stations lost their agent because they averaged less than 40 passenger boardings a day.

Cincinnati was the largest city to lose a ticket agent during that 2018 wave of ticket office closings.

It will take several weeks for the ticket offices to reopen.

Over the next four to six weeks Amtrak will post job openings and follow that up with interviewing and training.

The carrier has said the station jobs will be part-time and pay $20 per hour.

Cincinnati, which is located on the route of the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal, handled 11,382 passengers in 2017, an average of 36.4 passengers for the 313 days the station was open that year.

Ridership fell to 8,482 boardings in 2018 although some of that might have been due to a construction project being undertaken at Cincinnati Union Terminal.

Amtrak used a temporary station facility that was difficult to find.

In 2016, Cincinnati handled 12,481 passengers, which met the 40 passengers per day threshold. The passenger count in 2015 was 12,503.

In statement issued on Friday, Amtrak said those hired for the 15 stations will be uniformed workers trained to assist passengers with booking and boarding trains, including helping with unaccompanied minors, carry-on baggage and providing information on the status of arriving and departing trains.

The agents will be scheduled to meet customers for all trains.

Applications for the jobs will be available online at jobs.Amtrak.com. However, the carrier said before it hires outside applicants it will initially seek to fill the jobs internally.

The Amtrak statement said the Cincinnati station will not offer the services Amtrak requires to carry minors ages 13-15 traveling on their own.

It attributed that to the time of day when rains arrive in Cincinnati. Nos. 50 and 51 are scheduled to reach Cincinnati in the dead of night between 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m.

The federal law prompting the return of the agents is contained in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 that became law in December 2019.

It directed Amtrak to provide a ticket agent at every station that had agent position eliminated in fiscal 2018.

Amtrak No. 30 in Pittsburgh

May 22, 2020

Amtrak’s eastbound Capitol Limited was running rather late on this March 1995 day when I captured it on slide film in Pittsburgh.

I had arrived aboard the soon to be discontinued west of Pittsburgh Three Rivers and after disembarking we learned that No. 30 was way behind schedule.

My recollection is one of the P42DC locomotives malfunctioned en route and had to be set aside.

We stuck around to watch the Capitol arrive and then depart before continuing on our way.

I had to catch a Greyhound bus for Akron while my traveling companion got a ride to Cleveland.

Amtrak May Restore Some Ticket Agents

May 22, 2020

A story in a Texas newspaper says Amtrak plans to restore ticket agents at 15 stations that lost their agents two years ago.

The Marshall News Messenger said the depot board that operates the Amtrak station in Marshall, Texas, received a phone call from an Amtrak manager on May 18 that said an agent would be restored in Marshall and 14 other stations.

Other stations reported to be set to see ticket agents restored included Cincinnati; Texarkana, Arkansas; Topeka, Kansas; Meridian, Mississippi; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hammond, Louisiana; Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Madison, Iowa; Ottumwa, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas; La Junta, Colorado; Lamy, New Mexico; Shelby, Montana; and Havre, Montana.

The restoration of agents is expected to take place in the next month to six weeks.

The story said Amtrak plans to internally post the listing of the restored jobs in and then post them externally.

No Amtrak officials were quoted by name in the story and the passenger carrier has not announced any plans to restore ticket agents at any station.

At the time that Amtrak said it planned to close ticket offices at several stations, it framed the move as a cost-cutting measure at locations where ticket sales and passenger boardings were low.

The decision to close the Cincinnati ticket office was criticized for applying a minimum passenger count to a station that does not have daily service.

Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal stops in Cincinnati on Monday, Thursday and Saturday westbound and on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday eastbound.

Cincinnati was the largest city to lose its ticket agent. Amtrak also has closed ticket offices in various other cities including Michigan stations in Flint, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Niles and East Lansing.

Train Time in Charlottesville

May 17, 2020

An Amtrak conductor works the baggage car as Amtrak Train No. 51 boards passengers in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Cardinal, which stops in Charlottesville on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, had what was a standard consist in summer 2012 of one P42DC locomotive, a baggage car, a Viewliner sleeper, Amfleet food service car and three Amfleet coaches.

In spring and summer 2020 the Cardinal’s consist had shrunk to a sleeper, two coaches and one food service car.

The consist may be longer on some days between Chicago and Indianapolis when Nos. 50 or 51 are ferrying equipment to and from the Beech Grove shops in suburban Indy.