Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

Marfa Seeks to be Sunset Limited Stop

February 12, 2018

Amtrak is considering establishing a stop in Marfa, Texas, for its New Orleans-Los Angeles Sunset Limited that would supplant a long-time station in Sanderson.

The move, if done, would be the culmination of a campaign by San Antonio resident Bruce Flohr.

Flohr, a former Southern Pacific manager, has been pushing for the stop in Marfa because he said the station in Sanderson is underused.

He said that Amtrak Vice President Bob Dorsch told him in a letter that the passenger carrier would look into the proposal in its long-term plan but would make no decision in the next two to five years.

In a follow-up letter, Dorsch said the decision will now be made by the end of this summer.

“After we looked at the info from [Flohr], we’ve started an analysis of the stop. It seems to make sense and is something we’ll definitely look into,” Dorsch said. “It’s one of the things we have in deep discussion.”

Flohr became interested in the matter after taking Amtrak No. 1 from San Antonio to Alpine, Texas.

He actually was traveling to Marfa.  “Nobody got on or off in Sanderson. The stop lasted for around 28 seconds,” Flohr said. “There’s also no platform, no building, no outdoor lighting, nor is it in compliance with the [Americans With Disabilities Act]. There would definitely be a demand for a stop in Marfa. It’s not that complex of an issue.”

The former SP depot in Sanderson was razed in October 2012.

Creating a stop in Marfa will need local financial backing to build a platform that meets ADA and other federal requirements.

Flohr said Marfa residents need to write letters to Amtrak, Union Pacific and elected officials to lobby for the stop.

“Now is the time for you all in Marfa to take action. I encourage everyone to write to [congressman] Will Hurd. Government agencies tend to react a whole lot more if they hear from elected officials,” he said.

Marfa has sought an Amtrak stop before with no success. In 2011, former Marfa Tourism director Terry “Tex” Toler led a campaign to get Amtrak to stop there.

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Birmingham Amtrak Station Opens

February 5, 2018

Amtrak’s Crescent is now using the Birmingham (Alabama) Intermodal Facility with Greyhound bus lines expected to begin using it on Feb. 21.

The station opened on Jan. 30  at the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority’s downtown central station.

The facility also includes Olivia’s Transit Café and is located on three blocks along Morris Avenue between 17th and 19th streets.

Eventually, the facility will have a 300-space parking lot for travelers between 16th and 17th streets. Construction of the $32 million facility began in early 2014.

“This is such an exciting time. We know the community has waited a long time to see this day and the best is yet to come,” BJCTA Executive Director Barbara Murdock said in a statement.

BJCTA will conduct a grand opening ceremony on Feb. 23.

4th Maine Town Backs Downeaster Extension

February 5, 2018

A fourth Maine city has agreed to help pay for an extension of Amtrak Downeastern service to the Midcoast region

Wiscasset has agreed to help the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority expand the Downeaster service beyond its current northern terminus in Brunswick.

The town’s select board unanimously agreed to fund construction of a boarding platform if NNEPRA is able to extend Downeaster service north, which originates in Boston.

Known as the “Coastal Connection,” the service would operate on weekends and serve Bath, Wiscasset, Newcastle, and Rockland.

NNERPA Executive Director Patricia Quinn said the service is expected to cost about $200,000. She estimated it would have potential ticket sales of $100,000.

Bath, Newcastle and Rockland have existing boarding platforms owned by the Maine Department of Transportation that could be adapted for Amtrak use.

The Wiscasset platform is expected to be built south of Route 1 near a public boat launch. The platform is projected to cost $20,000.

“I think this would be a great thing for Wiscasset,” said Board Chair Judith Colby. “If we could make it happen, I think it would be fantastic.”

Board Member Robert Blagden said the town should be “more than capable” of building a simple platform for the train.

Super Bowl to Affect Amtrak’s St. Paul Station

January 30, 2018

Amtrak has advised that some restrictions are in place at its station in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to the Twin Cities hosting the 2018 Super Bowl.

Passengers going to and from the station are advised to allow extra time due to the added security surrounding the game and its festivities.

The game will be played on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

On Thursday (Feb. 1) a private party is being held at St. Paul Union Depot and only ticketed passengers will be allowed inside.

Passengers will be escorted to a secure seating area and there will be an alternate boarding route.

For passengers who need assistance, Amtrak personnel will be available to escort them to their train. St. Paul is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Amtrak to Pull Ticket Agents from Niles, Jackson

January 24, 2018

Amtrak ticket agents will be removed on March 1 from stations in Jackson and Niles, Michigan.

Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago, said the move is being made to save money.

He said an overwhelming majority of passengers no longer purchase tickets from station agents.

As a result of the change, Amtrak might keep the Jackson station open later in the afternoon.

The waiting room is now open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. but three of the six Wolverine Service trains that serve Jackson depart after 2:30 p.m.

Amtrak plans to hire a part-time caretaker to open and close the station and Magliari said that worker could work a split shift and close the waiting area later in the day.

Passengers and those waiting on trains must wait outside the former Michigan Central depot when the waiting room is closed.

Staffing of the Jackson ticket office was reduced last August from daily to five days a week. No agent is on duty on Tuesdays and Wednesday.

Attorney Probing Amtrak Station Lobbying Effort

January 24, 2018

The city council in Lake Forest, Illinois, has hired a special counsel to investigate nearly $200,000 in payments made to a lobbying firm without city council approval in connection with efforts to win an Amtrak stop for the Chicago suburb.

Payments of $192,911, were made between March 2016 and October 2017 to a Washington lobbying firm in an effort to get Amtrak to establish a Lake Forest stop for its Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains.

The city has been seeking the Amtrak stop, which would use an existing Metra station, as well as funding for a pedestrian underpass since 2010.

Attorney Leigh Jeter is investigating the matter and Alderman Jack Reisenberg will serve as lead councilman on the issue.

Reinsenberg said the probe will examine the actions of Mayor Rob Lansing, City Manager Bob Kiely and City Attorney Victor Filippini. Jeter is expected to report to the council next month.

 

Amtrak to Renovate Latrobe Station

January 24, 2018

Amtrak will renovate the station in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to improve accessibility for passengers with disabilities.

The passenger carrier will be designing the improvements this year with construction to begin in 2019.

Amtrak will replace the existing boarding platform with one that rises eight inches above the top of the rail.

Also planned are modifications to the parking lot, the stairs to the platform and the passenger waiting area. Signs will be installed that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Latrobe is a stop for the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and served 4,246 passengers and generated $247,569 in fiscal year 2017.

Project Manager Being Sought for Elyria Station Project

January 18, 2018

Commissioners in Lorain County, Ohio, are seeking proposals for a construction manager of the long stalled plan to create a new platform in Elyria for Amtrak passengers.

The platform will be located in the former New York Central passenger station, which serves as a public transportation center for local buses.

County Administrator Jim Cordes expects the proposal will go to bid soon.

“It’s been progressing along fairly slowly, but it’s been progressing,” Cordes said. “We’re at the point now where I’m bringing a project manager to get ready to build something.”

Amtrak currently uses a shelter at 410 East River Street. A modular station at that site was destroyed by fire in 2013.

The existing station also has limited accessibility for those with disabilities and Amtrak must use Track No. 2 of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

The new platform, which is expected to cost between $8 million and $10 million, will feature a bridge spanning the two NS tracks.

It also will include elevators and stairways to provide access to two partially enclosed platforms for passengers.

Lorain County will pay 5 percent to 8 percent of the project cost, with the rest of the money coming from federal, state and Amtrak funding.

Cordes said no start of construction date has yet been set, but expects that to change once the project had been awarded.

He said although work on the project has been slow, it never was in danger of ending. Much of the slow pace was due to reviews of the proposal by the county, NS and Amtrak.

“We’d exchange paperwork, then there’d be tweaks, more paperwork and then more tweaks,” Cordes said. “It was easy to lose focus. It had been a slow project to begin with, and the complicated relationships made it even more so.”

Elyria is service by Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Parking Increases at Staple Mill Station

January 17, 2018

Expansion of parking at an Amtrak station in Richmond, Virginia, has added 115 spaces to the facility at Staples Mill Road is now complete.

The project began last August and increase capacity of the parking lot to 403 spaces. Work is underway to add another 200 parking spaces at the station.

“The completion of this phase is indicative of the Commonwealth’s commitment to giving our citizens travel options, and that includes our Staples Mill passengers as we continue construction on our parking lot expansion project. These additional parking spaces will enhance the Amtrak customer experience while we continue to work towards completion,” said Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Jennifer Mitchell.

New Middletown Depot Construction Delayed

January 16, 2018

A new Amtrak station for Middletown, Pennsylvania, is not expected to open until sometime in 2021 or 2022.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said it will take a couple years before construction can begin to build a new platform and station.

PennDOT attributed the delay to track work yet to be performed by Norfolk Southern.

NS must relocate about a mile of its track at a cost of about $6.5 million to make room for relocating two tracks that will be used by Amtrak.

“Given the uncertainty of the railroads’ track schedules, a firm completion date was never set,” said PennDOT spokesman Richard Kirkpatrick said. “Track work construction schedules are contingent upon the availability of the Amtrak and Norfolk Southern workforces.”

The new station is expected to cost $24.4 million and replace the existing depot on Mill Street. That facility is not accessible to handicapped individuals. The new facility will be built along Route 230 at the end of Ann Street.

Kirkpatrick said the station design is being reviewed by Amtrak.

A public-private partnership known as Keystone Connections has submitted a preliminary proposal to build the station and related developments.

Keystone has not yet released many details on the project other than it expects to construct a 400-space parking area and that there will be room for retail shops and possibly a hotel.

The station project also includes a pedestrian bridge to be built over Route 230 that will link the Penn State Harrisburg campus to the station and downtown Middletown.

Planning for the station project began in 2009. Middletown is served by Amtrak’s Keystone Service trains between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.