Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

Lamy Volunteers Pick Up Slack After Amtrak Agent Left

October 11, 2018

Volunteers have taken over many of the duties once performance by the Amtrak ticket agent in Lamy, New Mexico.

A report published on the Trains magazine website said that the volunteers greet arriving and departing passengers with luggage carts, help with the shuttle to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and offer a clean waiting room stocked with reading material, snacks, and a station cat.

The latter is Harvey, who is named after Santa Fe Railway restaurateur and hotelier Fred Harvey.

Lamy is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

The station Amtrak uses is owned by the Santa Fe Southern Railway and its CEO Karl Ziebarth told Trains that it views Amtrak service as important for the community’s tourist economy.

The volunteers have been known to go above and beyond the call of duty by going out for pizza for a passenger stranded with children or driving people to Santa Fe who could not be accommodated by the shuttle service.


CUS Redevelopment Plans Revised

September 13, 2018

Revised plans for renovating Chicago Union Station still call for an addition atop the neoclassic headhouse, but it will not be visible from the street.

Developers this week said during a public meeting that they have scrapped plans for a modern seven-story vertical addition that would have provided 404 apartments.

That design triggered widespread criticism and ridicule from those who said it would harm the historical integrity of the station, which opened in 1925.

The latest plans call for a single-story penthouse level for two hotels with 400 rooms that would be built within the existing fifth and sixth floors of the building.

The Chicago-based Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties plans show a a sight-line diagram demonstrating how the penthouse would be set back and screened from view.

The penthouse will encircle but not block the station’s 219-foot barrel-vaulted skylight over the Great Hall.

A pool and fitness center would also be built on the station’s lower level. The Great Hall will continue to be used by rail passengers.

Entrances to hotels will be constructed on the north side off Adams Street and the south side off Jackson Boulevard. Windows are to be installed on the station’s west side, facing Clinton Street.

A 715-foot, 1.5 million-square-foot office building with an attached parking structure and a 1.5-acre park are projected to be developed in the block south of the depot.

The development plans must still be approved by planning and zoning officials, and the Chicago City Council.

Amtrak owns Union Station and is developing it and its surrounding properties as part of a $1 billion project.

That includes $14 million to restore the headhouse interior to its original appearance.

Amtrak to Close East Lansing Ticket Office

September 7, 2018

Amtrak plans to close its ticket office in East Lansing, Michigan, as soon as it can work out arrangements with station owner Capital Area Transportation Authority.

The fourth-busiest Amtrak station in Michigan will join a list that includes Niles, Jackson and Flint where Amtrak has removed ticket agents.

The Amtrak ticket office in East Lansing is currently closed on Tuesday and Wednesday with only a caretaker paid for by the Michigan Department of Transportation overseeing the station.

MDOT Communications Manager Michael Frezell said the agency is working to hire a full-time caretaker for East Lansing.

The caretaker would open the stations before trains arrive. “With a vast majority of tickets being purchased online, having tickets purchased at the station has significantly reduced over the past year,” Frezell said.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari declined to comment on the closing of the ticket office in East Lansing, saying that the carrier posts notices of that intent on its website but it has yet to do so in the case of East Lansing.

Magliari also wouldn’t comment on what threshold of patronage that Amtrak uses when deciding to close a ticket office.

This year Amtrak has closed several ticket offices at stations that it said averaged fewer than 40 passenger boardings per day.

Trains magazine quoted an unnamed Amtrak source as saying the minimum threshold of 40,000 boardings per fiscal year is being used to review which ticket offices to keep open and which to close.

More than 68,000 passengers boarded trains at East Lansing in fiscal year 2017, almost was 10,000 more than the number who boarded at Detroit, which is retaining its ticket office.

Amtrak also continues to maintain ticket offices in Michigan in Dearborn, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, all of which had higher patronage than East Lansing in 2017, and at Battle Creek and Port Huron, both of which handled fewer passengers in 2017 than East Lansing.

East Lansing is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water.

Ann Arbor Station Drawings Released

September 7, 2018

Drawings of the proposed new $86 million Amtrak station in Ann Arbor, Michigan, have been released.

Made by an architecture firm, the drawings show a pitched-roof train station elevated above the tracks and having an elevated walkway to East Medical Center Drive for University of Michigan hospital employees and visitors.

A five-level parking deck will be constructed on the eastern half of what’s now a city-owned parking lot along the south side of Fuller Road in Fuller Park.

The western half of the parking lot would remain surface parking.

The outer appearance of the parking deck would be a combination of brick, vertical metal panels and tempered glass, with a dedicated bus entry/exit off Fuller Road and a separate station parking entry/exit off Fuller Road, and a walk-in bus/bike station.

Ann Arbor has been discussing for several years building a new station to replace a smaller facility built by Amtrak in 1983.

The facility still needs approval of the Federal Railroad Administration and Ann Arbor voters.

Plans for CUS Addition Dropped

September 1, 2018

Amtrak has dropped plans to add a seven-story modern glass and steel addition atop Chicago Union Station.

The proposal had been widely criticized and even ridiculed. An Amtrak spokesman declined to comment on a report from a Chicago alderman that the addition has been dropped.

In a statement, Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward said the developer has decided to revise its vision for the Union Station redevelopment project.

Reilly said the rethinking of the project occurred due to architectural and traffic concerns. He had been among the critics of the addition , which he declared was “unacceptable by the community.”

The $1 billion addition was proposed by developer Riverside Investment & Development.

Amtrak owns Union Station and selected the Chicago-based Riverside and Convexity Properties in May 2017 to redevelop the station and its surrounding property.

The addition would have contained 404 apartments and 330 hotel rooms would be built.

Architecture critic Elizabeth Blasius described the addition as “a self-inked address stamper” while Chicago Tribune critic Blair Kamin described it as having “none of the grandeur of Union Station (but) all the grandeur of a Holiday Inn.”

The Chicago Railroad Historians called it “an abomination.”

Rome Amtrak Station Closed Temporarily

August 27, 2018

Due to construction, Amtrak has closed its station at Rome, New York. A service advisory did not provide a timeline for when it will reopen.

During the construction, Amtrak said in a service advisory that the public will not have access to the station and trains will not stop there.

Amtrak said passengers should board Empire Service trains at stations in either Utica or Syracuse, New York.

BWI Station Waiting Room Relocated

August 27, 2018

The waiting room for Amtrak’s BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport Station has been relocated due to renovations that began on Aug. 27.

During the project work, the station will be closed and passengers will use a temporary station located on the north side of the facility.

The temporary station will include staffed ticket offices and an ADA accessible seated waiting room and restrooms. Signage on the platforms will direct customers to the temporary station.

The taxi pick up location will be outside the temporary station and service to MARC and Amtrak trains will remain unchanged.

Station renovations will include new customer amenities such as a new canopy, three new larger restrooms, an updated waiting area and entrance space as well as additional improvements to the roof, HVAC, plumbing and station exterior, Amtrak said in a service advisory.

New Platforms in Use in Carlinville

August 13, 2018

New platforms at the Amtrak station in Carlinville, Illinois, are now in use.

In a service advisory Amtrak said its trains can arrive and depart on the west or east platform so passengers should check the station information displays and listen for announcements to know where their train will be arriving or departing.

Passengers are urged to use caution when crossing between platforms on the north ends where the sidewalk and Illinois Route 108 (West Main Street) cross the tracks.

Carlinville is served by Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Lamy Ticket Office Now Closed

August 13, 2018

Another Amtrak ticket office has closed. On Aug. 3 Amtrak pulled its agents from Lamy, New Mexico, on the route of the Southwest Chief.

The closing of the Lamy office had been announced earlier and set for July 31, but the closing was moved back a few days.

In a service advisory Amtrak said passengers for Nos. 3 and 4 will continue to have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures.

The station is open daily from noon to 3 p.m. Amtrak personnel on the train will assist customers boarding and detraining but unaccompanied minors will not be allowed to board at this station.

Ticket options include buying with a credit card from Amtrak reservations or at the Amtrak website. Passengers paying cash can pay for tickets on the train but such tickets will be priced at the highest fare and subject to availability.

Checked baggage is no longer handled at Lamy. Nearest full-service station is in Albuquerque, about an hour southwest of Lamy.

Amtrak to Change WUS Project Procedures

August 1, 2018

Following a report from its Office of Inspector General, Amtrak said it will take steps to improve project management processes regarding a series of projects at Washington Union Station.

An audit conducted by the IG found the projects to be at risk of delays and cost overruns.

The projects are part of the Washington Union Station’s 2nd Century Plan. The audit found that there are “weaknesses in [project]scheduling, cost estimating and project management practices.”

The projects are designed to triple passenger capacity and double train capacity over a 20-year period at Amtrak’s second busiest station.

The Amtrak IG recommended that Amtrak use its Enterprise Program Management Office standards and other commonly accepted project management standards such as project charters, an integrated master schedule, well-supported cost estimates and risk mitigation plans.

Amtrak agreed with the recommendations and outlined a schedule to address them. Amtrak’s timeline for the implementation ranges from August 2018 to January 2019 depending on the task.