Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

Tuscaloosa New Station Efforts Stall

January 22, 2020

Efforts to create a new Amtrak station in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have stalled.

Tuscaloosa officials have been trying for years to create a new station, but have been unable to reach an agreement with host Railroad Norfolk Southern.

City officials want to located the station in the Alberta neighborhood, which would put it in close proximity to the campus of the University of Alabama.

The current station, which is served by the New York-New Orleans Crescent, is located on Greensboro Avenue and is in poor condition.

Amtrak has reportedly threatened to cease using the station.

Work on creating a new station began in 2016 but has made little headway.

New Middletown Station Seen As finished in July 2021

January 17, 2020

Construction of a new Amtrak station in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is expected to be completed by July 2021.

But first the project needs to be put out for bid, a process that began on Dec. 19.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is taking bids that are to be opened on Jan. 29.

PennDOT recently held a meeting for prospective contractors who might wish to bid on the project.

The station will be built along West Main Street on the Amtrak Keystone Corridor.

In preparation for station construction, Amtrak is moving the tracks in the vicinity of the station site.

PennDOT is expected to award the winning construction contract bids in March and to give contractors a notice to proceed on March 16.

Elevator at Springfield Station Awaits Amtrak Inspection

January 11, 2020

A new elevator at Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts, is expected to open to the public after it passes an Amtrak inspection.

The elevator will provide access to Platform C, which was recently rebuilt.

Christopher Moskal, executive director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, said it is not clear when the inspection will occur.

He said his agency, which owns the station, is in contact with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation about the matter.

Platform C is higher than the older platforms at the station. It was rebuilt as part of an $11 million state-funded project to renovate the station.

The cost of the overall project has been $103 million and included sprucing up the station head house, and installing new stairs, benches and garbage receptacles.

Most of the station renovation work was completed in June 2017 but Platform C didn’t reopen at that time because it was too narrow to ADA handicapped-accessibility standards.

The station was unsuccessful in getting an exemption from the federal rule while rebuilding the platform was being planned.

The elevator is needed because the passenger waiting room, ticket areas and other amenities are at ground level but the platform are elevated above them.

Trains currently use Platform D. Platforms C and B do not have their own stairways and elevator.

Highway Project Could Endanger Colorado Depot

January 11, 2020

A historic train station in Grand Junction, Colorado, could be in danger of being razed due to a highway construction project.

Union Station is now sitting unused, fenced off from the current Amtrak stop in Grand Junction for Amtrak’s California Zephyr. The depot has not been used since the 1980s.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is considering expanding the Interstate 70 business loop, which runs past the depot, which opened in 1906.

Friends of the Grand Junction Depot fear that the expansion project could result in the station being demolished.

CDOT plans to widen the road by adding another lane and is studying adding it on the opposite side form the station.

The depot advocacy group wants to see the station renovated so it can be used by Amtrak passengers.

The group says it doesn’t oppose widening the I-70 business loop provided that it does not interfere with access to the Old Grand Junction Depot building.

Vermont Town May Buy Bellows Falls Station

January 9, 2020

The town of Rockingham, Vermont, is considering buying the Bellows Falls station used by Amtrak’s Vermonter.

The Rockingham Select Board has before it a proposal to spend $120,000 to buy the station, which is in poor condition.

The station was once owned by the State of Vermont, but is now the property of the Green Mountain Railroad.

Rockingham Development Director Gary Fox told the Board that the station is a key to boosting tourism in the community of 5,282 which includes the incorporated village of Bellows Falls.

Fox said if the town owned the depot it could maintain the waiting room for Amtrak and rent the rest of the building for other purposes, such as a a cafe, restaurant or brewery.

New York Penn Station Waiting Area Being Renovated

January 8, 2020

Amtrak and New Jersey Transit said on Monday that they are renovating the ticketed waiting areas of Penn Station in New York.

The work on the Amtrak Concourse on the Upper Level and Eighth Avenue side of the station will include new furniture and fixtures.

This will include communal tables and seats with electrical and USB outlets to charge electronic devices, an upgraded ceiling complete with new LED lighting, and a family area that will also feature a nursing mothers’ pod.

Workers will remove the midpoint barrier and install a new information desk and a second entrance offering easy access toward the Seventh Avenue side of the Station.

The project will cost $7.2 million and be completed over two phases.

The first phase began on Monday and is expected to be completed in March.

The second phase will then follow and is expected to be completed in June.

During construction there will be two temporary spaces, one for each phase of the project, to accommodate passengers.

The phase I temporary facility will be at the concourse near Tracks 9 and 10 while the second will be near Tracks 13 and 14.

Penn Station Expansion Plan Announced

January 6, 2020

New York Penn Station would be expanded under a plan announced on Monday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In a speech in New York, Cuomo said the expansion will occur on building and land situated on a block adjacent to the station.

The expansion would create a new eight track terminal annex with additional tracks that will result in an increased capacity of 175,000 passengers per day.

If implemented, it would be the first expansion of the Penn Station infrastructure footprint since 1910 when the station was completed.

The expansion will occur south of the current station complex, which includes the Moynihan Train Hall that is expected to open late this year in the Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue.

The design of the expansion will be a collaborative effort among New York State, Amtrak, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and others.

Urban planning consultant FXCollaborative will develop and execute the plan at the station, which is owned by Amtrak.

Cuomo’s plan calls for the Empire State Development Corporation to use eminent domain to acquire property between 30th and 31st streets. and Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Some of that property is already owned by Amtrak while the archdiocese of New York owns some parcels. The 22 pieces of property are currently being used for residential use, offices and community facilities.

This would allow construction of eight additional tracks to supplement the 21 tracks currently used at the station.

The plan would also create six entrances to the 125,000-square foot new terminal to be known as the Empire Station Complex.

State officials are also eyeing the acquisition of the Theater at Madison Square Garden and transforming it into a new entrance on Eighth Avenue in a bid to bring more light into Penn Station.

The framework that Cuomo outlined has been discussed before, including by Amtrak as part of its Gateway plan to build two new tunnels beneath the Hudson River.

“The entire old Penn has to be redone,” Cuomo said. “You can’t do that until you have the additional tracks and additional capacity.”

Penn Station is used by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.


Senator Presses Amtrak to Restore Ticket Agents

January 3, 2020

Montana Senator Jon Tester has asked Amtrak to restore ticket agents to two stations in his state as soon as possible.

Tester made the request of Amtrak President Richard Anderson in the wake of congressional approval of a fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill that included a policy rider that Amtrak restore ticket agents to some stations where they have been removed in recent years.

In Montana that includes Wolf Point, Havre and Shelby, all of which are served by the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

The policy rider directs Amtrak to restore agents to sell tickets and provide customer service to stations that lost agents in 2018 if those stations served an average of 25 or more passengers a day. That would include Havre and Shelby.

In his letter to Anderson, Tester emphasized the importance of ticket agents at rural stations, saying they do more than sell tickets. They also help passengers board, handle baggage and provide information about their communities.

Amtrak policy requires that unaccompanied minors can only board an Amtrak train at stations with a ticket agent.

Amtrak said it removed ticket agents at some stations as a way to cut costs and to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

The passenger carrier has said that most of its passengers purchase tickets online.

In place of ticket agents, Amtrak has contracted with people who act as station caretakers who open the waiting room in advance of train time and keep it clean.

Amtrak has been loath to replace caretakers with ticket agents even in the face of a congressional resolution approved earlier.

Instead, Amtrak has argued that caretakers meet the requirements of congressional intent of having someone at a station who provides customer support but not the sale of tickets or the handling of baggage.

In some communities, volunteers provide information to passengers although they are not authorized to sell tickets.

Temporary Jefferson City Station Now Open

January 2, 2020

A temporary Amtrak station has opened in Jefferson City, Missouri.

The station is a trailer located in the visitor parking area of a state-owned parking lot.

Amtrak had been using the Union Hotel as its waiting room, but that building was closed last fall after an inspection of the 19th century structure found serious structural problems.

The trailer was donated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and is located near the former Amtrak station.

The hotel is part of the Jefferson Landing State Historical Site and is owned by the Missouri Office of Administration, which also owns the parking lot where the trailer is located.

In the meantime, the state is conducting studies to determine how to shore up the old hotel building.

Tiffany Patterson, director of the Missouri State Museum and Jefferson Landing State Historic Site, said an engineering firm is conducting a short-term study as well as a long-term study of how to do that.

The primary concern is the hotel’s north wall of the hotel, which has developed a bulge.

Jefferson City is served by four daily Missouri River Runner trains between St. Louis and Kansas City that are funded by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

After the Union Hotel was ordered closed, Amtrak passengers had been waiting for their trains beneath an outdoor tent and using portable restrooms brought to the site.

Latrobe Station Renovation May Start This Year

January 2, 2020

Work on renovating the Amtrak station in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, may get underway later this year.

Latrobe City Manager John Antinori told the city council recently that the city has been having discussions with Amtrak about three tentative design options for the project.

One of those would include a ramp for passengers to more easily reach the station and boarding platform from a parking lot below that is located on McKinley Avenue.

At present passengers must climb steps to the boarding platform because the tracks through Latrobe are elevated.

Also involved in the discussions is the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, which is reviewing a project design that calls for connecting the passenger platform to the parking area with a covered ramp.

Amtrak also wants to raise the platform so that it sits eight inches above the rails. That would make boarding more convenient for those in wheelchairs.

The station renovation project has been in the works for the past two years.

The project would also include signs that comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“They seem serious about doing it,” Antinori said of the project. “It’s all preliminary, but it would be exciting to see.”

When planning began two years ago Amtrak has projected completing the work in 2019.

Now Amtrak wants the design phase of the project completed by the first quarter of 2020 with construction to start by the third quarter of this year.

Norfolk Southern, which owns the tracks used by Amtrak through Latrobe, must also approve the station design plans.

Jarod Trunzo, executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, said the renovated Amtrak station needs to be in line with that of the 1903 former Pennsylvania Railroad station on McKinley that is now DiSalvo’s Station Restaurant.

Latrobe is served by Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh, which is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

In 2018 Amtrak served 4,068 passengers in Latrobe, generating $243,841 in revenue.

That was a decline from 2017 in which the passenger carrier served 4,250 passengers and netted nearly $250,000 in revenue in Latrobe.