Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

FRA Revises WUS Redevelopment Plans

May 13, 2022

The Federal Railroad Administration has revised the redevelopment plans for Washington Union Station to provide less emphasis on automobile traffic.

The agency acted after receiving widespread criticism that the plan was too automobile-centric.

The revised design eliminates a planned six-story 1,575-space parking garage that local officials had said would lead to more traffic gridlock.

Also opposed to the garage was the Washington Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, which operates the station.

Critics said most users of Union Station do not arrive by private automobile at the station, which is Amtrak’s second busiest. The depot also serves MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter trains and is a stop for the Washington Metro public transit trains.

The FRA’s latest plan for the station, which opened in 1907 and was rehabilitated in the 1980s, calls for an underground parking garage with half the capacity of the now scrapped above-ground parking facility.

The new plan will also provide space for passenger drop-offs and pickups by taxis and private ride-hailing services.

FRA officials said they will be seeking additional public comment on the station redevelopment plan in the coming weeks.

The $10 billion project will include a new train hall and concourses, more tracks, and enlarged retail space. It is expected to take 10 years to complete.

Remembering the Hannibal Zephyr

May 8, 2022

In October 1996 the St. Louis chapter of the National Railway Historical Society ran excursions on Saturday and Sunday between St. Louis and West Quincy, Missouri, over a former Burlington Route line. Most passengers disembarked in Hannibal, Missouri, and spent several hours in Mark Twain’s hometown.

I elected to stay aboard to West Quincy and return because my primary interest was in getting some rare mileage, which interested me at the time.

I didn’t make too many photographs and most of those were made before boarding in St. Louis and in Hannibal where I was able to disembark for a short time.

The consist was Superliner coaches and a Sightseer lounge. It was pulled by P42DC Nos. 61 and 6.

At West Quincy, the train turned on a wye. You may remember West Quincy as being the western terminus for several years of Amtrak’s Illinois Zephyr.

The top and middle images above were made in Hannibal. The bottom image was made in St. Louis. At the time, the St. Louis station was the “temporary” modular structure that some dubbed “St. Louis Union Trailers.”

The RoadRailer at right are a throwback to the days when Amtrak sought mail and express business as a way to garner more revenue. Note the sign on the pole giving instructions to the westbound Texas Eagle where to stop.

NYC Penn Station Entrance Partly Closed

May 5, 2022

Work began May 2 at New York Penn Station to improve the facility’s accessibility. The 18-month project will create an accessible entrance to the station.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that during the project the station entrance at 32nd Street and 7th Avenue will be partly closed.

There will be no “up” escalator at that entrance. Those needing an “up” escalator should follow signs to the New Jersey Transit exit nearby.

The project will add an elevator, widen the entrance, replace the stairs, and replace the two existing escalators with three transit grade escalators.

Greenwood Station Renovations Completed

April 27, 2022

Renovation of the Amtrak station in Greenwood, Mississippi, was recently completed.

The $5.4 million project brings the station into compliance with provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The work included building a new concrete platform, renovating the waiting room to include drinking fountains and new bench seating, and constructing two ramps from the parking lot.

The City of Greenwood redesigned a sidewalk along Carrollton Avenue to improve pedestrian access.

Greenwood is served by the City of New Orleans, which operates between Chicago and New Orleans.

In a news release, Amtrak said it has completed 168 ADA-related projects with 20 stations being brought into ADA compliance in fiscal year 2021 at a cost of $85 million.

Work is underway or about to begin at another 41 stations are in the current fiscal year at an estimated cost of $125 million.

Amtrak Seeks Control of Washington Station

April 18, 2022

Amtrak is seeking to use eminent domain to get control of Washington Union Station.

The passenger carrier indicates it wants to control the property in order to expand and modernize the station.

The federal government owns WUS but leases it to other organizations.

The Amtrak move to gain control of the station was first reported by The Washington Post, which said Amtrak has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The complaint indicated that Amtrak wants to gain the interest in the station by Union Station Investco LLC, a subsidiary of Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, which has subleasing rights through 2084.

The Post reported Amtrak’s Dennis Newman, executive vice president for strategy, planning, and accessibility, said the passenger carrier wants to own the station outright in order “to advance some long-delayed state-of-good-repair and capital projects so we can improve the station and shore up the station infrastructure. An improved Washington Union Station is really key to our mission.”

Amtrak owns the track and platforms at WUS and subleases about 13 percent of the station area.

In its court filing, Amtrak said WUS needs work to address $75 million in deferred maintenance, and that USI has rejected proposals regarding Amtrak plans to improve the tunnel leading to the station.

Construction Set on Hudson Boarding Area

April 18, 2022

Construction at the Amtrak station in Hudson, New York, will affect the boarding area there.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the platforms will undergo a blacktop renovation project that will take some tracks out of service.

The project begins April 21 and extends through May 1. During that time passengers can expect delays when entering and exiting the platform.

Also during the construction the wheelchair lift at the Hudson station will not be available. Passengers needing assistance should instead board at Rhinecliff or the Albany-Rensselaer stations, both approximately 20 to 25 minutes away from Hudson.

Parking to be Limited at Springfield Station

April 8, 2022

A lighting improvement project in the parking lot of the Amtrak station in Springfield, Illinois, will result in limited parking on April 12 and 13.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said 10 spaces at the south end will be available but space is not guaranteed.

The advisory recommended that passengers plan extra time to arrive to the station on these dates.

Customers parked in the complimentary lot will be required to move their vehicle by April 11. Any vehicle left in the project zone may be relocated or towed.

As an alternative, passengers may park in the Bank of Springfield Center Garage, located approximately four blocks from the station.

Passengers are encouraged to arrange for pick up and drop off service, if possible.

Saturday Memory: Inter-American in Joliet

April 2, 2022

It is March 1977 in Joliet, Illinois. Amtrak’s southbound Inter-American is in the station making its first scheduled stop after departing Joliet, Illinois.

At the time this image was made Nos. 21 and 22 operated daily between Chicago and Fort Worth, Texas, and tri-weekly south of there to Laredo, Texas.

The Inter-American began in 1973 as a tri-weekly train between Fort Worth and Laredo. It’s northern terminus was moved to St. Louis on March 13, 1974, and to Chicago on Oct. 31, 1976.

The severe winter of 1977 resulted in the Inter-American being canceled south of St. Louis between mid-January and early February.

The consist seen above of steam-heated cars pulled by an SDP40F locomotive would remain standard during the first half of 1977. By August, though, Nos. 21 and 22 would have F40PH locomotives on the point.

The equipment changed again on Aug. 8, 1977, when the Inter-American was given an Amfleet consist.

The Inter-American was renamed the Eagle on Oct. 1, 1981. That same day the train received Superliner equipment and its Houston and Laredo sections were discontinued, thus making it a Chicago-San Antonio train.

Nos. 21 and 22 were renamed the Texas Eagle on Nov. 14, 1988, when it also regained a Houston section., which diverged at Dallas. The Houston section was discontinued on Sept. 10, 1995.

In the photo above, a portion of Joliet Union Station can be seen above the train.

Amtrak to Cease Serving Michigan City

March 30, 2022

Amtrak plans to end service at Michigan City, Indiana, on April 4.

In a service advisory Amtrak advised passers to instead travel to New Buffalo, Michigan, to board its trains or travel to Chicago via the South Shore Line, which offers commute rail service throughout the day.

The service advisory did not give a reason for why service to Michigan City is being dropped.

Michigan City lies on the route used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) but not all trains stop there.          

Eastbound, Wolverine Service Nos. 350 and 354 stop in Michigan City while the only westbound train to stop there is No. 355.

Amtrak’s Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan Blue Water, and Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette also pass through Michigan City without stopping.

The Michigan City boarding platform is located near the former Michigan Central passenger station.

Letter Boards are (Sort of) Back

March 15, 2022

For decades railroads placed their names in the letter boards of passenger cars. Amtrak has never adopted this practice. It has had an on again, off again practice of even naming passenger cars.

The new Venture cars that entered revenue service on Feb. 1 in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor have sort of brought back the practice of letter board names.

Shown are two Siemens-built Venture coaches in the consist of Lincoln Service No. 301 in Springfield, Illinois, on March 1. Note that the Amtrak herald and the name “Amtrak Midwest” have been applied to the letter board area of the car.

Now the question is how long this practice will continue. Although the traditional Amtrak colors of red, white and blue have been incorporated into the car’s design, the dominant color is gray.