Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak stations’

Wilmington Station Access Restricted

December 15, 2018

Parking and access to parking at the Wilmington, Delaware, Amtrak station will be restricted during a construction project.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that due to construction on Martin Luther King Boulevard, Front Street will be closed in front of the Wilmington station between French Street and Walnut Street.

The City of Wilmington has closed East Front Street and MLK Boulevard, to expand the street from two lanes to three lanes.

Passengers will need to turn onto French Street to drop off and pick up customers.

The rental car return lot for the station has been relocated to 110 South French Street.

Rental car customers who need to return their rental vehicle will have to access the lot by driving down South French Street and turn left into the rental return lot.

Because parking lots closest to the station are expected to fill early, Amtrak has advised that additional pubic parking is available 24 hours at the DoubleTree Hotel at 700 North King Street and until 7 p.m. at the Wilmington Court House at 500 North King Street.

Passengers are advised to allow additional time to travel to the station during the street construction.


Philly Solari Board Might Stay in Some Form

December 13, 2018

The Solari train information board at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia might be staying after all, a Pennsylvanian congressman said.

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pennsylvania) said he spoke with Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson in a plea to save the 1970s era relic that Amtrak has said it plans to replace with a computerized state-of-the-art system.

Boyle said Anderson was receptive to the idea of keeping the Solari board at the station in some form.

Earlier news reports indicated the board would be given to a museum.

According to Boyle, Anderson suggested that the passenger carrier could either refurbish the board or replace it with a new model integrated into Amtrak’s computer network.

Some in Philadelphia have protested the pending removal of the Solari board, having grown accustomed to its whirling and clacking as it updates train information.

In late November Amtrak had issued a news release saying it planned to replace the Solari board, which is the last of its kind still in use in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

However, Boyle said Amtrak hasn’t yet solicited bids from suppliers for the Solari’s replacement.

Boyle suggested that a newer model Solari-like information board might be acquired by Amtrak for use at 30th Street Station.

In announcing that the Solari board would be replaced, Amtrak said the Italian manufacturer of the board no longer makes replacement parts for it.

Ex-Amtrak Depot in Tallahassee to be Renovated

December 13, 2018

The former Amtrak station in Tallahassee, Florida, is going to be renovated and become the new home of the county’s tourism office.

Leon County Commissioners recently approved the sale of a downtown tourism building to raise money to pay for renovation of the station, which was used by the Sunset Limited until August 2005.

The station now houses the county’s Human Services and Community Partnership department.

Southern Strategies Group plans to buy the four-story tourism building on Jefferson Street for $2.2 million.

Tourism Director Kerri Post said the old train station is a better location for her agency and Visitor’s Center.

“When you look at all the development happening, it makes sense and it’s the right time for tourism to be relocated down here,” Post said. “This is activated, it’s been activated and it will continue to be activated.”

The station is near the campuses of Florida State University and Florida A&M University as well as multiple hotels and a convention center under development.

Formerly a Seaboard Air Line freight station, it was built in 1858 and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

It was a passenger station until 1905 when the SAL built a new passenger depot to the east. That station still stands and is used by CSX.

The 1905 station hosted t passenger service until May 1, 1971, when the New Orleans-Jacksonville Gulf Wind, a joint service of Seaboard Coast Line and Louisville & Nashville, was discontinued.

The renovation work will highlight its exposed beams, barn doors and brick walls.

The building is just one of three railroad stations in Florida that was built before the Civil War that is still standing.

The Sunset Limited began serving Tallahassee in 1993 but was suspended east of New Orleans in August 2005 after portions of the route sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Office Tower to be Built Next to CUS

December 13, 2018

Chicago Union Station will be getting a new neighbor.

BMO Financial Group said it will construct a 700-foot office tower next to the station that is expected to open in 2022 and be known as BMO Tower.

Construction may get underway next year. The company said the 50-story tower will house 3,600 of its on 14 floors.

The design of the proposed building now features less pronounced horizontal breaks at each setback and the previous X-shaped supporting stilts have been replaced by a less pronounced ‘V’ arrangement.

The building will be situated at the location of a parking garage owned by Amtrak that is located just south of Union Station’s transit center.

The base of the new building will have a 1.5-acre publicly accessible park that will conceal a 400-stall garage.

Zoning for the BMO building and conversion of the upper floors of the Union Station headhouse into 400 hotel rooms was approved last October by the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council.

After public outcry, a planned seven-story addition to the Union Station headhouse was dropped.

That addition, which would have contained apartments, was widely ridiculed for its design.

Contracts Awarded for New Buffalo Station

December 7, 2018

Construction of a new Amtrak station in downtown Buffalo, New York, is expected to start next year now that a contract has been awarded to design and build the new depot.

The New York State Department of Transportation awarded contacts to Foit-Albert Associates for architecture work while Hohl Industrial Services and Scrufari Construction will be the builders.

The new depot will replace the 66-year old Exchange Street Station, which will be razed.

During construction, Amtrak’s Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf will continue to stop at the Exchange Street Station site.

Passengers will be served by a temporary facility during that time.

The new station, which will be twice the size of Exchange Street depot and is expected to be completed by fall 2020.

The cost of the new station is estimated at $27.7 million. About 38,000 passengers use the Exchange Street station annually.

NYDOT said the new station will be elevated and moved closer to the street to improve access and visibility.

It will be three stories tall and feature a brick exterior. The platform will be longer and better lighted than the existing facility.

Inside the station, the Terrazzo floor will feature an image of a Buffalo. A Taste NY kiosk will provide food and beverages.

The agency also said there will be better access to Buffalo’s light rail system and improved accommodations for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. It is also near popular destinations Canalside and KeyBank Center.

Buffalo is also served by an Amtrak-built facility in suburban Depew that hosts the same trains as Exchange Street as well as the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Niles Station Host Program Set to Launch

December 7, 2018

Hosting open house events is the first step that volunteers in Niles, Michigan, are taking as part of their efforts to launch a train station host program.

Training will be conducted this month for the two dozen people who showed up at the open houses to volunteer for the program.

Eight Amtrak trains a day stop in Niles and the volunteer hosts will be able to work whatever hours they’re able.

Earlier this year, Amtrak removed its ticket agent from Niles and hired caretakers to open, close and clean the station.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the Niles station used to be open only through late afternoon, but with the caretakers and volunteers it is open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.

If the last train of the day is late, someone should be on hand to allow passengers and those meeting them to have access to the waiting room, restrooms and a pay phone.

Serving Niles are six Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) and the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water.

Magliari said the Niles community has been active in helping Amtrak look after the depot, which dates to the days when the trains were operated by the Michigan Central.

During that era a local gardener would present a flower to each woman passing through the Niles station .

For many years the Four Flags Garden Club has maintained the station’s flower beds and decorated the depot for the holidays.

When Amtrak was planning to remove its Niles ticket agent, it contacted the Niles DDA Main Street program to ask it to help organize the effort to start a volunteer host program.

Director Lisa Croteau said the host program will help carry on the station’s “long history of hospitality,”

Croteau said the hosts will greet travelers, share tidbits about the history of the depot and serve as “kind of a concierge for the downtown and the city of Niles,” to tell people where they can get a ride or a bite to eat or whatever they need.

Magliari said the Niles program could serve as a model elsewhere in Michigan or in Elkhart, Indiana.

“It’s something happening in more and more places around the country where communities are engaging with us to have a welcoming presence in the stations,” Magliari said.

One of the Niles volunteers is Pete Womer, who is retired after working 40 years in the utilities department at the University of Notre Dame.

He told the South Bend Tribune that he was looking for a volunteer project, has been a train traveler for more than 50 years, and he loves to meet people and chat.

“In the long run, it makes customers feel a little more comfortable,” Womer said. “It’s a good feeling knowing you’re helping people out.”

Philly 30th Street Getting New Information Boards

December 7, 2018

The venerable Solari board at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia as it appeared in May 2016.

The old Solari Board at Amtrak’s William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia is headed for museum while a new display is set to debut.

In a news release, Amtrak said the Passenger Information Display System that is being installed in Philadelphia is part of a project underway to replace display panels at each gate, revamp the public address system and change platform to become ADA compliant.

Amtrak said the new PIDS board will display gate and track information and have ADA features.

After is become operational later this month, the passenger carrier will upgrade display boards in ClubAcela Lounge, the food court, on the platforms and in other areas of the station.

The Philadelphia station also is getting renovations to ClubAcela Lounge, a lactation suite to provide mothers with a clean, dignified and private space to pump and nurse, and the retrofitting of eight of the moveable wooden waiting benches on with power outlets for portable and mobile devices.

During fiscal year 2018, Amtrak handled 4.4 million passengers at Philadelphia, making it the third busiest station in the national Amtrak system.

Altoona Station Elevator Back in Service

December 7, 2018

The elevator from a bridge to the boarding platform in Altoona, Pennsylvania, is now operational.

The elevator links the 10th Avenue pedestrian bridge to the platform and had been out of service since July when it failed a pressure test.

Passengers had to carry their luggage up the steps to the bridge or rely on others to help them.

The Altoona Mirror reported that the pressure test examined the hydraulic cylinder that lifts the elevator car “to see if it pops.”

The test found a bad seal. Another test conducted by Eastern Elevator found a leak in the pipes that that connects the pump room under the platform stairway with the cylinder, which is directly under the elevator car.

The leak was in a section of pipe embedded in a concrete floor so workers installed new piping overhead to connect the pump room and cylinder to avoid having to cut into the concrete floor.

Altoona is served by Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Philly Solari Board May be Headed to Museum

December 5, 2018

The venerable Solari train status board that for years has given information about Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and SEPTA trains at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia appears to be headed for a museum.

The board is expected to be removed from the station in January 2019 and moved to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

It is Amtrak’s last active electro-mechanical train information board and is named after an Italian company that made the flap display signs.

An electromechanical display device whirs and shows alphanumeric text in a manner similar to that of some alarm clocks. Solari boards were also used at some airports.

The boards are noted for their clickty-clack sounds as they updated train or flight status information. Replacing the Solari board is a digital annunciator.

In Philadelphia, the Solari board was installed aboard the information counter of the waiting room in the 1970s.

It was updated in the 1980s and has been kept going by using replacement parts from retired boards.

Although no formal agreement has been signed to move the sign to the Pennsylvania museum, the facility’s director said Amtrak has made a verbal offer.

CUS Great Hall Restoration Completed

December 4, 2018

Amtrak said last week that it has completed restoring the Great Hall at Chicago Union Station, which included improved lighting and repainting the interior to its original colors.

The project cost $22 and was funded by Amtrak.

The hall remained open during the work, which was overseen by Berglund Construction and architect Goettsch Partners

The skylight over the Great Hall is 219 feet in length and is located 115 feet above the floor.

Amtrak officials said it had deteriorated due to flaws within the original design that led to water damage to the walls of space and to the skylight itself.

Also part of the work was a new elevator from Canal Street that provides ADA-compliant access to the Great Hall from the west side of the street.

The Henry Hering statues titled Day and Night were restored and are being illuminated. Other lighting work included restoration of 24 ceiling chandeliers while 27 historic reproduction light fixtures have been installed.

Chicago Union Station serves 37.6 million Amtrak and Metra rail passengers annually. It was opened in 1925.