Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Maple Leaf’

3 Bids Received for Schenectady Station Work

March 31, 2017

Three bids have been submitted for the proposed new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York.

All of the bids appear to be within the $6 budget for the station.

The bidders were seeking to perform the first phase of the project, which includes razing the current station and doing concrete and structural work around the station platform.

That work is expected to begin this spring once a winning bidder is chosen by the New York State Department of Transportation.

It is the second time that bids have been submitted for the station work.

Last year one bid for the project came in $10 million over budget. State officials decided to break the station project into two phases.

The budget for the project is $15 million, most of which is from federal funding.

The project timeline calls for demolition of the station to be completed this year. Amtrak is constructing a temporary boarding platform at Liberty Street.

The contract for construction of the permanent station is expected to go out for bid this fall with construction starting in 2018.

The new station is expected to resembled the former Union Station, which was razed years ago. The current Amtrak station opened in 1979.

About 60,000 passengers per year board Amtrak at Schenectady, but city officials believe the station could become busier after the opening of the Rivers Casino and Resort.

Capital Region Track To Be Done by Summer

March 20, 2017

Amtrak expects to finish a massive rail improvement project in New York’s Capital Region this summer.

The $163 million program is adding a second track between Albany and Schenectady, New York, in order to eliminate a bottleneck on the single-track route used by the Lake Shore Limited, Empire Service trains, the Adirondack, the Ethan Allen Express and the Maple Leaf.

The work also includes upgrading the signal system and improving grade crossings.

An earlier stage of the project involved lengthening two passenger platforms at the Albany-Rensselaer station, primarily for the benefit of passengers boarding and disembarking from the Lake Shore Limited.

Amtrak officials said the work is nearly finished south of the Capital Region and that the second track between Albany and Schenectady should go into service in late spring or early summer.

A NYDOT spokesman said contractors are still placing ballast on the new track, as well as making deck repairs on the Union Street and Erie Boulevard bridges in Schenectady, cleaning and improving culverts, and removing poles, now that the new signal system is underground.

However, officials say that earlier ides to increase the level of service west and north of the region are uncertain at best.

Michael Franchini, who heads the Capital District Transportation Committee, a government planning organization that oversees the disbursement of federal transportation funds, said there are no serious proposals to extend Empire Service trains now terminating at Albany-Rensselaer to Schenectady or Saratoga Springs.

The New York Department of Transportation will say only that it continues to consider increased service.

Saratoga County residents who are now served by the New York-Montreal Adirondack said that they need additional service to provide them more flexibility in their travel plans.

Some now drive an hour to the Albany-Rensselaer station to take advantage of its higher level of service to New York City.

In a related development, NYDOT officials have been asked to replace the locomotives used between Albany-Rensselaer and New York Penn Station.

The dual model locomotives are able to run on diesel fuel or electric current, but use electric power in the Manhattan tunnels that bring trains into Penn Station.

Replacing the fleet with 25 new locomotives would cost an estimated $250 million.

The current locomotives are old and prone to breakdowns that delay trains.

NYDOT Pledges to Complete Building New Schenectady Amtrak Station by November 2018

February 9, 2017

A New York transportation official pledged on Wednesday that a new Amtrak station for Schenectady will go out for bid this year and be completed by November 2018. Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll said during a tour of the early 1970s era station that the project will be bid in two stages.

Amtrak 4The construction steel work will be released for bid on Feb. 24 and is expected to cost about $6 million.

The remainder of the project will go to bid this fall and is expected to cost $9 million.

Amtrak has agreed to pay some costs not directly associated with the station building, including track work.

Driscoll said the building alone — without repairs to a 100-year-old viaduct included in the first bid proposal — can be done with a $15 million budget.

Some bridge rehabilitation work will be funded by an Amtrak track rebuilding project that is currently in progress.

Amtrak and NYDOT are still discussing erecting a temporary station that passengers will use while the permanent depot is being built.

Schenectady is served by Amtrak’s Maple Leaf, Ethan Allen Express, Lake Shore Limited and Empire Service trains.

Amtrak Changing Schedules at Niagara Falls

February 4, 2017

Amtrak will change its schedules at Niagara Falls, New York, on Feb. 20 to reflect a station change.

Amtrak logoAmtrak begin using the new station in December 2016. In a service advisory, Amtrak said the following changes will be made to the schedules of Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

  • Trains 64, 280, 284 and 288 will depart Niagara Falls three minutes earlier.
  • Trains 281 and 283 will arrive at Niagara Falls nine minutes earlier.
  • Train 288 departs six minutes earlier.
  • Train 63 will arrive and depart Niagara Fall five minutes later.

 

Gov. Pledges Funds for New Schenectady Depot

January 12, 2017

New Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed spending $15 million to build a new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York.

The funding was mentioned in his State of the State speech given this week.

Amtrak 3Amtrak currently uses a depot on Erie Boulevard. Cuomo cited the Schenectady station project while discussing plans to upgrade transportation hubs across the state.

It is not clear how much new state money will be spent on the new station. Some federal and local funding is also expected to go into the project.

The New York Department of Transportation has budgeted $15 million for the station, but that includes some federal funding that may no longer be available.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the state is expected to kick in some additional money in order to get the project going and the station open by 2018.

“Anybody that’s gone through that station, it’s an embarrassment,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t reflect the quality of the community we’re building. We’re doing demolitions in the neighborhoods, working on home ownership, getting the casino online, and that train station is just an embarrassment.”

In March 2016, NYDOT sought bids for a new station, but received just one response. That bid was $10 million over budget, so the state scrapped its plans.

Instead, it decided to split the work into two projects, one involving razing the 1970s era that Amtrak built and now uses and another to build a replacement station.

The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, New York-Toronto Maple Leaf, the New York-Montreal Adirondack, the New York-Rutland (Vermont) Ethan Allen Express and four New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service trains serve Schenectady, which handled 61,000 passengers last year.

Amtrak and the NYDOT are building a second track between Schenectady and Albany-Rensselaer to alleviate rail traffic congestion on the route. That track is expected to be completed this spring.

Customs Inspections Improved for Amtrak

December 14, 2016

Congress has approved legislation designed to speed up Amtrak service between the United States and Canada by authorizing U.S. Customs to pre-clear passengers before they reach the border.

Amtrak logoThe bill would apply to Amtrak a practice already in place at some Canadian airports whereby airline passengers bound for the U.S. clear customs before boarding their plane.

Under current practices, Amtrak trains must stop shortly after reaching the United States and customs agents board the train to screen passengers.

Officials say that the border checks on Amtrak trains add an extra hour to the travel time.

The legislation passed by Congress expands the pre-clearance program to include train stations in Canada and passengers would clear customs before boarding their train.

The legislation was pushed by members of Congress and the Senate from New York state.

New York officials are hoping that the Canadian parliament will approve similar legislation allowing its customs officials to work at stations in the U.S.

Expected to benefit from the new practices are the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and the New York-Montreal Adirondack.

New N.F. Station to Open Next Tuesday

December 1, 2016

Amtrak will begin halting at the new Niagara Falls, New York, station next Tuesday.

Amtrak 4The station will be served daily by the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and two Empire Service trains from New York City.

Service is being phased in over a 24-hour period on the first day. The two Empire Service trains to New York will depart on Tuesday from the current station at 2701 Willard Ave.

The Maple Leaf and the two inbound Empire Service trains from New York will use the new station, located at 825 Depot Ave.

The new $43 million facility has been in the planning and construction stages for more than two decades and attracted a lot of attention after it took longer than expected for the city and Amtrak to agree on a lease.

Amtrak said it will notify passengers where to board and depart, as well as update its website.

Niagara Falls Gets Amtrak Station Lease

November 11, 2016

The long awaited lease agreement with Amtrak to use the new intermodal facility in Niagara Falls, New York, is finally a done deal.

Amtrak 4The city said that the lease has been agreed upon four months after the city held an open house at the station. That event included a visit from an Amtrak display train.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster said the delay occurred because the city had never negotiated a lease like this before.

“The lease is as we expected it and as Amtrak would have expected it to be, but it took a very long time to get it done,” Dyster said.

Although no date was given for when service will begin, Thomas J. DeSantis, the acting director of planning, said Amtrak can move in at any time. He expects that to occur by the end of November.

The station took a decade to plan and build. It is the first new Amtrak station to open in New York state since Albany-Rensselaer opened in 2002.

Under the terms of the 20-year agreement, Amtrak will lease 29,360 square feet of the station, which is 63 percent of the building.

Amtrak will pay on a quarterly basis 63 percent of the operating costs, including personnel and maintenance.

The passenger carrier will also pay a a one-time upfront fee of $50,000, which the city would hold to begin paying for its share of the station costs.

Amtrak’s fee is an estimated $172,000 a year, but DeSantis said there is no way of knowing the full costs.

The other costs of the facility will be shared by the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Museum, which will lease 2,880 square feet and a yet-to-be-determined tenant that will lease 4,650 square feet of commercial retail space.

The station will have a customs and immigration facility.

City officials are seeking to arrange for Canadian customs to move to the U.S. side of the border and they would like to see Toronto’s GO Transit trains terminate in Niagara Falls, New York.

GO Transit has limited service to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Amtrak’s New York-Toronto Maple Leaf passes through Niagara Falls and two Empire Service trains terminate and originate there.

N.F. Says Amtrak Lease is Getting Closer

October 31, 2016

Officials in Niagara Falls, New York, have once again said they are close to signing a lease with Amtrak for its use of a new intermodal facility.

Amtrak 4No date has been announced for when Amtrak might begin using the facility.

City Planner Thomas DeSantis said negotiations have taken longer than the city expected, but all of the parties involved are trying to reach a conclusion as soon as possible.

DeSantis said it will likely take Amtrak a few weeks to get settled into the new facility once a lease is signed.

He said that the terminal received a certificate of occupancy last week that allow tenants to use the building after signing a lease.

In its 2017 budget proposal, the city of Niagara Falls projected receiving from Amtrak annual lease payments of $172,800.

A museum to be operated by the Underground Railroad Heritage Area is expected to earn $19,000.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will also occupy a portion of the station, but payments leasing that space will be part of the Amtrak lease payments.

Niagara Falls is served by Amtrak’s Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains.

Buffalo Station Study Gets Funding

October 31, 2016

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has approved awarding $1 million to conduct a study of a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York.

Amtrak 4Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown will lead a study committee that will study station sites.

Work on the study is expected to begin in six months.

Buffalo has two Amtrak stations, Exchange Street Station in the city served the Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains. A station in suburban Depew serves all those trains plus the Lake Shore Limited.