Posts Tagged ‘St. Paul Union Depot’

SPUD Tops 1 Million Visitor Mark

October 8, 2019

St. Paul Union Depot has hosted more than a million visitors and seen the leasing of all its available commercial space, both firsts since the renovated station reopened in 2012.

The million visitors include Amtrak passengers, those riding the light rail system serving the station and shoppers and attendees of various events.

SPUD is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Renovation of the station cost more than $240 million in federal, state, and county money.

Local government entities still provide about $6 million of SPUD’s $8.2 million annual budget.

The largest other revenue source is parking revenue at $1.3 million.

Among the events annually held at SPUD are an annual Christmas tree lighting and European Christmas market.

Thus far this year the depot has hosted 400 private events.

Holiday Train Planned to SPUD

December 12, 2018

Twin Cities commuter rail operator Northstar will operate a holiday special to St. Paul Union Depot on Dec. 15.

The train will operate from Big Lake, Minnesota, to SPUD and will offer free rides on a first-come, first-served basis.

Northstar trains normally operate between Big Lake and Minneapolis on BNSF tracks.

There will be a two-hour layover at SPUD, which will feature shopping, holiday entertainment with carolers and Santa Claus, arts and crafts, coloring and other activities.

This will be the second time for the holiday train has operated to SPUD, which is also used by Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

Super Bowl to Affect Amtrak’s St. Paul Station

January 30, 2018

Amtrak has advised that some restrictions are in place at its station in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to the Twin Cities hosting the 2018 Super Bowl.

Passengers going to and from the station are advised to allow extra time due to the added security surrounding the game and its festivities.

The game will be played on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

On Thursday (Feb. 1) a private party is being held at St. Paul Union Depot and only ticketed passengers will be allowed inside.

Passengers will be escorted to a secure seating area and there will be an alternate boarding route.

For passengers who need assistance, Amtrak personnel will be available to escort them to their train. St. Paul is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Chicago-Twin Cities Expansion Hearings Planned for September

July 21, 2017

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said this week that it has completed a “purpose and need” statement for a proposed expansion of rail passenger service between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

MnDOT is studying the addition of a second roundtrip Amtrak train between the two metropolitan regions to supplement the daily Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

The next step in the review will be a series of public hearings on Sept. 6 at St. Paul Union Depot in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and on Sept. 7 at the La Crosse County Administrative Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Those hearings are part of a process of evaluating alternatives for the project and the needed infrastructure upgrades.

The Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois departments of transportation are working with the Federal Railroad Administration, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission and La Crosse Area Planning Committee on the initial planning effort for the proposed TCMC project.

Avalanches Halt Empire Builder Again

February 10, 2017

Shortly after it was reopened, the route of Amtrak’s Empire Builder was closed again.

BNSF said that avalanches in Glacier National park closed its Hi Line near Essex.

Amtrak Empire BuilderThe closure came less than 48 hours after the railroad had reopened the line following avalanches that blocks the tracks at Marias Pass.

Railroad officials said warmer temperatures were a factor in causing avalanches because they were creating layers of unstable snow.

Thursday’s westbound Empire Builder was held overnight at St. Paul Union Depot and passengers bound for points between St. Paul and Minot, North Dakota, were taken to their destination buy bus.

Passengers going beyond Minot were to remain on the train. Amtrak said those passengers will be given a refund and taken back to Chicago on Friday.

Two other sections of the Chicago-Seattle/Portland train were to spend the night Thursday in Montana. This includes an eastbound and a westbound section.

Landslides in Washington State resulted in the cancellation of Amtrak’s Cascades service between Seattle and Portland until Saturday.

Also canceled is the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

Winter Storm Disrupts Empire Builder in Montana

February 6, 2017

Severe winter weather in Montana has caused service disruptions for Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

On Monday, Amtrak suspended Nos. 7 and 8 west of St. Paul, Minnesota, after heavy snow and avalanches blocked the tracks in the mountains.

Amtrak Empire BuilderOn Sunday, winter storm Maya was dumping snow at the rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour. Blizzard warnings were posted in Glacier National Park and the BNSF route used by Amtrak was blocked at Marias Pass.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said it was not known when rail service would resume.

“BNSF crews were prepared for and are actively working to mitigate avalanche debris and blowing snow that has reached the rail grade,” she said. “We will resume operations through the corridor when conditions allow for the safe movement of trains.”

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said it may be days before the Empire Builder can operate west of St. Paul.

He said the passenger carrier is offering refunds to passengers who trips have disrupted or offering to book them on another date. The Empire Builder will continue to operate between Chicago and St. Paul.

Magliari said trains were being sent back to stations in Shelby and Whitefish, Montana, and no trains are departing from Seattle or Portland for Chicago.

Minnesota Rail Advocates Seek Funds to Pay for Planning of 2nd Chicago-Twin Cities Train

February 4, 2017

Minnesota passenger rail proponents are asking the state to provide funding to complete planning for a second Chicago-Twin Cities passenger train.

MinnesotaThe planning process is being lead by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which is studying what infrastructure improvements are needed for the additional service as well as what capital costs are necessary.

At the present time, Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder is the only passenger train between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

At its last meeting, the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission unanimously approved a resolution in favor of a $23 million general obligation bonding request for passenger rail service across the state.

A second Chicago-Twin Cities train was identified in the 2015 MnDOT State Rail Plan.

“Amtrak’s passenger rail ridership is increasing, we had positive results from our feasibility study, and we hear from many of our constituents that a second train should be added immediately,” said Janice Rettman, chair of the MNHSR Commission and a Ramsey County commissioner. “Many local partners have already come forward to fund the current phase of work, but we need state funds to start the next phase and qualify these projects for possible federal funding.”

State matching funds would be necessary for Minnesota to qualify for those federal funds.

The rail commission is also backing a $1 million state funding request for rail improvements in St. Paul. The money would be spent to create a grade separation near a railroad yard to ease freight congestion.

That would benefit Amtrak by providing more fluid operations at St. Paul Union Depot.

SPUD Tail Track Extended

December 1, 2016

The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority has extended the tail track at the St. Paul Union Depot in Minnesota.

MinnesotaThe project lengthened the track by 251 feet to 1,302 feet. Although the station is used by Amtrak’s Empire Builder, a primary beneficiary will be the North Pole Express trains that use the depot.

The extended tail track will also provide more track storage space, giving the station greater flexibility to accommodate special and scheduled train service.

Officials also said the project will improve flood protection because an embankment holding the new track is designed to protect the station from 500-year floods.

Although there are no plans to do so, the tail track can be extended further to connect with an adjacent BNSF route.

Hertz to Open Office at SPUD

September 14, 2016

Hertz rental car company plans to open an office in the St. Paul Union Depot, which is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Minnesota“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to serve Amtrak customers and the local community at Union Depot,” Hertz General Manager Jeremie Torok said. “We look forward to providing travelers with a vehicle that fits their travel plans and needs, while delivering top-notch customer service.”

The office will be the first rental car facility at SPUD and is expected to open in November. Hertz has agreed to a two-year lease agreement.

Hertz said it will offer vacation deals to travelers and award 50 Amtrak Guest Rewards points per day on qualifying car rentals.

In addition to Amtrak, SPUD is used by Metro Transit’s Green Line light rail service.

SPUD Planning Rail Festival

February 23, 2016

St. Paul Union Depot will celebrate its 90th anniversary with a festival on April 30 and May 1 that will be co-sponsored by Kalmbach Publishing, the publisher of Trains and Classic Trains magazines.

The event will include historic and modern railroad equipment, discussions and photo sessions, vendors, model railroads and live entertainment.

MinnesotaEvent organizers said the festival will highlight the history and future of passenger train travel, the historic and current role of freight railroads in the region, and the area’s changing transportation trends and needs.

It will showcase SPUD’s role in the revival and growth of St. Paul’s downtown and Ramsey County since the depot was restored and reopened in 2012. The other co-sponsor is the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority.

SPUD opened in 1926, but construction had begun in 1917 and was slowed by World War II.
Nine railroads and more than 200 trains served the station, which cost $15 million to build and features a neoclassical style.

Among the special exhibits slated to be on hand are Milwaukee Road steam locomotive No. 261, the Amtrak exhibit train, Soo Line FP7 No. 2500A, Great Northern SDP40 No. 325 and Northern Pacific Railway RPO/Baggage/Coach No. 1102.

Also hand will be vendors selling books, model trains, and railroad memorabilia.

Until it reopened, SPUD had no passenger trains after its last trains departed on April 30, 1971, on the eve of the coming of Amtrak.

Amtrak returned to SPUD in May 2014 after a $242 million restoration project.

The Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder calls at SPUD daily. SPUD also is served by light rail trains and intercity and metro buses.