Posts Tagged ‘train stations’

The Rio Grande Zephyr is Now Boarding

February 6, 2019

It’s early Sunday morning in Salt Lake City and the Denver-bound Rio Grande Zephyr is ready for boarding. The date is July 29, 1979.

I will ride the train all the way to Denver, enjoying the sights of the Rocky Mountains from one of the dome cars on the train.

Nos. 17 and 18 enjoyed one of America’s most scenic routes and Amtrak would have loved to have served it when it began operations in May 1971.

But the Denver & Rio Grande Western elected not to join Amtrak in 1971 so the remnant of the fabled California Zephyr continued to roll on.

Rising losses prompted the D&RGW to allow Amtrak to use its tracks between Denver and Salt Lake City and the Rio Grande Zephyr ended in February 1983.

Most of the RGZ’s route today is traversed by Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Amtrak Station in Tucson

April 27, 2017

The streetside view of the former Southern Pacific station in Tucson, which is now used in part by Amtrak.

Last October I was  on vacation in Tucson, Arizona. I paid a visit to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, which uses a portion of the former Southern Pacific station.

Amtrak still uses the SP station, although it shares it with Maynard’s Market, a deli-type operation.

I was there on a Thursday and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited was not scheduled to operate in either direction. Tucson is still a staffed station with checked baggage service.

The size of the Amtrak facilities appear to be appropriate for the use that the station gets and the depot has been nicely restored.

The streetside entrance to the Amtrak station. The depot is located on Toole Street.

The exterior of the station as seen from the trackside view.

The Amtrak ticket office in the Tucson station.

Another angle of the Tucson ticket office.

One end of the waiting room. In the distance is the former CTC machine used by Southern Pacific dispatchers to control traffic on the Sunset Route.

The other end of the waiting room, which has a number of historic photographs on the wall. The ticket office is to the left and straight ahead.

The door to the platform as seen from inside the waiting room.

On the platform. The building on the other side of the tracks is the maintenance facility for the Tucson streetcar network.

 

A Station Amtrak Never Saw

January 27, 2017

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For a few years in the late 1970s, the State of Illinois helped underwrite the financial losses of a pair of Rock Island Railroad intercity passenger trains.

The Rock had elected not to join Amtrak in 1971 because it figured it was cheaper that way. So it had to keep operating its Chicago-Rock Island and Chicago-Peoria trains.

They received spiffy names, the Quad Cities Rocket and the Peoria Rocket. Actually, there always had been a Peoria Rocket, more than one as a matter of fact.

I rode the Peoria Rocket to and from Chicago in June 1977. The train was as bare bones as the financially struggling Rock Island could make it. It had two coaches and a single E unit.

At the urging of the state, Amtrak agreed to study taking over the Rockets. But that never happened and the last trips of the Rockets occurred in late 1978.

The photograph above was made from aboard the Peoria Rocket during a station stop in Ottawa, Illinois.

It could have been an Amtrak station, but the price of Amtrak taking over the Peoria Rocket was just too high. Ottawa hasn’t seen intercity rail passenger service since.

The Trip Begins at the Station Front Door

November 4, 2016

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Every trip on Amtrak begins at the front door of a station. In rural area and small towns, that front door isn’t much and might not be much of a door at all if the “station” is nothing more than a bus shelter facility.

But in Chicago, Amtrak comes and goes from the ever grand Chicago Union Station. The grandeur of the depot begins with its entrances, of which there are many.

Many passengers, Amtrak and Metra alike, enter Union Station through the Adams Street entrance. If you are here in late afternoon there will be  steady stream of commuters heading for their train  home.

But no matter the time of day, there is always at least a small crowd of people milling about this entrance during the day.

New Amtrak Station Opens in Dwight

October 28, 2016

A ceremony was held this week to mark the opening of a new $3.26 million station in Dwight, Illinois, that is served by Amtrak.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe Illinois Department of Transportation said it is the first new station to open on the route, which is being rebuilt for higher-speed service by Chicago-St. Louis trains.

Construction began in August 2015 and the new depot has 1,500 square feet of space, free Wi-Fi service and a temperature-controlled waiting room.

Funding was provided by a federal grant. IDOT said that stations in Lincoln and Springfield are slated to be renovated.

Trains stopping in Dwight include three southbound and four northbound Lincoln Service trains.

IDOT said the higher-speed rail project is expected to be completed in 2017

Stretching Their Legs in Havre

October 6, 2016

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Havre, Montana, is a service stop for Amtrak’s Empire Builder and that makes it a good place to get out and stretch your legs on the platform.

No. 7 is running about an hour behind schedule as it sits in the station in May 2014. A small child is running on the platform, much to amusement of the couple standing next to the station sign.

The dining car will receive water here and trash will be taken off and disposed of. Many of those in the sleepers will have dinner not long after their train departs.

Aside from people watching and taking in the crew at work servicing the train, there is also a Greater Northern steam locomotive on display to look at.

It won’t be the highlight of anyone’s trip, but stops such as this one at Havre add a little variety to a long train trip.

NY Legislator Seeks Buffalo Depot Study

September 28, 2016

A New York congressman is calling on the New York State Transportation Commissioner to review the prospects for a new Amtrak station for Buffalo, New York.

Amtrak logoCalling the Buffalo station among the worst in the nation, Congressman Brian Higgins said the study would cost between $1 million and $2 million and could be paid for from a $25 million pot of money in the New York State Fiscal Year 2015-2020 Transportation Capital Program.

Higgins said the station study would be advantageous in seeking federal transportation funding for a new depot.

In his letter, Higgins said the new Amtrak station could be located at Canalside or Buffalo’s Central Terminal.

Buffalo’s Exchange Street station was closed last week after its ceiling collapsed during heavy rains.

“It is an insufficient facility for the volume that we could be getting in riders and it’s insufficient for all the progress we’re seeing in downtown,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown who supports building a new station at Canalside.

Exchange Street Station was built in 1952 and last year served more than 116,000 passengers.

All Amtrak trains in Buffalo stop there except the Lake Shore Limited. Another Buffalo station is located in suburban Depew, New York.

Buffalo Exchange Street Station Closed After Heavy Rainfall Led to Ceiling Collapse

September 21, 2016

Exchange Street station in Buffalo, New York, has been closed after heavy rain caused the ceiling to collapse.

Amtrak 3The city of Buffalo, which owns the station, has indicated that it will seek cost estimates about repairing the facility, which is served by New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

All of those trains plus the Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited are also served by another Amtrak station in suburban Buffalo in Depew, New York.

Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak said a contractor has been sent to the site to evaluate the condition of the building. Stepniak said the city will explore various options before moving forward.

The ceiling collapse occurred near the passenger waiting area last weekend and the station was closed on Monday.

Earlier this month, another portion of the ceiling collapsed, prompting the closure of the station’s ticket office.

Amtrak will continue to serve the station in the meantime. The passenger carrier said it is working with the New York State Department of Transportation, but is not directly involved in station repairs because it does not own the station.

A New York passenger train advocate said the situation underscores the need for a new station in Buffalo near the city’s waterfront.

“We are very concerned over the immediate safety implications, and the loss of service to the increasingly vibrant downtown Buffalo area,” said Bruce Becker, vice president of operations for the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

Niagara Falls Station Still Without Trains

September 21, 2016

Niagara Falls, New York, has a state-of-the-art new $43 million intermodal station that was built in part to serve Amtrak, yet the trains continue to call elsewhere.

Amtrak 4The city and Amtrak have yet to agree on a lease agreement for the station, which remains closed until such a pact is reached.

Amtrak continues to work with the City of Niagara Falls toward execution of a lease agreement allowing us to occupy space in the new train station,” said Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz. “We are working through the remaining issues which we are optimistic can be resolved. We look forward to moving Amtrak operations into the new building and inaugurating service to the new station.”

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster has told local media that “the ball is now in Amtrak’s court.”

Work on the new station was completed this summer and an open house was held at which Amtrak showed off a display train.

In the meantime, Amtrak continues to use a facility in Niagara Falls near Lockport Road.

Inside the Durand Station

August 2, 2016

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Durand, Michigan, is like many small towns served by Amtrak in the Midwest in that twice or more a day, people start gathering to wait for the train.

In the case of Durand, a caretaker opens the waiting room of the former Union Station. In many places, the “station” is a glorified bus shelter.

But Durand Union Station has been saved and preserved with part of the structure serving as the Michigan Railroad Museum.

The “union” in the station’s name derives from the fact that it was once served by passenger trains of the Grand Trunk Western and Ann Arbor railroads.

It has been several decades since the Ann Arbor last ran a passenger train and the former AA tracks on the east side of the depot have long since been removed.

Shown are a handful of passengers in the waiting room in mid July 2016 as they awaited the arrival of Amtrak No. 365, the westbound Blue Water for Chicago.

It is a ritual as timeless as the feel of this old passenger station, which has seen several generations waiting here before embarking on a journey.