Posts Tagged ‘train stations’

Fire Destroys P&LE Station near Beaver Falls

June 23, 2017

A Pittsburgh & Lake Erie passenger station in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, will be razed after it was heavily damaged by fire.

Firefighters told local news media that trying to bring the blaze under control was difficult because the area had no fire hydrants.

That forced fire fighters to use a relay pump to supply water for their efforts.

Known as College Hill station, the two-story structure opened in 1910 and was used to carry passengers to Geneva College.

It was later used by the PAT commuter trains until they were discontinued in 1985. The building was last used in the early 1990s.

Ex-Erie Station in Fair Lawn Being Renovated

April 18, 2017

The former Erie Railroad station in the Radburn section of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, is closing for four months for some badly needed TLC.

It is getting a new roof, ceiling and interior renovations. The station was built by the Erie in 1929 and replaced a small wood building.

The station sees about 1,500 commuters a day and is one of only a couple of former Erie stations that still has an agent, albeit only for morning rush hour Monday through Friday.

The station is styled in the Dutch style that matched many of Fair Lawn’s early homes.

Since the station is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places the appearance of the depot will not change.

The only significant change to the station was the addition of a platform canopy in the early 2000s. Compare the 1950s postcard view with the picture taken at the same angle in 2012.

The Radburn-Fair Lawn station has a special meaning for me; It is where I became a railfan.

In the ‘60s, when I was old enough to start wandering around town on my own I would go to the station every day after school and watch the trains roll by.

The Erie Lackawanna’s commuter trains were hauled by RS-3s and geeps. The train to Port Jervis was hauled by an E8.

In the early 1970s the commuter trains were replaced with brand new U34CH diesels and push-pull train sets.

The E’s would last on the Port Jervis runs a few more years. In those days the station still had a full-time agent who was there until 4 p.m.

I had many pleasant conversations with the gentleman. There was also a full-time section gang that had an office in the station, including a a kind old Italian gentlemen who would always talk to a young railfan.

My daily railfanning would end at 6:15 p.m. when the train pulled in and brought my father home from his job in New York City.

We would get in the car and drive home to become a complete family once again.

At 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 14, the agent closed up the office and New Jersey Transit started removing the office equipment.

On Monday the station’s cozy waiting room fell silent. In about four months the refurbished building should be reopened and the waiting room and agent will be welcoming travelers once again.

I can’t wait to walk through her doors once again.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

A contemporary view of Radburn station.

Historic post card view of Radburn station.

Buffalo Station Committee to hold 1st Meeting

November 29, 2016

A committee to study sites for a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York, expects to hold its first meeting in December.

Amtrak 4The 17-member committee will review such locations as the former Buffalo Central Terminal, Larkinville, Canalside and the current Exchange Street Amtrak station.

The State of New York has allocated $20 for construction of the station and the committee will look to see if it can obtain some federal funding.

“We’ll be able to fast track these initiatives that unfortunately have taken the back burner because of a lack of funding,” said committee member Tim Kennedy, a state senator from Buffalo. “Now we can drive forward with those. And I think it fits right into the timetable that we’re looking at with the new train station in Buffalo.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he will accept a challenge from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to decide on a station location within the next six months.

Ann Arbor Officials Expect to Name Preferred Site by January for New Amtrak Station

September 29, 2016

A consultant hired by the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said local officials want to get resolved by early next year a preferred site for a new Amtrak station.

Robert Gorski of AECOM told a public hearing held on Monday that the city is working with the Michigan Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration to choose a preferred site by January and complete an environmental assessment that must be approved by the FRA.

Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit Wolverine Service trains currently stop in Ann Arbor at a modular station built by Amtrak in 1983.

Amtrak 4Therese Cody, the MDOT rail operating programs manager said at the hearing that neither Amtrak or the state wants to own train stations.

MDOT prefers that local communities own their depots.

“Because then they reflect what the community wants the station to be — like you’ve seen Dearborn go up and Detroit go up,” she said. “They’re all a reflection of the community. A lot of times it’s a gateway to the community.” Cody described the current Ann Arbor station as an Amshack.

City officials are studying four station alternatives that include two options at the site of the existing Amtrak station on Depot Street.

Another is to build in Fuller Park in front of the University of Michigan Hospital while the fourth option is to use the former Michigan Central station, which is now a restaurant.

City officials said during the Monday hearing that the corporate owner of the Gandy Dancer restaurant has not returned phone calls inquiring about whether it would be interested in selling its property

However, the city could use its powers of eminent domain to take it over.

Cody noted that federal funding for new stations is provided to communities and not to Amtrak.

“Amtrak doesn’t put a lot of vested interest into their stations, where we believe that a community can make it a little more inviting and provide for the community’s needs,” she said. “Amtrak doesn’t go around and say, ‘Do you guys need a meeting room? Do you guys need this or that?’ They don’t care.”

Gorski said the cost of building a new station at each of the identified sites will be taken into account in selecting a preferred location.

Although the city has not yet released cost estimates for each station option, it projects that the  station design will cost $2.6 million and construction will $44.5 million.

Wherever it is built, the new station will have 9,100 square feet of space and 900-1,100 parking spaces.

Ann Arbor OKs Money for More Station Studies

September 22, 2016

The Ann Arbor City Council has approved a resolution to amend the city’s professional services agreement with AECOM, an engineering firm, which would provide additional funding to perform further studies on a new Amtrak station.

michiganHowever, some council members expressed discontent about how much money has already been spent on studies related to the new depot.

They noted that nearly a million dollars has already been expended on studies and environmental reviews since 2012 and yet a site for the station has yet to be chosen.

A study recently released identified several station options at three sites.

“This additional money is necessary because we have not narrowed it down to one site. The original agreement included the environment review for one preferred alternative,” said council member Jack Eaton. “If we were able to narrow it down to one alternative we would not have to spend this extra $196,000.”

Public Services Administrator Craig Hupy and Transportation Manager Eli Cooper said the additional city funding is needed for studies of the potential station sites because the project’s current funding grant from the Federal Railroad Association did not provide money for those studies.

Nine council members voted to approve the resolution, with Eaton the sole no vote.

Ann Arbor is served by six daily Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

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

September 22, 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 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.

New Niagara Falls Depot Still Without Trains

September 22, 2016

Niagara Falls, New York, has a state-of-the-art new $43 million intermodal station that was built to serve Amtrak, yet its 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 18, 2016

Amtrak at Durand 00-x

Durand, Michigan, is like many small towns served by Amtrak 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 Durand Union Station. In many places, the Amtrak “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 served 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 been removed.

Shown are a handful of passengers in the waiting room in 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.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Buffalo Central Union Terminal Redevelopment Financing Tied to Building Adjacent New Housing

May 31, 2016

The iconic Buffalo Central Terminal will be developed by a Toronto developer who also plans to construct housing in the neighborhood surrounding the long-closed train station.

Central Terminal is owned by Central Terminal Restoration Corporation and its rehabilitation will be financed by the sale of 400 to 500 new townhouses.

Developer Harry Stinson earlier won approval of the Buffalo Common Council to develop a master plan to transform the railroad depot into a mixed used facility that would include a hotel and banquet facilities.

Stinson will spend the next six months meeting with pubic officials, preservationists and neighborhood stakeholders to refine the station’s master plan.

He must buy the land for the townhomes from the city and pay it $1,000 a month during the length of the six-month agreement, which can be extended by six months.

Stinson said he expects to invest up to $100 million on the Central Terminal building.

He expects to sell the townhouses for $200,000 to $300,000 apiece and target them toward employees of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

He told the city that townhouses will help to create neighborhood that will have the feel of a village.

Some business that would cater to that neighborhood could be located within the station building.

Central Terminal opened in 1929 and closed in 1979. It once served 200 trains and 10,000 passengers a day.

A non-profit group acquired the station in 1997 with the idea of restoring it.

It has since repaired the four clocks on the office tower and reopened the main concourse in 2003.

Tale of 2 Michigan City Railroad Stations

December 26, 2015
The former Michigan Central station in Michigan City, Indiana, sits next to a route that sees eight Amtrak trains a day.

The former Michigan Central station in Michigan City, Indiana, sits next to a route that sees eight Amtrak trains a day.

This is the about the extent of the Amtrak station in Michigan City. At least the parking is free and plentiful.

This is about the extent of the Amtrak station in Michigan City. At least the parking is free and plentiful.

Amtrak stations across America are a mixed bag. In some places, the station was built decades ago by a railroad that no longer exists.

In a few communities, the station is a modern multi-purpose facility created to serve trains, intercity buses and local transit operations.

And in some unfortunate towns the station is a glorified shelter that offers little protection from inclement weather.

It must amaze some Amtrak passengers that they have to wait in a bus-stop shelter when a train station sits nearby.

Such is the case in Michigan City, Indiana, where the Amtrak stop is right in front of a former Michigan Central station.

The latter was until recently a restaurant. There is still a sign for it and I even found a website for it.

Although eight Amtrak trains a day pass through Michigan City, only three of them stop there. Most people who want to travel to and from Chicago ride the South Shore Line, which offers a higher level of service than does Amtrak.

When I was in Michigan City earlier this year, the ex-MC station was vacant. The depot appeared to be in good condition.

It would make a nice multi-purpose facility serving Amtrak and buses. Rail passengers could continue to use the existing platform.

Will that happen? Probably not, but it would be a viable option. In the meantime, Amtrak passengers will continue to wait outside in the snow and the rain, the heat and the cold, and wonder why they can’t use the nearby train station.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders