Amtrak: ‘Civic Conversation’ to Consider Rail Depot Development and Restoration

WASHINGTON – Citing the need for a greater exchange of success stories and to provide additional passenger rail station improvement resources, Amtrak has invited communities to a “Civic Conversation” in Pittsburgh on Dec. 6. The conversation is part of the railroad’s “Great American Stations” Initiative.

Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant sent “Great American Stations Civic Conversation” invitations to mayors and other civic leaders and state officials in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana.

Case studies will be highlighted from large and small communities. Representatives of those cities will explain how they shepherded their projects to successes that sparked additional redevelopment in their community. A forthcoming deadline to meet standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act will be discussed in detail.

Amtrak officials will attend the day-long workshop, which will include information on station standards and a how-to session on getting started on a station renewal project and the types of state and federal grants available for station improvements.

This is the second “Civic Conversation” held this year by Amtrak, following a session on July 24 in Denver that exceeded the expectations of communities and Amtrak. Future meetings are being planned along other routes in the 46-state Amtrak network.

“While Amtrak today serves more passengers than at any time in its history, too many of America’s passenger rail stations — most not owned by Amtrak — are falling into disrepair,” Kummant said. “Passenger rail stations greatly benefit the communities they serve, welcome visitors and function as connection points to other public transportation. They also have the potential to spark greater economic opportunities in the heart of these communities.”

Cities will also see the results of a recently concluded review of the stations on the routes of the Capitol Limited, Pennsylvanian, and the Pennsylvania portions of the Keystone Corridor and Lake Shore Limited routes, with specific suggestions for upgrades at each facility.

“We have a lot of experience and know-how about improving stations and we want to share that with our communities,” Kummant added.

Amtrak recently updated the Web site, which enables an exchange of information, empowers communities and provides a point of initial contact to develop partnerships in this initiative to rebuild and revitalize stations.

The site will include descriptions of the Amtrak Capitol Limited and Amtrak Pennsylvanian/Keystone Corridor routes, along with the complete Amtrak California Zephyr and Amtrak Empire Builder routes. Other stations and routes will be also added to the site, which features the latest Amtrak news headlines.

The Web site now spotlights the success of the station project in Mineola, Texas, and the story of the Hattiesburg, Miss., station will soon be featured.