Amtrak announced today it has started operating out of Springfield’s historic Union Station.
Two years after Union Station reopened following a $95 million restoration, Amtrak has opened a ticket office in the main concourse and closed a track-level waiting room. The passenger rail company joins the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and intercity bus services that moved in and began operating from Union Station in 2017 and CTRail, which began serving Springfield last year.
"This is another very important announcement in the milestone achievement of refurbishing, rehabing, and reopening Union Station," said Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield. He joined Amtrak officials and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno at Monday’s announcement in the main concourse.
For decades as Union Station sat empty and decaying, Amtrak operated a train station in Springfield that was located on Lyman Street. It recently moved its ticketing and other passenger services into Union Station after negotiating a lease with the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, according to Amtrak vice president Thomas Moritz.
"We thought it would be beneficial for Amtrak passengers and other users of the station to have us in this consolidated area, so we were very much looking forward to moving down here as quickly as we could," said Moritz.
There are currently 22 trains a day that stop at Union Station.
"There is no changes to the Amtrak train service based on today's ( announcement)," said Moritz.
Construction work continues on a new high-level passenger boarding platform at Union Station that meets accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Part of the project includes a new elevator between the main concourse and the overhead tracks.
The project is costing $8.2 million and is being paid for by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
While still running an annual operating deficit, Union Station’s finances are improving, according to Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s Chief Development Officer.
"We are doing much better," said Kennedy, pointing to a 23 percent reduction in the operating subsidy that is being requested from the city of Springfield for the fiscal year that starts July 1st, 2019.
" The goal is to bring it down to nothing, but that generally takes 3-5 years," said Kennedy.
About 70 percent of the available space in Union Station is now rented.
In addition to a subsidy from the city, Union Station also receives a $500,000 annual payment from MGM Springfield.