Amtrak has a new home in the Magic City! Welcome to Birmingham!
Several TARP members attended the Grand Opening of Birmingham Intermodal Station.
Take a look at our slide show to see how this impressive new facility will make Amtrak a more user-friendly option in the South.
For memory's sake we included a few photos of the old station.
Don't Sing the Disappearing Railroad Blues!
Let's keep riding on the City of New Orleans! Tennessee's only passenger train is an asset to our state. Take action today so that our train and the entire national rail network can grow and serve us more!
Click on the following link to learn more: http://conta.cc/2EyA3nH
Birmingham: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light
The dark days of waiting for the Crescent under the windowless railroad viaduct are finally gone! Amtrak has finally arrived at the bright and spacious new intermodal station in downtown Birmingham!
The 1960’s-era benches with worn down cushions in a bleak waiting area have been officially retired. In their place are modern, comfortable seats in different configurations, some of which have individual charge outlets for electronic devices.
Passengers are greeted by an enormous waiting area with floor-to-roof window glass for an abundance of light and an uninhibited view of downtown. Morris Avenue appears in full view, which enables arriving passengers to watch for their private vehicle rides from the comfort of the climate controlled lobby. The large front overhang shades direct sunlight and sheds rainwater to make loading and unloading from the street a little easier.
Arrival and departure information is posted on electronic display boards complemented by an audible public announcement system. Amtrak’s ticket and baggage offices are in plain view and so are the offices for Greyhound. Amtrak and Greyhound personnel can see the entire waiting room from their work posts as well as the front entry doors and the better part of the street.
The presence of Greyhound and Amtrak under the same roof will make interline connections imminently more practical. The existing train and bus schedules will allow connections to and from Montgomery. Slightly modified bus schedules will allow connections to and from Nashville and Huntsville. We hope a new bus schedule can be introduced as well with connections to and from Memphis in the foreseeable future.
The only complication rail passengers must cope with for now is the trek from the waiting room to the track area. The walk involves a circuitous route with twists, turns, and elevation changes. A separate construction project will remedy this. This spring the old ticket office will be demolished and the back wall removed to create a direct walkway from the waiting area to the track area. The former waiting area will become part of the new access corridor, albeit with some cosmetic and lighting improvements.
Birmingham is already a relatively popular location for Tennesseans who travel by Amtrak. This new station will make train travel much more practical and appealing! We expect ridership and revenue on the Crescent to grow now that Birmingham rail passengers are coming out of the darkness and into the light!
Next Stop: Birmingham! The Magic City!
TARP Members Helped "Clear the Track" in Birmingham
Birmingham's all-new $33 million dollar intermodal station is one of the largest passenger rail improvement projects in the entire Southeast. However, instead of noticing the soon-to-open facility in the background, rail passengers were noticing an enormous amount of trash and refuse at track level.
Fixing the problem was no easy feat. Whereas the station complex belongs to the City of Birmingham, the tracks and platforms have a complicated mix of owners and lease agreements. Getting a single owner to take responsibility for the mess was like herding cats, and yet the problem was too large for Amtrak to take on its own.
Last summer the Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers proposed that Amtrak and the various property owners set aside a clean-up with volunteer helpers to tackle the problem. It took several weeks to clear the idea through various legal and bureaucratic hurdles, and then on a cool Saturday in November the project came together.
Jarod Pearson, President of TARP and fellow TARP member Bobby Gass worked with a team of Amtrak personnel to clean up the mess. In five and a half hours the small crew removed enough trash to fill 31 lawn-sized bags! The results were amazing!
From this point onward, Amtrak staff will perform a weekly litter patrol. The Birmingham Police Department has also agreed to perform daily patrols on the platform to keep away trespassers and keep the area secure.
Passengers can now take notice of a beautiful new facility that welcomes them to the Magic City! The track is clear now!
Next Stop: Bristol's beautiful downtown station
We are closer than ever to getting passenger rail service to the Tennessee/Virginia state line at Bristol!
Amtrak and the Commonwealth of Virginia delivered a service expansion to Roanoke on October 31, 2017. The next logical step is to expand the route further south and west to Bristol.
The City of Bristol and the Washington County Board of Supervisors have already commissioned an economic study. Click here to read more about it.
TARP encourages East Tennesseans to pay close attention as this is truly the way to bring passenger rail into that part of the state in the foreseeable future!
New tunnel at Memphis Central Station
A new underground pedestrian walkway at Memphis Central Station is part of a huge transformation that will take place in 2018.
The entire Central Station complex will be reinvented. Amtrak's ticket office and waiting room will be among other business entities including a boutique hotel, retail and event spaces, and that's not all. The new pedestrian tunnel will reconnect the South Main region in ways that will boost the appeal of the entire neighborhood.
The pedestrian tunnel will give downtown residents more direct access to the local farmers market and give local tourists, including those who arrive on Amtrak, direct access to local bus and transit service. Even bicyclists will have better access to the area.
In the late-1990's we watched with amazement as Central Station went from being a downtown eyesore to being a downtown asset. Now, nearly two decades later, we will see yet another transformation!
Memphis Trolleys May Roll Again in 2018
Downtown Memphis hasn't been the same since the vintage trolley cars were suspended in June 2014.
After numerous set-back and disappointments, there's a clear-cut plan to restore the invaluable service that helped build a thriving tourism industry.
The rebuilt cars will roll along a rebuilt track system with upgraded electrical systems. Extensive testing was performed in 2017 to make sure that the new components will meet higher safety standards.
Click here to read a December 2017 article from the Memphis Flyer.
Click here to follow a series of updates from MATA - the Memphis Area Transit Authority.
Tennessee delivered positive results for Amtrak in 2017
Amtrak reported a very successful Fiscal Year 2017 with record-setting results. The entire system reported 31.7 million passenger trips - an increase of 1.5 percent over FY 2016. Total Revenue came to $3.2 billion – an increase of 1.1 percent over FY2016.
Tennessee's two Amtrak station were part of the positive trend. Memphis Central Station reported 73,637 boardings and alightings while Newbern/Dyersburg reported 3,788. The combined total of 77,425 was a 2.1% increase over the previous year.
The only train to serve Tennessee directly, the City of New Orleans, also made positive contributions. The much-celebrated train route carried 255,000 riders - a 2.6% increase over FY2016.
It's worth noting also that Amtrak purchased over $5.6 million dollars worth of goods and services from Tennessee suppliers, which was slightly higher than the year before as well.
Click here to see the official Amtrak press release.