CHICAGO – Amtrak opened its new Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago Union Station on June 27, 2016. It more than doubles the space and adds many new amenities for customers who are ticketed in sleeping cars or in business class, as well as Select Plus and Select Executive Amtrak Guest Rewards members who travel to and from the station, which is the fourth busiest in the Amtrak national network.
Located behind and above one of the two grand staircases off of the Great Hall, the Metropolitan Lounge has two entrances. The primary access is between the Great Hall and the Concourse, with a red carpet exterior entrance near the taxi stand on the west side of Canal Street. An elevator and staircase connect both levels of the lounge.
Once inside, customers are greeted by Amtrak customer service representatives who will check their baggage and later pre-board them from the lounge to their Amtrak trains. After stowing their carry-on bags, customers may relax, enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages, work or even take a shower. AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi covers both levels, with powered furniture in place so customers can charge their devices while meeting and mingling and making preparations for their upcoming journeys.
Families traveling with young children can take advantage of an area designed especially for them and filled with colorful furnishings. For the rail enthusiast, there is a Pennsylvania Room located in the former Pennsylvania Railroad Passenger Department space on the upper level.
At 13,500 square-feet and with seating for 360, the $7 million lounge replaces one opened in the Concourse in 1991. More than 165,000 Amtrak passengers were ticketed to originate in Chicago in sleeping cars or business class last year. Moving this lounge into the historic headhouse enables Amtrak to reconfigure Concourse Level space in the future.
An earlier preview for invited guests included presentations by Amtrak Board of Directors member Tom Carper, Chicago Deputy Mayor Steve Koch, Illinois Office of Tourism Director Cory Jobe, Goettsch Partners Architect Len Koroski and Clune Construction CEO Bill Abromitis.
Since 2010, Amtrak has primarily used its own funds from customer ticket revenue and federal capital grants to make nearly $60 million in investments in the station. In addition to the new Metropolitan Lounge, this work includes the Szabo Control Center; regional offices; reinstituting air conditioning in the Great Hall and surrounding spaces; restoration of the grand staircases and establishment of a service center in the Great Hall; and façade repairs.
“Since the last major improvements 25 years ago, Amtrak Chicago Union Station customer counts have grown by nearly 40 percent,” said Carper. “The board and Amtrak management are taking additional steps to improve the station in order to both welcome additional Amtrak and Metra customers and to further develop this landmark as a revenue source to support our core business as America’s Railroad.”
Approximately 125,000 Metra commuter rail and Amtrak passengers use Chicago Union Station daily, and more than 3.2 million Amtrak customers pass through each year.
Chicago is a hub for eight Amtrak national network trains including the Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle/Portland), City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans), Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio (Los Angeles)) and Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-Albany-New York), as well as numerous corridor trains that receive financial support from the states of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.