Helping communities discover and develop the economic power of America's train stations.Start Your Station Project
Accessibility Update

Amtrak Accessibility Update: February 2016

By February 22, 2016 No Comments

lease note that the information below is accurate as of February 18, 2016, but subject to change as property surveys are completed, circumstances change and new information comes to light.


ADA Stations Program Progress

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation, 491 of the more than 500 stations Amtrak serves are required to be made accessible (the ADA excluded “flag stops” where the train stops only if passengers are present, either on the train or station platform, and ticketed to and/or from the station). Determining ownership and ADA responsibility involves analyzing three distinct components: station structure, platform and parking. Amtrak has:

  • Sole ADA Responsibility for 129 stations
  • Shared ADA Responsibility for 236 stations
  • No ADA Responsibility for 126 stations

As noted above, Amtrak has either sole or shared ADA responsibility at 365 stations; these stations constitute the Amtrak ADA Stations Program (ADASP).

Stations Work Completed to Date

  • Land Survey:                                                  342
  • ADA Assessment:                                          266
  • Design:                                                            73
  • Construction Awarded:                                    41
  • Construction Complete:                               25*

*Not all scopes of work included platform work. Some stations may require additional work at a later date to bring platforms into compliance with the ADA.

Passenger Information Display Systems (PIDS) Work Completed to Date

    • Design Task Order:                                         23
    • Design Completed:                                         19
    • Deployment Task Order:                                 20
    • Deployment Go Live:                                    14


Project Spotlight: Prince, W. Va.

Scenic photography of West Virginia with trains and historical stations.Amtrak will complete an accessibility project at the Prince station this spring. Funded primarily under the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, the scope of work included providing an accessible path to the depot, a ramp from the depot to the platform and a wheelchair lift enclosure; paving two accessible parking spots; and installing a tactile edge along the track side of the platform.

Inside, the restrooms were renovated and an ADA-compliant clock installed. Accessible signage was placed on the interior and in the parking area, as were new station identifier signs. Remaining work is focused on the ticket counter and the restroom fixtures.

Located along the shore of the New River, the Prince depot is an Art Moderne masterpiece opened in 1946 by the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Railway. It features large expanses of glass on the north and south facades, a flat cantilevered roof and terrazzo flooring. In the waiting room, visitors can still see the C&O’s original “Chessie” kitten logo embedded in the floor.

One end of the waiting room is covered by a large photo mural showing the coal tipple in nearby Crab Orchard, thereby highlighting the economic importance of coal mining to the railroad and the region. Served by the Cardinal (New York-Washington-Cincinnati-Chicago), Prince is near Beckley and the Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve, a high-adventure center run by the Boy Scouts of America.

Before and after photo of the Prince station platform

The platform at the Prince station now includes a tactile edge on the track side.

Power doors and ramp at Prince Station entryway

The entryway to the platform now features power doors and a new ramp.

Walkway and curb ramp

Left: New walkway along the street facade; Right: New parking curb ramp.

Wheelchair lift enclosure

A new wheelchair lift enclosure was also installed at the Prince station.

How Amtrak Implements ADA Stations Program Projects

Stakeholders, including disability community members and municipal officials, often ask how the Amtrak ADASP structures and implements the dozens of ongoing accessibility improvement projects at sites across the country.

Surveyor taking measurements at a station

Surveying a station.

Amtrak has developed program priorities for advancing work at stations that have existing accessibility deficiencies so that those stations can be brought into compliance with the ADA in the most timely, integrated and efficient way possible.

Implementation of the ADASP requires collaboration between many departments both internal and external to Amtrak. The Amtrak internal stations process consists of four stages: Survey, ADA Assessment, Design and Construction. The consecutive process model used by Amtrak requires each step to be completed in sequential order before the next step can be advanced and completed. Listed below is additional information about the process:

1. Survey – Amtrak performs a property survey and/or conducts title and public record data searches to document property lines and ownership of the station and surrounding area. This work assists in the determination of Amtrak’s legal responsibilities under the ADA. It is also used to determine who owns the property upon which improvements need to be constructed and from whom consent will be required.

2. Assessment – Amtrak conducts a full ADA assessment of those portions of the station used by Amtrak passengers for which Amtrak has sole or shared responsibility. An assessment report is produced for each station, and it documents ADA non-compliance and accessibility deficiencies found at each location.

3. Design – Amtrak performs design activities to address the non-compliant elements for which Amtrak has ADA responsibility, as identified in the assessment.

    • Design documents are also distributed to regulatory agencies, such as the State Historic Preservation Office, for review and approval to proceed with the improvements as outlined. Once the project has been fully approved by all required stakeholders, it enters the procurement phase where Amtrak solicits bids for construction work.

4. Construction – Amtrak and its contractors perform construction necessary to ensure that non-compliant elements, for which Amtrak has ADA responsibility, are made accessible.

    • In addition, Passenger Information Display Systems (PIDS), which allow for synchronized audio-visual announcements, may be installed during this phase at a station for which Amtrak has ADA responsibility.

In limited situations, Amtrak may perform ADA assessments, design work and construction for those portions of a station used by Amtrak passengers, but for which third parties have ADA responsibility.


Amtrak Fiscal Year 2016 Stations Plan Approved

At the beginning of February, Amtrak learned that the Federal Railroad Administration had approved its Fiscal Year 2016 Stations Plan. Amtrak expects to spend not less than $50 million of its FY 2016 capital funds on ADA improvements.

The FY 2016 Plan consists of planning, design and construction work at 102 unique stations, as well as PIDS projects necessary for effective communication at 25 unique stations:

  • 26 Station Surveys.
    • This includes the 25 flag stops that are excluded from the ADA legislation. Once this work is completed, all stations currently in the ADASP will have been surveyed, except for 22 stations where it was determined surveys are not required at this time.
  • 29 Station Assessments
  • 30 Station Designs
  • 20 Station Construction Projects
  • 14 PIDS Designs
  • 11 PIDS Deployments

The 20 construction projects, listed below, will take place in 14 states and the District of Columbia.* Amtrak has budgeted $17 million for this work in FY 2016.

*In many cases platform work is being deferred until a later date. As a result, many stations may require additional work to bring platforms into compliance with the ADA. Also, at several stations, FY 2016 work does not include all ADA work to be done; additional ADA work will be completed under separate projects.

The 11 PIDS deployments, listed below, will take place in eight states. Amtrak has budgeted $9.4 million for this work in FY 2016.

Project Spotlight: Florence, S.C.
Florence Depot exterior

The Florence depot opened in 1996.

At the Florence station, Amtrak will provide an accessible route from the public right-of-way to the depot, parking area and platform. Accessible parking spaces with painted striping, signage, wheel stops and other features will be installed. Along the platform, Amtrak will coordinate with host railroad CSXT to replace the existing grade crossings, and a new wheelchair lift enclosure will be installed.

Ticket counter at Florence station

Existing ticket counter at the Florence depot.

Inside, Amtrak will modify the ticket counters to make them accessible, renovate the restrooms, install an accessible drinking fountain and relocate furnishings and other obstructions to create an accessible route in the public waiting room. New signage will be placed on the building and in the parking area, and city identifier signs will be installed along the platform. A new PIDS will provide synchronized audio-visual messaging.

The Florence depot was constructed in 1996 as a replacement for the adjacent 1910 depot. Built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, the historic structure is now used as office space for a nearby medical center. Florence is served daily by the Silver Meteor (New York-Miami) and Palmetto (New York-Savannah).


Amtrak Meets With Disability Community

On February 5, Amtrak representatives from the ADASP and Government Affairs and Engineering departments met with members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Transportation Task Force in Washington, D.C.

They discussed the status of station accessibility projects included in the FY 2014 and FY 2015 ADA Stations Plans. The list of projects planned for survey, assessment, design and construction in FY 2016 were also outlined. Amtrak Sr. Community Outreach Specialist David Nelson notes: “Representatives were pleased with the progress Amtrak has made to improve station accessibility.”

Participants also focused on the following projects:

  • Roanoke, Va.: A level boarding platform was recently approved for the new station that will open when Northeast Regional service is extended to Roanoke from Lynchburg in 2017. Amtrak explained that all future new stations, where feasible, will have level-boarding platforms.
  • Overhead view of Paoli station

    Overhead view of the Paoli station.

    Paoli, Pa.: The logistics and design for accessibility work at this station, located on the Keystone Corridor and served by Amtrak and SEPTA trains, is substantially complete. A few elements need to be resolved and signed off on before project planning moves forward. Amtrak will provide an accessible route from the public right-of-way to the depot, parking and platform; construct a new 48” above-top-of-rail platform with associated ramps, stairs, railings, pedestrian overpass, lighting and signage; and provide city identifier signs along the platform and accessible signage for the station and parking area. SEPTA will  install PIDS.PennDOT and SEPTA are contributing funds toward this station project. The project team consisting of Amtrak, SEPTA and PennDOT is closely collaborating on delivery of the constructed project.

  • Ann Arbor, Mich.: Amtrak provided an update on the performance of the prototype retractable setback-shuttle platform, which mechanically moves toward the train to bridge a gap created when a level-boarding platform is needed. Information collected since the installation of the prototype in July 2015 has been positive, and minor upgrades have been made. Amtrak has noticed a reduction in the amount of time trains dwell at the station, indicating that customers are able to board and alight at a faster pace. Most of the passengers have been using the retractable setback-shuttle platform, rather than boarding from the adjacent low-level platform.

Amtrak Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications Joe McHugh also provided an overview of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act recently approved by Congress. A meeting will be scheduled soon to discuss a feasibility study to overhaul existing passenger rail cars, and a follow-up ADASP meeting will take place within the next few months.

Questions? Story Ideas?

We’re interested in hearing your feedback. Please contact us at