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Amtrak Accessibility Update: March 2017

By March 31, 2017 No Comments

ADA Stations Program Progress

Level boarding platform at Elizabethtown, Pa.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 512 of the 517 stations Amtrak serves in the United States are required to be made accessible.* Determining ADA responsibility involves analyzing ownership of three distinct components: station structure, platform and parking. As of the date hereof, Amtrak has:

  • Sole ADA Responsibility for 138 stations
  • Shared ADA Responsibility for 246 stations
  • No ADA Responsibility for 128 stations

As noted above, Amtrak has either sole or shared ADA responsibility at 384 stations; these stations constitute the Amtrak ADA Stations Program (ADASP).

* The total number of stations recently increased by one to 517 with the addition of the Arcadia, Mo., station to the national network. In 2016, Amtrak decided to reclassify all 25 of its flag stops as regular station stops, to the greatest extent possible, and thereby make them subject to ADA requirements. Amtrak  is determining ADA responsibility for the various flag stop station components following completion of property surveys; as of the date hereof, it is still working to reclassify the five remaining flag stops.

Stations Work Completed to Date

  • Land Survey: 368
  • ADA Assessment: 301
  • Design: 99
  • Construction Awarded: 83
  • Construction Complete: 57*

*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.

Amtrak also identified 80 stations in its national system for which it had ADA responsibility for Passenger Information Display Systems (PIDS) with known or potential deficiencies. A number of these stations have an audible public address (PA) system but do not have a messaging component that communicates that same information visually. In addition, there are stations with legacy PIDS that have both PA and electronic signage but that are not ADA compliant because there is no visual message functionality that would enable synchronized dual-mode announcements.

Passenger Information Display Systems Work Completed to Date

  • Design Task Order: 33
  • Design Completed: 31
  • Deployment Task Order: 24
  • Deployment Go Live: 22

Project Spotlight: Independence, Mo.

Platform extension at Independence

The platform at Independence was extended and a new yellow detectable warning strip added along the platform edge.

Work crews recently completed a number of accessibility improvements at the Independence, Mo., station, which is served four times a day by the Missouri River Runner (St. Louis-Kansas City). An accessible concrete walkway now connects the public sidewalk along W. Pacific Avenue with the parking lot and platform. The parking lot includes a new passenger loading zone with an accessible pathway leading to the station entry. Reflective striping was also installed for two accessible parking spaces alongside the platform and near the depot. An accessible pathway leads from the accessible spaces to the depot entry, which now features an accessible ramp.

New walkway at Independence, Mo.

A new walkway connects the depot and platform with the public sidewalk.

The concrete platform was extended, and a new yellow detectable warning strip was added along the entire length to warn blind and low vision customers that they are near the platform edge. A new concrete grade crossing at the end of the platform provides an accessible area for boarding/alighting on the outer (southern) track; it replaced a crossing closer to the depot that lacked a compliant transition. Crews also installed city identifier signs and other accessible signage.

Independence, established in 1827, is located three miles south of the Missouri River at the limit of water navigation, meaning that early travelers had to obtain wagons and supplies to continue a journey overland. It was the only town that was a starting point for all three of the commercial and migrant trails that carried more than 250,000 adventurers westward from the 1830s to the 1850s.

The present depot, built in 1913, sits between the main line tracks to the south and a branch line to the north. Featuring walls of dark red brick and a roof of Spanish tile, the building is visually divided into three parts. The central section originally held the waiting room and a ticket office; the eastern wing contained the freight and express rooms; and the west wing was a covered, open-air waiting area.

Grade crossing at Independence, Mo.

A new concrete grade crossing provides an accessible area for boarding/alighting on the outer track.

By the 1980s, the Independence depot was threatened with demolition due to continued deterioration. Civic minded residents subsequently formed a “Friends of the Depot” group to raise money for restoration, and today they work with the city to ensure the building’s  preservation and maintenance.

As a senator, vice president, and finally president of the United States, native son Harry S. Truman passed through the station hundreds of times while travelling between Independence and Washington, D.C. Today the building is commonly referred to as the “Truman Depot.” Those interested in Truman can take the train to Independence to visit the family’s home and the Truman Library and Museum.

In fiscal year 2016, nearly 8,000 customers began or ended their journey at the Independence station. The daily Missouri River Runner service is financed primarily through funds made available by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Amtrak Meets with Disability Community

On Feb. 27, Amtrak representatives from the ADASP, Government Affairs, Engineering and State-Supported Services Business Development departments met with representatives of the disability community in Washington, D.C., for their quarterly meeting. The National Disability Rights Network generously accommodated the group at its headquarters near Union Station.

Following a brief overview of Amtrak’s recent corporate reorganization, ADASP Program Manager Gary Talbot updated the group on the status of work planned and completed under the ADA Stations Plans for FY 2014 – FY 2017. James Hengst, director of Passenger Experience, discussed planned and completed Passenger Information Display System (PIDS) projects at the 80 stations for which Amtrak has ADA responsibility for PIDS with known or potential deficiencies.

Conceptual First class car interior.

Conceptual rendering of a First class car interior on one of Amtrak’s next-generation high-speed trainsets. © Alstom SA, 2016 © Meconopsis by Trimaran. All rights reserved.

Amtrak staff also gave updates on a number of ongoing projects, including construction of a new elevator at Washington Union Station to provide access to the platform shared by tracks 27 and 28. Amtrak has selected a contractor to build the elevator and received approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to move forward. A Notice of Intent to Award was issued in late February, with a Notice to Proceed expected to be issued in April or May.

Amtrak workforces have already started clearing the site for the contractor, including relocating and demolishing a crew base. By late May or early June, the contractor will begin working on the elevator during 55-hour periods on weekends when those two tracks can more easily be taken out of service. This ensures that Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express commuter operations are not disrupted during the week. The project is expected to take about one year and cost approximately $7.9 million.

The group also discussed the design of Amtrak’s next-generation high-speed trainsets. A partial mockup of a car interior is now being modified. At some point in the near future, Amtrak would like to have representatives from the U.S. Access Board and various disability organizations experience the mockup and provide feedback on the design.

Construction Begins on Paoli Station Accessibility Improvements Project

Groundbreaking at Paoli Station

Breaking ground, from left to right: Tom F. Mortiz, Amtrak senior director Business Development; Michelle Kichline, chair of Chester County Commissioners; Toby Fauver, PennDOT deputy secretary for Multimodal Transportation; Pennsylvania Sen. Andy Dinniman; Trip Lukens, Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors chairman; Jeffrey Knueppel, SEPTA general manager; Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president State-Supported Services and Business Development; and Theresa Garcia Crews, U.S. Department of Transportation Region 3 administrator.


On Feb. 28, federal, state and local officials joined together with SEPTA, Amtrak and their honored guests to officially break ground on the Paoli Station Accessibility Improvements Project, a $36 million initiative to improve accessibility, safety and provide operational flexibility at the Paoli, Pa., train station.

“Amtrak is advancing a robust program of station accessibility improvements across our network,” said Tom Moritz, Amtrak senior director of Business Development. “We are proud to partner with SEPTA, PennDOT, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Tredyffrin Township community to help transform the Paoli train station into an intermodal facility that is accessible for all.”

Theresa Garcia Crews, U.S. DOT

Theresa Garcia Crews, U.S. Department of Transportation Region 3 administrator, speaks to the crowd.

The current station facilities, built in 1953 by the Pennsylvania Railroad – including a one-story brick station building – are not fully accessible and are in need of improvement. SEPTA and Amtrak will make modifications to the station and associated infrastructure to bring them into compliance with 2006 U.S. DOT Accessibility Standards.

“The Paoli Station Accessibility Improvements Project is the first phase in a long-term effort to bring much-needed improvements to this vital station,” added SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “This partnership between Amtrak, FTA, PennDOT and the surrounding community is a game-changer. This current phase of ADA improvements will make the station more accessible and safety will be enhanced through upgrades to the surface parking lot. Our riders and the community have been looking forward to the transformation of Paoli station. I am thrilled to see work finally starting – and this is only the beginning.”

Amtrak has contracted with Neshaminy Constructors Inc., of Feasterville, Pa., to advance a series of station improvements including a new center island, high level platform, new elevators and ramps, a pedestrian overpass, parking lot improvements, accessibility improvements to the existing station building and upgrades in rail infrastructure to support other project components.

Rendering of the future Paoli station.

Rendering of the future accessibility improvements at Paoli, Pa., including high level platforms and a pedestrian overpass.

Once complete, the project will set the stage for potential further construction of the proposed Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center, a new expansive transportation center envisioned to serve the growing needs of the traveling public and support the Paoli business district and area growth.

“The improvements at Paoli station are in line with station improvements PennDOT has overseen at stations all along the 104-mile Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multi Modal Toby Fauver. “Governor Wolf’s administration has continued the Commonwealth’s commitment to enhancing and building ridership along this vital passenger rail corridor, which contributes to the region’s economic vitality.”

In fiscal year 2016, nearly 202,000 Amtrak passengers and approximately 740,000 SEPTA passengers passed through the station, which Amtrak serves daily via the state-supported Pennsylvanian (Pittsburgh-Philadelphia-New York) and Keystone Service (Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York) trains.


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