WASHINGTON – Amtrak has an ambitious $72.5 million program to improve the customer experience at stations across the network in 2019. “Customer Now” projects are as simple as new door systems, lavatories and platforms at some stations and as complex as the skylight and Great Hall improvement at Chicago Union Station.
Last fiscal year (Oct. 2017-Sept. 2018), Amtrak made $6.2 million in major improvements at 16 stations in 11 states, plus $12.8 million at 25 stations in 16 states for compliance for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fiscal year 2019 (Oct. 2018-Sept. 2019) program is almost four times as big, with $21.5 million in large-scale work at 23 stations in 17 states and $51 million at 30 locations in 18 states for ADA.
These station projects are in addition to general repairs and improvement work managed locally in hundreds of locations across the Amtrak network.
“We call this initiative ‘Customer Now’ because it is about seeing our stations as our customers do and making improvements to accommodate our rising ridership,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “We also want all of our stations to be welcoming to all of our customers.”
Among the larger renovations just finished is at Chicago Union Station, a $22 million project at the system’s fourth busiest station that included the 219-foot-long skylight that soars 115 feet above the floor of the Great Hall. Also, a new elevator created the first-ever ADA access to the station from the west side of Canal Street.
A new seven-minute video (above) documents the work and describes how the historic features of the landmark have been preserved and enhanced by Amtrak as the steward of a national asset, setting the stage for further development of the headhouse building and a reconfiguration the station’s concourse.