US rail operator Amtrak cut the ribbon to inaugurate a newly-constructed boarding platform at Baltimore Penn station.
Passengers will begin to use the new platform to board trains this spring. The new platform forms part of Amtrak's redevelopment of Baltimore Penn station, where it is spending $150 million to improve passengers' experience and attract more rail travellers.
A second new platform at the station is due to be completed this autumn. Both new platforms are high-level, and will support Amtrak's expansion of high-speed train service when new Acela trains start running later this year.
Amtrak will have more operational flexibility, as when other platforms are occupied, its services will be able to use the new platforms.
The project includes a renovated headhouse, roofing and historical restoration of each platform's columns and canopies.
Each year, more than three million Amtrak and MARC (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) passengers travel through Baltimore Penn station – the full name of which is Baltimore Pennsylvania Station. This makes it the eighth busiest station on Amtrak's network. Over the last twelve months, Amtrak's ridership has risen by 29% in Baltimore, higher even than the 24% increase in Amtrak ridership nationwide.
Baltimore is one of five metropolitan centres in Amtrak's ‘North East Corridor'. Last year, the Biden-Harris administration awarded Amtrak nearly ten billion dollars to improve infrastructure and modernise stations in the Corridor.
The new platform will provide over one thousand linear feet of space, including pedestrian pathways and new lifts to enable step-free access in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ribbon-cutting was attended by Amtrak representatives and stakeholders, and by local and federal officials.
Amtrak President Roger Harris said, “As we work to redevelop Baltimore Penn Station and enhance the customer experience, this new platform will help ease rail congestion and reduce delays on the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak ridership continues to grow, and this new platform will help us build future capacity while also improving operational flexibility.”
Jennifer Mitchell, FRA Deputy Administrator, commented, “Renovations and upgrades at Baltimore Penn Station, including the new boarding platform just finished, will modernize a historic hub for Baltimore residents and along the Northeast Corridor, helping to accommodate future ridership growth at one of Amtrak's busiest stations. The Federal Railroad Administration is proud to support work at Baltimore Penn Station and beyond as we invest billions from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance projects of national significance in Maryland, like replacing the B&P Tunnel, Bush River Bridge, Gunpowder River Bridge, and Susquehanna River Rail Bridge.”
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) added, “It's an exciting day for the millions of riders who use Baltimore Penn Station as a connection to the greater Eastern Seaboard. The additional platform will provide better, more efficient service in one of the busiest passenger rail stations in the country. Amtrak and its partners in Maryland with support from the Biden-Harris Administration's historic investment in transportation infrastructure is laying the foundation for the future of modern rail in Maryland.”
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said, “Our rail system is essential to keeping Marylanders and our economy moving. This new platform will position Penn Station to better accommodate high-speed trains and increase overall capacity for rail service. This is big news for the three million riders – Marylanders and visitors alike – who pass through this critical transit hub each year”.
Brandon M. Scott, Baltimore Mayor, commented, “Penn Station is a gateway to Charm City through which millions of visitors, commuters, and residents arrive, depart, or pass through every single year. This new platform, and eventually the broader Penn Station renovation, will breathe new life into the storied train station and provide much-needed upgrades for the convenience, safety, and enjoyment of everyone passing through the station. These upgrades are indicative of all of the exciting development and investment flowing into our city and I am thrilled to have these changes be part of the Baltimore renaissance we're seeing.”
Paul J. Wiedefeld, Maryland Transportation Secretary, said, “Amtrak's new platform at Baltimore Penn Station will help ease congestion along the Northeast corridor, and improve the safety of our customers and workers. MDOT is proud to work in close collaboration with our state, local and federal partners to reinvigorate Penn Station and the surrounding community.”
Holly Arnold, Maryland Transit Administrator, added, “Penn Station is an important hub in MTA's transit network, providing vital, multi-modal connections. We appreciate Amtrak's partnership in improving mobility and access for all.”