A New York-bound Amtrak train struck and killed a pedestrian on the tracks Monday afternoon in Bucks County’s Bristol Township, temporarily halting train service in the region.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the next station stop for this train is City Hall station in Philadelphia. Please check your seat and make sure you have all personal belongings with you as you leave the train. Thank you for riding Amtrak.”
At least one Philadelphian would love to hear this announcement. In an essay in the Philadelphia Business Journal yesterday, Bob Previdi, former spokesperson for City Council member Anna Verna, noted that running Amtrak trains through the heart of the city, stopping at a renamed Suburban Station on the way to New York, would offer all sorts of benefits: increased convenience for Amtrak travelers, increased property values for homes and offices now closer to intercity rail service, and even luring New Yorkers to Philly to live, as their commutes and their tax bills would both shrink.
There’s a lot that’s appealing about this idea. 30th Street Station, grand though it is, is across the river from the heart of the city, and Previdi is far from the only person who would love to see restored the city center access that was lost when Broad Street Station was closed in 1952. And he is right to note that this city, like London, has already made a major investment in easy rail access in the form of the Commuter Tunnel.
But in saying that the only thing standing in the way of operating Amtrak service through the Commuter Tunnel is the political will to bring the passenger and freight railroads together to implement the through-tunnel service, he is ignoring one big fact on the ground.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to board an Amtrak train in Philly and be in New York barely an hour later. Would it be an even better process if Philadelphians could board that train in Center City?
Bob Previdi thinks so. A transit expert — and former spokesman for retired Council President Anna Verna — Previdi points out in an opinion piece for Philadelphia Business Journal there’s already a tunnel from 30th Street Station to Suburban and Market Street stations used by SEPTA. Just let a couple of Amtrak trains per hour use that tunnel, he says, and the results might be startling:
Congress cannot find a solution to the situation at the border, but it’s nice to know they can still agree on some things: On Monday, the bill that would rename 30th Street Station after Bill Gray passed in the House by voice vote. We told you last month about the plan to rename it William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.
Gray, who died last July, was the first African-American to serve as majority whip in the House of Representatives and the first to chair the House Budget Committee. The bill was introduced by Chaka Fattah, Gray’s successor, with the entire Pennsylvania House delegation signing on as co-sponsors.
“Renaming this historic station in Bill Gray’s honor would be a fitting tribute for a man and leader who did so much for the Philadelphia community—not only as a public servant, but as a businessman, friend, father, and minister,” Fattah said in a release last month. “His dedication to his constituency knew no bounds, but he was particularly passionate about investing resources in America’s infrastructure, and gave undue time and commitment to making 30th Street Station one of the finest train facilities in this country.”
Darn! I missed National Train Day on May 10th. But in reality I have a lot of train days. That’s because I’ve been using Amtrak frequently over the past few months. And I’m not alone: Amtrak reportedly carries 31.5 million passengers a year and if trends continue, by 2040 ridership could reach 43.5 million. And I’m pretty sure all of those passengers were on the 6:25 Northeast Regional with me last night coming home from New York.
Were you on that train? Well, you snore. And also, please, out of respect for me and all the other 31.5 million fellow passengers, I hope you follow these 10 rules of etiquette.
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A while back we told you about “psychylustro,” a major project by Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse and Mural Arts that seeks to decorate Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor railway with enormous, colorful artworks. In the end, there will be seven vibrant installations in various locations between 30th Street and North Philadelphia stations, showing up on everything from warehouse walls and small buildings to patches of open green space.
A Buzzfeed post by “brand publisher” Amtrak has identified six neighborhoods you should visit — presumably on Amtrak — and one is in Philadelphia! It’s Fishtown, obviously, Philadelphia’s current hip neighborhood.
This list is hilarious. It opens with “If you’re free-spirited, you should visit Hell’s Kitchen, NYC” and by the time it gets to the end it’s telling you to go to Downtown Bridgeport, Connecticut, if you’re “artsy.” Also, there’s one that tells people who want a “luxurious lifestyle” to go to a neighborhood in Baltimore.
Anyway, Amtrak’s blurb for Fishtown is maybe the best:
If you’re an adventurous young professional, you should visit Fishtown, Pennsylvania.
There were significant delays for Amtrak riders in the Northeast Corridor Tuesday morning as wire problems led to a suspension of service between Philadelphia and Baltimore. Amtrak says limited service is now restored, and commuters should still expect heavy delays.
A stretch of industrial waste and suburban blight navigated by passengers on SEPTA, NJ Transit or Amtrak’s Philly-to-NYC rail corridor is getting a makeover, thanks to a new initiative from Mural Arts. The project, titled “psychylustro,” will feature murals from artist Katharina Grosse in seven locations along the passage, decorating warehouse walls, small buildings, and green spaces. Grosse’s art is intended for viewing from a train, so movement and time play heavily into the work. Grosse and her team of Berlin-based artists begin the installation process on April 29th, promising bold colors and design in lieu of the usual gray-on-gray palette.
Joe Biden is visiting Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station today, and Delaware’s favorite son showed up to sit in Amtrak’s new locomotive.
Veep Joe Biden sits in the front of Amtrak's new locomotive at 30th Street Station in Philly. Story upcoming. pic.twitter.com/Vb9xviCleH
— Kathy Matheson (@kmatheson) February 6, 2014