Union Depot Officials Announce Amtrak Arrival Date and National Train Day Celebration

April 2, 2014

Passenger rail service will return to Union Depot in St. Paul on May 7 with the evening arrival of the Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago, officials with Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA), owners of Union Depot, announced today.  The Amtrak station on 730 Transfer Road will close after the Chicago-bound Empire Builder departs that morning.  Operations will move to Union Depot’s Kellogg Entry at 240 Kellogg Blvd., E., in the Lowertown neighborhood of St. Paul for the arrival of the evening train. Beginning May 7, the westbound Amtrak schedule will show the Empire Builder (Train 7/27) arriving at Union Depot at 10:03 p.m. and departing at 10:10 p.m.  Beginning May 8, the eastbound Empire Builder (Train 8 /28) is scheduled to arrive at 7:52 a.m. and depart at 8:00 a.m.  These are slightly different times than are used at the Transfer Road station. At Union Depot, Amtrak travelers can connect from more than 500 destinations to intercity buses (Greyhound, Jefferson Lines and megabus.com), Metro Transit and MVTA bus services.  In June, Metro Transit’s Green Line will provide additional capacity to a growing and diverse regional transportation system. “With Amtrak, the range of transportation options at Union Depot expands opportunities for travel connections throughout the Upper Midwest and beyond.  Our beautifully restored building is achieving our vision as a multimodal transit facility and a unique gathering place for people – whether they are travelers passing through, living in St. Paul, stopping in the area for business, or here to attend one of many social or cultural events this region has to offer,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, chair, RCRRA.  “It has been more than 42 years since Union Depot welcomed rail passengers through its doors in downtown St. Paul.” The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority and Amtrak invite the community to celebrate inaugural Amtrak trains at Union Depot with a free event celebrating National Train Day on Saturday, May 10, 2014.  Indoor and outdoor activities will take place.  Exhibits will be on-site and the Railfan picnic area will be open to view the Amtrak Empire Builder’s departure toward Chicago and to observe the wide variety of freight trains traveling through the Division Street wye.  A complete schedule of events will be announced in the coming weeks on Union Depot’s website (www.uniondepot.org), through social media and in local community media. “Just in time for National Train Day, Empire Builder passengers will have better access to all the Twin Cities have to offer from Union Depot with more local and regional connections, enhanced amenities and a historic waiting room hosting community events,” said Mark Murphy, the Amtrak General Manager for the Empire Builder and other overnight trains nationally. “Amtrak service returned to the Union Station in Kansas City in 2002, after a 17-year absence, and we moved back into Denver Union Station this year, after stepping aside for major intermodal improvements,” Murphy said. “These historic buildings can be saved, be made more relevant to the transportation network and serve as ‘front doors’ to their communities and to the future.” Transportation passengers boarding the Empire Builder or intercity buses receive priority parking in Lot B at Union Depot.  Parking for Train Day guests will be available in Lots A and C.  Passengers and guests may also access Union Depot by bicycle, skyway, street-level entrances and local bus service. The Amtrak Empire Builder will arrive at Union Depot’s Gate C on the southernmost end of the expansive waiting room.  Amtrak passengers from both Chicago and western states will experience the history of the Empire Builder’s namesake, James J. Hill, when they step into Union Depot.  Hill was one of the nine founders of the St. Paul Union Depot Company, which built the original Union Depot in 1881.  Here, passengers started and returned from life’s great journeys and daily travels, as many as 20,000 a day in the 1920s. The beautifully appointed waiting room welcomed newcomers to Minnesota and echoed with the footsteps of Minnesotans called to serve their country.  It greeted employees each day, many of whom settled nearby with their families to take advantage of a wide range of job opportunities.  Beginning May 7, there will be new stories of travel to be shared with future generations. Union Depot reopened as a multi-modal transportation hub in 2012.  Since then, thousands of people have enjoyed a wide variety of public events, marveled at the magnificent restoration, soaked in the creativity of art installations, musical performances, and accessed local and regional bus services.  The last passenger train left Union Depot in 1971, and in 1974, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 2013, the tracks were placed along the new passenger train platform.