Amshacks and Amtrak station design

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mtuandrew
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Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:06 pm

Tadman posted an interesting thought in the thread "Elyria Station Burns" - linked here - that inquired whether Amtrak has a standard small station design for the 21st century. I mention "Amshacks" because Amtrak formerly plopped these utilitarian (ugly) low, flat-roofed buildings wherever there was a need to move out of the existing station or replace one that wasn't right for some reason. The South Bend station in the Bendix neighborhood is a good example. Writ large, the Amshack became SuperShacks in St. Paul's Midway and Hialeah (outside of Miami.) More recently, Amtrak has taken to using standard office trailers where it can't convince a locality to fund a new station, or a simple bus shelter where an enclosed building isn't warranted.

Does Amtrak still build Amshacks in the classic 1970s sense? If not, does it have a standard replacement that is better than an office trailer or a bus shelter, or is Amtrak simply out of the station-building business? And, what requirements does Amtrak give to local groups planning to erect or rehabilitate a station?

Backshophoss
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by Backshophoss » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:21 pm

The "current" station at Trinidad Co. is a construction office trailer for a waiting room,the former ATSF depot was razed due to
I-25 reconstruction,about 3 years ago. After the fire that destroied the ABQ depot,(mid-90's)the former "Indian Curio Room"
servied as the Ticket Office/Baggage room till after the 2nd phase of the Avarado Transportation Center was built,
shared with Greyhound/TNM&O busses.

Where possible,Amtrak seems to want to be part of a multi-mode Hub type station,along the lines of St Louis Mo or
San Jose Ca,where local transit is part of the mix
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CHTT1
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by CHTT1 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:36 pm

The South Bend station was built by the South Shore when it ended street-running service to the downtown area. Amtrak had nothing to do with its construction.

mbhoward
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by mbhoward » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:24 am

Amtrak station design guidelines can be found at the site http://www.greatamericanstations.com/

There is a large PDF file you can download at http://www.greatamericanstations.com/request-access that will go into details of the kind of station Amtrak wants to see at the various locations they serve, depending on the size of the expected market. (There is a registration process to go through, but it was painless and no cost.)

In general, while the designs in the publication are plain Jane, as long as signage and ADA requirements are met, it seems anything goes. It all depends on the creativity of the architect and the developer and what kind of budget you have you have to spend. 'Amshacks' are more a result of poor planning and stations built as cheaply as possible than Amtrak requirements.

Mr.T
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by Mr.T » Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:55 pm

Here's a good page about the history of Amshacks.
http://history.amtrak.com/blogs/blog/cr ... ns-program" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
They designed multiple sizes of standard station, and picked which one to use for a particular site based on expected passenger counts. AFAIK, the largest size was used only at St. Paul and Miami, and it's interesting that both are being replaced at about the same time.

afiggatt
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by afiggatt » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:55 pm

Backshophoss wrote: Where possible,Amtrak seems to want to be part of a multi-mode Hub type station, along the lines of St Louis Mo or San Jose Ca,where local transit is part of the mix
Which is a very logical approach. Work with the local government and state DOT to integrate the Amtrak station with the local transit system and intercity bus terminal if feasible. Have the city, town, and state government with federal grants pay for the station construction and upkeep. Amtrak can contribute from its ADA compliance funding pot when needed.

Amtrak is moving away from the era of sticking Amtrak stations in isolated locations that were mainly chosen because the land was available & cheap, not because it was a good location. With the HSIPR & TIGER grants, ADA compliance funds, local transit & commuter projects, there will be a respectable wave of intermodal, new, and upgraded stations opening over the next few years, resulting in a dwindling number of 1970s and 80s era Amshacks.

25Hz
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by 25Hz » Thu Nov 07, 2013 7:45 am

Well, a station will never work properly unless it's tied in to local transit and other services. The stations that are not with sufficiently low rider numbers i see as very at risk of being closed, not that i agree that ending rail access is a good idea.

Also, while this dreary architectural style was all the rage back then, any remaining such stations look tired and dated and in fact detract from making amtrak look good, which goes against their original intent.

If you look at trenton in NJ you will see what the remaining amshacks could become.... trenton looked very similar, especially with the rectangular roof & window layout... it was a depressing place. Now it's a delight to wait in....
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EricL
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by EricL » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:29 am

"intermodal" stations are great, when properly executed. But the main reason Amtrak has been chasing after this ideal for the past ten-ish years is not passenger convenience or revenue potential; it is money saving. These days, whenever a station facility is constructed or rehabilitated, it is general practice for such a project to be a joint venture between (any of the following) the city, state, private investor, Amtrak, bus operator, the Feds, interested parties including office/retail/whatever lessors... etc. etc. Therefore, the primary incentive for Amtrak to back the "intermodal" concept is so that as many as possible other outfits might accept a piece of the cost.

One only has to look some of these beautiful new stations, where Amtrak occupies a relatively small space and seems to be an afterthought, when compared to the other tenants. Milwaukee, St. Louis, and St. Paul Union Depot are good examples in the midwest; I'm sure there are others.
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R36 Combine Coach
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:13 pm

Stamford, CT, Albany-Rensselaer and Richmond (CA) Intermodal are recent examples of intermodal facilities.

But perhaps the pioneer of modern intermodal facilities is Newark Penn Station, designed and built by PRR and the City of Newark in the early 1930s as a intermodal hub: main line rail, local transit bus, intercity bus (Greyhound), H&M (PATH) rail transit and the Newark City Subway in the basement level. Boston South Station was built as a rail terminal but became intermodal in recent years with bus terminal facilities as well as improved transit connections.

In each case, the facilities are owned and/or managed by local or state agencies.
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Greg Moore
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by Greg Moore » Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:56 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:Stamford, CT, Albany-Rensselaer and Richmond (CA) Intermodal are recent examples of intermodal facilities.

But perhaps the pioneer of modern intermodal facilities is Newark Penn Station, designed and built by PRR and the City of Newark in the early 1930s as a intermodal hub: main line rail, local transit bus, intercity bus (Greyhound), H&M (PATH) rail transit and the Newark City Subway in the basement level. Boston South Station was built as a rail terminal but became intermodal in recent years with bus terminal facilities as well as improved transit connections.

In each case, the facilities are owned and/or managed by local or state agencies.
And Albany-Rensselaer is unfortunately a piss-poor example.

The bus stops across the parking lot and many non-locals have trouble figuring out where to wait and how to get into Albany itself.

The bus bays down stairs have never been used and really aren't setup to be used. CDTA really bit it on this in my opinion.
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Station Aficionado
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by Station Aficionado » Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:30 pm

Go away a week, and miss a good station design discussion. There actually is a design for shelter-type stations that has been used in at least four places in the last few years: Alliance OH; Beaumont TX; Winnemucca NV; Connellsville PA. (EDIT: make that five: Okeechobee FL. As you can see from the pictures, there are some variations in materials, colors, etc. The design is from an architectural firm in Pennsylvania. I don't know whether Amtrak commissioned it, but I would assume they at least recommended it to the communities.

I'm not aware of a current standardized plan for larger stations. With the locality now being the lead actor in station building or rebuilding, we're likely to see more variety that we did with the Amshacks. There are, of course, in any era reigning themes in architecture (e.g., lots of glass in the present day), so there may still be a lot of common elements.

The Amshacks are/were essentially flatroofed polebarns (often with a concrete or brick veneer exterior) that could be erected quickly, and cheaply (note that they were pre-ADA structures). I suspect they were also built with the idea that they could be quickly removed, or converted to some other use if Amtrak went away (sort of an architectural version of the SDF-40. The standardized look was certainly the result of Amtrak itself generally being responsible for station construction at that time. Query: what was the last true Amshack to be built? My guess was going to be the interim station in St. Louis (the one after "St. Louis Union Trailers" and before the Gateway station), but I see that it was of more substantial construction and a different design than the "classic" Amshack.

Backshophoss
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by Backshophoss » Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:14 am

Not sure if Palm Beach Ca could have been the prototype of shelter type stations,open air,stucco with roof, ADA compliant.
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Tadman
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by Tadman » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:33 am

Station Aficionado wrote:Go away a week, and miss a good station design discussion. There actually is a design for shelter-type stations that has been used in at least four places in the last few years: Alliance OH; Beaumont TX; Winnemucca NV; Connellsville PA. (EDIT: make that five: Okeechobee FL.
MKA - Milwaukee Airport - is basically this design as well. It love it - it's efficient for passenger movement and it's reasonably nice to sit in. Too bad the station's loading procedure isn't as efficient.
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merrick1
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by merrick1 » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:52 am

This is what I usually think of as an Amshack
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Greg Moore
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Re: Amshacks and Amtrak station design

Post by Greg Moore » Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:18 pm

merrick1 wrote:This is what I usually think of as an Amshack
Same here.

But this thread did help me learn that the previous ALB was probably one of the standard designs: Probably a 150B.
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