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Amtrak seeks public ideas on improvements for Chicago’s Union Station

Revisions to the concourse are to be designed in advance of the Amtrak-owned station’s 100th anniversary.

CHICAGO – Amtrak is seeking the ideas of the traveling public, other station users, and area residents. Improvements to the boarding process, modernized amenities, and new services are among the changes to be designed.

A survey, now posted at ChicagoUnionStation.com, kicks off the design phase of the project. A QR code linking to the survey is on video screens throughout the station. The survey is open through the end of January, 2024. Amtrak is committed to engaging with users of Chicago’s Union Station throughout design work and eventual construction.

This is the design for the first major enhancement at track level and above since 1991 in a station that serves tens of thousands of Amtrak and Metra customers daily. It is an element of CHIP, the Chicago Hub Improvement Program, which has been repeatedly endorsed by state, regional and federal leaders.

“The station first opened in 1925 and Amtrak will involve our partners and the general public to develop a preferred design that will take us into the next hundred years,” said Jeannie Kwon, Amtrak vice president, Mega Programs Development and Coordination. “The work at Chicago Union Station, our most critical linchpin for travel across the national network, will be performed using federal capital funds along with generous contributions from our partners for both the design and construction elements of the project.”

“We will continue, with our partners at Metra, the City of Chicago, Cook County, the states of Illinois and Michigan, among others, to pursue all viable funding avenues. This includes, but is not limited to, pursuing grant opportunities to help fund the construction to rework the Concourse and deliver a state of the art, first-class station that mirrors the stature of a premier city,” said Barney Gray, Amtrak assistant vice president for Major Stations.

Leading the design team at this Amtrak-owned station is Chicago-based Epstein, in partnership with FXCollaborative. This partnership combines Epstein’s expertise in managing large, multifaceted teams on complicated public facilities with New York-based FXCollaborative’s design experience on transportation projects.

Epstein designed the $26.5 million Terminal 5 concessions area in Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Tunnel and Restroom Modernization at O’Hare and Terminal Redevelopment at Chicago Midway International Airport. Epstein has worked on other historic Chicago landmarks, including the underground parking garage, underground lobby, and Pioneer Zephyr exhibit area at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the only surviving major building from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

FXCollaborative designed the recently opened and well-received $24 million Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge and Office Complex in the Moynihan Train Hall for the Amtrak-owned New York Penn Station.

 “We are proud to partner with Amtrak on this ambitious and challenging project. The importance of Chicago Union Station as part of the regional and local transportation network cannot be overstated,” said Randy Buescher, Epstein principal-in-charge.

“Strategically renovating the station will transform and shape Chicago Union Station for years to come,” said Stephan Dallendorfer, lead designer for FXCollaborative on project.

When the current Concourse design was finished 32 years ago, Amtrak had an annual passenger count of 2.3 million in Chicago. In 2019, that total was 3.3 million, with new routes to and from Chicago in development in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other Amtrak states. Annual Metra ridership, over the same period at Chicago Union Station, has grown from 26.6 million to 32.6 million. This is one of several major infrastructure projects Amtrak’s newest department, Capital Delivery, is advancing. Amtrak is investing in modern trains, updated stations, new tunnels and bridges, and other critical infrastructure upgrades. We’re enhancing the customer experience across the country, improving safety and reliability, driving economic development, reducing trip times, expanding capacity, advancing accessibility and promoting a more sustainable future. Unprecedented capital funding for passenger rail in the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is producing A New Era of Rail.

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