Changes/Additions to mid-sized stations.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Joined
Jul 29, 2019
Messages
604
Location
Greensboro, NC
Greensboro has a small convenience store that is open most of the day for the Carolinian and Piedmont trains. I don't think it was open for the Crescent when I was on the Crescent last week. Having a store at stations is nice for a snack while waiting.

The waiting room area has the classic wood benches and they are used but it is not so packed as to be too packed. What I would like to see is a small Business Class/Sleeper Car lounge. There is room at Greensboro station in the old Boot Black room. The old Raleigh station has a small room with upholstered furniture for a half dozen or so. I don't remember snacks (I was only ever in the lounge in Raleigh one time for about 2 minutes as the door was left open and I had to check it out. It was not attended.) They could use a lock with a code as is done with the restrooms at the Greensboro station. For the Piedmont, which is 100% coach class one could pay $5-$10 for access. Maybe have a small fridge with a few snacks and water or just have a room with more comfortable seats. Another option could be to just allow access to the tunnel. The tunnel has the same wooden seats but they are never really used as the tunnel is generally only opened just before the platform is open for boarding.

The old colored waiting area is now used for license renewal so I assume NC state government is paying rent to the city of Greensboro for this space but if that space was unused that would be a perfect area.

The current Charlotte station has no room for a lounge but that would be a nice addition for the new station. Raleigh has room in an unused store front, and they also need to get a convenience store in that station. Richmond would have room for a lounge at the Main Street station if or when they move all Amtrak to this station again. Durham might could use a lounge but Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh have LD trains that can be rather late and that might be the main appeal for a lounge, a more comfortable place to sit while waiting 2 hours for a late Crescent or Silver Service train.

It might be a money drain, but it would be a nice experiment for a year to see what revenue would look like versus the expense.
 
I'm not familiar with those stations, but it sounds reasonable.
The GreatAmericanStations website has 2022 ridership for Greensboro as 114,046. I assume that is boardings and detrainings. That is 312 passengers a day on average and with Crescent, Carolinian, and 3 Piedmont roundtrips that is 10 stops a day (12 stops in a few weeks with another Piedmont roundtrip.) That is about 31 passengers a stop. Half-on half-off so 16 waiting for the train to arrive on average. If two people paid $5 a person to stay in a first class lounge that could hold 10 or 12 with nice lighting and electrical outlets for computers and phones that would be about $120 a day or $43,800 a year minus the expenses of water and some snacks or for $5 don't offer that or charge $10 with snacks.

For Greensboro the old boot black room seems to be a very large custodial closet based on looking through the locked doors. That would take a few thousand in carpet and a few thousand in furniture (historically this area was the furniture capital of the world. It might be possible to get some donations for a small plaque to be mounted.) and likly some paint. I bet $10,000 could get this room into "Lounge" shape. There would be some work in keeping the place stocked but one or twice a day it is 10 feet from the station counter. I have no idea about how this would fit into the work day of the station agents and union contracts. I have been there with 3 or 4 agents working and I have been there with one clerk doing everything. Between the SB Crescent coming in at 12:30 AM and The NB Crescent arriving at 7:30 AM there would have to be a few minutes to toss some water bottles and a few snacks into the room. And the station is never closed so an agent.

Maybe the state of NC could sponsor this and use the proceeds to extra upkeep in the station or other uses to make the experience more pleasant.
 
Since my travel these days is in the Northeast Corridor I cannot comment on Greenville or the sturrounding area. However, you do make a good point about local stations. People come to these stations to meet people and see them off as well as getting on and off trains. Local stations should be inviting places which make people welcome. Amtrak cannot do this alone but state and local government has to have a part in it. And it offers an opportunity for local business which serves customers to be involved.
Also Amtrak needs to consider its ticket selling operation. The present method is convoluted and unfriendly. If I want to take a New Jersey Transit train for a short tirip I can just walk up, buy my ticket and get on the train. Not so with Amtrak: You need to buy a ticket 6 weeks early and then you are locked in. That is a customer unfriendly way that must lose a lot of business.
 
After waiting 3.5 years, today I am finally being trained as a NC Train Host but the north bound Carolinian is running two hours late into Greensboro on its way to Raleigh. That does allow me time to take a few pics and expand on the idea of having a small lounge at a station like Greensboro that clearly has the room it would seem.

The floor plan is posted near the baggage claim. The barbershop and boot blank room is now a custodial closet from what I can tell. It is marked with an Red L on the floor plan image. I think the image is reasonable to scale but I do know there are two more rows of seating than the diagram shows, so maybe the picture is not 100% correct to scale. The tunnel is marked with a red T and is behind locked doors until they are unlocked and could also serve as an area for a business class "lounge." Though having some sit in there while others are not allowed access might be a problem with people constantly asking about why some are in the tunnel and others are locked out. As I sit and type I am not near an outlet though a few do exist near the seating area. but in a manner that could pose a trip hazard. Also someone is playing music over a phone loud enough to hear a few rows away and others are talking at a normal level but it does carry. I am not doing mission critical work here but a quieter place would be useful for some especially with an outlet for a laptop.

The map does not show the space upstairs for city transit nor the space to the left of the ticket office that is a large space that served as the colored waiting room in the Jim Crow era. It is now a DMV license renewal office for those that do not need a driving test.

Bonus picture of the large pained map of the old Southern System circa 1927 that the station is famous for. If there is demand I will take a bunch of pics of the station inside and out and post in a few weeks.

IMG_3029.jpgIMG_3030.jpgIMG_3032.jpg
 
Interesting information on the Greensboro station and the history associated with the station.

Another great looking old NC station is the one in Hamlet, NC.

https://is.gd/zXJEwV
I don't know if there is a lot of passenger traffic at the Hamlet station, but an upgrade would seem like a good idea. The station is unstaffed and doesn't have restroom facilities.
 
Last edited:
Interesting information on the Greensboro station and the history associated with the station.

Another great looking old NC station is the one in Hamlet, NC.

https://is.gd/zXJEwV
I don't know if there is a lot of passenger traffic at the Hamlet station, but an upgrade would seem like a good idea. The station is unstaffed and doesn't have restroom facilities.
Hamlet is served by a single train, the Silver Star. It had 4,165 boarding and alighting in 2019 before COVID.
 
Congrats! I'm sure you'll do great and make passengers feel welcome. I wish they had such a program in the Northeast outside the Downeaster.
I have to do two round trips from Greensboro-Charlotte and Greensboro-Rocky Mount with a trainer and then I get my vest and such. I still teach high school physics and chemistry and work a weekend job at the Greensboro Science Center so I am hoping to just be a station host for a few years and host out of Greensboro (I think it is evidenced by my posts I really like the Greensboro station) until I am retired. It is a big time commitment and most of the hosts are clearly retired. Hopefully what I would like to do now will fit within the minimum demands set by the NC Train Host Association, some of which are also set by Amtrak itself I am sure.

The onboard staff seem to appreciate the help on the Carolinian. Hopefully I can extend that to station hosting.

I'll try and post a bit more about the Train Host program in a new thread. What NC does is far and away the most extensive, though from what I can tell there is much less station hosting than actual on board train hosting.
 
I'm getting jealous of Greensboro for having a train host at its station. Providence statopm could could this. It has an empty space, a small room which used to house public phones but is no longer used. The train host could even have schedules of the Amtrak trains which stop inBut Providence as well as MBTA trains. And the host could even have schedules for local bus routes. But those things exist only in my imagination.
 
I'm getting jealous of Greensboro for having a train host at its station. Providence statopm could could this. It has an empty space, a small room which used to house public phones but is no longer used. The train host could even have schedules of the Amtrak trains which stop inBut Providence as well as MBTA trains. And the host could even have schedules for local bus routes. But those things exist only in my imagination.
We don't, that I know of, really have a train host yet at the station, and likely any of the three big stations in the state, unless I am able to step up. We do have some train hosts that will come and help when large groups (school field trips) are planning to be at the Greensboro station but as an ongoing concern I have never noticed a station host yet. Most everyone wants to ride the train of course, and standing around a station is not as exciting.

I am not even sure what percentage of trains have train hosts. I have only ever noticed a couple of times to be honest but it may be I am missing them depending on the car I am loading/detraining off of a train. And some are more interactive with the riders and others hosts seem to be mostly sitting in the cafe car until at a train stop.

A comment from NC DOT yesterday was made that the Piedmont and Carolinian consistently rank and one of the highest on rider satisfaction across the Amtrak system. There are a few reasons, they suspect, that is the case, but some part is due to the Train Host program being friendly and helpful to the riders without getting in the way of doing work of Amtrak employees.
I am hoping to find out more about the station hosting soon enough as my adventure with volunteering continues over the next few moths. I;ll be sure to report what I learn as there are some location it could certainly be replicated (and is on some small scales at stations from what I understand.)
 
Hamlet station was picked up and moved across the tracks at the diamond. They used to have a train museum at one point but has been gone for some time. I never had a chance to visit it .
I just visited the Hamlet depot last week and the entire first floor is a museum dedicated to the SAL and the city. The basement even has a whole operational model railroad layout of the area.
 
Interesting information on the Greensboro station and the history associated with the station.

Another great looking old NC station is the one in Hamlet, NC.

https://is.gd/zXJEwV
I don't know if there is a lot of passenger traffic at the Hamlet station, but an upgrade would seem like a good idea. The station is unstaffed and doesn't have restroom facilities.
IIRC, didn’t that used to be a major service stop and crew change point in the SAL and SCL era?🤔
 
IIRC, didn’t that used to be a major service stop and crew change point in the SAL and SCL era?🤔
Yep! At its peak, Hamlet saw ~30 passenger trains and well over 100 freight trains a day. You could get to anywhere on the Seaboard from Hamlet: Richmond, Portsmouth, Charlotte, Charleston, Wilmington, Atlanta/Birmingham, Montgomery, Tallahassee, Tampa, or Miami. Because of that, Hamlet was where Seaboard's only hump yard was, though unfortunately I think CSX removed the track over the hump a few years ago and shut it down. It's still used as a pretty big flat switching yard though.
 
Back
Top