Denver Union Station Question

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Engine58

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Does anyone have advice for navigating Denver Union Station? I'll be on the EB CZ and was wondering if they had a shop to purchase snacks and beverages. Does the stop allow us enough time to walk around the station and explore?

Any input is appreciated.
 

Josh M

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I was on the CZ last month, both westbound and eastbound. I was able to pop inside the station very briefly on the eastbound trip for a couple photos. It looks like there is quite a bit there (coffee shop, etc.). One of the other passengers in my sleeper car went inside and grabbed some french fries and used the ATM.

That said, there isn't a whole lot of time to really explore the station. We were already running about 45 minutes behind when we got there, so the crew did their best to get people and luggage off and on quickly so that we didn't lose more time. If you arrive on time or early, then you might have a bit more time to look around (but still not much). The stop is scheduled as being 32 minutes total (arrive 6:38 P.M., depart 7:10 P.M.), and obviously you'll want to be back on the train a few minutes before 7:10 P.M. so that you don't accidentally get left behind.
 

AmtrakBlue

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It's a service stop, which is why it's scheduled for 32 minutes. If they can get it serviced (fuel, etc) in less than 32 minutes, it will leave "early" if it arrived late. It can't leave before the published departure time.
 

Bob Dylan

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Josh M posted good info. Since you're East bound in #6, you will have stopped in Grand Junction (earlier in the day) which has a small Convienence /Souvenir Store ( owned by AU Members) next to the Amtrak station that OBS encourage you to visit.( They even have Coke!!!)

Union Station in Denver has really been spiffed up with most of the Station having become a Fancy Hotel Lobby and Bar.And it's now an Intermodel Station with Greyhound, Light Rail and City buses sharing the Station/Area.

Amtrak has a small office and waiting area close to the doors that go the platforms, but you'll still want to take a quick look around, and as was said, grab a snack or coffee if you have time.
 
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I was fortunate to be in the station in June, on my way to and from Colorado Springs. Since it was my arrival/destination stop I had much more station time than a thru-passenger. I really like the restoration, and what is available both in and around the station, but unless the train is running early, I agree with the earlier posters that there is really not enough time to do much.
 
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It's a service stop, which is why it's scheduled for 32 minutes. If they can get it serviced (fuel, etc) in less than 32 minutes, it will leave "early" if it arrived late. It can't leave before the published departure time.
If they can shave service time off that "32 minutes", my hat is off to them....In that time, they must fuel at least two engines, and water all the passenger cars. In addition to unloading and loading baggage, express, and passengers. They also have to do a mechanical and airbrake inspection....not sure if they still have a mini-commissary there to replenish supplies, but they must also have to remove trash. Years ago, there was more to do...load and unload US Mail, switch cars in and out, and they also used to wash the windows (do they still do that?)....
 

chakk

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The little shop in Grand Jct also sells ice cream sandwiches and cashews, and guidebooks to the CZ route authored by E. Hoffmann. Yours truly has a couple photos of the Sacramento River swing bridge in the SLC-SFO volume of this 3-volume series. There is also a small gift shop in the Glenwood Springs station, but usually not enough time to visit it, and I've witnessed psgrs who got off to go inside the station left behind and having to take Greyhound to Denver or taxi to Grand Jct to catch up to #6 or #5, respectively.
 

BoulderCO

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The new Union Station has just about every amenity you could wish for, including excellent food and drink. Unfortunately, as others have pointed out, time will be your enemy on that itinerary unless there is an unexpected delay in Denver. You will no doubt have time to dash inside (only a short distance from the train) and take a look around and possibly grab something quick if there are no lines. But it would be a rushed experience and probably not terribly enjoyable. But I encourage you to come back at a later time for a more lengthy exploration of Union Station and downtown Denver.
 

Railroad Bill

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We were there last week on our western journey to Denver. As others have said, if the train arrives on time or early, you should have plenty of time to run inside, look around at the beautiful new refurbed station and perhaps grab a snack. Most of the places inside are not cheap for food, but there are some novelty shops where you can pick up some chocolates, snack items, etc. It is a really nice place to wait for a train now although Amtrak's presence is rather small compared to the rest of the station. They did take time to wash car windows, fuel engines, etc so there is some time for getting off the train. But do not get left behind or it will be 24 hours until the next train arrives. :eek:
 

afigg

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But I encourage you to come back at a later time for a more lengthy exploration of Union Station and downtown Denver.
2016 is going to be a busy year for expansion of the rail transit system in Denver. If all goes to schedule, 3 commuter/regional lines will start service to Union Station and a light rail line will open as well (Denver RTD FasTracks website for those interested). It will presumably take a while for ridership to grow on the commuter rail lines, but Denver Union Station at the end of 2016 should be a lot busier than it is now. I expect there will be some AU members who will take the CZ to Denver to rail-fan the new rail lines after they open.
 

BoulderCO

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Yes, the biggest change for late 2016 or early 2017 will be the new light rail line to DIA (Denver Airport). This will bring more traffic to Union Station and create an easy plane-to-train transition. But there are already several light rail lines you can use from Union Station, as well as a very large and convenient bus terminal in the same building. The busses (RTD) connect to the larger Denver Metro area including Boulder, Longmont, DIA, etc.
 

afigg

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Yes, the biggest change for late 2016 or early 2017 will be the new light rail line to DIA (Denver Airport). This will bring more traffic to Union Station and create an easy plane-to-train transition. But there are already several light rail lines you can use from Union Station, as well as a very large and convenient bus terminal in the same building. The busses (RTD) connect to the larger Denver Metro area including Boulder, Longmont, DIA, etc.
If I may make a correction, the rail line to DIA will be heavy rail, not light rail. The difference is that the 3 northern lines will be "commuter" rail lines running reconfigured versions of SEPTA's Silverliner V EMU cars. They will have high level platforms and greater stop spacing than the light rail lines, With the planned service frequencies I recall seeing, the new lines will qualify as regional rail lines with 7 days a week regular service. Whereas to me, commuter rail means heavy rail lines with schedules that are all or mostly aimed at taking commuters downtown on weekday morning, back home in late afternoon and the evening with little to no service outside of work hours.

The expansion of the Denver rail transit system in 2016 and then 2018 will be one of the largest and quickest expansion of rail transit we have seen in the US in decades. Only Los Angeles has as many new rail transit lines under construction.
 

Bob Dylan

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Thanks for the info in the Denver and LA rail expansions.

Dallas and the Metroplex are also going great guns with the expansion of DART, which is amazing considering the Car Culture that exists in Texas!

And as another thread discusses, Phoenix!!! is also joining the Light Rail rebirth!
 
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And it's now an Intermodel Station with Greyhound, Light Rail and City buses sharing the Station/Area.
Just wanted to point out that the bus terminal at Denver Union Station only serves those Greyhound trips that are "Thruway" trips. The rest of Greyhounds trips only go to the Denver Bus Center at 1055 19th Street--about 8 blocks away....

The main user of the Union Station Bus Terminal as BoulderCO has mentioned is the RTD...those routes that formerly operated from RTD's underground Market Station...
 

Bob Dylan

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Thanks for the update on the Greyhound buses in Denver! I didnt know there was still a separate Station for regular Dogs!

Are there any plans to move 'em all into the Intermodel Station like STL, NOL,FTW, MSP etc.? ( and LAX and DAL would be a good candidate for this too,!)
 
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Can't answer that one....as I am too far removed from there, now....

I don't know if Greyhound was invited to move there when the new station was planned, or not....or whether they were and declined, for whatever reason. Now it's possible that it is too busy to allow them to move there, even if they wanted to....

The Denver Bus Center, which occupies an entire city block, is a like a "white elephant", and vastly underutilized today, compared to when it was built in 1976. (I was there when then Governor Lamm cut the ribbon at the grand opening celebration....)
 
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eblkheart

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As someone who lives in the area and has taken Amtrak through Union Station, if you have the time, do check it out. It's one helluva transportation hub now. The only thing I can be crabby about Union Station is the parking, where there is none now. Otherwise, it's a nearly perfect station for the metro area.
 

eblkheart

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Yes, the biggest change for late 2016 or early 2017 will be the new light rail line to DIA (Denver Airport). This will bring more traffic to Union Station and create an easy plane-to-train transition. But there are already several light rail lines you can use from Union Station, as well as a very large and convenient bus terminal in the same building. The busses (RTD) connect to the larger Denver Metro area including Boulder, Longmont, DIA, etc.
If I may make a correction, the rail line to DIA will be heavy rail, not light rail. The difference is that the 3 northern lines will be "commuter" rail lines running reconfigured versions of SEPTA's Silverliner V EMU cars. They will have high level platforms and greater stop spacing than the light rail lines, With the planned service frequencies I recall seeing, the new lines will qualify as regional rail lines with 7 days a week regular service. Whereas to me, commuter rail means heavy rail lines with schedules that are all or mostly aimed at taking commuters downtown on weekday morning, back home in late afternoon and the evening with little to no service outside of work hours.

The expansion of the Denver rail transit system in 2016 and then 2018 will be one of the largest and quickest expansion of rail transit we have seen in the US in decades. Only Los Angeles has as many new rail transit lines under construction.
As someone who lived in the Chicago area for a time, the Denver area is doing a fantastic job with the light rail. My hat is off to them. The only thing I wish we could have is rail service to the north (Fort Collins, Cheyenne) and to the south (C. Springs, Pueblo). I know there's "talk" about it, but there's too many people against it (Not In My Back Yard folks). But like I said, RTD, my hats off to them.
 

ainamkartma

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Yes, the biggest change for late 2016 or early 2017 will be the new light rail line to DIA (Denver Airport). This will bring more traffic to Union Station and create an easy plane-to-train transition. But there are already several light rail lines you can use from Union Station, as well as a very large and convenient bus terminal in the same building. The busses (RTD) connect to the larger Denver Metro area including Boulder, Longmont, DIA, etc.
If I may make a correction, the rail line to DIA will be heavy rail, not light rail. The difference is that the 3 northern lines will be "commuter" rail lines running reconfigured versions of SEPTA's Silverliner V EMU cars. They will have high level platforms and greater stop spacing than the light rail lines, With the planned service frequencies I recall seeing, the new lines will qualify as regional rail lines with 7 days a week regular service. Whereas to me, commuter rail means heavy rail lines with schedules that are all or mostly aimed at taking commuters downtown on weekday morning, back home in late afternoon and the evening with little to no service outside of work hours.

The expansion of the Denver rail transit system in 2016 and then 2018 will be one of the largest and quickest expansion of rail transit we have seen in the US in decades. Only Los Angeles has as many new rail transit lines under construction.
As someone who lived in the Chicago area for a time, the Denver area is doing a fantastic job with the light rail. My hat is off to them. The only thing I wish we could have is rail service to the north (Fort Collins, Cheyenne) and to the south (C. Springs, Pueblo). I know there's "talk" about it, but there's too many people against it (Not In My Back Yard folks). But like I said, RTD, my hats off to them.
Yes, I lived north of Denver in the nineties and many of us there were jealous of the light rail service starting up south of town while we got nothing. Now it looks like the winds might be finally changing, even if the RTD site linked above says Boulder/Longmont rail service is planned for 2035 or later... It is also true that Rt. 36 is a really good candidate for BRT, since it is often totally jammed up during rush hours.

The Boulder representative on the RTD board for much of the nineties was a rabid anti-transit right winger; he was on record opposing any expansion of RTD service to the northwest. I don't know how much of a lasting effect this opposition had, but it certainly stalled even any serious study of rail to Boulder/Longmont for around a decade.

No question, though, the rail line to the Kansas International Airport is a huge step forward for RTD and Denver.

ainamkartma
 
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neroden

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There seems to be strong support for rail to Boulder now. Even stronger for rail to Longmont. The push for rail to Loveland and Fort Collins seems to have stalled, but there was strong support and I think the support is still there. I haven't seen any actual opposition to passenger rail on this route in years; it's just down to arguing about costs now.

Colorado Springs passenger rail, by contrast, is a lost cause for at least another decade, with strong opposition still present. Although Pueblo has support, Pueblo's just too small.
 
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We were in Denver Union station on Aug 4th and 11th. The job of station restoration was really well done. Coffee shop, restaurants/bar, hotel, are all there; everything else can be found outside the station or close by. I would not count on spending too much time in the station during the service stop. It is scheduled at 40 or 45 minutes but the train usually arrives late and your time inside could be limited.
 

TrainLoverJoy

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I'll be making round trip Chicago to Emeryville in a couple days. I've been watching arrival times to Denver hoping to have enough time to explore the station......(looks like about a 50/50 chance haha.)
 
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