Rail

Amtrak renovation of D.C.'s Union Station to double capacity

Posted on March 31, 2016

Rendering of Washington Union Station’s modernized intercity and commuter rail concourse.
Credit: KGP design studio/Grimshaw)
Rendering of Washington Union Station’s modernized intercity and commuter rail concourse.
Credit: KGP design studio/Grimshaw)
Amtrak is advancing a near-term comprehensive renovation of Washington Union Station’s intercity and commuter rail concourse, which will add approximately 20,000 square feet of new passenger space — nearly doubling the concourse’s current capacity.

Design is underway to upgrade passenger amenities including new restrooms, boarding gates, seating and a ClubAcela lounge. The design will also include new architectural features and natural light elements to enliven the space for travelers. The result will be a vastly reconfigured, modernized and unified concourse that will improve the passenger experience by providing better accessibility, circulation, wayfinding and multimodal connectivity.

While Union Station has served the region well for over a cen­tury, it is now operating beyond its capacity, particularly during rush hours and peak travel times, according to Amtrak officials. As such, implementing near-term solutions to gain capacity and alleviate congestion is imperative to maintaining safe and efficient station operations.

Courtesy: Amtrak
Courtesy: Amtrak
The Concourse Modernization project will be the first set of improvements to come to life as part of Washington Union Station’s 2nd Century plan, a comprehensive improvement initiative comprised of multiple projects — in coordination with the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and private real estate developer Akridge — which seeks to triple passenger capacity and double train capacity over the next 20 years.

In addition to the modernization of the concourse, planned improvements by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for a new Metrorail staircase and new First Street entrance will bring a consolidated set of passenger improvements to the western portion of the concourse.

Early action construction for Amtrak’s Concourse Modernization project will start spring 2016, including the relocation of heating and ventilation units. Phased construction is anticipated to start in 2017 and will seek to minimize impacts to all station users.



Built in 1907, Union Station is a critical transportation center in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the nation’s capital and serves as a hub for VRE, MARC and Amtrak plus Metrorail and Metrobus. Many tour bus and intercity bus services also use Union Station’s bus facilities. With approximately 37 million people passing through the station annually, planning for the station’s future remains at the forefront for station partners.  Separate from the Concourse Modernization Project, FRA is currently leading an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Union Station Expansion Project to review long-term redevelopment alternatives.
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