The historic first train stops at Yankees-E. 153rd Street station at 5:49 a.m. on Saturday, May 23, 2009, one of many such firsts throughout the year.
2009 was a huge year for U.S. regional and intercity passenger railroads. Ridership was down slightly from 2008 because of the economy, but it was still near historic highs. At the same time, 18 new stations opened around the country, while only two closed. Here’s a rundown of the year’s activity.
February 2, 2009: Westside Express Service, a new regional rail service outside Portland, Ore., opened with five stations. This is a commuter line that allows passengers to connect to TriMet light rail at Beaverton. Other stations are Hall/Nimbus, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville. Service is provided by diesel multiple units operating in married pairs.
February 6, 2009: New Jersey Transit launches Atlantic City Express Service between New York City (Penn Station) and Atlantic City.
May 11, 2009: Amtrak’s California Zephyr ceased stopping at Sparks, Nev. Which probably is not a huge loss since there is a station on this long-distance route about one minute away in Reno.
May 23, 2009: Metro-North Railroad opens Yankees-E. 153rd Street station in the South Bronx, serving Yankee Stadium on game days with up to 6,000 fans per day on three lines in its first year of operation.
July 26, 2009: New Jersey Transit opens its new station at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, serving sports fans on trains to and from Hoboken Terminal, and connecting to many lines at Secaucus Junction, including trains to New York City’s Penn Station (where fans can transfer to the Long Island Rail Road). Beginning on September 20, NJ Transit and Metro-North Railroad began offering game-day service to Secaucus Junction from New Haven, Conn., a first-ever joint service involving the two railroads that travels through three states and uses some Amtrak-owned tracks.
August 1, 2009: New Mexico’s Rail Runner Express opens Santa Fe County / N.M. 599 station.
September 9, 2009: Rail Runner Express continues its expansion, and continues the trend of trains-to-sports-complexes, by opening the Lobo Special Events Platform.
September 25, 2009: Amtrak’s Empire Builder begins serving Icicle Station in Leavenworth, Wash.
October 26, 2009: Amtrak trains begin serving a new station in New Buffalo, Mich., on the Wolverine and Blue Water trains. Across town, the station on the Pere Marquette line was decommissioned.
November 16, 2009: Northstar Commuter Rail service launched service with six stations in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area: Big Lake, Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids-Riverdale, Fridley, and Downtown Minneapolis Ballpark/Target Field.
November 21, 2009: Amtrak’s Cascades trains begin serving a new station at Stanwood, Wash.
What will 2010 have in store? Yonah Freemark offers some clues over at The Transport Politic.