Union Station is in the midst of a major overhaul and the changes aren’t limited to a redesigned bus plaza and the fancy pedestrian bridge that’s currently under construction. On Thursday, the Metro Board of Directors approved a project that will increase the number of Amtrak and Metrolink trains that can pass through the station each day and prepare it for the arrival of high-speed rail.
The project is part of Metro’s Union Station Master Plan, which will allow the station to handle an expected doubling in the number of daily passengers by 2040. It will add new run-through tracks that will allow trains to pass through the station as opposed to stopping and turning around.
According to a 2015 presentation on the project, the run-through tracks will accommodate up to 278 trains through the station each day—way up from the 180 trains that the current track configuration can accommodate.
Trains will also spend less time lingering on the platform. Dwell times (how long the train sits stationary on the tracks) are expected to drop from 20 minutes to five minutes. That will allow for less delays and more continuous service along routes that previously would have required passengers to switch trains.
Another big part of the project is readying Union Station for high-speed rail service connecting Southern California to the Bay Area. Questions continue to swirl around the fate of that much-delayed project as political opposition to it grows in Congress, and the board delayed a vote on the Union Station plan at its last meeting due in part to doubts about the murky future of California’s high-speed rail system.
As Streetsblog LA explains, the plan passed Thursday includes two high-speed rail tracks, as opposed to the four initially recommended by Metro staff. Those two tracks could also be removed from the project at a later date, should the state’s high-speed rail project fall through.
- Metro Approves Continuing Work on Union Station Run-Through Tracks [Curbed LA]
- An Animated Look at the Big Changes Ahead For Downtown LA's Union Station [Curbed LA]
- Union Station's Getting a New Bike- and Pedestrian-Friendly Makeover at Its Front Entrance [Curbed LA]
- Behold Union Station's Huge Plans: Sub-Train Concourse, New Terminal, Fred Harvey Revived [Curbed LA]