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Washington Union Station operator calls Amtrak takeover bid unwarranted

By | May 26, 2022

Court filing says passenger railroad’s plans don’t require control of entire building

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Large open space with ornate arched ceiling
Large open space with ornate arched ceiling
The interior of Washington Union Station (Virginia Railway Express)

WASHINGTON — Amtrak’s effort to use eminent domain to take control of Washington Union Station is being challenged by the current operator of the landmark structure, saying projects planned by the passenger railroad do not meet the legal requirements for the takeover or require the move.

The Washington Post reports that Union Station Investco LLC and an associated business contend in a court filing that Amtrak’s plans to expand the station concourse and repair tunnels under the structure will mostly take place in areas already subleased by Amtrak and that the company can seek additional space if needed.

Amtrak launched a court action in April to seek control of the structure, owned by the federal government but subleased to Investco through 2084, saying the move was necessary to “improve the station and shore up the station infrastructure” [see “Amtrak seeks control of Washington Union Station,” Trains News Wire, April 18, 2022].

Amtrak currently leases about 13% of the station from Investco, which says the railroad’s plans do not “necessitate taking the entirety of Union Station, which is approximately 420,797 square feet. Nor could Amtrak expand its operations into many parts of the station because they are protected as historic sites.”

Also named in Amtrak’s complaint is Kookmin Bank Co., a South Korean lender. The bank, in its own filing, asked the case be dismissed, saying “Amtrak wants to seize control of a valuable asset or at least leverage its position in order to extract economic concessions to which it is not entitled.” Both filings dispute Amtrak’s contention that the station suffers from a lack of capital investment and deficient maintenance.

3 thoughts on “Washington Union Station operator calls Amtrak takeover bid unwarranted

  1. Where will Amtrak find $250 Million to pick-up Union Station–from the funds deceptively secured from Congress on the unkept promise to operate its long distance trains and state corridor schedules daily?

    Given how Amtrak’s Board Chair Coscia is this real estate maven, despite the recent fiasco of Amtrak needlessly purchasing for $41 Million an office building in Delaware it cannot use, how does he explain this current maneuver? If it’s such a fair deal, why the pushback from the owners leasing the depot property?

    As Amtrak has clearly evidenced its inability to even competently staff and operate scheduled passenger trains, the last thing this unaccountable State Operating Enterprise (SOE) needs to be focused upon is the real estate business, or, selling hot dogs. If Amtrak was not tax-funded, who, besides Congress, believes it would be tolerated to operate in such a delinquent, careless manner?

  2. If Amtrak were not tax-funded, most if not all the long distance trains, as well as many of the state supported trains, would be history. The NEC probably could survive as a private business, but the fares would have to be increased to cover the required capital improvements. No business investors would fund such a losing entity.

  3. The office building in Wilmington is interesting. Some of the functions currently performed in leased space in DC could move there. DC employees will appreciate the much lower co$t of living in Delaware. Philadelphia’s 30th St. is schedulled for refurbishing. The employees with offices there will need relocated and will appreciate no sales tax in Delaware.

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