Love trains? Love Union Station? Love actor Taye Diggs? Head down to Union Station on May 8 between 11 and 4 for National Train Day, Amtrak’s annual celebration of trains and rail travel. There will be exhibits and performances to see, you can check out various trains and model trains while you’re there, and National Train Day spokesman Taye Diggs will be on hand. Want to take a tour of the trains? Reserve a free ticket ahead of time. No word on whether Taye will be leading tours himself, but if he is… sign me up!
Final approval has been given to the Virginia Railway Express to abandon its 17 year relationship with Amtrak. The Northern Virginia and Potomac and Rappahannock transportation commissions all voted today in favor of awarding a new five-year contract to Keolis Rail Services America, a subsidiary of a French transport group. Keolis is the largest private sector transport group in Europe, based out of Paris, France.
The plan was initially approved by the VRE Operations Board in mid-October. The new contract begins July 1, 2010 and has two five-year renewal options.
Calling all trainiacs! This Saturday is National Train Day, and lucky you– DC is home to one of the biggest events to celebrate it! From 10 AM to 3 PM, head over to Union Station to meet American Idol’s Randy Jackson (not sure how he’s related to trains, but that’s cool), listen to some live music, or check out some train equipment, including the train car that President Obama rode in to the inauguration. There will also be exhibits all day that explore how trains are related to economic development, the green aspects of rail travel, and photos showing the connection between the national landscape and trains. Think Joe Biden will stop by?
With most of Union Station’s Grand Hall reserved for tonight’s inaugural ball, and the Metro station and rail concourse already packed to capacity, the crowd entering Union Station had to be divided into Metro, Amtrak, and MARC/VRE riders. Confusion reigned outside as the Columbus Circle road was closed off, forcing people to circle around sidewalks and fences and clumps of National Guard and MPD personnel.
The Obama Express has arrived! Union Station was a circus tonight — thousands of people clogging the Grand Hall and concourse hoping to catch a glimpse of the president-elect at the end of his whistle-stop tour, with memorabilia vendors hawking their wares at every corner. Sadly, as indicated on Union Station’s website, the arrival was not meant to be a public event. The president-elect and all his travelling companions boarded their motorcade directly from the platform area, skipping over the concourse and heading straight for Blair House.