Video: Union Station passenger concourse concepts

The Link US project would allow trains to enter and exit Union Station from the south and north by building a new rail crossing across the 101 freeway, helping to create greater regional rail capacity and reduce idling. The project includes a new passenger concourse either above or just below the tracks.

Planning work continues on the Link Union Station project that would add a new southern entrance/exit to Union Station for Metrolink and Amtrak trains and build a new expanded passenger concourse.

The concourse would replace the current tunnel under the Metrolink, Amtrak and Gold Line tracks. The tunnel can get very crowded, lacks any kind of passenger amenities and is a bit on the grim side of things — as regular users know.

There are two options for the concourse. One would sit above the tracks and the other would sit just below the tracks.

The first video (released last year and since revised) shows how a concourse above the tracks (“above grade” in planner speak) would connect with the new passenger platforms, historic Union Station, Patsaouras Bus Plaza and potential transit and retail amenities throughout the concourse:

This new video below shows the concept for a concourse just below the tracks, called the “at grade concourse concept” because the concourse is roughly the same level as Alameda and Vignes streets. 

Both designs are draft conceptual renderings. Both will also be included and analyzed in the project’s draft environmental study, which is due for release later this year.

The Metro Board will eventually choose which concourse to build — a decision that won’t be made until after the public has a chance to read the draft study and provide comments.

A very important point worth noting: Link US is a project that would likely speed up regional rail travel and significantly increase Union Station’s capacity. It’s also an expensive project with an estimated cost of more than $2 billion. Metro still must secure a funding source for the project to be built and is doing engineering work to possibly reduce the cost.

Feel free to share your input on the passenger concourse options by sending comments to the Project Team at: or by calling the project information line at 213.922.2524.

For more project information, please visit


Categories: Projects

20 replies

  1. Are you kidding me? All those stairs and outdoor exposed areas? Ugly…I agree with MT above, leave Union Station alone! It’s a classic.

  2. The at-grade passenger concourse makes the most sense.

    Right now there are: 1. Above grade train platforms which could include high speed rail; 2. Below grade subway platforms; 3. Above grade bus plaza; and 4. An unknown mode West Santa Ana Branch platform. The easiest way for passengers to make these connections is walking at an elevation in between them, not above and over. The circular pedestrian bridge over the platforms, adding to the distance to traverse the station for no discernable reason (other than design aesthetics), makes the least sense. It would require horrendous amounts of cooling over the summer (look at all that glass!) without adding a whole lot of useable space. I can see myself getting a coffee in the at-grade concourse while waiting for my train, but not over the upstairs area.

    While we’re at it, I would really like to see an expanded Gold Line platform. Right now the platforms are horribly crowded with an oversized stairwell occupying half of it. It should be lengthened with an additional stairwell added so that the traffic flow of people going north vs. south can diverge. An at-grade concourse can also thin out the people waiting at the platforms somewhat especially with signage telling people when to expect the train.

    Additionally, I believe one of the main concepts of the Union Station redesign was to establish an axis from which people can get from Alameda Street clear across to the L.A. River. The at-grade concourse can do this most effectively.

    cc: project team

  3. The at-grade concept looks much more usable than the above-grade version, but it still has lots of weird problems as others have pointed out.
    * It doesn’t provide any shelter from the elements for people walking between the historic Union Station building and the concourses. There should at least be a covered walkway between the Gold line concourse and the Red/Purple line entrance, as that’s obviously one of the most common transfers made at Union Station. (In an ideal world there would also be an escalator directly connecting them.)
    * Some of the escalators appear to have insufficient protection from rain. (Just look at all the covers added (at great expense) to subway entrances a few years ago; Metro needs to plan for rain before they build these things.)
    * Whoever made the video doesn’t know how far down the light rail tracks need to be sunk below pedestrian level. Hint: it’s a lot more than the foot or so shown here. 🙂

    The big one:

    * There need to be sufficient restrooms and they need to be located in all the places people are likely to need them. Addressing the restroom capacity problem should be one of the highest priorities of any renovation. (And needs to happen long before this giant project gets started.)

    • Once the regional connector opens, I’d bet more Red/Purple to Gold passengers transfer at 7th/Metro. It’ll be a much easier one level change.

    • I recall in one of the Link US scoping plans or whatever it was called where they were asking for feedback about how and where they should place the “bus concourse” which I understood will replace Patsaouras Transit Plaza, that it be placed between the historic station and the platforms. Given the at-grade concourse I imagine the bus station will be one level above, at the same level as the tracks. I thought this was a particularly clever solution because it allowed for quick transfer between all modes – commuter rail, MRT, LRT, and buses. Most importantly, it allowed for a direct bus connection between Cesar Chavez and the El Monte busway, or at least for the buses to arrive at the same set of stops instead of having bus stops scattered all over as they do now.

      Sorry, I had a point – it would nicely solve your “no shelter” issue.

  4. The pass through tracks over the freeway is wonderful but all the proposed “improvements” to Union Station are a total waste of money. Keep what we have which is completely fine and historic and put the money into increased service.

  5. Is this one of the projects Metro would like to have completed by 2028?

    • No, it’s not on that list. As the post says, a funding source still needs to be found.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. The at-grade concourse is more convenient for passengers as it requires fewer stairs and/or elevators to access platforms from street level as well as transferring between services. I wish the plans included ramps to the platforms like the existing concourse has though. I have found those quite useful and I would presume can handle more people with bags/luggage or ADA needs at once than elevators can.

  7. The at grade version is much better. There is way too much walking necessary to get to the trains in the above grade plan.

  8. In the video.I did not see any moving sidewalks in the concourse.

    I think that they are required for the mobility impaired. I would think that there would need to be several segments.

    Since there are six platforms, segment gaps could be between Platforms 3 and 4, between Platforms 4 and 5, between Platforms 5 and 6, and the last segment ending between Platforms 6 and 7.

  9. Would love to see that animation, but with it raining and half the escalators out of order.

    But seriously, I’ll write in with the following comments –

    1. Metrolink escalators are used only right before boarding, so hopefully these can be motion-activated to save electricity.

    2. Amtrack baggage pickup is currently segregated in a quiet area. This discorages baggage theft. The new plans puts unclaimed baggage right at the heart of the station.

    3. There is no relationship between expected ridership in an area and the number of benches. It’s like Metro thinks most passengers prefer to stand. One look at a busy bus or train would refute this.

    4. Similarly, while the gold line is very popular, it gets the smallest waiting area and the least cover.

    5. Open, especially open uncovered areas are a drawback when next to a freeway or duing a rainstorm. People don’t want to get
    rained on during their commute, and they don’t wanna breathe in smog.

    6. On the whole, this shares a fundamental flaw that a lot of other major station hubs share – they become temples to the idea of transit rather than serving utilitarian goals like increasing capacity and pedestrian… throughput. Learn from ARCTIC. It’s all mezzanines and passegeways and concourses that proved popular with designers but burdensome to daily commuters.

    • ” Learn from ARCTIC. It’s all mezzanines and passegeways and concourses that proved popular with designers but burdensome to daily commuters.?

      Thank you! The old Amshack was much more functional. And ARTIC seems to actively discourage overnight parking, which seems quite strange for a AMTRAK stop.

  10. Thats way WAY too many stairs on the above ground concourse. I’d rather the terminal stay exactly the way it is now than be made to ascend up all those stairways only to climb back down to the train platform. This would be an awful rebuild of the station and very inconvenient for passengers. Its the cheaper short term option which means you guys at metro will foolishly probably pick it, which sucks.

  11. While I like the view from the Upper Concourse concept, I don’t like that passengers would have to go up to the concourse and then go down to the train platforms. You have to go up to go down? The other option allows passengers to stay at street level and then go up to the platforms.

  12. How will they did that wide concourse out beneath the track platforms without closing the tracks for a very long time?
    Is it smart to have baggage claim carousels in a concourse with huge numbers of people passing thru? The opportunity for theft is substantial.

  13. One set of express escalators solves the above problem. At grade means relocating the Santa Ana 101 Freeway. That is a non-starter.

  14. The above grade adds too much time to connecting between the Metrolink/Amtrak and the red/purple line. It makes little sense to have to go up to a concourse then way below surface to the subway. Make the space as functional as possible — which means at grade.

  15. The at-grade concourse makes the most sense. It reminds me of the main station in Salzburg: clean and open, but also straightforward to get to your train.

    The above-grade concourse, on the other hand, makes zero sense. People don’t go to the train station to walk in a giant circle and take in the views. They want to get to their trains. And they don’t want to have to go up two stories, and then down a story, wasting valuably time and jeopardizing their connection. Go with the functional at-grade version, even if it costs a bit more.