Link Union Station to hold Open House on Thursday to discuss changes in project

The Link Union Station project will build ‘run through’ tracks allowing trains to enter and exit the station from both the north and south. Credit: Google Maps.

The Link Union Station (also known as Link US) is holding an Open House at Union Station this Thursday to discuss proposed changes made to the project as part of its Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).

The Open House will be held 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Union Station East on the Vignes Street side of the station. Go to the P1 Level, which is adjacent to the aquarium and near the Metro Customer Service Center. Presentations by Metro staff will take place at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

Metro staff will also be available for questions and one-on-one discussions. 

The aim of the Link US project is to make it possible for Metrolink and Amtrak trains to enter and exit Union Station from both the south and north while also expanding rail service capacity at the station, accommodating high-speed rail and building a new passenger concourse to handle growing crowds, and transforming Union Station into a world-class transit station. Union Station, purchased by Metro in 2011, is already pretty crowded with roughly 100,000 passengers a day and the number of people using the station is expected to double to over 200,000 passengers by 2040. 

Perhaps the biggest change that Metro staff is proposing in response to  public comments on the Draft EIR is the elimination of an above-grade passenger concourse above the current train platforms. In its place, a new 140-feet wide expanded passageway would be built under the tracks to replace the existing 30-feet wide passageway.

As envisioned, the new expanded passageway would provide sufficient capacity to meet future demands while also offering new passenger amenities, including retail. Many comments received said the above-grade concourse would have made access to the station more difficult and added to the time it takes to reach trains. 

Other adjustments to the project would reduce the amount of property Metro would need to acquire by eliminating a southbound-to-northbound loop track. 

Metro staff anticipates requesting the Metro Board of Directors to review and consider approval of the project’s FEIR later this summer.

The project is partially funded at this time with $950 million available from a variety of sources. That’s enough to: make the necessary upgrades to the current northern entrance and exit tracks and rail signal and communication systems; build the entire track structure over the 101 freeway and two new run-through tracks to the south in the interim, and; do utility relocations and right-of-way acquisition south of the 101 freeway. Additional funds will be needed to build the proposed new expanded passageway, platforms, the West Plaza and the remaining run-through tracks. 



21 replies

  1. Just for the record: why was LA Union Station a stub-end station and not a thru station? Because of at least two reasons, first: stub-end stations are cheaper to build, and the three railroads that the City of LA had “railroaded” into building Union Station didn’t want to spend anymore than they had to with the exception of the beautiful station building proper which, incidentally, is called a “headhouse.” Reason two: except for taking a train to San Diego, there was no back and forth commuter trains in the plans since there was nowhere to go to in Southern California that wasn’t already served by the Pacific Electric Railway (Red Cars) and/or the Los Angeles Railway (Yellow Cars). In addition, no one foresaw nor perhaps cared about SoCal’s long term growth. “We have seen the enemy (in this case bad or no planning) and he/she is us”–with apologies to Pogo.

  2. Hallelujah, the Good Angles have finally prevailed! The Flying Saucer Gerbil Tube from Denmark thingy will not be gobbling-up Union Station’s Historic Hispanic architecture like an airborne Godzilla! You can bury my ashes at Union Station!

  3. More restrooms *please*, preferably with some “no homeless allowed,” or “transit users only” signs — or some with ‘TAP card required.’
    The current restrooms are the worst I have ever seen, smelly and dirty, and never enough. At least 100 toilets should be added, many in different locations, for both men/women/unisex.

    • Hi there;

      I understand everyone’s frustration with our region’s homeless crisis. That said, being homeless is not illegal. The homeless have civil rights. And homeless who are transit users have the right to use our restrooms. I think limiting our restrooms to TAP card users is problematic. I agree the restrooms are impacted by a lot of people using them. I do not think the best way to keeping them clean is to adopt a “no homeless” policy.

      I will also add that the Metro Board agreed voted last year to build more restrooms at Union Station and there are plans to do so although it will take some time to accomplish.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Yes, the homeless are people and they have rights. But surely there is nothing illegal, or even unethical, about restricting access to the concourse to paid customers. Then, as long as the restrooms are inside the paid area, there should not be a problem.

        Requiring a ticket before entering the concourse would have the added benefit of enhancing security generally.

        Unfortunately, this would require Metro to actually have security personnel standing at the gates, keeping out fare evaders. For some reason, Metro really doesn’t like doing this.

  4. Thanks for this excellent news, Steve. For those of us who will not be able to come to this Open House: are the meeting materials and new proposals posted on online anywhere? I couldn’t find them at the Link US website – only the old plans.

    • Hi Allon;

      We’ll post the presentation as soon as a final version is complete!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Great to hear that the above-ground concourse is no longer an option and I’m glad Metro listened to the feedback.

    Possible to post a link to the final EIR?

    • Hi B. Kuo;

      We’ll link to the FEIR when it’s posted.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. Does anyone have an idea how the elimination of the loop track will impact future operations? I thought the plan was, to use the San Bernardino Line as an example, for trains to come across Piggyback, enter the station south-bound, and then cross the 101 to the loop track northbound and cross the river eastbound back to Piggyback. If that’s not possible, would trains still be required to use Union Station as a stub-end in practice? The ability of trains to run-through at Union Station is actually what I’m most excited about for this project!

    • TP is absolutely right. The real problem for growth at Union Station is its lack of flexibility (one way in, and the same one way out). Run through tracks give more flexibility, but will not allow every combination of origin and destination.The loop track gives the flexibility to run trains through from any line in (north or south) to any line out (north or south). Sacrificing it now, to save some money, is very short-sighted.

      • Most through stations don’t allow a train to leave on the same line it arrived without turning around, as they stand athwart the tracks. Penn Station in NYC is like this, and loop tracks were not added as part of the similar Oslo tunnel project or Ordsall chord. The only project I know of that adds loop capacity is the incredibly expensive and controversial Stuttgart 21.

    • I am not privy to the plans, but there is really no reason why a train on the San Bernardino line to Union Station should return on the same line. It could travel outbound from Union Station on to the Riverside line. This would be especially worthwhile for trains coming from Antelope Valley and Ventura to travel onwards to Orange County as there may be thru travelers. The only reason the loop track is needed is if there is an excess of trains coming/leaving from the North of Union Station relative to the South. In that case some trains in the new plan may be forced to reverse. Trains coming/leaving from the South can already access the north side of Union Station so if there is an excess of trains from the south no stub-ending is needed. Additionally it appears from the plans that even with the loop track trains leaving the south end of union station would only be allowed to head to Antelope Valley and Ventura lines and not cross the river to piggyback. It is that capacity which is being cut, but leaving Union Station southbound to the San Bernardino line was never going to be a possibility.

  7. I am so glad to hear that the concourse is being moved below-grade. I know it’s more expensive. But it’s the right way to do it — do it right the first time.

    The old above-grade plan was *very* inconvenient and illogical (I’m trying to use polite language!) The new plan treats pedestrians (transit users) with the same level of priority as it treats the trains themselves.

    I look forward to the day when we have the new concourse, the Regional Connector, the run-through tracks, high-speed rail and new dense development from Union Station all the way down to First Street. In other words, a proper transit district, more like to London’s Kings Cross, and less like a sad lonely Bakersfield Greyhound station.

  8. Kudos to Metro for listening to the negative reaction to the above grade option.

    Lighting and flooring will be key in the passageway to avoid the semi-claustrophobic feel of NY Penn Station.

  9. It wasn’t so much that the concourse was above ground that was the issue (in comments that I saw). It was that fact that it made the passengers walk in a giant circle instead of a straight line. If I am moving quickly to make a connection from the far west end to the bus plaza (like to catch the FlyAway), having to bow out and back makes no sense.
    Going from 30 feet wide to 140 feet wide is good, provided that the 140 is not obstructed by the vendors. The retail should be out of the corridor itself (either a walk up window or a walkin).

  10. Elimination of the above-grade concourse and going with the at-grade? Woohoo! Way to go Metro!