Amtrak Invests $150 million to Transform Baltimore Penn Station
BALTIMORE – Amtrak and Penn Station Partners will gather to host a groundbreaking ceremony today with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Deputy Administrator Amit Bose, Governor Larry Hogan, Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Kweisi Mfume, Mayor Brandon Scott and other local officials and community members to mark the commencement of the redevelopment of Baltimore Penn Station and platform expansion project as part of Amtrak’s $150 million investment to improve customer experience and grow passenger rail.
“Today we begin a new chapter for Baltimore Penn Station. In partnership with Penn Station Partners, we are set to transform Penn Station into a premier regional transportation hub,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “This construction will serve as the catalyst to transform surrounding vacant land already owned by Amtrak into a mixed-use, transit-oriented development with up to one million square feet of new office, retail and residential space.”
First built in 1911, the last major renovation of Penn Station was completed in 1984 as part of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project. Penn Station serves as the primary transportation hub in Baltimore, and prior to the pandemic, more than three million Amtrak and MARC passengers moved through the facility each year. The Baltimore Penn Station redevelopment project is designed to expand and modernize the historic landmark to better accommodate passenger growth, significantly improve the customer experience and to create a revitalized civic space that is woven into the fabric of the community.
“The redevelopment and revitalization of Baltimore’s Penn Station and the surrounding district is critical to the economic health of the City,” said CEO of Cross Street Partners Bill Struever. “We are fully committed to realizing the potential of this station as a true anchor for the growth of the local community and the City of Baltimore, and we are immensely grateful for the support of Amtrak as we continue laying the groundwork for this important project.”
Planning and development began in 2018 after the Baltimore-based developer, Penn Station Partners, led by Beatty Development Group and Cross Street Partners, was announced as the selected Baltimore Penn Station Master Developer.
The development team has a proven track record of inclusive development, meeting or exceeding Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) contracting goals and local hiring goals on numerous projects throughout Baltimore. Projects related to the historic station will have the goal of achieving 20% MBE and 10% WBE participation on all new development, and 51% new hires from Baltimore City.
In addition to station improvements delivered by Penn Station Partners, Amtrak is also breaking ground on platform improvements at the station to better accommodate Amtrak’s new Acela high-speed rail trains that are set to launch next year, as well as increasing track capacity, improving ride quality, and offering greater reliability both locally and along the entire Northeast Corridor.
To allow for greater operability of train service, Amtrak is rebuilding a low-level platform into an ADA compliant high-level platform and constructing a new platform. This work, along with a renewed overhead electrical system and an upgraded 30-mile stretch of track between Baltimore and Washington Union Station, will enable operation at higher speeds. Once fully completed, these upgrades will improve on-time performance for high-speed train operations by providing route flexibility and allowing unimpeded travel.
“We applaud Amtrak and Penn Station Partners on commencing this transformational station rehabilitation,” said Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Amit Bose. “This project is the embodiment of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Baltimore residents, businesses, as well as those traveling on MARC and Amtrak will all benefit from a modern and fully accessible facility.”
“When I think about how hard we have worked over the last seven years to encourage economic development and to make Maryland open for business, this is exactly the kind of project that symbolizes how far we have come,” said Governor Hogan. “It harnesses the strength of the public and private sectors, it builds on the partnership at the federal, state, and local levels, and the job creation potential and associated economic and transit benefits are an absolute game-changer for Baltimore City and the region.”
“Penn Station plays a key role in the life and magic of Baltimore. It is the setting and the backdrop for meetings, reunions, and farewells that mark key moments in our personal lives and our shared history. It is a place that provides safety and convenience. It can energize and also inspire, so I heartily applaud today’s groundbreaking and Penn Station’s forthcoming revitalization,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “As we seek to build back our nation’s infrastructure better than ever, we once again feel a sense of urgency to the task of rebuilding our nation’s railroad networks and infrastructure across the country.”
“Thousands of Maryland commuters and visitors rely on Baltimore Penn Station every day. This project will enhance safety, expand capacity, and increase efficiency for riders for years to come. That’s why I pushed to include federal resources for Amtrak and transit like this in the Senate-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and to include $5 million in direct funding for this project within our annual funding bill, recently released by the Senate Appropriations Committee. As we work toward implementing the Build Back Better agenda, I will keep fighting to modernize our state’s transportation infrastructure and improve the lives of those who live and work in our communities,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“The federal government invested heavily into the redevelopment of Penn Station so that the project can create opportunities for City residents, small businesses, and the entire region. The project’s groundbreaking symbolizes the beginning of those opportunities becoming available to the community,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume who represents the congressional district in which the train station resides. “Congratulations to Amtrak and Penn Station Partners on this unique opportunity to create an inclusive environment for all people to thrive,” he added.
“As frequent Amtrak traveler, I am excited to see Penn Station receive such a substantial investment,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Penn Station has been a major transportation center in Baltimore for over a century, and this investment ensures that it will continue to serve our community for years to come.”
“As an active member of this central Baltimore neighborhood I dream of days like this,” said President of the Greenmount West Community Association, Lauren Kelly-Washington. “Potential gives way to action and action gives way to new life, opportunities, jobs and growth. All of the aforementioned are what the physical center of Baltimore City deserves.”
Construction work is now underway for platform improvements, with the building facade renovations starting later this year. Construction will continue in phases to complete the station renovation and expansion over the next few years.