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New Amtrak Station for Downtown Buffalo

The new Exchange Street station as seen from the platform, with the 40-story Seneca One tower rising in the background. The former Marine Midland Center is the tallest building in Buffalo, and is being redeveloped for residential and commercial use.

New Amtrak Station for Downtown Buffalo

January 2021by Otto M. Vondrak/photos by the author

Amtrak’s new facility at Exchange Street in Buffalo, N.Y., officially opened to the public in a modest ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 8, 2020. The first train to stop at the new station was the eastbound Maple Leaf, with New York Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Byron Brown, and State Senator Tim Kennedy in attendance. The new station is equipped with a high-level covered platform for faster passenger loading and unloading. Aside from the Maple Leaf, the station is also host to Empire Service trains operating between Niagara Falls and New York City. The new station building houses a waiting room with restrooms and a ticket office, as well as provisions for a kiosk to host a future food concession. A new passing siding was added to the site, allowing potential CSX freight traffic to bypass an Amtrak train stopped in the station.

The first New York Central station in Buffalo was established at Exchange Street in 1848. A second station opened in 1870. A third station opened on the same site in 1880, but it was plagued by down-town congestion. Downgraded after the opening of Buffalo Central Terminal in 1929, it was demolished in 1935. A fourth station was opened at Exchange Street in 1952, a modest brick station which hosted 21 daily trains operated by New York Central and Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo. As passenger service declined, the station was temporarily closed in 1962. Service resumed to Exchange Street in 1978 when Amtrak routed the Niagara Rainbow through Buffalo. When Buffalo Central Terminal closed in 1979, the TH&B returned to Exchange Street, operating a pair of CP Budd RDCs between Buffalo and Toronto until 1981 when the Niagara Rainbow became the Maple Leaf.

Amtrak Buffalo Exchange Street

The new waiting room is bright and open, equipped with restrooms, comfortable seating, and a ticket office. Historic photos depict Exchange Street stations through the years.

Fast forward to September 2016 when the Exchange Street station building was forced to close due to a roof failure (but the platform remained in service). By this time, serious discus-sions were already under way for a replacement. After considering several sites, including Central Terminal, Canalside, and Larkinville, the downtown location at Exchange Street was chosen and approved in 2017…

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This article was posted on: December 18, 2020