Louisville – Union Station (Updated)

[Some of the oldest posts on this blog have missing photos, due to a little error I might have made when changing server. I still have the photos, I just have to reindex them. Anyway, I was just correcting the photo on this post, and realised there’s some good news since I originally wrote this in August 2018. Amtrak Joe has made progress with expanding the rail network in the United States, and rail services might be coming back to Louisville.

Most of the problem in the United States isn’t the lack of track, it’s that the operators of it really quite like the freight services that travel over it. Amtrak has been given permission to operate passenger services on freight lines, but it’s more complex when track has to be rebuilt or rerouted. It’s causing delays with the expansion plans, although as there’s cross-party support it might all get fixed.

It might all mean that Louisville will be reconnected soon enough, although they’ll need another station building…… August 2022]

Louisville has a beautiful railway station, first constructed in 1880, and it has seen many Presidents walk through its doors. The interior was as richly decorated as the exterior and it’s a grand and spacious building. It just has the little problem for rail travellers that it doesn’t have any trains.

Unfortunately, Amtrak ceased services here in 1976 and it sold the building to TARC, who are the regional transportation company. Although it’s vaguely nice that the building is used by a transportation company, it’d be even nicer if it was used as a railway station.

Indeed, there were hopes that the situation would improve as Amtrak restored services to the city in 2001 when they used part of the site for their Kentucky Cardinal service. But then that stopped in 2003, despite the city having just spent $370,000 to provide a stopping point for the train. The service was to have been funded by getting postal service contracts rather than by passenger revenue, so when those contracts didn’t come through, it was the end again.

In theory it would be possible for rail services to begin again to the city, as the line is run by Louisville and Indiana Railroad as a freight service. Unlike in the UK where so many of the tracks were ripped up, at least they have the option in the future of restoring a service. However, the popularity of flying and the convenience and speed of the airports mean that a restored service is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future and I can’t see that anyone is even calling for it at the moment…..