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New $28M Amtrak train station opens in downtown Buffalo

Since 1848, there has been a train station on Exchange Street at the edge of downtown Buffalo. On Sunday, a new one was unveiled to passengers.

When Amtrak train 281 came into Exchange Street Sunday night, it was a change for most. After decades of using an old rail freight building converted to a passenger station more than four decades ago, passengers used a temporary structure while contruction of a new rail station was completed. Sunday's trains arrived at a new station on the Empire Service across New York, the latest since the new Rochester station.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
The interior of Buffalo's new train station.

Passengers getting off called themselves impressed.

"I got off and I couldn't believe it," said Richard, who travels between New York City and Buffalo a couple of times a year. "For a while, it was just this temporary thing with the trailer or whatever, for the last few years. Yeah, it looks nice."

Pastor Earl Williams said it is lovely.

"They've done an excellent job down here," Williams said. "I appreciate being able to come to Exchange Street as opposed to going out to Depew. So it's much closer, much easier for me to get to where I have to get to."

Rail fan Joe Rafter said a new station is good, but he didn't think it was the right design, preferring an underground station.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Anticipation as the first train arrives.

"Tied into the Seneca One tower and the street car line right there would have made a little more sense," Rafter said. "I travel by train. I've been to a couple dozen countries and I see how it's done in other places, and underground in climates like Toronto and Buffalo is kind of the way to go for the traveler's comfort."

The design is something of a throwback to the days when train stations were landmarks in communities whose clocks and train whistles kept people moving.

Eventually, the $28 million complex will also house one of the state's Taste NY kiosks, selling local food and beverages. The station also has a much better and better-lit walkway for those train passengers who want to get on the Metro Rail into the city. It will all be staffed for one shift, seven days a week.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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