Memphis Central Station was built in 1914 by the Illinois Central Railroad and has always received service from one daily Amtrak train, the City of New Orleans running between Chicago and New Orleans. This named train originally ran a daytime 15-hour schedule which Amtrak continued for it's first six months, when it became a night train in November 1971 when it was renamed the Panama Limited (the historical name of the overnight train) until 1981 when Amtrak renamed the train (still running on its current overnight schedule) back to the City of New Orleans for marketing purposes. Today it is where the City of New Orleans is re-fueled with a fuel truck driving right up alongside the train.
The current station was renovated between 1998-1999 into a multi-use facility with apartments and commercial space. The exterior of the station has a grand facade directly along the street with marble columns holding up the first two stories. Central Station is etched into the facade. A tower (now with apartments) of brick protrudes up a further 5 stories above). The former grand waiting room is now a ballroom for private parties called Hudson Hall. From the street passengers now enter through two sets of doors that say Amtrak along them. This leads up to a central landing. Here historic neon signs direct passengers to the upper concourse for tracks 1,2,3,4,5,6 and lower concourse for tracks 7,8,9,10. To reach the Amtrak waiting area passengers go up to a smaller former headhouse that has been renovated into the Amtrak station area. The waiting room has a few historic wooden benches, the ticket office, and a crew office.
Passengers head out to the platform by way of a parking lot, built on the former location of stub tracks (from the south) 1 through 5 and the platforms built for them. Iron blocks that were clearly once bumper blocks make it clear the parking lot is built on former train tracks. This parking lot has 100 parking spaces that Amtrak.com lists as all short-term. Trains stop at a long and mostly covered by a high canopy low-level platform that runs along the length of the parking lot, cabs drop passengers off directly along it. It has a pink tactile warning strip, wheelchair lift enclosure and an Amtrak information kiosk with schedules. This information panel is the only place with a platform sign.
Additional renovations and commercial expansion are currently beginning around the station area. This has resulted in the closing of the main pedestrian Amtrak entrance from Main Street effective January 1, 2016 (I visited on December 31, 2016); requiring all passengers to access the station through the parking lot. The parking lot driveway entrance is beyond the southern end of the platform (in the opposite direction of downtown, and lacks a sidewalk and other passenger amenities) all access is from Main Street, just north of the underpass of Carolina Avenue.
All Photos Taken on 31 December, 2016
Last Updated: 12 January, 2017