The Fresno Station serves the fifth biggest city in California and has the highest ridership of any of the intermediate San Joaquin stations not shared with the Capital Corridor (Bakersfield is higher but all passengers boarding trains from Thruway bus destinations are counted there). The station was once the crew change point until this was moved to Merced and currently effects locomotive engineers only. The conductors ride all the way through. Trains though still have quite a bit of padding in their schedules and if they are running on time will spend about ten minutes in the station (allowing for a fresh air stop). Quite a lot of this time is also needed for all the passengers boarding with the stations slightly inconvenient design.
The station tour begins across Tulare street from Fresno's modern city hall, where the one track here has just crossed Tulare Street. Between the track and Santa Fe Avenue is the stations mission revival style depot with both single and two story sections that was built in 1899 and has undergone two lives. It was first closed in 1966 as the as the ATSF discontinued passenger service on this route (service continued on the SP, through Fresno, whose station still stands until the eve of Amtrak in 1971). In 2003 the City of Fresno purchased the depot and reopened it as the enlarged Amtrak Station in 2005. Inside the depot are a few separate waiting rooms with arched ceilings and wooden benches. There are also historical looking wooden benches and some historical photographs/paintings of the railway/depot. There is even a restored fireplace. At the southern end are the station's two ticket windows and baggage check-in area. There is an unused commercial space at its northern end. Towards the southern end is a car drop off area and which leads to a traffic circle at the southern end. Trainside from the depot: the platforms have not begun yet with a fence separating this area from the track that soon switches into two tracks by the southern end of the depot. This requires walking (or running) for a train whenever one arrives. These tracks have primarily a side platform with a tactile warning strip and level-boarding for California cars this is where all trains stop except for operation irregularities. Trains can also stop on the opposite track on a narrow additional platform connected to the main platform by three level crossings. Beyond the traffic circle is where the old now closed Amtrak station still exists used from the San Joaquin beginning operation in 1974 until the new depot opened in 2005. It is a two story building built by the ATSF railway for freight, in 1926. It is still used by the BNSF and signs say to Keep Out. There is a modern sign for the baggage claim area along this building with mostly sealed windows. An old pointless arrow sign still tells drivers right outside the building that parking is for loading and unloading only. The station's 11 short-term parking spaces (I assume) are here. Just outside this old building is where a canopy with benches beneath it and two electronic information signs hanging beneath it. Nearby is a modern information panel that supplements a few older generation small Information panels. Its text that reads Fresno along with a few signs on the historic depot are only signs for the entire station. There is also a modern brown wheelchair lift enclosure tucked away in a corner. This canopy is generally about where the locomotive or the southernmost cars stops (its always at the northern end) on all trains. It is the only shelter provision for passengers waiting on the platform itself. There is a large 98 space long-term parking lot between the southern end of the platform and Santa Fe Avenue. Starting from just beyond the southern end of the platform is another non-fenced almost completely deserted parking lot.
All Photos unless otherwise noted taken on 16 February, 2012
Last Updated: 21 March, 2011