Richmond became an Amtrak station in 1978 with just 3 daily trains stopping at the station. I assume that there was just a simple side platform and and staircase down to the end of the tunnel under the BART station. These were the only 3 trains that operated in Northern California in 1978, the single daily round-trip San Joaquin plus the Coast Starlight and San Francisco Zephyr (renamed the California Zephyr in 1983 when it was rerouted via the Rio Grande Railroad through Colorado instead of the UP's Overland Route through Wyoming). The stop opened to provide better connectivity between Amtrak and BART that opened alongside the SP rail line on January 29, 1973. In 1984 the station received a tiny concrete building with a similar slight overhang to the BART station behind it. This building still exists, abandoned. Looking across from the current platform. There is an elevator directly out to remains of the very-low level side platform and boarded up doors and windows (I assume once glass) that had I assume a staircase that led down to the main pedestrian tunnel that goes under BART and Amtrak, providing all access to their platforms.
On December 12, 1991 the Capitals (now called the Capital Corridor) began operating from San Jose to Sacramento including every train stopping at Richmond. The next change in service to Richmond was a reduction. Beginning first with the April 1996 timetable, the Coast Starlight began bypassing Richmond and the California Zephyr joined it with the October 1998 timetable. This left just the Capital Corridor and San Joaquin stopping at the station. The Coast Starlight and California Zephyr began stopping in Richmond again beginning on November 8, 2010. The Coast Starlight's second tenure at the station was short-lived it began skipping Richmond again effective January 14, 2013. Reasons for the discontinuation include the fact that the Amtrak platform is only accessed through the BART's station's underpass that is shared by BART and in the event that the BART station had already closed for the night and if #14 was just a few hours late (not uncommon) could mean that passengers could get off the train and be on a locked platform with no legal way out.
The current central island platform opened on July 7, 2001, as an initial step for the Richmond Transit Village project around the Amtrak and BART stations that had Phase I dedicated on October 18, 2007. This island platform serves the eastern of two of the tree tracks that go through Richmond, grade-separated. Most of the platform is bare with white lampposts, a fenced off enclosure for a wheelchair mobile-lift, and teal benches. In the middle of the platform covering about one to two cars is a teal colored canopy held up by modern supports. This covers all access to the pedestrian tunnel beneath the station with entrances at each end (see the Richmond BART page for full information). At the southern end is a staircase with windscreens around it (to the southern side of the tunnel) and the northern end an elevator down to the north side of the tunnel. This elevator has a nice touch around the shaft with a decorative vertical lettering above the canopy spelling out Richmond. The middle area between the means of egress are some benches surrounded by windscreens for waiting passengers. Signage on the platform after the station was originally blue signs with white text. Between 2010 and 2013 these were replaced by new modern silver and blue text signs that include the direction of travel beneath them.
The station had a part-time ticket agent (I assume in the small abandoned station building after it was built) from the station's opening until 1997-1998. It has had Quik-Trak Machines to replace this agent in the tunnel beneath the platform for quite a long time, long enough that a pointless arrow sign has survived the renovations and was still next to the Quik-Trak Machines in 2010.
Photos 1-33 taken on 16 March, 2010, 34-40 on 13 June, 2013
Last Updated: 23 July, 2013