Raleigh has always had Amtrak Service from the Silver Star. Until 1986, trains stopped at the Seaboard Air Line depot located at 707 Semart Drive that is still in existence although no longer in railroad use (I forgot to visit it when I was in Raleigh). In 1986 trains were relocated to the current station on Cabarrus Street that was built by the Southern Railway in 1950 and sat unused for passenger service between 1964 until the 1986 relocation. On May 12, 1990 the state of North Carolina began the state-sponsored Carolinian between Charlotte and New York via Raleigh, stopping at the station. In 1995 the state-sponsored, Piedmont Train began between here and Charlotte using state owned restored Heritage equipment that are maintained at a state run railyard nearby. A midday, second Piedmont round-trip began on June 5, 2009.
The station has a single side platform along the westernmost track in the middle of a railroad junction. This platform begins at the grade-crossing of Cabbarrus Street and runs northwest although the rear of Charlotte/Miami-bound trains and the front of New York-bound trains are at this grade-crossing because of a circuitous route trains take between Smithfield and Raleigh through the research triangle. The old fashioned platform just has a yellow line and is below track-level. A few silver sets of steps are kept on the platform and positioned for easier boarding than just with a yellow stool. The platform has a long canopy held up a brown wooden framework and a flat roof.
Directly along the platform is the station house that was built in 1950 and received an enlargement and renovation from Amtrak in the mid-2000s. The enlargements included a new glass enclosed corridor along the platform, with the original brick wall with openings dividing it from the original part of the station along with other rooms on each side of the original station. In the middle are the main two original waiting areas with an awkward area of brick supporting columns dividing up the two smaller rooms (I assume there were further dividers for separate waiting rooms because of segregation). The waiting room has wooden benches and the Amtrak ticket office along one side. The modern glass enclosed corridor also provides access to an Amtrak Police office and a baggage office separate from the ticket office.
At the southern end of the extended portion of the station in one of the areas from the additions is small unstaffed First Class Lounge. Passengers get access to the lounge by showing their tickets to a ticket agent who writes down a four digit code. This code is entered onto a keypad at the door to the lounge for access. I visited the lounge using my Select+ Card; the only other eligible passengers are those boarding the Sleepers of the Silver Star. The lounge is part of one of the new areas when the station was enlarged and one wall is exposed brick. Inside is a small room with a couple couches, some trying to look retro black chairs. Along one wall are two built in desk-like areas with outlets and a small area between them with a couple cubby holes that has some of the small, unlabeled Amtrak emergency rations water. There is also a water cooler with cold and hot water. Perhaps Amtrak can invest in one of the single serving espresso machines like the lounge in Philadelphia has received to provide at least a hot beverage amenity. The biggest problem with the lounge is a Television that was blaring the same program as the couple of televisions in the main waiting area with no way for a waiting passenger alone in the lounge to turn off or change the channel. The lounge is also used for the storage of the station's wheelchairs.
Street-side, the station has decorative white columns around a porch at the main entrance that look out of place. The station roof is gabled and complete with a few chimneys. The area behind the station is a small parking lot with 20 short-term parking spaces and 80 long-term parking spaces that are free and require a permit. The station parking lot is often full and the lack of parking is the main reason the suburban Cary Station has become a fully staffed, with checked baggage station along with the addition of the Silver Star also stopping there. Just north of the station in a long single-story industrial building with a mural of a train on one wall, and loading docks is the Amtrak Administration and Support Facility.
The City of Raleigh hopes to relocate the current Amtrak Station to a new Union Station in a former warehouse building, just north of the current train station. The project is presently in the planning stages and construction is projected to occur between 2015 and 2017.
Photos 1-28 taken on 15 July, 2014, 29-59: 16 July, 2014