After nearly two years, the extensive renovation project to modernise the Amtrak Wilmington Station is now complete.
The historic station has been rededicated as the Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Railroad Station, in honor of the long-time Amtrak rider, strong advocate of passenger rail and current Vice President of the United States of America. As a U.S. Senator from Delaware for 36 years, Vice President Biden regularly used this station to travel between Wilmington and Washington, DC.
“This is an historic day for Amtrak, the State of Delaware and the entire region,” said Amtrak President Joseph Boardman. “Today we are proud to announce that the Wilmington Station Project has been completed and not only have we improved the transportation function and utility of the station for our passengers but we have modernised and renovated the historic parts of the station while holding on to its charm.”
“The newly renovated Wilmington train station gives people a great first impression of our state,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “Equally great is naming the station after Joe Biden. As one of our country’s leading public servants, our ‘Joe’ sustains a momentum for Delaware while helping steer our nation down the right track.”
“The Wilmington Train Station is a special building and I hope all who travel through Wilmington take a minute to appreciate the beauty of it,” said Senator Carper, a regular train passenger and long-time advocate for Amtrak.
“This renovation is truly a partnership between Amtrak and federal, state and city officials, including then-Senator Joe Biden and Congressman Castle, and shows what good can come when people work together. The station’s new name honors a great leader for the First State and our nation, and a good friend of mine – Vice President Biden, and I am proud to help rededicate the station in his name. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Administration to support similar projects that invest in passenger rail to help create more jobs and provide more rail access with better results for Delawareans and riders across the country.”
“The Wilmington Train Station has been so important to Delaware’s economic growth and this beautiful renovation will help ensure opportunities continue to pass through its gates,” said Sen. Coons. “It’s fitting that we’re naming this station after Vice President Biden, who has been a steady, tireless advocate for rail transportation in Delaware and throughout the nation. The renovation and re-opening of this station is a symbol of our state’s tradition of its leaders working together across party lines to do what’s best for Delawareans.”
“The Wilmington Amtrak Station is more than just one of the nation’s busiest train stations—at more than 100 years of age, it is also one of our city’s greatest historic and architectural treasures,” said Wilmington Mayor James B. Baker. “Following a remarkable renovation and modernisation project that successfully preserved the signature handiwork of the building’s famed Victorian architect, Frank Furness, this landmark building is now ready to proudly serve for another century.”
The renovation project balanced the need to modernise the station while retaining its historic charm. The project included detailed restoration to various parts of the station including the grand staircase located in the lobby and the historic men’s and women’s waiting rooms on the second floor.
Amtrak and SEPTA passengers utilising the station will now enjoy a more comfortable and convenient station that features a larger concourse, safety improvements, a new passenger information display system and enhancements to the station’s accessibility to people with disabilities. In addition, the renovation includes track and platform improvements.
A number of environmentally-responsible elements also were included in the renovation, such as LED lighting, a new energy efficient heating/cooling system, and motion sensors for the operation of lighting and “smart” elevators that automatically shut off when not in use for a period of time.
An Open House followed the dedication ceremony providing an opportunity for the public to tour the station as well as Amtrak and SEPTA train equipment.
Funding for the renovation project was provided by Amtrak ($5.7 million), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ($20 million), the Delaware Department of Transportation ($2 million) and the Delaware Congressional Delegation through the SAFETEALU Transportation bill and other appropriations bills ($10 million) all supported by the Biden-Carper-Castle Delaware Congressional Delegation.
The Wilmington Station is the 12th busiest station in the Amtrak system with 696,979 passengers in fiscal year 2010. In addition to Amtrak, the Wilmington Station also serves SEPTA and the Delaware Transit Corporation.
A rendering of the rededication plaque bearing Vice President Biden’s name was unveiled. A permanent, bronze plaque will be affixed to the train station at a later date.