Kemper Street station
Nightime view from station platform
|Location||825 Kemper St.
Lynchburg, Virginia 24501
|Owned by||City of Lynchburg|
|Platforms||1 island platform|
|Passengers (FY2013)||93,337 annually 7% (Amtrak)|
Kemper Street Station, also known as Lynchburg Station, is an intermodal transit station in Lynchburg, Virginia. It serves Amtrak, the United States' national passenger rail system, as well as Greater Lynchburg Transit Company buses and Greyhound Lines. It is located at 825 Kemper Street.
Kemper Street Station was built in 1912 by the Southern Railway to house their passenger and freight operations in the Lynchburg area. A three-story structure built into a hillside, the top floor fronts Kemper Street while on the opposite side the track level ground floor fronts the rail platforms. Originally included but later removed was an elevated walkway extending from a street level passenger lobby across the tracks. Stairs descended from the walkway to the platforms, two stories below. A freight depot was located in the ground floor. As it was not the city's only railway facility, the "Kemper Street" name was used to clearly identify it among Lynchburg's other train stations. Over many decades to follow, the station was a stop for Southern Railway passenger trains. When Southern Railway discontinued passenger services in 1979, the operation of their passenger routes and stations, including Kemper Street Station, was relinquished to Amtrak.
After years of continued use and neglect the signs of disrepair at the station were becoming increasingly apparent. The Lynchburg City Council determined that renovations would be necessary to save the city-owned facility and ensure its future use. They spearheaded a redevelopment project budgeted at over $3 million, funding for which was provided by the city, commonwealth, and federal government sources including Amtrak. Extensive work began in 2000 to update the facility, but with an emphasis on maintaining period lighting and finishes, and preserving the station's historic character.
In April, 2002, the city of Lynchburg celebrated the opening of the newly restored Kemper Street Station. The restoration allowed the facility to take on the new role of intermodal station, housing both rail and bus services. Amtrak operations were moved to the ground-floor platform level, left vacant since the station no longer serviced freight trains. This allowed for Greyhound Lines to establish a bus terminal in the vacated street-level passenger facility, thus centralizing Lynchburg's primary services for intercity passenger travel under one roof.
The restored station features brick construction with arched windows and accents of painted metal. An arched sign over Kemper Street near Park Avenue reads "Kemper Street Station". Of note are the numerous lights which illuminate the station's exterior. These are of particular importance to the station since most of the trains serving Lynchburg are scheduled either late in the evening or in the early morning, often before sunrise.
The year 2012 marked the 100 year anniversary of passenger train service at Lynchburg-Kemper Street Station. Today, as the only passenger train station still operating in Lynchburg, it is serviced by four Amtrak trains daily. The rail line upon which the station is situated belongs to Southern Railway's corporate descendant, Norfolk Southern Railway, which owns both the track and the adjacent platforms.
Amtrak's Crescent is a long-distance, overnight service operating daily between New York City and New Orleans, LA. The Crescent stops at Lynchburg-Kemper Street Station on its northbound and southbound runs. This train had previously serviced Lynchburg during the old Southern Railway days, when it was known as the Southern Crescent. For many years, the Crescent was the only passenger train serving Lynchburg.
October, 2009 saw the introduction of Northeast Regional daily round-trip service between Lynchburg and Boston, MA. The route to Lynchburg was extended from its previous southern terminus in Washington, DC. This extension is operated through a partnership between Amtrak and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, under the guise of Amtrak Virginia. In June, 2016, it was announced that Amtrak plans to add an additional daily round-trip service as part of the Northeast Regional. It is planned to begin after the line's extension to Roanoke in early 2017. According to an Amtrak representative, the additional service will make a southbound run in the morning and return northbound in the afternoon. The addition of this service will increase Kemper Street Station to six trains per day from the current four.
Amtrak's station code for Lynchburg is LYH. The station features restrooms, an enclosed waiting area, and a ticket office staffed by Amtrak personnel according to the station's schedule. Services from this location include checked baggage assistance and a Quik-Trak ticketing kiosk.
Greyhound Lines supplies intercity bus service from its street level passenger terminal at Lynchburg-Kemper Street Station. Street level access is located along Kemper Street on the side of the station facing away from the railway platform, which is two stories below at the bottom of the hillside. The company also offers their "Greyhound PackageXpress" shipping service from the Kemper Street terminal.
Valley Metro operates the Smart Way Connector bus service to serve as a bus-to-rail connection between Lynchburg-Kemper Street Station and both the Roanoke and New River Valleys. Providing two daily round trips, service commenced on July 19, 2011, and is being undertaken to serve in part to gauge support for a potential Amtrak extension to Roanoke.
Amtrak Virginia, the partnership between Amtrak and the Commonwealth of Virginia which is sponsoring the Northeast Regional service extension to Lynchburg, is a pilot program with funding allocated for three years. The status of the Northeast Regional extension after three years will depend upon the identification of a dedicated funding source.
Lynchburg-Kemper Street Station will be a transfer hub for the TransDominion Express if plans for the proposed passenger rail project in Virginia come to fruition. TransDominion Express, or TDX, would link areas like Bristol and Roanoke in the west of the state with areas in the east like Richmond, as well as Charlottesville and Washington, D.C. to the north. The plan has been under consideration for more than a decade.
The Greater Lynchburg Transit Company has selected the immediate area of Kemper Street Station as its top choice of sites upon which to build the new transfer center for their network of public buses. Specifically, they are interested in a property directly across Kemper Street from the station, which would provide the greatest ease of intermodal connections between GLTC buses and Amtrak or Greyhound services. The project is awaiting final government approval and funding, and is expected to be completed around 2013.
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- Valley Metro. "What is the Smart Way Connector?" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2011.
- Burl, Rolett (July 20, 2011). "Shuttle connecting Roanoke to Lynchburg Amtrak station starts". The Roanoke Times.
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- "Rail Service Is the Future of Transportation", (March 17, 2010). The News & Advance, Lynchburg, VA. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- Petska, Alicia. (February 3, 2010). "GLTC favors Kemper Street site for transfer station", The News and Advance, Lynchburg, VA. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
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