A fully built-out train depot, including ticket counters, a waiting room, dedicated bathrooms, various other such spaces tailor-made for Amtrak’s use, and direct links to a bevy of other transportation options, neglected to collect mothballs by Amtrak for an incredible seven years, may finally be put to use. When the Miami Intermodal Center, also known as the Miami Airport Station (even though technically it’s a depot) was completed back in 2015, Amtrak realized a little late that the platforms were too short. Due to what was basically just a mammoth screw-up, the rear end of an Amtrak train would have to stick way out into traffic going along NW 25th Street like a one-thousand-one-hundred-foot-long, metal Kim Kardashian.
Amtrak had been part of the plan for the grand multimodal transportation hub from the beginning and was low key ignoring their obligation to start train service at a station otherwise fit for use. Metrorail and Tri-Rail, the latter of which Amtrak shares platforms with, have been active at the MIC for years. The hub links to bus route connections and an elevated concourse soars above the tracks, providing quick and direct access to Miami International Airport’s peoplemover system and the huge MIA Rental Car Center. They finally, however, seem to be taking steps toward bringing the trains into the heart of this central multimodal transport hub, according to the Miami Herald.
Amtrak sent a test train into the station on February 26th, which a Tri-Rail spokesperson said was the very first instance they knew about of any Amtrak train entering the station, ever. This author thinks he recalls years old news footage of a train’s tail-end physically sticking into the street and blocking traffic, also like Kim Kardashian, but hasn’t been able to locate it. The “try-out” trainset used had two engines and ten cars and was in the typical formation used for the Silver Meteor, the actual train service that will operate on the line. The whole spectacle was captured by some YouTubing railroad buffs, who gleefully point out that after all this brouhaha, yes, the Amtrak trains do fit.
Maddeningly, the whole problem was actually solved back in 2016, when Florida spent $6 million to rework surrounding roads and add more wiggle room. Despite this, and despite the opportunity of putting a bad joke at their expense in the past, Amtrak just didn’t bother to come. Staying in their old warehouse-like shed of a station further north, the operator of America’s nationwide passenger rail system continued not to bother until, well, about a month ago. Here and there, signs of traction on the issue are seen, including one or two meetings with other public agencies, a site tour for railroad execs that went down at some point, and the aforementioned test run. Meanwhile, Amtrak itself is still not publicly sharing its plans at all, putting so much effort and interest into appearing uninterested that their spokesperson flatly ignored a question from a Miami Herald reporter. The complete story, particularly from the railroad’s perspective, is still a mystery. Although not quite as gripping as a murder on the Orient Express, it’s still a mystery nonetheless.
Feature image showing that Amtrak trains do indeed fit in the platforms is via YouTube screengrab.