Wilmington Station is located at 100 South French Street on the Christina riverfront in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, US. It is ranked the 12th busiest railway station in the Amtrak system, with nearly 700,000 passengers commuting from the station every year.
Renovation is underway to provide modern facilities for commuters and to make the station more accessible to people with disabilities.
The $37.7m renovation project was launched in 2009 as part of the Capital Transportation Program FY 2008-2013 of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DoT).
The programme was initiated to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure.
The DoT provided $12m for the renovation, while the Delaware Congressional Delegation supplied $10m. Amtrak provided $5.7m towards the project with support from the Federal Transit Administration. The project was fast-tracked after receiving financial assistance of up to $20m from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Although the renovated station opened in December 2010, work was not completed until March 2011. Upon completion, the station was remaned as the Joseph R Biden, Jr Railroad Station in honour of US Vice-President Joe Biden, a frequent traveller from the station.
The original Wilmington station is more than 100 years old. It was built in 1907 and was last renovated during 1983-1984. It had fallen into a state of disrepair after nearly 30 years of deferred maintenance.
Design and construction
The original station was designed by a renowned architect Frank Furness. The design was based on the Victorian style of architecture. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The new renovation was designed by Bernardon Haber Holloway. The project involved the repair and restoration of the building’s walls, waterproofing of the station exteriors and a complete renovation of the interiors. Work commenced in May 2009.
Exterior works included repair and restoration of the exterior brick, decorative terra cotta, tiled roof, entry doors, platforms and window walls. Exterior windows and wood-framed canopies on the platform were also replaced with the new ones.
Other major exterior construction activities were installation of water proofing system on the 930ft track beds, construction of the permanent high-level platform along Track-1 and a ramp connecting the entrance at Martin Luther King Street / French Street and upgrading 3,000ft of platforms and seven rail bridges.
The new ramp, sidewalks and parking spaces were built by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The access ramp was opened in November 2009 to accommodate passenger with disabilities. The cost of this project was $13m.
The interior works included restoration of the 47,600ft² concourse, grand historic staircase, platform level waiting rooms including the marble and tile floors and repair of walls and ceilings. Rest rooms were provided with decorative terrazzo floors and contemporary finishing such as polished stainless steel and glass works to compliment the Acela Trains.
To facilitate the construction of the concourse, the station was relocated to a new temporary structure located in the Walnut Street Alley. The main entrance of the structure was located in the corner of the Front Street and Walnut Street. Several modular units were placed at the temporary station to provide necessary amenities such as ticketing, baggage handling, a coffee shop, rest rooms and spacious waiting rooms.
The entire station building has been provided with new plumbing, lighting, heat and air conditioning systems. The fire protection system has also been upgraded.
Wilmington station serves 89 Amtrak trains and 54 Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) trains.
Amtrak’s two most popular services known as the Acela Express and Northeast Regional are served by the station.
The Acela Express is a high speed train (150mph) that runs between New York and Washington DC. It offers an hourly service during peak hours in the mornings and afternoons.
The Northeast Regional offers roundtrip services to Lynchburg in Virginia in the Northeast Corridor.
Other trains that stop at the station are the Crescent (New York-Atlanta-New Orleans), Palmetto (New York-Savannah), Silver Meteor (New York-Miami), Cardinal (New York-Washington-Cincinnati-Chicago), Carolinian (New York-Richmond-Charlotte) and Vermonter (Washington-St Albans).
Passenger facilities at the station include an enclosed waiting area, restrooms, payphones and ATM. New elevators and escalators were installed during the renovation.
An internet service known as AmtrakConnect wi-Fi has been made available throughout the station free-of-charge as part of the renovation project.