Ashland, VA Station

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Timmo, Feb 21, 2012.

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  1. Feb 21, 2012 #1

    Timmo

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    Next month I am planning on using the Ashland, VA (ASD) train station for the first time to travel north. I have passed through the station a few times, but have never actually seen people board from the station. I tried to look at pictures and a map to get an idea of the layout so I know exactly where to wait. Is there only one loading platform, or are there two? Where do I wait for the northbound train? I ask because there seems to be a loading area on the station side (which is adjacent to the southbound tracks if I'm not mistaken) and nothing but a parking lot on what I think are the northbound tracks.
     
  2. Feb 21, 2012 #2

    jb64

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    where is abcnews when we need him?

    Regardless, it isn't that big of a station. Just hang out around the station and when the train arrives and stops, get on.
     
  3. Feb 21, 2012 #3

    Acela150

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    On weekends I believe there is someone there to guide boarders to the tracks and where to board. He normally wears a Blue Jacket. Go on Youtube and Search Ashland, VA Amtrak Videos. If you have some time to spare. If not head down there and watch a train come in and figure it out. :) That's what I would do! :)
     
  4. Feb 21, 2012 #4

    Palmland

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    Normally the northbound train is on the east track (other side of the tracks from the station). Southbound trains normally use the track next to the station. Normally because it's not too uncommon for the dispatcher to run the train on the 'wrong' track. But don't worry, plenty of time to tell which track the headlight is on and cross over if necessary. The crews are good about making sure the passengers get across and as noted, occasionally a volunteer shows up to guide you to the right one.

    No indoor waiting unless the Vistor Center in the station is open. Otherwise just hang out on the platform. Or better yet get there early and grab a cool one in the Ironhorse restaurant on the corner a half block away. It's food is a whole let better than the cafe car.
     
  5. Feb 21, 2012 #5

    me_little_me

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    We visited Ashland as part of a trip to the northeast a few years ago. We took a Regional back and stopped at Ashland where we stayed at the Henry Clay Inn B&B across the street for the night. Then we took a taxi to the Richmond Station to catch the Crescent.

    The station is a visitor center so you can stop by when they are open and ask where to stand for the train.

    The Inn was not worth it as the people running the place were not particularly friendly and friendly people are a prime reason for staying at a B&B.
     
  6. Feb 22, 2012 #6

    Timmo

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    Thanks for your responses. I know it kinda sounds like a silly question... I have this irrational fear of being left behind by the train because I'm on the wrong side once it comes (or something). I'd check the place out if it wasn't 30 minutes away, but I think I'll probably manage once I get there. If the visitor center is open at 830am I'll be sure to ask too... Thanks again!
     
  7. Feb 22, 2012 #7

    abcnews

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    Great choice for selecting Ashland as your gateway to Amtrak and the Northeast.

    The station is really quite charming and a perfect way to begin a train trip... It was built by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad in 1923 and they sought out Duncan Lee, a well regarded architect of that day, to design the station. It is an amazing building and a Virginia Historical Landmark. Duncan Lee had also designed some of the grand homes on Monument Avenue in Richmond.

    I think about 40 to 50 trains pass there every day, maybe even more, so it is a wonderful location for train watching. Amtrak alone will send 20 per day and I think 10 of those trains stop there.

    In the mornings CSX usually has Amtrak on the outside track (2nd track from the platform/station), the northbound track. If you notice, there is a narrow, wooden pedestrian/passenger crossing just in front of the station to allow walking across the two tracks - without having to step over the rails and the ballast.

    When the northbound train approaches from the south, you have to be alert and attentive. If the approaching train is on the outside track (normal), you really need to be in place on the proper side - the opposite side of the station. However, I once caught the 8:13 AM and it was on the inside track (the southbound track), so we all had to hurry and cross back over before the engine pulled into the station. It is a bit tricky. I guess if you are on the wrong side they would probably wait for you to walk around the train to the proper side - but no guarantee of that. Plus - they seem to always be in a hurry to stay on schedule.

    If you are in business class - and they are short handed with conductors, then you will have to board with all of the other passengers at the coach door - and walk the train north to BC. That is if there is only one conductor. They should have two.

    BTW - there is a nice Cracker Barrel restaurant in Ashland with a fireplace. If you have time, grab a big breakfast there before catching the train. That's if you get there really early. There is also a good coffee shop just down from the station, on the corner of Railroad Ave and Route 54. And the Henry Clay Inn is directly behind or should I say, right next to the station on Railroad Ave. It is very nice and I think that they serve breakfast there. The Inn is really close so consider staying there - if you need lodging the night before you leave. The front porch of the Inn has these really nice rocking chairs and you are very close to the tracks - great view from the Inn.

    You can park for free on the street in Ashland. There are even some spaces on the street that Ashland has designated for "Amtrak Passengers only". Ashland is very Amtrak friendly and the town has fought hard to keep that Amtrak stop (not that Amtrak wanted to drop it), but there were some recent discussions regarding high speed rail and improvements, and one option eliminated Ashland. That is no longer on the table - so Ashland will keep their Amtrak stop...The town really seems to love the trains - even though Amtrak blocks the main thoroughfare when the trains make their stops in Ashland. All the more reason to be ready and board the train quickly - from the proper side.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2012
  8. Feb 22, 2012 #8

    Timmo

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    abcnews-- thanks for taking the time to give me those tips! you seem to have a lot of experience with amtrak. passing through ashland on the NER train it definitely looks like a nice quaint little town... otherwise i would've never known that ashland was an actual town vs. some generic area. anyway, i definitely feel much better now that i know what to expect... thanks again!!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2012
  9. Feb 22, 2012 #9

    Acela150

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    That's because he lists ASD as his hometown.
     
  10. Feb 23, 2012 #10
    Being an Ashland native myself and catching the train there about 6 days a week I can tell you get there a little earlier than normal. Parking is very tight with passengers, college students and people who work in the local business. There are only a few marked Amtrak spots and a few 2 hour spots. Ashland police have been trying to discourage the students from parking in the 2 hour spots and have started writing tickets.

    As far as what side to wait on, it's a crap shoot. #3 track is the closest to the station with #2 being the far track. Both tracks are signaled in both directions, so despite what others might tell you, there is no "normal" side. It's whatever the CSX dispatcher feels like. Speeds thru Ashland for passenger trains are 35 during the day, 45 at night, so you will have plenty of time to see the train coming.

    There is no Amtrak agent in Ashland and the visitor center staff have a very limited knowledge of Amtrak policies/ticketing procedures, so if you have questions beyond the general scope you'll have to ask the conductor when you get onboard. There is a volunteer, Paul, who shows up from time to time. But again, anything other than just general info, you'll need to speak to the conductor.
     
  11. May 15, 2019 #11

    M&O

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    I watched the Amtrak stop for passengers on Track #2, away from the station, while a CSX freight on track #3, blocked access to the Amtrak. People missed train. Supposedly there is funding for a Passenger Information Display electronic sign at Ashland as well as ADA improvements.
     
  12. May 17, 2019 #12

    Ashland Train Enthusiast

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    The plan is to ultimately put a slightly raised (I think 12 or 18" above the rail) platform to the North of the station, and to have it wide enough to accommodate wheelchair lifts (which would necessitate widening the east (college) side of the platform and potentially reduction in parking spots on that side. This came up at a Town Council meeting I was at last fall, and I don't recall the mention of an electronic Information Display sign, but honestly haven't heard anything more about this from either the Town Council or the Planning Commission, so it'll be interesting seeing if anything actually comes of it. I'll ask the folks' I know on Council next time I see them.

    ~ ATE
     
  13. May 17, 2019 #13

    Acela150

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    Thank you for bringing up a topic that is 7 years old. ‍♂️
     
  14. May 18, 2019 #14

    Pipp

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    Not nitpicking or anything, but the Richmond Station isn't on the Crescent Route. Not that I know of anyway.
     
  15. May 19, 2019 #15

    joemsc

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    What about the”Iron Horse Restaurant” in Ashland? Is it still open
    and functioning? Used to be a good chouc
     
  16. May 19, 2019 #16

    Palmland

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    Iron Horse is still open and very good, although getting a bit pricey. Another option is the Trackside, across the tracks. Name has a horse racing connection, not railroad. We have an overnight planned at the Henry Clay and Iron Horse dinner on a road trip in two weeks. A couple months ago on an Ashland stop we heard from the crossing guard that platform ‘improvements’ supposed to start this spring. I have no idea if that will actually happen.
     
  17. May 21, 2019 at 1:48 AM #17

    Ashland Train Enthusiast

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    The Iron Horse is still doing quite good business; as Palmland mentioned, it has transitioned itself into more of an upscale, fine dining establishment (well worth the increased price imho, but a place my wife and I more go to for a special occasion than a regular night out on the town). Trackside is good, and staying walking within downtown, Caboose Market Cafe has a very lively farm-to-table and local flavors bar scene behind the wine store; it's one of our go-to's for a more casual option.
     

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