Published: May 05, 2011

Tampa Union Station restoration fund announced

By Ted Jackovics Christian m. Wade

A non-profit group will announce Saturday it has cobbled together $50,000 for a fund to endow the ongoing restoration of Tampa Union Station.

The presentation by the Friends of Tampa Union Station to city officials will take place during National Train Day events from noon to 5 p.m.

Amtrak train equipment will be open for tours. The Suncoast Model Railroad Club will operate HO-scale trains and the Florida Garden Railway Society will display a project. Other exhibits including a locomotive simulator and historic displays will be on hand.

The local celebration is sponsored by the Tampa Downtown Partnership, Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers, Friends of Tampa Union Station, the city of Tampa and Amtrak.

Friends of Tampa Union Station was founded in 2008 by a volunteer group of citizens to preserve the structure at 601 N. Nebraska Avenue.

The Italian Renaissance Revival style building opened May 15, 1912, to combine Atlantic Coast Line, Seaboard Air Line, and Tampa Northern Railroad passenger trains at a single site.

The building fell into disrepair with declining passenger rail ridership in the 1970s and was closed to the public in 1984. For the next 14 years, Amtrak passengers used a ticket office and waiting room in a prefabricated building.

A combination of restoration efforts beginning in 1988 culminated a decade later with the main building reopening to Amtrak passengers.

In fiscal 2010, Tampa was Amtrak's third busiest station in Florida, serving 131,054 passengers. That was 28,479 fewer than Orlando despite Orlando serving two New York-Miami trains daily compared with one serving Tampa.

Sanford's Auto Train station, which serves Amtrak's train that carries both passengers and their vehicles, ranked first in Florida with 244,252 passengers. © Copyright 2011 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General company.

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