Prince, W.Va., loses Amtrak station agent

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An empty coal train rolls by the 1946-built Prince, W.Va., station while three passengers wait for the arrival of Amtrak Cardinal No. 51 in Prince in February 2012.
Chase Gunnoe
PRINCE, W.Va. — A popular train station among railroad enthusiasts in southern West Virginia will no longer be staffed by an Amtrak ticket agent, the passenger railroad confirms. The Chesapeake & Ohio-designed Prince station located along the route of Amtrak’s tri-weekly Cardinal was the eastern-most staffed station stop for the train in West Virginia.

Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods says the decision to no longer staff the Amtrak station in Prince was based on several factors.

“The business model for ticketing has changed, cash sales are down because people are buying online. Printing tickets at stations is also down. Customers are printing travel documents at home or using their computers and smartphones,” she says. “More than seven out of 10 Amtrak tickets are being booked and purchased via the self-service channels.”

Wood says that a station caretaker will open and close the station for scheduled arrivals and departures three days a week. The Cardinal’s train crew will handle passengers boarding on and off and checked baggage will be offered through self-service system instead of an agent.

Woods also says that the railroad will continue to invest in the Prince station to keep it in a state of good repair. The railroad recently completed $1.5 million in Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant improvements that respects the historic nature of the station. The improvements consisted of compliant concrete ramps, platform enhancements, and renovations to the station’s restrooms.

The Chesapeake & Ohio built the distinctive depot in 1946 as a way to promote the Class I railroad’s regenerated interest in luxurious passenger rail service. The station was designed using modern architectural qualities for the post-World War II era, including large plate glass windows, terrazzo flooring, and high ceilings. The one-of-a-kind station was to be a prototype for other stations along the route of the proposed and ultimately ill-fated Chessie passenger train. The luxurious train never entered service and no other stations were built to the same specifications as Prince.

Today, the station serves as the closest train station to the City of Beckley, located about 12 miles to the west. The population of Prince, nestled in the valley of the New River Gorge is home to only 116 residents, but serves travelers throughout different communities in southern West Virginia.

According to Amtrak statistics, the station handled 2,925 passengers in 2015.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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