By MIKE STANTON
This is in response to Mr. Shinagawa's comments published in the OBSERVER on June 15 concerning an Amtrak station.
Here are some facts. Train 49, the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, leaves Buffalo at 11:59 p.m. It would arrive in Dunkirk at approximately 1 a.m. Train 48, the Lake Shore Limited to Boston and New York, arrives in Buffalo at 9:05 a.m. It would pass through Dunkirk around 8 a.m.
This is hardly conducive to having SUNY Fredonia students wait from the afternoon before to catch a ride home. These two trains have run as much as 14 hours late.
The track infrastructure to have a stop in Dunkirk isn't in place. There would need to be a new configuration possibly building another track which would cost millions. We haven't even begun to mention what a building would cost or salaries to maintain it 365 days a year,
Imagine the feeling of leaving your vehicle at the parking lot at Brigham Road for a few days. How about crawling through a coal train with your baggage in hand to board at the incubator, that wondrously empty building?
CSX, whose tracks these trains run over, doesn't have a favorable relationship with our local entities. Nor does Amtrak even begin to consider a stop at Dunkirk as even remotely financially feasible.
I'm afraid there won't be much cooperation from either of these parties. Thoughts of modifying the schedule in favor of Dunkirk aren't possible. These trains are geared to support ridership in Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany, Boston and New York.
It would be a good idea to do some research before trying to pass this off as a wonder of new infrastructure. (Hopefully not with a costly study to the taxpayers.) Had the candidate and his staff inquired, they would see it's sometimes cheaper to fly or even drive your own car than pay for an Amtrak ticket.
Finally, on a personal note, I was a conductor on these two trains for 11 years. We would only pick up four or five people at Erie, a city 10 times as large as Dunkirk.
At times before Amtrak, I also worked train 98, east, at Dunkirk at 10 a.m.; train 63, west at 11 a.m.; train 51, west, at 5 p.m.; and train 64, east, at 9 p.m. We rarely picked up more than two or four people. Train 63's stop at Dunkirk was discontinued because of lack of ridership. This was when the city of Dunkirk had almost twice the population it does now.
I have talked to some of the local politicians about this. This Amtrak station suggestion is folly and a complete waste of taxpayer money. There are many more things which need our attention than this costly and simplistic idea.
Beware of politics and special interests concerning this.
Mike Stanton is a Fredonia resident.