An event is planned this weekend to raise awareness and support for Dunkirk’s efforts to establish an Amtrak passenger train service depot.
“boarding a train day” takes place on Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds on Central Avenue. Joint Councilor Natalie Luczkowiak announced the event at this week’s council meeting.
The rally will be held at the ALCO/Brooks Locomotive Engine and Car Show. It is sponsored by Connect Dunkirk and the Dunkirk Historical Society. According to a flyer posted to Facebook by the history society, there will be information about Amtrak service, local train tours and railroad museums, and free grape baskets.
The Joint Council approved a feasibility study for a new Amtrak station in February. Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas told the OBSERVER this week the study shows Dunkirk “was where it should go and made the most sense.”
Amtrak has floated the idea of a new station between its existing stations in Buffalo and Erie, Pennsylvania as part of a proposed route expansion. A map with Amtrak’s proposal placed the station at Westfield, not Dunkirk.
“Amtrak needs to feel this is the best location. It’s a competitive process.” said Rosas. “We expended resources, not only financially, but our team worked with our advisors, not only on the study, but also with state and federal officials.”
Passenger trains used to stop at Dunkirk at a station near the intersection of Third Street and Main Street. This station still exists but is in disrepair — just 21 years ago, a city-backed study dismissed the idea of reusing it.
No specific location for a new Dunkirk station has yet been proposed.
City officials have regularly spoken to state and federal officials for help in procuring the station. “We are still in the process of reporting” said Rosas. He pointed out that Senator Tim Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, had indicated that he would write traffic officials a letter of support for a Dunkirk station.
Rosas said SUNY Fredonia President Stephen Kolison is “strongly supports the initiative” and has already submitted his letter of support. One of the reasons Dunkirk was identified as the top local candidate for a station in his study was its proximity to SUNY Fredonia, the mayor noted.