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After nearly 40 years, it’s finally happening. Baltimore’s Penn Station is getting a massive upgrade.

The station was built in 1911 and was last upgraded in 1984. With fellow Northeast Corridor cities like New York and Philly getting major upgrades, our’s is overdue. Improvements are planned for the station, the tracks, and even the surrounding community. It includes an upgraded 30-mile stretch of track between Baltimore and D.C, in preparation for the future of transit. The upgrades also modernize the platforms to prepare for Amtrak’s new Acela high-speed trains, which are scheduled for service next year.

“Those investments will be spread across two programs, about $90 million for this station and the remainder for the tracks to create the kind of capacity and reliability we need to expand transport in the coming years,” said Stephen Gardner, president of Amtrak.

Looks like even Mayor Brandon Scott was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony Friday.

Battle of the Northeast

I’ve always viewed it as friendly competition between the cities, who has the most appealing train station. Rail travel has been a major part of my life since I was 5 years old and coming into each station was always viewed as a visit to the city. Especially the ones that I’d never been to. Sitting on the tracks as we waited for more passengers to board was the closest I’ve come to visiting some of them.

It’s good to know that for rail travelers passing through our city, they will get a pleasant peek into Baltimore, complete with state-of-art architecture and technology. Our city is a major hub along the east coast and it’s time for it to be treated as such. Last year, over half a million riders caught service through the station. Honestly, it’s no telling how much money truly comes into the city through Penn Station. Business leaders from up and down the coast come into the city with their checkbooks (or, “Cash Tags”, I guess).

We must make sure we preserve that.