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Plan for Lyons Amtrak station is revived

Oct 18 2000 12:00AM  By JILL M. GIOCONDO

Times Staff Writer

LYONS - A plan that would get Lyons a stop on Amtrak's Empire Service Line is back on track.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced yesterday that Amtrak officials will visit Lyons next Wednesday to explore the feasibility of establishing that passenger train stop.

This latest visit comes after nearly 10 years of attempts by local officials and residents to establish a train stop in the village. The proposed station would be a small covered platform, similar to a bus station, that would not sell tickets. Tickets would be purchased from Amtrak by phone or at a local travel agent.

New help for the project came after Schumer visited Lyons this summer and pledged his support. In his press release, he also said he has obtained a firm commitment from John W. Snow, president of transportation giant CSX Corp., that he will consider all proposals to build the station.

"Six years ago, Conrail derailed the effort to begin passenger service at Lyons by making unrealistic demands," Schumer said in the release. He said CSX later promised that "that they would look at any potential development plans and would not erect any insurmountable roadblocks to the construction of the station.''

The meeting will include representatives from Amtrak along with Wayne County planning officials, a representative from Schumer's office, a representative from the office of state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-53 of Fayette, and other supporters of the train station.

In April 1991, Amtrak agreed to start scheduling stops in the community but plans were almost immediately put on hold because of safety concerns. In 1994, Lyons Town Supervisor James Fabino, who has also been a strong station advocate, and Nozzolio successfully lobbied the state Department of Transportation for a $250,000 grant to build the station and passenger platform.

Those funds from the DOT have rolled over into each year's budget since the project was turned down in 1994. The idea was put on hold by Conrail officials who didn't want Amtrak passengers crossing a secondary track to the south of the proposed station. They wanted the secondary tracks moved or a pedestrian overpass constructed, both of which would have been costly.

Last year, CSX and Norfolk Southern bought out Conrail's New York lines, which has again made the Lyons station a possibility.

Nozzolio has helped secure a $20,000 grant to pay for a study to determine how many people would use the station.

Sharon Lilla, Wayne County planning director, said Wednesday's meeting will allow the county to find out what Amtrak is looking for in a Ridership Research Survey. After the meeting, the survey will be developed and then distributed to area residents.

Fabino called the meeting a step in the right direction.

"It's the best we have gotten so far," he said. "At least we are back on track."

Schumer added that a train station between Syracuse and Rochester - where currently there are none - makes sense.

"There is still a long way to go before the Lyons station stop becomes a reality, but I feel confident that the project still has a chance," he said.