Amtrak unveils $7 billion overhaul to DC's Union Station

Convenient and efficient transportation to, from and throughout a city is crucial to making it an attractive place to live and visit. If great travel options are important to you, now might be an opportune time to consider buying real estate in Washington, DC, as that metro just found out it will have a significantly improved train terminal in the coming years.

Amtrak recently announced plans for a $7 billion expansion of the city's Union Station, intending to make it a high-speed hub and commercial attraction, according to Reuters. The new design would double the number of trains able to be handled by the site, which is the second busiest Amtrak station in the country.

"This plan will transform the station into a world-class transportation hub to serve the region and the mobility needs of generation of passengers yet to come," said Amtrak President Joe Boardman.

In addition to improved access and train frequency, the upgrade would also make the site a more enticing commercial center, according to the news source. The plan would add 3 million square feet of retail and residential space to the station, which is situated just north of the US Capitol.

Because much of the adjoining real estate to the sides and above the current station is spoken for, Amtrak said its plans for expansion focus on the area beneath the present structure, according to the Washington Business Journal. This subterranean development will feature more tracks, better pedestrian accessibility and increased parking.

Although the funding source is still unspecified, Amtrak officials believe that the attractiveness of the new capacity as well as the carefully considered plans will attract financial support.

"You've got to have a vision," Boardman told reporters after the announcement, according to the news source. "If you don't have a plan, a vision going forward, you're not going to get anything done."

The further development of the busy terminal is not only likely to ease travel for tourists and commuters, but also make the city a more appealing location for residents. Amtrak is predicting a quickly growing number of passengers in the next decade or two. The station already enables 100,000 trips a day, and an increase in ridership could push the station well over capacity and hamstring resident's mobility.

"Demand for rail service will someday rise to the level where the practical capacity for these facilities is reached," officials for Amtrak stated. "This could happen as early as 2030, depending on the pace of growth and investment in the overall rail system capacity."

As an attempt to nip this eventuality in the bud, the company's new plans could be a boon for one of the most heavily visited cities in the country, and increase quality of life and property values in the process.