downtown los angeles, union station

Los Angeles Getting Its “Train Mojo” Back: Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge Now Open at Union Station in Downtown LA

An exciting new Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is now open at Union Station catering to Amtrak train passengers

An exciting new Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is now open at Union Station catering to Amtrak train passengers

For a city known mostly for its embarrassingly robust driving culture and clogged freeways, it’s no surprise that LA lagged behind other large urban cities (i.e., New York, DC, Chicago, Philly, etc.) when it comes to train travel even though we’re the second largest city in the country. However, we are making great strides as the Pacific Surfliner — serving LA and San Diego up to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo — is now the busiest Amtrak route outside the northeast corridor with 2.7 million passengers in 2013. And now another symbolic sign that LA is getting its “train mojo” back is the opening of the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge at Downtown LA’s Union Station.

What was announced by Amtrak in 1992, the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is now finally open at Union Station. The 21-year delay makes total sense since the notion of urbanism in Los Angeles — using trains or walking for example — was non-existent during that time when suburbia reigned supreme. When everyone lived in a cul-de-sac and drove everywhere, the last thing on anyone’s mind was a train lounge at some place no one’s ever seen called Union Station in that “scary” part of town called Downtown LA.

Oh how things have changed!

The new Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge quietly opened two months ago in late October and will be celebrating an official grand opening this week on Thursday, December 19, 2013 from 11 am to 2 pm. Located on the second floor above the Amtrak ticketing counter in the passenger terminal, the spacious lounge is stocked with comfy plush chairs with flexible tray tables (perfect for a laptop), an LCD television, complimentary snacks and drinks/coffee, ticketing assistance, and two things every traveler is grateful for: free WiFi and clean bathrooms.

According to Amtrak, Metropolitan Lounges are available to sleeping car passengers, business class passengers with the same day travel ticket (departure or arrival) and Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive members.

Los Angeles now proudly joins both Chicago and Portland as the third city in the country to have an Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge while the four major east coast cities — New York, DC, Boston, and Philly — have ClubAcela lounges that cater to passengers on the higher speed Amtrak service.

For more info, please visit Amtrak online.

The Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is located on the second floor above the Amtrak ticketing counter

The Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is located on the second floor above the Amtrak ticketing counter

The reception desk greets passengers as they enter the lounge

The reception desk greets passengers as they enter the lounge

The new lounge lined with plush comfy chairs

The new lounge lined with plush comfy chairs

A close-up of those plush comfy chairs with flexible tray tables

A close-up of those plush comfy chairs with flexible tray tables

A place to sit, snack, surf online, and watch some TV

A place to relax, snack, surf online, and watch some TV

A snack bar with drinks and coffee

A snack bar with drinks and coffee

A special "conference room" for larger parties

A special “conference room” for larger parties

Passengers exit the back door in the lounge to head toward Amtrak trains

Passengers exit the back door in the lounge to head toward Amtrak trains

Passengers can take a shuttle cart to their trains

Passengers can take a shuttle cart to their trains

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12 Comments

  1. Honestly kind of a hideous looking corporate space- not befitting of that beautiful train station. YOu wonder why people are reluctant to use the train? Try spending a little money next time Amtrak.

  2. Lawrence says

    @Bryan – While it’s corporate looking, it’s still a good amenity to have for long distance and business train travelers. It’s like an airline lounge albeit not as nice. This version actually looks better than some lounges in other cities (The Accela lounges in the Northeast Corridor look a bit worse for wear). The lounge itself is on the 2nd floor of the station so it’s not readily visible to most Union Station visitors. Amtrak will need to improve signage for it. In the end, the best measurement of success is whether or not visitors like it and it seemed like most users really enjoyed having a place to setup their laptops, have a snack, and relax prior to boarding their trains. The space serves its intended function, but Amtrak is no Virgin/Virgin America when it comes to design aesthetics.

  3. FWIW, in terms of access, the key difference between Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounges and their ClubAcela lounges is that Metropolitan Lounges allow business- and first-class passengers while ClubAcela lounges are limited to first-class passengers only. Upper-tier Guest Rewards members are allowed in both.

  4. Scott M B Gustafson says

    If this lounge isn’t to your liking, I suggest the Traxx Bar in the main concourse. Great drinks, black and white movies, and classic jazz make for a very enjoyable atmosphere.

  5. Sheesh, what a tired and clumsy design… looks like a Ramada Inn in Kansas City. Is there nothing this city can do right? Has no one ever seen or heard of urban, cosmopolitan, comtemporary design?! ARGH!!!

  6. Taking the Coast Starlight from Portland to LA next week in a sleeper and have a connection to the Surfliner to San Diego. Good to know that space is now available to me. Thanks for the info.

  7. Well, I must say I rather enjoy the pro v. con back and forth. “No good deed” ROTFL. See you all in the lounge around eight or nine pm on Friday 7 February 2014!

  8. Lisette Dobbins says

    nice lounge Amtrak can do without Bill Alfords stupid political statement give me a break

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