Amtrak can take control of Union Station, federal judge rules

Amtrak acted within its legal authority when it moved to seize control of D.C.'s Union Station by eminent domain in 2022, a federal judge ruled last week. 

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said in an opinion that Amtrak "met its burden of proof to exercise its 'quick take' authority" after negotiations to acquire the lease for Union Station from Union Station Invesco LLC broke down. 

Amtrak controlled 13.4% of the station, according to the filing in 2022, mainly just the rail and platform itself: not the terminal. Amtrak argued it needed to take control of Union Station in order to advance expansion plans and to make safety upgrades. 

Mehta said Amtrak taking control of Union Station is "necessary for intercity rail transportation." 

Amtrak has put up $250 million as "just compensation" for taking over Union Station Invesco's sublease, meaning Amtrak now has "legal title" over the lease. 

But Amtrak cannot take immediate possession of the Union Station sublease until both Amtrak and Union Station Invesco LLC present a transition plan of the station's operations and management. They have until May 1 to submit a status report on the property's transfer and compensation. 

Union Station Invesco LLC's sublease was due to run through 2084. 

Statement from Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner below:
"We thank the U.S. District Court for its decision to grant Amtrak possession of the Washington Union Station leasehold, pending the judge’s approval of a transition plan. We look forward to being able to accelerate improvements to the historic station for travelers, visitors, and the community."