Williams Junction is officially closed.
The gateway to the Grand Canyon for many train travelers, Amtrak has closed its popular station, forcing those heading to the national park via Amtrak to now take a shuttle service from Flagstaff, Arizona, about 30 miles away.
According to a report in AZ Central, the burden of the shuttle service-operated by the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel-from the station into the Grand Canyon was too much to support.
The stop might have been popular for train travelers, but inconsistent service ultimately resulted in the station's closing.
"I'm very sad to see it close because the whole history of this area-Williams and the Grand Canyon-is based on the trains bringing people out this way," said Jim Sigmon, a Prescott, Arizona, resident, to AZ Central. He had traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, with his wife over the holidays via Williams Junction.
Bruce Brossman, director of sales and marketing for Grand Canyon Railway, noted that the Amtrak service was unreliable and resulted in passengers being dropped off "in the middle of nowhere" and often, in the middle of the night.
"There was a lot of labor involved," Brossman told Williams News. "We had to hire CDL drivers and deal with wear and tear on the vehicles."
Brossman also noted that passengers traveling to the Grand Canyon via Flagstaff have more options and services that are open 24 hours a day.
Despite the closing of the Amtrak stop in Williams, rail service into the Grand Canyon from the historic Williams train depot is still very much alive via the Grand Canyon Railway.
Travelers can drive to Williams or connect through Flagstaff on Amtrak and take the train into the Grand Canyon.
In 2017, Grand Canyon Railway experienced a substantial increase in ridership, and it expects to see further increases in 2018. The railway takes guests on a 130-mile roundtrip journey along the historic Route 66 and to the 2910 log depot as well as the South Rim of Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park.
Taking the train into the Grand Canyon is a more relaxing and environmentally friendly way to access the national park, which is often plagued by traffic.
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