Saturday, July 22, 2006

Amtrak was very late last night:

I wasn't on the 3pm train from Portland to Bellingham, but I heard horror stories last night. Apparently, somewhere just north of Portland, there was an equipment failure of some kind that resulted in the train returning. Passengers had to wait for at least three hours for another train to take them northbound - I'm not sure, but they may even have been later getting into Seattle than the evening service!

We don't have any spare equipment on Amtrak Cascades - any time there's a difficulty, there's nothing available to take its place without waiting for another train that was in service earlier that day. We need to improve this service by buying a spare train.


At 11:49 AM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

It is time to order the spare equipment, and to make sure that the state is not gouged on one extra set, they should buy several trainsets, perhaps under the guise of extending Amtrak Cascades to Eastern Washington.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...

Haha - I wouldn't say the guise, but I'd certainly be interested in extending Cascades to Eastern Washington if we can. That's a lot of track upgrades, though. Is there an existing right-of-way you prefer? Can it be speed-competitive with driving?

At 1:28 AM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

I prefer the ex-Northern Pacific Route up Stampede Pass, but there are a few 50MPH speed restrictions in place, since the fifties. It would require many upgrades to fix those, but if cab signals and Automatic Train Stop are installed and the track is fixed up, 90MPH would definately be speed competitive with driving. Also, Amtrak's Long Distance Fleet is capable of impressive speeds despite being heavy.

If gas prices continue to rise, Any speed above 70MPH would be competitive with driving.

At 11:02 PM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

Here is a suggestion from a group in California that thinks Washington, Oregon, and California take over the operations and jointly run the Coast Starlight.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you ride Amtrak? It uses evil oil in the form of diesel.

At 11:53 PM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

I would like to have seen it run on Electricity, which it only does in the Northeast. Now might be the time for the railroads to begin weaning themselves off of diesel. Amtrak has, sort of. In the NOrtheast, up until 2000, trains between NY Penn Station and Boston had to switchout locomotives in New Haven, Connecticut. It took 79 years for the electrification to reach Boston. We once ahd two electrified main-line sections. The Milwaukee Road between Tacoma and Othello, Washington and Great Northern's Skykomish-Wenatchee section.

Diesel is not evil. In Montana, there pro-environment Governor is suggesting weaning us off of Petroleum Diesel and switching to Coal-based Diesel.

Also, to get where my mom's cousins live, Amtrak is a better alternative. No Airports where Horizon flies into, and neither Greyhound nor Rimrock Trailways run in there. There are some proposing widening US2 to 4 lanes, but there is a problem, not enough Congressmembers represent that highway. 3 in Washington State, 1 in Idaho, 1 in Montana, and 1 in North Dakota(not sure how many in Minnesota).

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly doubt the chances of Amtrak purchasing a new set (which would costs a lot of $$$!). Honestly, though, Amtrak could not even afford to fix up a multitude of its current equipment (Some Superliner cars operated on long-distance trains in the midwest have broken a/c systems, lighting systems and lots others! Some Amfleet I/II cars also leaks when it rains and as well, on all types of equipments, broken toilets and AC outlets are the norm!) If Amtrak could not even spare funds to fix its current fleet of passenger cars, what are the chances of them purchasing new equipment?

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...


Amtrak wouldn't be purchasing the new sets - WSDOT would. They already own most of the Amtrak Cascades sets.


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