• All Aboard Washington

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Pensyfan19
 
This interesting proposal seems to be following the original Union Pacific route from Seattle to Pasco, and then following the UP line up to Spokane. Any thoughts about this? :-)

https://www.theurbanist.org/2020/06/26/ ... ail-study/
All Aboard Washington (AAWA) is pleased that the Feasibility of an East-West Intercity Passenger Rail System for Washington State (East-West) study previewed on Tuesday shows that passenger rail service between Seattle, Auburn, Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima, Toppenish, Pasco, and Spokane is technically and financially viable. It is imperative that this preliminary study be followed up with a full analysis of the economic benefits that will accrue to the areas to be served by East-West passenger rail service via Stampede Pass.
In the current fiscal environment, we believe that East-West passenger train service will provide a significant environmentally-friendly transportation alternative using existing infrastructure at a reasonable cost. The proposed infrastructure upgrades will be an important part of Washington’s economic recovery plan, and will lay the groundwork for a statewide multimodal transportation network featuring a modern rail system. AAWA is concerned, however, that the study’s “key findings” do not appear to reflect the data included in the report.
The key point stating that East-West service will have “low expected ridership” is not borne out by the study’s own estimates. The ridership projections suggest up to 205,000 yearly riders for the twice-daily service between Seattle and Spokane, though this number varies, depending on which option is ultimately selected. The study compares these estimates to ridership for services such as the Amtrak Cascades and North Carolina’s Piedmont/Carolinian, both of which have more daily round-trips than the one to two proposed by the East-West study.
What the study does not state, despite providing the data to support it, is that the East-West service would perform remarkably well given the population density of the areas it would serve, and long run times. In fact, a key insight from the data provided is that this corridor is likely to benefit from more frequencies than are currently being studied. Amtrak route performance data shows that corridor ridership grows considerably once at least six to eight daily roundtrips are offered. We assert that more frequencies would significantly increase East-West ridership and, therefore, should be studied at levels similar to the Carolinian/Piedmont and Cascades corridors.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Some have pointed out that the service would be way too slow between Seattle and Spokane on this route. I say: who cares? It provides a public transit option for--let's say--Auburn to Pasco, or Ellesburg to Seattle for those who do not own cars. We just seem not to be able to get beyond end-point mentality in this country. If you're interested in endpoints, then air is the way to travel.
  by Pensyfan19
 
I think I remember hearing that there was already some sort of Seattle to Spokane intercity train proposed. It might have been part of the proposed high speed rail system being funded by Microsoft. (Cascadia Rail might be the name of this service)
  by Pensyfan19
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:01 pm Quick note: this would use the former Northern Pacific main between Spokane and Seattle via Pasco, not the Union Pacific.
Thank you for fixing that error. :wink:
  by RRspatch
 
The idea of a daylight train between Seattle and Spokane would tie in nicely with a restored North Coast Hiawatha on a day-night-day-night schedule eastbound and a night-day-night-day schedule westbound. I suggest this over in the NCH thread but got no replies. Oh well.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
The proposal is a good start but end to end, the train travel times would be twice as slow as driving. I wouldn't even put Seattle to Spokane down on paper. Seattle to Pasco is something worth looking into given the fact that the route would probably be close to matching that of driving between the two cities. This route wouldn't just be great for people traveling from Seattle to Pasco and back. You could have somebody who lives in the southern suburbs of Seattle like Auburn who wants to take a trip to Yakima to visit family.
  by Pensyfan19
 
In that case, could it be possible for the service to reach speeds between 90-150 mph in order for this operation to be significantly faster than driving? Nothing a few track upgrades can't fix. Not to mention, the connection for Spokane would also connect another major city with the same neighborhoods along the rest of the proposed line for eastbound travel.
  by Westernstar1
 
RRspatch wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:40 am The idea of a daylight train between Seattle and Spokane would tie in nicely with a restored North Coast Hiawatha on a day-night-day-night schedule eastbound and a night-day-night-day schedule westbound. I suggest this over in the NCH thread but got no replies. Oh well.
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I will reply. I'm all for a link between Spokane and Central Montana along the old NP route. I think it might even work if a day train departed Spokane , for Central Montana, very early in the morning. Same thing for the return.

A daylight Cascade train from Seattle to Spokane could link with such a train after an overnight in Spokane. I've always wanted a train trip to Spokane, but the arrival time for the EB just puts the idea out of question. A daylight Cascade train to Spokane would allow exploration of a lot of interesting areas near or within driving distance of Spokane, such as Coeur d' Alene, Priest Lake and Sandpoint in Idaho, maybe even a drive along Highway 2 into Montana. I think it would be very popular at least during non-winter months.

Richard
  by mtuandrew
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:21 pm In that case, could it be possible for the service to reach speeds between 90-150 mph in order for this operation to be significantly faster than driving? Nothing a few track upgrades can't fix. Not to mention, the connection for Spokane would also connect another major city with the same neighborhoods along the rest of the proposed line for eastbound travel.
If someone else foots the bill I think BNSF wouldn’t mind hosting 90 mph service on the ex-NP, at least west of Pasco where the traffic is lower. East of there, BNSF may have issues with posted speeds above 79 mph due to the high volume of freight.

I don’t expect to see 110 mph on this line, not without the State building its own parallel track and offering other freight improvements to BNSF. (One of which could be rebuilding the ex-Milwaukee Road between Ellensburg and Lind as a way of reducing freight traffic on both the NP and GN lines.)
  by wigwagfan
 
The ridership projections suggest up to 205,000 yearly riders for the twice-daily service between Seattle and Spokane, though this number varies, depending on which option is ultimately selected
205,000 divided by four trains a day (two daily round-trips), divided by 365 days a year, equals "up to" 140 passengers per train per day.

For the amazing low capital cost to taxpayers of...well, nobody will say. But very likely will be well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

You know, I've got some friends over in the beautiful city of Renton that will happily accomplish the exact same thing for around $100 million (at list price, so actual cost is more likely around $50 million) and provide a service that is a lot faster; plus it supports jobs already in Washington state (not jobs in California or elsewhere) and positively contributes to taxes (versus requires a subsidy).

Except...we don't even need to do that, since the majority of the cities on the route already have air service, AND even bus service (Ellensburg being the notable exception lacking air service). So why a train?
  by GWoodle
 
So why a train?
[/quote]

A question I have is could the train provide service 12 months a year, 365 days. May be for 9 months warm enough to be no problem. For 3 months use the train thru the snow & open up areas for the ski bums. How many days is air travel restricted for low clouds, fog, icing snow. For the short distance, why fly?
  by wigwagfan
 
How many days is air travel restricted for low clouds, fog, icing snow.
Arguably, Amtrak in the Pacific Northwest is far, far, far, far, far, far, far more impacted by weather than air travel. A typical PNW rainstorm shuts down the entire Cascades corridor for 72 hours after a landslide. West-East service is frequently very late. Low clouds, fog, icing, snow typically is a non-issue for the airports around here.
For the short distance, why fly?
If it can do the job, why not? Why should we spend a billion dollars to do what $100 million can do just as good if not better? Also, Seattle-Yakima, although on paper is a "short distance" is actually quite a tedious drive. The existing railroad tracks go through canyons that could not be made much faster, so air travel makes quite good sense. Another way to look at it - Horizon Air's shortest flight is a straight-line distance of just 97 miles - just a few more than the 103 between Seattle and Yakima. But there isn't a rail option and there will never be one. Air just has that inherent flexibility of connecting communities that rail can't.
  by eolesen
 
Air is the most efficient and safest form of transport these days. I think there have been two fatalities involving passenger aircraft in the US during the last 10 years. Two.