• All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Vincent
 
The route from Pacific Station in Vancouver to Bellingham is 62 miles and requires almost 2 hours (1:59). Tukwila to Olympia is 64 miles and takes 1:06. Even allowing for a stop at the border, VAC to BEL is a slow, slow trip.

British Columbia hasn't been willing to make the significant investments needed to speed up Cascades service and it's doubtful that CN/BNSF will be building any infrastructure solely for the benefit of passenger trains either. I don't know of any recent cost projections for improving the tracks north of the border, but if the goal is to speed up service and add additional trips, I'm sure the cost would be close to $1 billion US.

The Cascadia High Speed Rail plan hasn't presented any financial projections yet, but given the high cost of building fast and reliable service on the BNSF/CN ROW, I would strongly consider building true HSR between Seattle and Vancouver rather than sinking more money into the existing Cascades service north of Seattle.
  by mtuandrew
 
At a certain point, one wonders whether rebuilding the MILW branch between Bellingham and Sumas wouldn’t be the way to supercharge speeds. It’s the long way around vs Bellingham-Blaine-Vancouver, but Bellingham-Sumas-Abbotsford-Vancouver looks quite a bit straighter in each route segment.
  by NorthWest
 
Unfortunately, the trail people have gotten hold of that, and aren't going to give it back.

I'd love to see it rebuilt, but the main slow area is from New Westminster to Pacific Central. The reroute would only save a little time from the bridge to Braid Junction, which would be offset by the greater distance, and trying to get CP to play nice.
  by AgentSkelly
 
BNSF as I’ve understood thru several people I know does have some plans on the books for its BC operations, but the hold up is if/when White Rock is serious about wanting a reroute off the shore; they want provincial funds to offset the moving of the line..,
  by Tadman
 
What's the hangup with White Rock? I thought it was double track. I don't know Canadian politics, but somehow the San Diegans manage to do just fine on Oceanside's waterfront.
  by NorthWest
 
White Rock is single track, but that's not the issue. The tracks run along the beach right through the center of town, so there's lots of grade crossings, etc. BNSF keeps speeds to 25 to keep the neighbors happy. There are also some tight curves and unstable ground slightly north of the city.
  by bdawe
 
one thing is that CN is planning to finish doubletracking their line through to the Vancouver Waterfront, which probably implies more freight trains in the way of the Cascades heading to pacific central, however they should be able to get out of the way faster
  by AgentSkelly
 
NorthWest wrote:White Rock is single track, but that's not the issue. The tracks run along the beach right through the center of town, so there's lots of grade crossings, etc. BNSF keeps speeds to 25 to keep the neighbors happy. There are also some tight curves and unstable ground slightly north of the city.
Yes! The 25 MPH is what I heard an agreement with the city; I’ve heard it was higher in the 50s.
BNSF does want a double track bypass..,
  by wigwagfan
 
bdawe wrote:WRT 3, it's not a hell of a lot faster. Bus schedules are essentially the same as train schedules, at 4 hours or worse. Which supports my contention that Amtrak could eat the buses if they were priced better and had more frequencies.
Bolt Bus Portland-Seattle is 3 hours 15 minutes; Amtrak is 30 minutes slower. However, Amtrak Cascades had just a 53% on-time rating and 30-45 minute delays are common.

Frequently Amtrak is able to price the train trip cheaper than Bolt Bus; yet Bolt Bus has been specifically indicated in WSDOT reports as successfully taking ridership away from Amtrak. Price is not the issue. And for three hours, the lack of a cafe car isn't deterring bus ridership either.

Frequencies? Sure, but we can place the blame squarely on Amtrak for taking two expensive, specialized trainsets out of service - one permanently, and one with no expectation of return to service - and with no ability to replace them.
  by wigwagfan
 
Tadman wrote:I think there's generally a pretty negative perception of buses. When we see them on movies, it's generally a less glamorous part of town or a character down on their luck.
I hear Union Station is in a very different part of town, the ritzy part of Portland, than the Greyhound depot.

Wait, they're across the street from each other.

Bolt Bus in Seattle is two blocks away from King Street Station, atop the International District Metro Tunnel station and next to the Union Station complex. So, can't really blame "the bad side of the tracks" up in Seattle, either. (The Greyhound station is a bit further south in a rather hidden location, but it is also adjacent to a Central Link station, the SoDo busway, and a very short walk to T-Mobile Field and the CenturyLink Event Center (which is the south side of CenturyLink Field).

And in Vancouver, Bolt Bus uses...Pacific Central Station. Amtrak uses...Pacific Central Station. Hmmmm.......
  by STrRedWolf
 
Backshophoss wrote:The Quick fix is the 2 unused WI Taglo sets at Beech Grove,need to moved west and put in service!
Reported hangup is the FRA wavier to use the sets "as is",without the Door interlock trainline that's now required.
(ie Door open,loco cannot move)
This is probably the best route, since there are two near-ready pairs, even if they can't get the waiver...

Although, why do they need that interlock? Amtrak engineers and conductors on MARC equipment have a hard enough time stopping on a 1.5 car extended platform at Odenton, MD (hint: trackwork BRIDGE to BOWIE on the NEC starting June 3rd) with one of them hanging out the door while the train's moving telling the engineer YA GOING TOO FAST YOU IDIOT!!! (Yes, I'm pissed about the trackwork since March 2nd.) Making a "Open door, dump air" policy is *WORSE*.
  by Vincent
 
Here's a chart with the Cascades ridership in Oregon: https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/GR/Q- ... ership.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Train 511 has very low ridership, mainly due to lack of feed from WA. Its departure time of 945am is too early to allow connections from the first train from Seattle. The planned schedule using the Bypass route would have had the first train from Seattle arriving at 915am and 511 would have served connecting passengers from WA.
  by NorthWest
 
511 also operates way too late for the commuter traffic its predecessor saw before the grand schedule change of a few years ago. Those people now have a bus...
  by wigwagfan
 
ApproachMedium wrote:It isnt that simple. Trains need to be serviced. And only having 30 minutes means if there IS any delays or snags enroute that will end up making a cascade of delays for any trains later in the day the set would use. At some point trains need interiors cleaned between runs. i dont know the distance/time these trains are running but nothing on the NEC gets a 30 minute turn except maybe a Keystone set and that continues to prove to be a problem because the bathrooms run out of water and the trash bins fill up. And the toilets start to nearly overflow.
If the trains are so incredibly dirty after a 3:30 run PDX-SEA then there is a serious problem. As it is, the trains barely get any "cleaning" between runs even with a generous 4-5 hours (or more) between trips; is there even any crew in Portland that cleans at all, beyond dumps the holding tanks?

Japan/Europe can figure out how to keep trains moving with minimal delay. Southwest does it all day long, thousands of times a day, with their 737s, at hundreds of different stations. We're asking Amtrak to figure it out at just TWO locations.

SURELY, Amtrak can figure it out.

Or, maybe, this is just a realization the Talgo trainset is not the appropriate equipment, if its blue water/black water tanks can't withstand a 300 passenger load for less than four hours. It's already bad enough the doors can't open automatically leading to deboarding delays at PDX/SEA as a Conductor has to walk around and open the doors (God forbid if you're in Car 9...)
  by wigwagfan
 
Vincent wrote:Here's a chart with the Cascades ridership in Oregon: https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/GR/Q- ... ership.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Train 511 has very low ridership, mainly due to lack of feed from WA. Its departure time of 945am is too early to allow connections from the first train from Seattle. The planned schedule using the Bypass route would have had the first train from Seattle arriving at 915am and 511 would have served connecting passengers from WA.
How much "connecting feed" is there?

SEA-YVR has three times the ridership as PDX-EUG, despite an equal number of trains (two), and nobody complains about a "lack of Oregon feed" for trains 516/519 whose ridership far surpasses 511/513 - and, both northbounds out of Eugene continue to Seattle, except the weekend only 502 which originates in Portland. Also, studies show frequency trumps all other things when attracting ridership, and despite much more frequency with buses, PDX-EUG is still underperforming.

The weekend 502 out of PDX has no problem filling up even without the EUG/ALY/SLM/ORC train connection.
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