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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » AmtrakCascades News (Page 2)

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Author Topic: AmtrakCascades News
yukon11
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I didn't realize Northbound Cascade 500 leaves Eugene so early (5:30 AM) but I guess it is appropriate for the commuters.

There has been some talk regarding the addition of 2 roundtrip Cascade trains between PDX and SEA by 2017.

Also, back in April, some thought to the possibility of a private interest taking over the Washington-Oregon Cascade trains:

http://nwnewsnetwork.org/post/oregon-washington-consider-alternative-amtrak-cascades-rail-service

Richard

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Vincent206
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The 2 new roundtrips are slated to begin in 2017, when all the ARRA projects are completed. One of the trips will be an early morning departure from Portland to Seattle and an evening return trip. The other roundtrip will be slotted somewhere in the midday, with adjustments to the other trains.

Thirteen companies responded to the WSDOT Request for Information. Who knows what information was submitted? The WSDOT Rail Division has also published an Action Plan for 2014-15 which seems to involve spending a lot of time and money studying ways to save time and money.

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yukon11
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Some interesting information, Vincent, with the your link "Action Plan" (above).

The pilot program for clipper vacations, with discounts on Cascade trains, might work well for cruise ship passengers. How about something similar for the Rocky Mountaineer excursions which now has Seattle to Vancouver runs.

Nothing about extending the Cascades to other towns/cities in Oregon and Washington. Maybe down the line.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Enjoy this clip that appeared tonight on NBC Nightly News:

https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/this-train-station-is-run-completely-by-volunteers-1098562627979

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yukon11
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I enjoyed the video, Mr. Norman. Thanks for posting.

I'm a little confused. Is the Amtrak station in Lacy serving both Lacy and Olympia? Or is it in Olympia also serving Olympia and Lacy? I once detrained in Olympia/Lacy back in the 1980's, but I can't remember much about the station other than it was small. I do remember thinking it was a nice jumping off point for renting a car to explore northern Washington state.

Another thing I miss, regarding the new Amtrak website, is a list of all Amtrak stations with station services available. I'm not sure if even the old website had a listing of stations.

Is the Olympia brewery still around? I can't seem to find Olympia beer at the local supermarket. Olympia beer was a favorite. Back in college we would frequently, at night, go out for a pizza and an "Ole".

Richard

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Vincent206
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Olympia beer is currently owned by Miller/Coors and is brewed somewhere in California. It's pretty much a forgotten brand in the PNW. The brewery in Tumwater is also closed and I don't know what plans there are for the site.

Miller bought the brewery about 15-20 years ago and I spent a week in Tumwater working on the transition. I got to meet the Miller CEO and he had big plans for the facility. He said the well water that the brewery was famous for really is extraordinary and that Miller was hoping to use the facility for special products. Those plans were never realized and within a few years the Tumwater brewery was making soda pop.

The location of the Olympia-Lacey train station hasn't moved since the 1980s. The location used to be surrounded by farms and pastures, now it's in the middle of suburbia. But it's still a long way from the main population centers of the region.

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yukon11
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I never knew, Vincent, that Olympia was bought out by Miller/Coors, and quite some time ago. No wonder I haven't seen it at the local supermarkets. Maybe, someday, it will return to Tumwater under the Olympia name, brewed by the Artesians.

https://is.gd/6vnXUq

Richard

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Vincent206
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Without a doubt, the most iconic Pacific Northwest beer commercial of all time was this one for Rainier Beer, one of Oly's biggest competitors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtWQK_O8UdQ

The old Rainier brewery--with its signature neon "R"--still stands in Seattle. It's across the street from the Link light rail O&M base and it's been converted to lofts, office space and commercial uses. The old Olympia Tumwater brewery is located next to a river and it would be a great place to live or work if it were re-habbed.

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Gilbert B Norman
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(Not quite the whole truth), but I haven't had a beer since college.

OK I lied; I do recall visiting a friend's daughter during '14 (think she was then 19) at University of Wisconsin, and there was some "local" beer that she said "you have to have". It had some kind of cow on the bottle. She was able to have one with me, as Wisconsin has a law which states "The drinking age in Wisconsin is 21. Those under the legal drinking age may be served, possess, or consume alcohol if they are with a parent, legal guardian, or spouse who is of legal drinking age. Those age 18 to 20 may also possess (but not consume) alcohol as part of their employment" and allows an otherwise underage to have a beer so long as they are with an adult that could "pass" for a parent or (in my case) grandparent.

Her Mother emailed me saying "you're now a real Schontce" if that means anything to anyone.

But I ask, what is all the "thing" about the water?

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Vincent206
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Beer is essentially flavored water. Beer brewed using water from Tumwater WA will probably have a better taste than a beer brewed with water from Flint MI. Two molecules of hydrogen combined with one molecule of oxygen produces a tasteless liquid, but in nature there are always traces of other chemicals mixed in with the H2O. When Miller tested the water supply for the Tumwater brewery they were surprised at how good the water was. I remember the CEO saying that "it really is great water" and hoping to create something special at the Tumwater plant.

Olympia Beer is now brewed in Irwindale CA which is located between Pasadena and Pomona, 2 of the cities on this list of
cities with the worst drinking water in America. I'm guessing that the 2017 "vintage" of Oly is vastly inferior to a 1988 "vintage".

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Vincent206
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Put down your beers, there's some actual local rail news...

WSDOT has announced that the new Siemens Charger locomotives will start operating this week on the Cascades trains, just in time for the Thanksgiving rush. Until the Chargers have been fully tested in revenue service all trainsets using a Charger will be paired with an older, proven and reliable locomotive from the Amtrak pool.

We're also less than 30 days from the start of the 2 additional daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland. I'm very ready to see what $800 million of "shovel-ready" ARRA projects actually look like when they are finally done.

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Vincent206
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I'll post this bit of news without any comment.

quote:
Most people who don't care for a beer they've purchased simply switch brands.
Brendan Peacock goes a bit further. He sues.
...
Peacock's suit says the beer company falsely implies that the beer comes from artesian spring water in Tumwater, Wash., when, in fact, the company brews Olympia in the San Gabriel Valley city of Irwindale, Calif.


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palmland
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Vincent, ignorance on where our beer is made is probably a good thing, especially in some of the metro areas. But I do like the regional beers as it gives the illusion at least of having something a bit unique and maybe more carefully made rather than a national mass produced brand. Remember the days when Coors was considered exotic (Smokey and the Bandit) because you couldn’t get it east of the Mississippi.

I do hope Amtrak can get back to some regional food (and drink) on their trains. It’s always enjoyable to ride some of the state supported trains where the catering is done locally. But I think CEO Anderson is more concerned with the bottom line than a memorable customer experience!

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Gilbert B Norman
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Well, not quite the whole truth, but pretty much. I last drank beer here or here; can't remember which.

"Beer is a beer".

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yukon11
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I do agree that regional beers are often the best.

I'm not much of a beer aficionado as "Coors Light" is what I usually drink on those rare occasions when I do drink beer. There is a very good beer, out of Chico Calif, called "Sierra Nevada" that seems to be quite popular among the local folk.. I don't know if Sierra Nevada beer is available outside Calif.

I was up in BC, Canada, last summer, and I wanted to visit the "Billy Miner Alehouse" in Maple Ridge, BC. Never got there. The ale house is named after Bill Miner, who was known as a "gentleman bandit" and staged the first train robbery in Canada, at Silverdale, which is east of Vancouver. If you ever come by a 1982 movie called "The Grey Fox", it is a great movie about Bill Miner. Miner is played by Richard Farnsworth. One scene of a steam locomotive traveling through a snowy landscape is a real standout.

http://www.billyminer.ca/

Richard

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Vincent206
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Amtrak is contributing $750,000 to an infrastructure project south of Portland that will improve Cascades and Starlight reliability.
quote:
Plans for restoring the Oregon City Siding include laying new track, ties and equipping both ends with power-operated switches and switch heaters to avoid snow delays in the winter. After the completion of the Oregon City Siding Project, ODOT will work to secure funding for an additional track on an adjacent three-mile section between Oregon City and an existing siding to the south.
There are a lot of delays incurred between Portland and Salem. This project and the proposed double tracking are desperately needed. Amtrak and UP will both benefit from this work. It's good to see Amtrak putting money into a project off the NEC.
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palmland
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Received this email fromWSDOT today:

WSDOT awarded $37.5 million federal grant for train equipment
WSDOT received notification this week from the Federal Railroad Administration that it was awarded a $37.5 million Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grant to acquire at least three sets of new passenger rail cars for the Amtrak Cascades service.
WSDOT plans to procure the new passenger train equipment as part of Amtrak’s 2019-20 national equipment replacement contract. By participating in this national procurement process with other states that sponsor passenger service, WSDOT will be able to leverage the buying power of both Amtrak and other states. The new passenger rail cars are expected to be delivered from the selected manufacturer in the mid-2020s. The award of this grant will allow for the replacement of the WSDOT-owned Talgo 6 trainsets, including the two currently in service and the one lost in the derailment.
In the interim, prior to delivery of the new equipment, Amtrak is working to identify temporary passenger equipment to replace the Talgo 6 train sets currently in service. This is consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations following its investigation of the 2017 derailment in DuPont.
WSDOT continues to work with Amtrak, Sound Transit, and FRA to address other safety measures identified by NTSB in anticipation of the return of Amtrak Cascades service to the Point Defiance Bypass between Tacoma and Nisqually. A date for that shift to the Point Defiance Bypass has not yet been determined. You will receive notice from Amtrak and WSDOT well in advance of the move to the new route.
The new modern train equipment that will be acquired through this grant will help increase ridership and ticket revenue by improving reliability, comfort and capacity on the Amtrak Cascades system that connects 18 cities between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon.

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Gilbert B Norman
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So the Wisconsin sets will continue to sit in their new role as easels for "The Beech Grove Arts Society".

It appears WashState, and I would presume Oregon, has "had enough of 'em". In this case, the rally chant of "send them back" is quite appropriate.

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Vincent206
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Interesting news, but the numbers don't quite add up. On December 17, 2017 there were 7 trainsets in operation (5 @ Series 6 and 2 @ Series 8). The crashed set was a Series 6. The two Series 8 trainsets are supposedly compliant with all FRA crashworthiness standards while the four remaining Series 6 trainsets are going to be withdrawn.

If WSDOT is going to order 3 new trainsets, they will only have 5 total trainsets. That's enough for the current schedule, but not enough to add the 2 additional trips between Seattle and Portland. So, either WSDOT is planning to stick with the existing schedule or they are planning to add the WI Talgos and add the 2 additional trips.

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Gilbert B Norman
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First, Mr. Vincent, was the set involved at the Chamber's Bay incident ever returned to service?

I can't read into the press release Mr. Palmland linked that the agency intends to acquire the two Wisconsin "Beech Grove easels", nor can I read that the replacement equipment will be anything other than single level cars.

Now I realize I have had only one "take it or leave it" Talgo ride in this life, namely Bilbao to Madrid during 1990, and I missed out of same on the New Haven. But it certainly appears that the Cascades have their following both within and without the railfan community.

But the fact remains that there have been two incidents with the equipment. Even if both were clearly linked to Amtrak operator negligence, should there be another, any party that can be tied to such incident will "have more suits on their hands than Men's Wearhouse has on the racks".

I think it time to "wish 'em all a Bon Voyage" back to where they came from. Maybe RENFE can find some use for them.

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Vincent206
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The Chambers Bay set was repaired and returned to service (and I believe it was one of the Series 8 sets).

My guess is that the new equipment purchased with the FRA money will be traditional equipment, probably identical to what CA will be buying. Some of the Series 6 trainsets already have 20+ years of service and they are ready for replacement.

The question is whether the new equipment will be able to meet the timetable speeds that the Talgos can achieve between Seattle and Portland. Also, it doesn't make sense to have 2 different types of trains on a corridor that only requires 5-7 trainsets.

There are some big decisions ahead for the Cascades service.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Hopefully, with the "bypass" returned to service, and considering that both the GN and NP had "Heavyweights" in their consists even "late in the game", the existing schedule can be held with "traditional" single level equipment.

Even if 5-10 min need be added, so what. The prospect of another incident occurring, even if only slight injuries result, Glen Lerner (is the lawyer for you) would be screaming "they knew the trains were unsafe and they got more of them".

Seattle station KIRO aired a comprehensive (well, as TV News goes) report regarding this issue.

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Vincent206
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from the FRA's announcement on August 21st:
quote:
Washington – Washington State Passenger Rail Car Replacement Project
Up to $37,500,000
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
The proposed project will procure three new consists for use in the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service between Eugene, OR, and Vancouver, B.C., on the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. The project will replace the three Washington State-owned Talgo VI trainsets: two used in current service and one damaged in the December 2017 derailment. The loss of the damaged trainset reduced the Amtrak Cascades schedule from six to four daily round trips. The project will enable WSDOT meet existing and anticipated passenger demand, and allow Washington to retire its Talgo VI trainsets. Additionally, the new consists will provide flexible train car capacity, reduce infrastructure lifecycle costs for the Amtrak Cascades fleet, and improve onboard amenities.

This clarifies what is happening. Currently 3 Talgo 6 trainsets are owned by WSDOT and Amtrak owns 2 of the Talgo 6 trainsets. The FRA grant will allow WSDOT to replace its Talgos with new equipment. I presume Amtrak will provide another 2 consists to replace their Series 6 trainsets. What remains undetermined is what will happen with ODOT's 2 Talgo 8 trainsets.

The 8/21 announcement also awards money to the Hiawatha and Piedmont services for new railcars.

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