Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Cascades’

Cascades Airo Fleet to Have Own Livery

December 22, 2022

The Airo equipment that will be assigned to Amtrak Cascades service in the Pacific Northwest will have its own livery.

The scheme will feature Cascades evergreen and mocha colors with graphics of Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier on each car.

The equipment is expected to begin revenue service in 2026 between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Eugene Oregon, via Seattle and Portland.

“The branding of our new trains is unique to the Amtrak Cascades corridor, distinguishing them from others in the Amtrak fleet,” said Ron Pate, director of the Washington Department of Transportation Rail, Freight and Ports Division.

The Airo equipment is being built by Siemens Mobility in Sacramento, California.

Airo equipment will replace Amfleet equipment on eastern corridor routes. That equipment, though, will feature another livery that Amtrak recently unveiled that features red, white and blue as its primary colors.

In a news release, WSDOT said the Airo equipment to be used in Cascades service will arrive over a period of several months and be subjected to testing and inspections before it is put into revenue service.

The Cascades trains are funded largely the WSDOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Amtrak Shows ‘Airo’ Equipment Concept

December 19, 2022

Amtrak this week released drawings of the new equipment that is ticketed to replace Amfleet on state-funded routes in the East and Pacific Northwest.

To be known as Airo trains, the equipment is being built by Siemens Mobility and is expected to begin revenue service in 2026. 

The 83 Airo trainsets will be semi-permanently coupled and operate push-pull style. Each equipment set will have six to eight cars, including a cab control car.

Airo equipment will be capable of operating with electric or diesel power and have a top speed of 125 miles per hour.

The first assignment of the equipment is expected to be in the Cascades corridor between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Eugene, Oregon, via Seattle.

Other trains and route expected to operate with Airo equipment include the Northeast Corridor, Adirondack, Carolinian, Downeaster, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Maple Leaf, New Haven/Springfield Service (Amtrak Hartford Line and Valley Flyer), Pennsylvanian, Vermonter and Virginia Services. 

The design of the Airo equipment is based  on the Viaggio Confort cars of the Austrian Federal Railways. In Austria, the Viaggio cars are propelled by electric locomotive power.

There also are similarities between the Airo cars and the Venture cars built by Siemens for use in Amtrak corridor service in the Midwest and California.

During a news conference in New York, officials said the first first Airo car shell is under construction in Sacramento, California.

Construction of the Airo fleet is expected to continue through 2031. Cost of the equipment has been put at $7.3 billion.

Seventeen of the equipment sets slated to operate in the Empire Corridor in New York State will use hybrid battery technology.

Amtrak will have an option to buy 130 additional Airo trainset.

Amtrak Selling Retired Talgo Equipment

October 13, 2022

Amtrak plans to sell at auction its retired Talgo Series 6 trainsets.

The passenger carrier has advertised that it is selling 28 cars, including two baggage cars, two bistro cars, two dining cars, 11 coaches, two cars listed as “first class” coaches, two “first class” ADA coaches, two ADA coaches, three ADA coaches with lavatory, and two HEP power cars.

All but two of these cars are being stored at Amtrak’s Beech Grove’s shops near Indianapolis. The other two, a coach and an ADA coach with lavatory are in Seattle.

The deadline to submit a bid was Sept. 30.

Two other Series VI trainsets owned by the state of Washington were sold to a scrapper in Southern Californi.

Series 8 Talgo trainsets owned by the state of Oregon remain in service on some Cascades Service runs.

Vancouver Service to Resume in September

July 6, 2022

Amtrak will resume serving Vancouver, British Columbia, in September.

The service between Vancouver and Seattle was suspended in May 2020 during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, the U.S.-Canadian border was closed to through travel.

Amtrak had said the earliest the Vancouver service would resume was in December due to crew shortages and mechanical issues.

However, that prompted a rebuke from the state transportation departments of Washington State and Oregon as being “not acceptable.”

That was particularly the case in light of Amtrak having begun in February the process of re-qualifying its crews between Seattle and Vancouver.

Before the pandemic, Amtrak operated a pair of Cascades Service trains between Seattle and Vancouver.

No date has been announced for when the Vancouver service will resume. Amtrak recently resumed operating its Maple Leaf between New York and Toronto.

Vancouver Service Not Seen Before December

May 16, 2022

Restoration of Amtrak service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, is not expected to occur before December.

That triggered protests from state department of transportation officials in Washington state and Oregon.

The service was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak told the state DOTs that the passenger carrier doesn’t have enough conductors, onboard service staff, and mechanics to operate the trains.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Transportation issued a joint statement saying “lack of support for the Amtrak Cascades service cannot continue” for seven months or more.

The statement described that as unacceptable. The agencies want at least a partial restoration of service before December.

New Thruway Added to Bellingham

February 24, 2022

Amtrak had added an additional Thruway bus between Seattle and Bellingham, Washington.

The bus service, which is being operated in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation, will bring the number of roundtrip Thruway buses on the route to two daily.

Set to launch on Feb. 28, the new bus service is being provided by MRT Western.

In a service advisory Amtrak said Bus 5605 will depart Bellingham at 10:45 a.m. and connect with Cascades Service No. 505 in Seattle.

The return new bus route, No. 5604 will connect in Seattle with Cascades No. 504 and arrive in Bellingham at 6 p.m.

Other Thruway bus scheduled on the route include Bus 5677 departing Bellingham at 3 p.m. and connecting with Train 507 in Seattle. Bus 5622 connects from Train 500 at Seattle and arrives in Bellingham at 2:15 p.m.

Vancouver Service May be Restored in Spring

February 17, 2022

Amtrak has hinted in a Facebook post that restoration of Cascades Service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, may be coming soon.

The post said operating crews are expected to make re-qualification trips over the route.

Although Amtrak did not give a date for the resumption of service, it indicated it will be in the spring.

The service was suspended in March 2020 as a result of border crossing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those restrictions have since eased and in late 2021 Amtrak began operating Thruway bus service between Seattle and Vancouver.

Adverse Weather Prompts Service Cancellations

January 8, 2022

Adverse weather conditions have led to a spate of Amtrak train cancellations.

Heavy snowfall in West Virginia was cited by Amtrak for multiple cancellations of the Chicago-New York Cardinal this week.

Trains magazine reported on its website that on Tuesday night Train 50 was terminated after reaching Rennselaer, Indiana, with passengers returned to Chicago by bus.

The westbound Cardinal was cancelled on Wednesday and Friday. The eastbound Cardinal was canceled on Thursday.

On Saturday morning the Amtrak website was showing Train 50 as still set to depart later that evening for New York.

Amtrak could have operated the Cardinal Thursday night to Indianapolis and then had that equipment turn Saturday morning to return to Chicago. But it elected not to pursue that option.

The Trains report said about 8 inches of snow fell in the region around Charleston, West Virginia, on Thursday and four more inches was expected in Northern Virginia on Friday morning.

Heavy snow that downed tree limbs across tracks led to operational issues that led to passengers being marooned for hours aboard trains in Virginia earlier this week.

Elsewhere, Amtrak cancelled the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder trains that were to have departed Thursday from Portland and Seattle.

Stalled BNSF freight trains were blocking the route and also prevented the westbound Empire Builder on that day from getting through.

Saturday morning Amtrak posted on Twitter that today’s westbound Empire Builder from Chicago has been canceled due to severe weather.

The Empire Builder that was to have originated in Seattle on Friday instead originated in Spokane, Washington.

Mudslides near Kelso, Washington, prompted Amtrak to cancel all service between Seattle and Portland on Thursday through Saturday. The cancellations did not affect trains operating between Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

In the east, Northeast Regional 171 to Roanoke, Virginia; No. 93 to Norfolk, Virginia; and train 85 to Richmond, Virginia; were canceled on Friday along with their counterparts from the same destinations, trains 176, 84, and 86.

The Silver Meteor from Miami to New York was canceled on Friday along with the southbound Meteor that was to have departed New York on Friday.

Eight additional Northeast Regional trains were cancelled Friday. Trains that did operate were subject to hours-long delays between Washington and Richmond.

An Announcement That Didn’t Announce Much About When International Service Would Resume

January 5, 2022

Amtrak recently announced that it is working to resume serving Canada with its Maple Leaf (New York-Toronto), Adirondack (New York-Montreal) and Cascades Service (Seattle-Vancouver) but didn’t say when those services would be restored.

The service advisory posted at Amtrak’s website only said it hoped the services could resume in early 2022.

The advisory said the passenger carrier said it is working with federal agencies on the matter.

The announcement did say that Thruway bus service provided by Cantrail resumed on Dec. 1 between Seattle and Vancouver with a stop in Richmond, British Columbia.

Amtrak Cascades 501 Derailment Engineer Wants Job Back

June 2, 2021

The locomotive engineer who was at the controls of an Amtrak Cascades train that derailed in December 2017 is still trying to get his operating license back and resume his career.

But in an interview with the Seattle Times, Steven Brown, 59, said he recognizes that is unlikely.

Brown said he knew Cascades No. 501 was speeding as it entered a 30-mph curve at 80 mph on Dec. 18, 2017, at DuPont, Washington.

But he thought the train could make it through the curve and even though he also knew “it was going to be uncomfortable.” Instead the train derailed and some passenger cars landed on Interstate 5 below.

Three passengers were killed and 65 others injured in the derailment. A subsequent investigation determined the train was traveling 78 mph when it derailed.

Amtrak fired Brown for violating safety rules and the Federal Railroad Administration suspended his license.

Brown told the newspaper he relives the derailment “all day” during his waking hours. He had become a locomotive engineer in 2013 after working nine years as a conductor.

“I was satisfied with where I got in life. I was really, truly, happy,” he said. “In an unbelievable instant, it’s all gone.”

The derailment left Bown with broken ribs, a broken jaw and cheekbone, compressed vertebrae, and elbow damage requiring partial replacement.

The incident occurred during the first trip of an Amtrak train on the Point Defiance bypass. Amtrak immediately ceased using the route and has yet to return to it although it will conduct crew qualification runs on the line between June 1 and July 25.

Engineers will be required to complete at least six practice round trips and a series of 10-hour days mimicking the actual operating schedules.

Brown said he had made one southbound run and two northbound trips as an engineer as well as seven to 10 observational trips.