Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Cascades’

Milwaukee Talgo Plant to Rebuild Transit Cars

July 18, 2017

A factory in Milwaukee built to manufacture Talgo trains has been converted into a shop to overhaul public transit cars.

The Spanish company Talgo created the facility to assemble its passive-tilt equipment that was to be used in high-speed service.

The high-speed rail program was killed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shortly after he was elected in November 2010.

The state had been granted $810 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for two Talgo trainsets and infrastructure development.

Walker pledged during his campaign to end the project, raising objections to the state’s obligation to cover ongoing maintenance and operating costs.

The Milwaukee Talgo plant built four trainsets before it closed. Two of them are in service on Amtrak’s Cascades Service route while two others are being stored in Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis.

The stored Talgos were intended to be used in Wisconsin, but never turned a wheel there in revenue service.

The former Wisconsin Talgo trainsets might be sent to California for use between Los Angeles and San Diego if a service plan by the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency is implemented.

In the wake of Wisconsin’s refusal to accept the two Talgo trainsets, the manufacturer sued the state. That litigation was eventually settled out of court with Talgo receiving a $10 million settlement and the right to sell the completed trainsets.

Talgo’s Milwaukee plant is now being used to rebuild transit cars used on the Los Angeles Metro Red Line and built between 1992 and 2000 by Breda Costruzioni Ferroviasrie of Italy.

The car will receive updates to their propulsion equipment, braking, signaling, and other components under a contract worth nearly $73 million.
The Talgo plant is located on the city’s north side in a former A.O. Smith factory, which built automobile frames.

The Los Angeles rebuilding project is expected to create 18 to 20 new jobs.

Amtrak to Build New Engine Facility in Seattle

June 15, 2017

Amtrak will build a $28 million locomotive service facility in Seattle to serve two long-distance trains and the state-funded Cascades service.

Construction is expected to begin this month and be completed in two years. The first step will be demolition of the site’s existing buildings, utilities, tracks and other structures.

Workers will then construct a new 31,000-square-foot locomotive shop that will have a new 125-ton drop table being funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation and a 55-ton overhead bridge crane.

Seattle is the western terminus of the Empire Builder from Chicago and the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles. The Cascades trains operate to Portland and Eugene, Oregon; and to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Amtrak Back on Track in the Northwest

February 11, 2017

Amtrak is expecting to restore service today in Washington State that was disrupted by landslides.

Amtrak logoBNSF, which hosts Amtrak trains serving Seattle and Portland, Oregon, had declared a 48-hour moratorium on rail traffic after the landslides occurred on Thursday.

Affected with the Cascades trains, the Empire Builder and the Coast Starlight.

The Cascades were canceled between Seattle and Portland, but operated north of Everett, Washington, and south of Portland.

Amtrak was providing alternative transportation between Seattle and Everett, but not between Seattle and Portland.

In a related development, BNSF has reopened its Hi Line used by the Empire Builder through Glacier National Park in Montana. That route was closed by avalanches twice this past week.

The line was initially closed on Sunday at Marias Pass, but reopened on Tuesday. Two days later the route was closed again due to avalanches blocking the tracks near Essex, Montana.

Avalanches Halt Empire Builder Again

February 10, 2017

Shortly after it was reopened, the route of Amtrak’s Empire Builder was closed again.

BNSF said that avalanches in Glacier National park closed its Hi Line near Essex.

Amtrak Empire BuilderThe closure came less than 48 hours after the railroad had reopened the line following avalanches that blocks the tracks at Marias Pass.

Railroad officials said warmer temperatures were a factor in causing avalanches because they were creating layers of unstable snow.

Thursday’s westbound Empire Builder was held overnight at St. Paul Union Depot and passengers bound for points between St. Paul and Minot, North Dakota, were taken to their destination buy bus.

Passengers going beyond Minot were to remain on the train. Amtrak said those passengers will be given a refund and taken back to Chicago on Friday.

Two other sections of the Chicago-Seattle/Portland train were to spend the night Thursday in Montana. This includes an eastbound and a westbound section.

Landslides in Washington State resulted in the cancellation of Amtrak’s Cascades service between Seattle and Portland until Saturday.

Also canceled is the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

Harsh Weather Hinders Amtrak in the West

January 26, 2017

Adverse weather conditions in California has made travel a challenge on Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Amtrak logoTrains magazine reported that heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains have resulted in Nos. 5 and 6 operating hours late.

No. 5 that departed Chicago last Friday arrived on Tuesday in Emeryville, California, nearly 12 hours late. It took nearly six hours to travel between Truckee and Roseville, a trip that normally takes 3 hours, 20 minutes.

Consequently, No. 6 was more than five hours departing on Wednesday as workers cleaned and stocked the train with food, beverages and supplies.

Last Monday, No. 6 was eight hours late departing from Emeryville and arrived in Truckee 10 1/2 hours late.

Bad weather has also affected the route of Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Falling rocks and mud prompted BNSF to close its Fallbridge Subdivision in Washington state, which is used by the Portland section of the Empire Builder. It instead continued on to Seattle with Portland passengers being placed on buses or Amtrak Cascade trains.