Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Cascades’

Cascade Trains Temporary Gets Superliners

May 7, 2018

Amtrak said that due to maintenance and equipment upgrades, some Cascades Service trains will use Superliner equipment between Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

During this time there will be no checked baggage, WiFi, Business Class, or bicycle space. Food service options will be limited.

The changes will affect Train 505 on May 4 and 9 and Train 511 on on May 7, 8 and 10, Train 500 on May 10, and Train 508 on May 7, 8 and 10.

Passengers ticketed for Trains 508 and 511 on May 9 will ride a bus between Portland and Eugene on May 9. There will be no offer checked baggage, WiFi, Business Class, bicycle space or food service.

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Seattle Service Disrupted

April 16, 2018

Amtrak issued a service advisory today saying that Cascades trains and the Empire Builder between Seattle and Everett, Washington, have been canceled with substitute bus service being provided.

The bus transportation will continue through the morning of April 18 due to a moratorium on passenger service issued by BNSF following a landslide.

Amtrak service south of Seattle will continue to operate normally.

Talgo Set Repaired, to Return to Cascades Service

March 30, 2018

A set of Talgo equipment are slated to return to revenue service in the Pacific Northwest.

The Talgo train, which is owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, was repaired in Milwaukee by Talgo after it was damaged last July in a derailment in Steilacoom, Washington.

The Series 8 Talgo Mount Jefferson will be ferried from Milwaukee as a special Amtrak train.

Trains magazine cited an unnamed source as saying the special is expected to leave on March 30 and follow the route of the Empire Builder. It will be pulled by Amtrak P42 No. 161.

Oregon owns two Series 8 Talgo sets, Mount Jefferson and Mount Bachelor, both of which are assigned to Amtrak Cascades service. The Talgos were built in Milwaukee in 2013.

Empire Builder Affected by Mudslides, Too

February 6, 2018

Amtrak’s Empire Builder is also affected by mudslides that have temporarily halted Cascade Service to Vancouver, Washington.

The mudslide occurred Sunday morning near White Rock, British Columbia. In a service advisory, Amtrak said that it is using chartered buses to move passengers in place of its trains in the affected areas north of Seattle.

Service south of Seattle remains unaffected. All trains are expected to resume operating north of Seattle later today.

Mudslides Again Halt Cascades Service

February 5, 2018

Amtrak Cascade Service to Vancouver, British Columbia, was disrupted on Sunday morning by mudslides near White Rock, British Columbia.

Although BNSF reopened the route for freight traffic on Sunday afternoon, it requires a 48-hour window before passenger service can resume after a mudslide.

Service is slated to resume on Tuesday between Vancouver and Bellington, Washington. It was the second time that mudslide interrupted Cascade Service north of Seattle in the past week.

An earlier mudslide halted service between Jan. 29 and 31.

Amtrak Employees Say Training Was Inadequate

January 30, 2018

Cable news channel CNN has reported that some Amtrak engineers and conductors raised concerns about the lack of adequate training before the passenger carrier launched revenue service on a new route in Washington state last month.

The report said that during practice runs some trainees rode backward, which prevented them from seeing landmarks that they could use to identify locations where they would need to reduce speed.

The training runs were also conducted at night, the employees said, because construction workers were rushing to finish work on the Point Defiance bypass during the day.

The news broke in the wake of a Dec. 18 derailment near DePont, Washington, of a Portland-bound Cascades train in which three passengers were killed.

The derailment occurred on the first day of revenue service on the Point Defiance bypass via Tacoma, Washington.

A preliminary National Transportation Board report has indicated that the train was traveling twice the speed limit that it should have been going into a 30-mph curve.

Other news outlets also have reported that some Amtrak employees have said the carrier lacks a good safety culture and that they did not receive enough training on the new route.

A former Amtrak conductor described the safety culture as virtually non-existent.

“If you talk about safety to your manager you’re punished,” said Michael Callanan, who worked at Amtrak for nine years and is now a railroad safety consultant. He said the lack of training at Amtrak has been going on for as long as he can remember.

Callanan said conductors should do at least three to five roundtrip runs of the route to become familiar with it and those trips need to be done during daylight hours.

The NTSB has said that the engineer of the train that derailed did not feel that he had enough training on the new route. The agency has said it will examine the training that Amtrak employees received as part of its investigation.

Amtrak has not responded to new media requests to comment on its training and safety programs.

 

Mudlsides Close Cascade Route in Washington

January 30, 2018

Due to a mudslide, Amtrak Cascades Service between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Bellingham, Washington, has been suspended until Wednesday afternoon.

Amtrak says BNSF has closed a track on the route, but expects it to reopen by 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Passengers will ride chartered buses to stations affects by the track closure. Train service south of Bellingham to Seattle is unaffected.

Cascades Engineer Missed Speed Warning Sign

January 27, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board said this week that the engineer of the Amtrak Cascades train that derailed in Washington State last month, killing three passengers, told investigators that he missed seeing a speed-limit sign along the track shortly before the train derailed.

The 55-year-old engineer remembered that the Portland-bound train was traveling 70 mph as it passed milepost 15.5. He said he was aware of an upcoming curve with a 30 mph speed restriction was at milepost 19.8 and planned to apply the brakes about a mile in advance.

However, the engineer said he did not see mileposts 16, 17 or 18 or a sign warning of the 30 mph zone, which is posted two miles before the curve.

In his interview, the engineer said he saw a block signal at milepost 19.8 — at the accident curve — but thought it a signal that is located north of the curve.

Upon seeing the 30 mph sign at the beginning of the curve, the engineer said he applied the brakes. Seconds later the train left the tracks on the curve.

Other points made by the engineer was that he didn’t feel that having a qualifying conductor in the locomotive with him was a distraction, that he had no reservations about his readiness to operate the train and that he felt rested when the trip began.

The train had locomotives on each end, 10 passenger cars and a baggage car. Investigators have said the train was doing 78 mph when it derailed on a bridge over Interstate 5 near DuPont, Washington.

Two passengers cars landed on the interstate highway during the crash. There were 83 people on board the train with 62 of them suffering injuries. Eight people in vehicles on the highway were injured.

The conductor was in the lead locomotive to learn the route, which was being operated by Amtrak in revenue service for the first time on the day of the derailment.

He told investigators the engineer appeared alert during a job briefing and while operating the train. The NTSB investigation is expected to last 12 to 24 months.

Amtrak Wants Cascade Route PTC Turned On ASAP

January 15, 2018

Amtrak has told the departments of transportation in Oregon and Washington that that it wants positive train control tested and implemented on the Seattle-Portland route “as soon as possible.”

During a legislative hearing in Washington state last week, Amtrak Senior Government Affairs Manager Rob Eaton said sensors and radio links trackside, on locomotives and on a central server still need to be integrated.

“The testing and interaction of all three of these elements will take place during the second and third quarters of the year, after which PTC will be placed into operation,” he said.

Many believe that had PTC been in operation that derailment of a southbound Cascades Service train could have been avoided.

Three passengers died in the wreck, which authority had linked to the train going 78 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone near Olympia, Washington.

The train was traveling on the first day of revenue service on the Point Defiance bypass route.

Eaton said implementing PTC is complicated by the fact that three different railroads own sections of the route, including BNSF, Union Pacific and Sound Transit.

During the hearing Amtrak officials said PTC is not in operation on any Amtrak route west of the Mississippi River.

Washington state Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar testified that there was not undue pressure to launch high speed rail service before Amtrak locomotive engineers and crews had become qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass route.

“There was no deadline for initiating service,” Millar said, but did say there had been deadlines for completing construction on track and signal upgrades

Millar said those were not a factor in the December derailment.

NTSB Issues Preliminary Cascade Accident Report

January 5, 2018

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board avoids seeking to pin point the cause of the Dec. 18 Amtrak derailment near DuPont, Washington, that left three passengers dead and 62 crew members and passengers injured.

The Board expects its investigation to take at least a year.

The report said that investigators have not yet been able to interview the engineer or conductor involved in the derailment due to their injuries.

Other information in the preliminary report indicates that not only was the train speeding at the time of the derailment, but the train, Cascades Service No. 501 from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, did not slow prior to the accident.

The train was traveling 78 mph at the time of the derailment in a zone where the top speed was 30 mph.

The report said the authorized track speed north of the accident site is 79 mph and decreases to 30 mph before a curve over Interstate 5.

A 30 mph speed sign was posted 2 miles before the curve on the engineer’s side of the track. Another 30 mph sign was on the wayside at the start of the curve on the engineer’s side.

About six seconds before the accident, the locomotive engineer commented on an over speed condition to an Amtrak conductor who was also in the cab learning the route.

The NTSB said inward facing cameras showed that neither crew member was observed using personal electronic devices in the cab.

The derailment caused $40.4 million in damage. Aside from those injured aboard the train, eight people in vehicles on Interstate 5 were injured when train cars landed on the highway after going off a bridge.

The train had a leading and trailing locomotive, a power car, 10 passenger cars and a luggage car.

A positive train control system was not in operation on the route at the time of the accident.

“In this accident, PTC would have notified the engineer of train 501 about the speed reduction for the curve; if the engineer did not take appropriate action to control the train’s speed, PTC would have applied the train brakes to maintain compliance with the speed restriction and to stop the train,” the report states.

The 55-year-old engineer had worked for Amtrak since May 2004 and had been promoted to engineer in August 2013. The 48-year-old qualifying conductor had been working for Amtrak since June 2010.