Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Department of Transportation’

Oregon POINT Bus Service Resumes Normal Schedule

October 30, 2019

The completion of a construction project involving Interstate 5 has meant that POINT Bus Service is back to normal in Oregon.

The service connects Amtrak trains in the state and had been disrupted by the I-5 work.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said normal schedules resumed on Oct. 28.

For updates or more information on the highway construction on I-5 and impact for travel, visit https://www.oregon.gov/odot/projects/pages/projectdetails.aspx?project=19831

Corvallis Amtrak Shuttle to be Discontinued

August 7, 2019

A shuttle connecting Corvallis, Oregon, with the Amtrak station in Albany, Oregon, is being discontinued, but a bus line linking the two cities will be increased.

The shuttle will operate for the last time on Aug. 19.

It began in August 2017 as a two-year pilot program with funding provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Benton County continued to pay for the shuttle after state funding ended last fall.

County officials have said the fund they were using to pay for the shuttle has run out of money.

Passengers who bought tickets to ride the shuttle beyond Aug. 19 can obtain a refund by emailing help@corvallistoamtrak.com.

The Coast to Valley bus service between Corvallis and Albany will expand to eight trips using money that will become available in October that was part of a $5.3 billion program budget approved by the legislature.

Additional bus service between Corvallis and Albany is provided by the Linn-Benton Loop.

Amtrak Will Match Oregon Grant Bid Effort

August 2, 2019

Amtrak will match a federal grant bid being made by the Oregon Department of Transportation that will be used to improve tracks used by Cascades and Coast Starlight trains.

The passenger carrier will chip in $750,000 toward the project that seeks to reduce delays in the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor.

Oregon’s share would be $1.6 million of the $7.83 million project.
If the $5 million federal grant is awarded it will be used to rebuild the out of service Oregon City industrial track located between Portland and Salem, Oregon. It will create a 5,000-foot siding.

The first phase of the project would include laying new track and ties, and equipping both ends with power-operated switches and switch heaters.
The second phase will involve laying additional track on an adjacent three-mile section between Oregon City and an existing siding to the south.
This will result in five miles of new double-track section between Portland and Salem.

The track in question is located on a seven-mile stretch of Union Pacific’s Brooklyn Subdivision.

ODOT is seeking a U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants to help fund the work.

Oregon Rail and Public Transit Division Rail Planner Bob Melbo said that under current operations if an Amtrak train is late it must wait at existing passing tracks at Clackamas to the north or Coalca to the south. If a UP freight is already occupying one of those sidings that could further exacerbate the delay.

Melbo says the industrial track was never used as a passing track when Southern Pacific installed centralized traffic control on the line in the 1950s, but converting it to a siding is more cost effective than building a siding elsewhere.

A decision on the grant application is expected later this year.

Some Talgo Equipment to be Removed From Cascades

May 27, 2019

In the wake of a National Transportation Safety Board report on the December 2017 derailment of an Amtrak Cascades train, the Washington State Department of Transportation said it will remove Talgo Series 6 trainsets from service “as soon as possible.”

In a statement, WSDOT said it is working with Amtrak to determine the timing of the equipment removal and equipment replacement.

The NTSB recommended that the Talgo Series 6 equipment be removed from service due to safety issues.

WSDOT said it had planned to remove that equipment from service in the mid 2020s, but the NTSB report has advanced that timetable.

Talgo equipment is used in Cascades service between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia. WSDOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation fund that service, which is operated by Amtrak.

In its report about the Dec. 18, 2017, derailment near DuPont, Washington, that left three dead, the NTSB determined that the wheels of the Spanish-built trains became detached during the derailment.

NTSB Investigators described them as “projectiles” that crushed passenger car compartments and highway vehicles.

“Had the rolling assembly not detached we may not have had fatal injuries,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

The derailment occurred on a 30-mph curve. Train 501 was en route to Portland, Oregon, from Seattle and entered the curve traveling 78 mph.

It was the first day of operation for Amtrak on the Point Defiance Bypass, which is owned in part by commuter agency Sound Transit.

The NTSB said the lightweight design of the Talgo trains was a factor in the severity of the crash.

Manufacturer Talgo has contended that its equipment is safe and performed as expected.

In announcing the conclusions of its accident investigation report, one NTSB member noted that the Talgo Series 6 equipment was “grandfathered” into safety standards of the Federal Railroad Administration because the equipment couldn’t meet updated crashworthiness standards.

The state of Washington owns two Series 6 trainsets and Amtrak owns two others. Oregon owns two Series 8 Talgo sets.

WSDOT spokeswoman Janet Matkin said the agency will be challenged to find funding to buy new equipment.

However, WSDOT is part of a multi-state compact that is acquiring new single-level cars for use on corridor routes operated by Amtrak.

Matkin noted that her agency is seeking federal funds to purchase new equipment and is awaiting a decision by the FRA on those grant applications.

WSDOT has thus far not taken Talgo up on an offer of 31 cars that would make up two or three trainsets depending on capacity, said Talgo spokeswoman Nora Friend.

Friend said the Series 8 cars were offered to WSDOT at less than that list price. The cars are new, but had originally been built for service in Wisconsin before Gov. Scott Walker canceled a planned rail expansion project.

Friend said Talgo 6 cars have a usable life of 30 years. The Series 6 cars owned by WSDOT and Amtrak are 21 years old and some Series 6 equipment is older and still in operation all over the world.

Sound Transit, which came in for criticism in the NTSB report, said it will hire an outside consultant to review the agency’s safety procedures.

“I completely agree with the NTSB that we have a confusing and troubling regulatory regime here where four different agencies plus BNSF have a very convoluted distribution of roles and responsibilities,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff.

The NTSB had recommended that Sounder Transit undertake a review of its safety certification process “top to bottom, when it comes to our role as a track owner.”

Although Sound owns the track where the Cascades 501 derailment occurred, it doesn’t plan to operate rail service there.

“It was our responsibility to not only determine safety protocols but to oversee that Amtrak implemented all of them,” Rogoff said. “That clearly didn’t happen when it comes to whether Amtrak included curve safety protocols in the general orders to its crews, or verifying the level of training Amtrak provided to its train crews.

Amtrak has yet to resume using the Point Defiance Bypass, which it sought as an alternative to the BNSF route it now uses between Tacoma, Washington, and Portland.

Neither Amtrak, WSDOT, nor Sound Transit have said when Amtrak’s Cascades and Coast Starlight might begin using the Point Defiance route.

WSDOT spokeswoman Matkin said her agency needs time to review the NTSB report in detail.

The agency has said previously it would not permit passenger service to resume on the Point Defiance Bypass until the NTSB report is released and installation of a positive train control system is completed.

The NTSB report said the engineer on Amtrak Cascades 501 said he missed the first trackside sign that a curve was ahead. The report said the engineer’s lack of familiarity with the route played a role in the derailment.

Oregon DOT Seeks Public Comment on Proposal

November 30, 2018

Public comment is being solicited by the Oregon Department of Transportation on a draft environmental impact statement concerning a proposed passenger-rail service expansion between Portland and the Eugene-Springfield area.

Public hearings will be held in December in Oregon City, Albany, Salem and Eugene. Comments can also be posted on the agency’s website through Dec. 18.

The proposal outlines two routes for the 125-mile service.

One alternative is to use the existing Amtrak Cascades route while another route would be established along Interstate 5 between Springfield and Oregon City.

Oregon transportation officials and the Federal Railroad Administration have expressed a preference for the existing Cascades route.

ODOT has been studying ways to improve the frequency, convenience, speed and reliability of intercity passenger-rail service between Portland and Eugene.

Aside from Cascades Service trains, the route also is served by the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

Study Looks at Upgraded Oregon Service

October 28, 2018

A draft environmental impact statement has been released for a proposed expansion of intercity rail passenger service in Oregon between Portland and Eugene.

The study by the Oregon Department of Transportation described two alternatives for the 125-mile service.

One proposal is to follow the existing Amtrak Cascades route while the other envision ns a a new route between Springfield and Oregon City along Interstate 5.

ODOT and the Federal Railroad Administration favor the first option.

Five public hearings are being held this month and in early December on the environmental document.

Following the conclusion of those hearings, ODOT and the FRA will choose a final preferred alternative.

Money Pledged to Washington State High-Speed Rail Study

July 30, 2018

Three entities have pledged $750,000 toward paying for a study of high-speed rail service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

They are the province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Microsoft Corporation.

That funding would be in addition to $750,000 that the Washington State Department of Transportation is providing for the study, which seeks to expand upon a 2017 preliminary analysis of prospects for a 250 mph high-speed rail system in the Pacific Northwest.

The newest study will be an “in-depth business case evaluation that WSDOT will undertake over the next year,” the department officials said in a news release.

The goal of the service would be to provide one-hour trips between Seattle and Vancouver as well as promote economic growth in the region and encourage “greater collaboration, deeper economic ties and balanced growth for years to come.”

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.