Posts Tagged ‘Seattle-Vancouver BC corridor’

Cascades Service to Increase May 24

April 28, 2021

Additional Cascades Service roundtrips are set to begin service May 24.

Amtrak will restore three of four Seattle-Portland roundtrips and both Portland-Eugene roundtrips.

For more than a year the corridor has been limited to a single daily Seattle-Eugene roundtrip.

The trains will use a combination of Talgo Series 8 transets owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation and Amtrak owned Horizon equipment.

An additional full-corridor departure will leave Seattle at 7:25 a.m. and return from Eugene at 4:40 p.m., arriving at 11 p.m.

The new schedule has Train 507 departing Seattle at 6:10 p.m. and its equipment leaving Portland the next day at at noon.

The current schedule has a Talgo departing Seattle (No. 505) at 2:20 p.m. and leaving Eugene the next morning (No. 500) at 5:30 a.m. and arriving in Seattle at 11:50 a.m.

State transportation officials had wanted to shift the departure of No. 500 from Eugene to 8 a.m. but host railroads Union Pacific and BNSF would not allow it, Washington Department of Transportation Communications Manager Janet Matkin told Trains magazine.

Because the U.S.-Canadian border remains closed to non-essential travel, Cascades service between Seattle and Vancouver remains suspended.

At present, Amtrak operates a Thruway bus to Bellingham, Washington.

Washington state transportation officials said one Seattle-Vancouver roundtrip could be restored in July.

An official said Amtrak crews are qualified on the route and if the border opens sooner rail service could resume before July.

No date has yet been given as to when Amtrak will resume using the Point Defiance Bypass south of Tacoma.

Officials are eying late summer or early fall but said it is up to host railroad Sound Transit.

The public transit agency conducted testing on the route earlier this year and has been working through a crew qualification process.

Matkin said the Cascades will continue to operate at 50 percent capacity in compliance with Washington and Oregon’s ‘Ride Safe’ Initiatives.

Limited food and beverage service may begin at the same time or soon after the May 24 schedule expansion.

Cascades, Downeaster Latest Amtrak Service Cuts

March 17, 2020

Amtrak announced a few more service reductions on Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic but thus far none of those involve service in the Midwest or long-distance trains.

It may be a matter of time before corridor services are curtailed. Amtrak is reportedly talking with states that fund corridor service about service reductions.

The latest cutbacks affect the Cascades Service in the Pacific Northwest and the Downeaster Service to Maine.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the closing of Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, British Columbia, has mean that Cascades service north of Seattle has been suspended.

Daily thruway bus service between Seattle, Everett, Mt. Vernon and Bellingham will still operate.

On the Downeaster route service is being reduced between March 17 and March 22.

Microsoft Donates Again to High-Speed Rail Study

October 8, 2019

Software giant Microsoft will donate another $223,667 to help pay for a study of the feasibility of of building a high-speed rail service between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Portland, Oregon, via Seattle.

Microsoft has made previous contributions to the study, which is being conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The latest grant will bring to $573,667 the amount that Microsoft has advanced toward the study’s cost, which also is being funded by the province of British Columbia and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The idea of a high-speed rail line linking the three largest cities in the Pacific Northwest has been around since 2017.

The proposal envisions trips from Seattle to Vancouver taking less than an hour.

An earlier WSDOT study put the cost of high-speed rail service at $24 to 42 billion to create. That study projected annual ridership of 1.7 million to 2.1 million in 2035.

Advocates Push to Establish Amtrak Stop in Blaine

July 19, 2019

The establishment of an Amtrak stop in Blaine, Washington, will hinge upon the willingness of that community along with Whatcom County and the British Columbia cities of South Surrey and White Rock to invest in the project.

Rail passenger advocates have been pushing for a stop for several years in Blaine, which is on Amtrak’s Cascades Service line between Seattle and Vancouver.

All Aboard Washington government affairs director Luis Moscoso said it will be up to the communities to determine how to move forward toward establishment of the station.

“There seems to be enough interest and energy to bring the matter of the Blaine stop, and also an additional midday train, up for consideration,” he said.

Moscoso, a former member of the Washington state legislature, said the Washington State Department of Transportation has “rigorous criteria” that must be met, including financial support from the communities served.

A public meeting about the proposed Blaine station was held last week that was attended by State Representative Luanne Van Werven and the mayor of Blaine.

Study Backs High-speed Rail in Cascadia Corridor

July 18, 2019

High-speed rail service between British Columbia and Oregon could cover its operating costs as soon as 2040 a recently released study concluded.

The study, released by the Washington State Department of Transportation, said that a route between Vancouver and Portland via Seattle would deliver economic and social benefits but before it can be implemented decisions must be made as to what equipment would be used and where it would operate.

Among the options are conventional rail, maglev or hyperloop. Other unresolved issues include funding and the cost of construction.

The benefits of the rail system would include a faster travel time, reducing current traffic congestions, cutting greenhouse emissions and creating jobs.

The travel time between Seattle and Portland could be as little as an hour.

Ridership was projected at more than 3 million trips annually with farebox revenues of $156 million to $250 million a year by 2040.

The recent study is an extension of one conducted earlier. Funding for the study was provided by Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and software maker Micosoft.

“The need for continued additional transportation infrastructure investment in the Cascadia megaregion is clear — crowded roads, congested airports, and limited intercity rail service constrain the mobility of residents, businesses, and tourists,” the report said. “Vancouver; Seattle; and Portland have the fourth, sixth, and tenth-most congested roads in North America, respectively. Airport delays are making air travel increasingly unreliable, and the travel time and frequency of intercity rail service are not competitive for most trips.”
The study focused on what it termed ultra-high-speed ground transportation, which would travel as fast as 250 miles per hour.

No construction timeline was provided other than it could being in six to eight years with costs ranging from $24 billion to $42 billion. Who would pay those costs is not directly address by the study.

“It’s really like building another I-5, only one that is faster, more reliable, safer and more environmentally friendly,” said Janet Matkin, a spokesperson for WSDOT.

Trains would operate on a dedicated right of way and service frequency would be 21 to 30 roundtrips a day.

The $42 billion cost of the system caught the eye of a state legislator who said he doesn’t see the state taking on the project on its own and doesn’t see construction starting in eight years as outlined in the study.

“I don’t see that happening,” state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said of the ambitious schedule.

Saying the cost can’t be covered by the state, Hobbs said it needs to be in partnership with the private sector.

“There needs to be more analysis, especially on the financial part,” he said.

Ready to Travel in Business Class

April 10, 2019

Most of the passengers holding business class tickets aboard the morning Cascades Service train from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, are in their seats and ready to depart from King Street Station.

The train features Talgo equipment with 1-2 seating in business class.

I had a seat toward the rear of this car on the right. Once we got moving, the cafe car opened and business car passengers got first crack at the counter.

Many, if not most, of these passengers lined up to get something to eat and drink.

Landslide Results in Cascades Suspension

April 10, 2019

Buses have temporarily replaced Amtrak Cascades service north of Seattle today and Thursday.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the service suspension was triggered by a landslide along the BNSF route used by Amtrak.

Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle Empire Builder is not affected by the landslide near Bellingham, Washington, and all Cascades service continues to operate normally south of Seattle.

The chartered buses will operate between Seattle and Vancouver,  British Columbia, and make all scheduled intermediate stops.

Amtrak said it will rebook passengers without fare penalty on other trains if they need to change their reservations.

Cascades To be Disrupted by Track Work

February 15, 2019

Amtrak has announced more service disruptions for its Cascades Service due to track work.

The work by host railroad BNSF will affect operations between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

On Feb. 20 Train No. 519 may see minor delays while on Feb. 22 Nos. 516 and 519 will be canceled.

Alternate transportation will be provided on Thruway Buses 3516 and 4519, for all missed stops at Vancouver, Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Everett and Edmonds.

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.”

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.