Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

Amtrak Service to Seattle in June 1999

July 11, 2020

It’s late June 1999 and this is the train arrival bulletin board at King Street Station in Seattle.

The inbound Empire Builder is about an hour late, but everything else is posted on time, subject to change of course.

I made this photograph early in the morning before boarding a train to Portland.

The level of Cascades Service was below what it would be in later year before the COVID-19 pandemic but more than what Amtrak started with here in 1971.

This image also was made before the station was rehabilitated.

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.

Amtrak Opens Locomotive Shop in Seattle

September 20, 2019

Amtrak has opened a $32 million locomotive repair and maintenance facility south of King Street Station in Seattle.

The facility will care for locomotives assigned to Amtrak Cascade trains as well as the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight, both of which originate and terminate in Seattle.

The shop, which has 31,000 square feet of space, will also serve locomotives used by Sound Transit’s Sounder commuter service.

A shop is located in the King Street Coach Yard. A warehouse at the site was razed to make way for the shop.

The area where the shop and coach yard are located is known as Sodo, which is a reference to the former Kingdome stadium.

The locomotive shop is buildt on filled-in tidal flats so it was constructed on top of 178 steel-pipe piles driven to a depth of 180 feet below-grade.

Reinforced structural concrete-grade beams were used to tie the pile foundations together, supporting a pre-engineered metal building.

During construction of the shop, workers removed 12,000 feet of yard track and installed an underground storm water detention system.

Inside the shop is a a 55-ton overhead bridge crane and a 125-ton drop table located in a concrete pit 25 feet deep.

Maintenance crews are able to move locomotive traction motors and trucks with the crane or lower them into the pit with the drop table.

There are two shifts of 12 employees working in the shop.

“In the past, trains would have to be sent to a facility in Oakland, California, for complex repairs,” said Cody Glasgow, project manager for PCL Construction Services, a news release release.

“This added efficiency of being able to work on the trains locally is a vast improvement and saves both time and money for Amtrak.” PCL was the general contractor for the project.

Pacific Northwest Eyes Ultra High Speed Rail

January 28, 2019

State and provincial governments in the Pacific Northwest continue to discuss a high-speed intercity rail passenger route between Vancouver and Portland via Seattle.

The states of Washington and Oregon along with the Canadian province of British Columbia are cooperating to study routes, stations, equipment, and costs of a service that could have a top speed of 250 miles per hour.

The study is looking at conventional rail, maglev and hyperloops.

High-speed rail is among the seven long-term transportation goals of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

Legislation recently introduced in the Washington legislature would provide funding of $3.25 million to establish a “new ultra high-speed ground transportation corridor authority with participation from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.”

That is defined as a 250 mph speed for passenger trains.

The authority named in the legislation would conduct outreach and preliminary environmental review, including “a robust community engagement process to refine the alignment for communities and businesses relevant to the ultra high-speed corridor” between Portland and Vancouver.

The Washington Department of Transportation would be mandated to provide a report to the governor and state legislators that includes “an assessment of current laws in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia related to an ultra high-speed ground transportation corridor, [and to] identify any laws, regulations or agreements that need to be modified or passed in order to proceed with developing an ultra high-speed corridor, and summarize the results from the community engagement process.”

Waiting in Seattle

September 13, 2018

A pair of Talgo trains used in Amtrak’s Cascades Service await a highball at Seattle’s King Street Station.

The train on  the right will head for Portland, Oregon, while the train on  the left is going to Vancouver, British Columbia.

As is typical in Seattle, it is a cloudy, gloomy day.

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.”

Changes Coming to I-5 Rail Corridor

November 10, 2017

Amtrak will begin using a new station in Tacoma, Washington, that is located in a former Milwaukee Road freight house.

It is one of many changes in the Interstate 5 corridor between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, including the $181.2 million dollar Point Defiance Bypass Route south of Tacoma.

The latter includes 14.5 miles of upgraded tracks between Tacoma and Nisqually, Washington, where the bypass will rejoin the mainline to Portland.

A portion of the upgraded route has its original alignment on former Northern Pacific rails south of the Tacoma Amtrak depot where the tracks climb a 2.85-percent grade to South Tacoma.

Passenger trains are being moved away from the more scenic route along Puget Sound due to freight congestion, tight curvature and a single-track tunnel under Point Defiance. The track was also subject to mudslides.

The new route is also expected to be 10 minutes faster or Amtrak.

Once an additional daily Cascades round-trip in the morning and the evening between Seattle and Portland is launched, Amtrak will have 14 trains in the corridor, including the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

There will be 16 Sounder commuter trains north of Lakewood, Washington, is 16 daily trains which will result in 30 daily passenger trains on the new single track line. The new route is slated to reduce Amtrak passenger times by 10 minutes.

HSR Could Draw 1.8M to Seattle Route, Consultant Says

November 7, 2017

A study has determined that high-speed rail service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, could draw 1.8 million passengers in a few years.

Trains traveling between the two cities at 250 mph could make the trip in less than an hour.

Amtrak’s Cascades between those cities have a four-hour travel time.

The cost of implementing high-speed rail service is expected to be contained within the final final report when it is issued in December.

Washington state has budgeted $350,000 to study potential alignment, ridership, technology, costs and economic benefits of a high-speed rail line.

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.

Public Gets Close Look at Charger

May 25, 2017

The public got its first look official look at one of the new Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives that will be going into service on Amtrak corridor routes this year.

A Charger was displayed at King Street Station in Seattle this week ahead of it being put into service on the Cascades route in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

Siemens, which built the Chargers in Sacramento, California, has touted the locomotive as among the cleanest diesel-electric locomotives ever built and the first high-speed passenger locomotive to receive Tier IV emissions certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Chargers have a 16-cylinder, 4,400-horsepower Cummins engine.

Visitors were able to view the exterior of the locomotive close up, but could not see the interior due to safety issues, the Washington State Department of Transportation said in a news release.