Posts Tagged ‘Washington State Department of Transportation’

Talgo Trains Find Final Resting Place

March 14, 2021

Two Talgo trainsets once used for Amtrak Cascades Service have reached the end of the line at a scrapping company.

The Series VI equipment was last seen at Coast Rail Services in Anaheim, California.

The trains had been moved there earlier this month from Seattle.

The passive-tilt equipment, which was sold by the Washington State Department of Transportation, last operated in revenue service on Cascades trains in June 2020.

Two other Series IV Talgos owned by Amtrak were taken to the Beech Grove Heavy Maintenance Facility in Indianapolis last year.

Thin Hope to Save Talgos From Scrapping

March 5, 2021

The California company that purchased two Talgo trainsets from the Washington Department of Transportation has placed them up for sale, but that offer may not stand for long.

 “It’s a sensitive matter for everyone involved, and it wasn’t supposed to turn into a spectacle,” said Noah McCann of NSM Transportation Company in an interview with Trains magazine.

 “If anyone is interested, they are still available, but they are going to be gone in a matter of two or three days.”

WSDOT sold the trains sets to NSM for $21,000, but the buyer was responsible for the expense of moving them.

“We paid a lot more than that,” McCann said of the purchase price. “After the purchase, we aggressively tried to market them, but Amtrak doesn’t want them.”

The trainsets are the Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, which moved from Seattle to Southern California as a special Amtrak move.

The special ran on the schedule of the Coast Starlight on a day the Seattle-Los Angeles train was not scheduled to leave Seattle southbound.

McCann told Trains that if no one buys the Talgos soon after they reach Los Angeles that his company will dismantle them.

“We’re reusing the interior fittings on other projects, but it’s a private job to dismantle them for the State of Washington. In reality, nobody is going to come in to pay to move these things, and they’re getting scrapped,” McCann said.

WSDOT had put the Talgos up for sale last year and rejected bids and requests for a donation of one trainset to a museum.

Trains reported that the Southern Rail Commission had inspected the Talgos to determine if they could be used in a proposed corridor service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

However, SRC’s Knox Ross said his agency’s delegation was unable to meet with a WSDOT representative for the purpose of getting answers to questions about the equipment.

Ross said a third-party representative sent to meet with the SRC delegation “wouldn’t answer any questions, so we didn’t bid.”

The Mt. Hood and Mt. Olympus have been out of service since July 2020. A third Talgo, the Mt. Adams, was destroyed in a Dec. 18, 2017, derailment of the Amtrak Cascades train.

The Mt. Adams had originally been owned by Amtrak, which later sold it to WSDOT.

Two Talgo trainsets are owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation and continue to operate in Cascades service between Seattle and Eugene, Oregon.

Amtrak owns two Talgo trainsets that have been sitting idle at its Beech Grove shops in Indianapolis.

Three other Talgo trainsets that originally were built for use in Wisconsin corridor service but never operated there remain idle.

Talgos Sent to Scrap Dealer

March 2, 2021

Two Talgo Series 6 trains sets once used for Amtrak Cascades Service have been sent to a California scrap dealer.

The trainsets are owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation and had been idle since a December 2017 derailment of another Talgo trainset in DuPont, Washington

The Talgos were removed from service after the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the Talgo design played a part in the severity of the derailment left three passengers dead.

Talgo has disputed the NTSB findings and filed a formal challenge to some of the report’s conclusions.

Two Series 6 Talgo trainsets that are owned by Amtrak were moved to the carrier’s Beech Grove shops Indianapolis last summer.

Washington Ballot Measure Seen as Not Affecting Proposed Pacific Northwest High-Speed Rail Project

November 17, 2019

Supporters of a proposal to institute high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest believe that the passage of a ballot measure in Washington State curtailing vehicle registration fees will not necessarily halt the project.

Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which caps the annual state and local car tab fees at $30.

In the wake of that vote, public transit officials expressed concern that funding for projects in the works or in the planning stage could be stymied for lack of funding.

Janet Matkin, communications manager for the Washington State Transportation Department, said Initiative 976 should not affect the high-speed rail project because it is still in the early planning stages.

She said there are a number of funding options that could be examined for the high-speed rail project, which envisions trains traveling 250 mph in the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor.

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.

City Demands NTSB Recommendations be Implemented

June 16, 2019

Although it might not mean much, the city council in Lakewood, Washington has adopted a resolution asking that the Point Defiance Bypass not be reopened until all of the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations are implemented.

The resolution references a report recently issued by the NTSB into the cause of a derailment in December 2017 of an Amtrak Cascades train that left three dead.

The train was on its first day of using the Point Defiance route, which passes through Lakewood. The derailment occurred near DuPoint, Washington.

Lakewood, a city of 60,000, has long opposed use of the route for passenger trains. In 2013 it sued the Washington State Department of Transportation in an effort to stop Amtrak and Sound Transit commuter trains from using the route.

However, a judge ruled the uses of the rail line aren’t subject to city regulation.

The NTSB made numerous recommendations in its reports although none of the transportation companies or agencies to which they were targeted are under any legal obligation to implement them.

The resolution of the city council said the failure of WSDOT, Amtrak, Sound Transit and others to implement NTSB’s safety recommendations “presents unacceptable safety risks for passenger rail travel in Washington State, as well as unacceptable risks to interstate commerce.”

Amtrak Use of Point Defiance Bypass Unlikely Soon

December 22, 2018

Washington State transportation officials say it will be late spring 2019 at the earliest before Amtrak service resumes on a route where a derailment that left three dead occurred on the first day of service on the route.

The 14.5-mile Point Defiance bypass was to be used by Amtrak and Sounder commuter trains south of Tacoma, Washington, and away from the long-used route next to Puget Sound.

But on the morning of Dec. 18, 2017, Cascades No. 501 derailed on a curve near DuPont, Washington.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have said the train was traveling nearly 80 mph as it entered a 30-mph curve.

The accident ramped up the calls for installation of positive train control systems on routes used by passenger trains.

PTC has since been installed on the Point Defiance route and been undergoing testing and crew training this year.

A Washington State Department of Transportation official told Trains magazine that revenue service on the Point Defiance route is not expected until late spring at the earliest.

“We do not have a specific date yet for our return to the Point Defiance Bypass,” says Janet Matkin, WSDOT communications manager.

The spokesperson indicated that officials are awaiting the release of the final NTSB report on the Cascades 501 crash. The NTSD has said its investigation is about two-third completed.

Investigators are examining a number of areas, including the crashworthiness of the Tago equipment used in Cascades service, the emergency response to the crash and Amtrak’s decision to begin using the Point Defiance Bypass before PTC had been installed.

WSDOT has said that PTC has now been installed over the entire length of the Cascades corridor between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Eugene, Oregon.

A lawsuit filed after the derailment contends that Amtrak failed to adequately train employees before revenue service began.

Amtrak has denied that charge, but is defending itself in 35 lawsuits stemming from the crash.

PTC Expected to be Running in Cascades Corridor

August 29, 2018

Positive train control is expected to be in operation on the Point Defiance Byass route in Washington state by the end of the year, Amtrak and the Washington Department of Transportation said this week.

The two added that PTC should be operation on the entire Cascades corridor as well.

Amtrak had started using the Point Defiance Bypass last December, but a southbound Cascades train derailed on the first day of service on the route, resulting in three passengers being killed and dozens injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board has indicated in a preliminary finding that the Amtrak train was speeding through a curve at the time of the derailment.

The Point Defiance Bypass runs through Tacoma, Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and DuPont.

Amtrak expects to begin using the route in spring 2019. WSDOT said that will give officials an opportunity to monitor the performance of the PTC system along the Cascades route.

“Amtrak, Sound Transit and BNSF are all working together to ensure PTC is operating seamlessly in the entire Pacific Northwest and they are confident they will meet the Dec. 31, 2018, federal deadline for implementation in our region,” officials said in a statement.

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.”

WSDOT Says Point Defiance Bypass Won’t Be Put Back Into Service Until PTC System is Operational

December 22, 2017

Passenger trains won’t use the Point Defiance Bypass in Washington State until positive train control is activated on the line.

The Washington State Department of Transportation made the announcement in the wake of an Amtrak derailment near Olympia, Washington, last Monday that left three dead.

Investigators have said the train was running at 80 miles per house in a 30 mph zone when it derailed.

The accident occurred on the first day of revenue service on the 14.5-mile line, which is owned by Sound Transit.

No timetable has been set for finishing the installation of PTC on the route. Amtrak’s Cascades Service and Coast Starlight trains will use the Point Defiance route, which runs along Puget Sound and also lacks PTC.

In the meantime, the National Transportation Safety Board said the engineer of Cascades Service Train No. 501 began applying the brakes just before the train derailed.

The NTSB said that an initial review of an in-cab camera in the lead unit of train 501 showed that about six seconds before the accident the engineer made a comment regarding an “over speed condition” and began applying the locomotive brakes.

Aside from the engineer, an Amtrak conductor training to work on the route was in the cab of the locomotive.

Neither crew members was using a personal cell phone in the minutes before the derailment and the video showed both bracing for impact in the final frame of the video.

The locomotive’s event recorder showed the train traveling at 78 mph as its final recorded speed.

NTSB officials said the investigation of the accident may take up to two years to complete.

Amtrak will continue to operate its expanded schedule of Cascades Service despite an equipment shortage caused by the derailment.

Even before the derailment occurred, equipment had been in short supply because a Talgo trainset owned by the State or Oregon was out of service for repairs.

A set of Superliner equipment had been sent to the Pacific Northwest to cover one of two daily Seattle-Vancouver, British Columbia, trains.

The Oregon-owned Talgo set was involved in an accident last July 2 and had to be sent to the Talgo factory in Milwaukee for repairs. It is expected to return to service in March 2018.

To meet schedules, Amtrak is now turning all Talgo trainsets at Portland, Oregon, rather than in Eugene, Oregon.

Amfleet equipment has been assigned to trains operated between Eugene and Portland with passengers making connections in Portland for points north.