Amtrak Cascades Service discussion

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Is there equipment that would be available to add these trips? Or can they do it with better utilization of the current fleet?
My understanding is that in this case the issue is that Sound Transit is trying to behave like a bad freight host railroad, which given that the Cascade Service is principally a Washington DOT's baby, is quite bizarre. The disagreement is about trackage charges, penalties and performance bonuses for operation on a small segment of Sound Transit owned trackage. But who says that government bureaucracies cannot be at least as obdurate and obstructive as private freight railroads? :rolleyes:
 
I have mentioned this in my own "travel around the Willamette Valley" thread, but I should also put this here:
Salem, Oregon recently restarted commercial air service, with flights going between Salem and both Las Vegas and Burbank.

And as this article explains:
https://thepointsguy.com/news/salem-oregon-commerical-flights/One of the key reasons why this happened is that a combination of both the local government and the USDOT. The article isn't actually very clear on the amount of the subsidies (because some of them might include later itemized amounts), but it seems like several million dollars, both to renovate the terminal, and for direct subsidies to the airline if their revenue falls short.

So why this is all related to train travel:
https://wsdot.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2023-04/Amtrak-Cascades-2022-Performance-Report.pdfAccording to this document, for 2022, the subsidy for the entire Amtrak Cascades line from Vancouver, BC to Eugene was around 17 million dollars. (Okay, caveat, this is WSDOT data, and is for "Washington Supported Trains Only". But in general, it seems like the money needed to get one airport running partial flights to one destination, and which might not continue for long---is maybe about 10-20% of the money it takes to subsidize a rail line that runs several times a day and carries many more people. Of course, it is an apples to oranges comparison---it is a lot further to travel to Burbank than to Eugene, but a lot of times I think the money that it takes to subsidize air travel becomes invisible to a lot of people.

...feel free to correct me on any math errors I made.
 
Is there equipment that would be available to add these trips? Or can they do it with better utilization of the current fleet?
If they intend to go back to the 2017 6-train schedule, I think that was to be run with the same size fleet as the 4-train schedule. The added trains were on the edges of the day. I've been meaning to calculate that, but have been busy with other projects.

According to ODOT, in addition to the two Talgos, there are four sets of Horizon cars. They don't expect much chance of additional cars until the new cars come in 2025/2026.

In looking at the 2017 schedule vs. the present, what was added were 6:00 a.m./6:20 a.m. departures in both directions, a 5:40 p.m. departure from Portland, and a 7:45 p.m. last train out of Seattle. The only one in prime time is 5:40 p.m. from Portland (long ago covered by NP407). However, in following the high bucket/sold-out patterns on this corridor, it looks as though some price-sensitive passengers are willing to shift to marginal hours. And those early morning trips should attract riders from the intermediate cities who want to get into PDX or SEA before lunch.
 
I had an error in my msg above. The Cascades pool has six Horizon train-sets, so with the Talgos that makes eight. The current schedule appears to require five trainsets. If they go back to a schedule similar to the 2017 times (albeit five minutes slower PDX>SEA or SEA>PDX) it looks as though that will require seven trainsets, leaving one spare. Perhaps they have not gone after more cars until they can see how loads and revenues redistribute when the additional trips are in service.

Some layovers are pretty long, but they probably don't have the servicing staff size that could turn NP408 into NP407 in Portland in 45 minutes -- with all the seats facing forward. With the 2017 schedule, it looks as though a round-trip SEA<>BEL could be inserted or an 11:45 p.m. train in both directions SEA<>PDX. Not very promising.

One weakness that likely is an accommodation for Sounder is the nearly four hour gap south from SEA bracketing the PM peak hours. With the restoration of Train 509 at 7:45 p.m., Train 507 could depart SEA earlier than its current and 2017 time of 6:10 p.m.
 
From what I've heard from some of the employees that work this crew base is that they have the equipment, but are waiting on Sound Transit to sign off on it.
 
New schedules not yet posted . However, a few observations. Will make connections between trips to / from Vancouver to the EB much easier especially late EBs. Maybe even some of the stations that EB does not stop will make the connection at Everette. Any additional cars on any of the schedules? What equipment was added to the equipment pool? Too bad not done before Thanksgiving?
 
Sunday, December 3rd - calm before the storm..

Here's the PDX to SEA line-up as of Wednesday night:
0800 FB $29
0820 AT $47/$87
1040 FB $29
1200 AT $66/SO
1230 FB $29
1500 FB $29
1505 AT $52/SO
1556 AT $36/--/$165
1910 FB $29
1925 AT $41/$87
2310 GL $29 (minor time change)

And here's PDX to SPK:
0800 FB $52 via Seattle
0820 AT SO/--/$309 chng at Seattle
0950 FB>GL $46 chng at Pasco
1645 AT $61/--/$211

AT = Amtrak Coach/Business/Sleeper,
FB = Flixbus includes service charge rounded,
GL = Greyhound Lines includes service charge rounded.
SO = Sold Out.
 
I also just noticed that on both of those schedules, the POINT stops in Woodburn and Tualatin are missing. I don't know if that will continue to be the case, or if they just are deciding whether to retain those stops.
It would be a shame if Amtrak was to lose the Tualatin Park and Ride, which stands next to Glenwood Springs and West Glacier as one of the most beautiful and historic stops in the system.
Interesting... the schedule they had originally posted on their website had the POINT times. Maybe those weren't set in stone yet.

https://juckins.net/amtrak_timetables/archive/timetables_Cascades_20231211_external.pdf
 
I also just noticed that on both of those schedules, the POINT stops in Woodburn and Tualatin are missing. I don't know if that will continue to be the case, or if they just are deciding whether to retain those stops.
It would be a shame if Amtrak was to lose the Tualatin Park and Ride, which stands next to Glenwood Springs and West Glacier as one of the most beautiful and historic stops in the system.
These are bus-only stops, so I wouldn't be surprised if they just forgot to include them. The booking system allows you to book tickets to these stops even after the 11th.
 
Yes, that timetable is produced by Washington, I believe. And there are space issues.

I do imagine that there is a possibility they might be excluding some of those stops---and indeed, with the expiring schedule, there are a few places where it skips a spot or two. (Getting to Eugene was harder for me because one of the morning POINT schedules didn't stop in Albany).
But actually, with more trains, there are less reasons to skip stops, because a bus showing up late for a train connection will have another train coming sooner.
 
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