Amtrak Cascades Service discussion

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
I wish they would report the slide location. I know we've had a lot of rain, but it's frustrating that this is still happening after the states have spent so much on mitigation. It would be good to know where they need to focus efforts next.
One news article said it was about 10 miles north of Vancouver
 
Some one who know the geology needs to point out various locations that may landslide.
My understanding is a lot of the Puget Sound Basin (if that's a correct geological/geographic term) is prone to slides (see below) due to volcanic and glacial soils and high water saturation, however, locating tracks right on the beach below a bluff was not a great idea geologically (kind of like the Illinois Central's original beach right of way - now inland thanks to extensive landfill) - it's like locating in the median of highways (in Chicago, the salt on the roadway negatively affects the CTA routes there, plus unattractive stations).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Oso_mudslide
 
I noticed that they moved the morning train from Vancouver (517) to 7:15 AM from 6:35 AM. If they had done that last month, I could have had another 45 minutes of sleep!
This also allows anyone along the SkyTrain system to make it to Pacific Central on weekdays, and most of the system to make it on weekends. It was really tight for SkyTrain with the 635am start, particularly on weekends.
 
My understanding is a lot of the Puget Sound Basin (if that's a correct geological/geographic term) is prone to slides (see below) due to volcanic and glacial soils and high water saturation, however, locating tracks right on the beach below a bluff was not a great idea geologically (kind of like the Illinois Central's original beach right of way - now inland thanks to extensive landfill) - it's like locating in the median of highways (in Chicago, the salt on the roadway negatively affects the CTA routes there, plus unattractive stations).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Oso_mudslide
The slide "10 miles north of Vancouver" (i.e. Ridgefield) isn't related to Puget Sound. Railroaders refer to the Napavine Hill as the dividing line. South of there, water works its way out of the mountains into the Columbia River in the area described in the 1917 news story above. Some of it is in the Lewis River and some of it is in the saturated soil, leading to landslides.

https://www.oregonlive.com/weather/...etween-portland-seattle-due-to-landslide.html
This time the highway stayed open. In other Decembers, the rail line has stayed open, and the highway has been closed by slides.

The Columbia and Puget Sound share slide problems as described above, but not the same water.
 
Last edited:
The second slide brings up a question. BNSF has the 48 hour passenger train cancellation. If Amtrak had been operating how close to a train would the second slide have occurred?
 
I will be on this train for my first time from SEA to PDX and back Memorial day week. Hope the weather holds and i can ride it during that time. Is there a snack car and if I'm riding on business. Do i get anything extra special?
You’ll get a slightly nicer seat pitch and material (with leg rest) and a $3 coupon for the cafe. On most trains the cafe is the same car as the business seats, but on some of the newer trains it’s in a different car.
 
Sunday, December 17th - first weekend with added Cascades service. Expect that there may be some shuffling around, as previously booked riders may not stick with trains they are reassigned to. Also effective this day, flix takes over SEA<>SPK direct and via Pasco from Greyhound.

Here's the PDX to SEA line-up as of Wednesday night:

0645 AT $26/$87
0800 FB $29
0820 AT $52/$87
1040 FB $49
1040 AT $66/SO
1230 FB $41
1410 AT $66/$87
1500 FB $34
1556 AT $58/--/$210
1755 AT $26/$87
1910 FB $34
1925 AT $26/$87
2310 GL $34

And here's PDX to SPK:

0645 AT SO/--/$376 chng at Seattle
0800 FB $69 via Seattle
0950 FB $52 chng at Pasco
1645 AT $61/--/$266

AT = Amtrak Coach/Business/Sleeper,
FB = Flixbus includes service charge rounded,
GL = Greyhound Lines includes service charge rounded.
SO = Sold Out.
 
I'm not surprised that Amtrak is posting lower than the buses on a few runs - they just bumped capacity by 50%. I'm having to work off of a 2016 timetable (though I don't think they messed about much with the timecards in the last few years), but I believe the "new" trains are the 0645 and an additional one in the evening. The 0820 was barely moved, two midday trains were moved earlier (1200->1040 and 1450->1410), and now there are two evening trains (1755 and 1925) instead of one (1850).

There's probably also been some mildly chaotic shuffling of passengers between trains...some numbers got changed around significantly:
-501 and 510 are no longer on the timetable, probably not least because of the "Is this the train to Vancouver?" problem.
-Weekday/weekend numbering went away (500/502 were the morning weekday/weekend pair out of PDX, but they're now both daily numbers for 0645 and 0820).
-"Old" 516 is now numbered 518 (the "new" 516 was formerly 510). I'd love to know how badly the system fell down on handling that with restricted-change tickets.
-506 was the weekend counterpart to 504; 504 went earlier while 506 landed in the early evening.
-And 508 is basically where it always was, just pushed back a little.
 
I'm not surprised that Amtrak is posting lower than the buses on a few runs - they just bumped capacity by 50%. I'm having to work off of a 2016 timetable (though I don't think they messed about much with the timecards in the last few years), but I believe the "new" trains are the 0645 and an additional one in the evening. The 0820 was barely moved, two midday trains were moved earlier (1200->1040 and 1450->1410), and now there are two evening trains (1755 and 1925) instead of one (1850).

There's probably also been some mildly chaotic shuffling of passengers between trains...some numbers got changed around significantly:
-501 and 510 are no longer on the timetable, probably not least because of the "Is this the train to Vancouver?" problem.
-Weekday/weekend numbering went away (500/502 were the morning weekday/weekend pair out of PDX, but they're now both daily numbers for 0645 and 0820).
-"Old" 516 is now numbered 518 (the "new" 516 was formerly 510). I'd love to know how badly the system fell down on handling that with restricted-change tickets.
-506 was the weekend counterpart to 504; 504 went earlier while 506 landed in the early evening.
-And 508 is basically where it always was, just pushed back a little.
Here's the 2017 schedule that was in effect for the Nisqually crash. It looks like the new schedule is based on that one.
 

Attachments

  • 2017 Cascades Dec 18 new schedule.pdf
    169.9 KB · Views: 0
It looks like there’s still strong demand on the corridor despite the additions. Tomorrow 11, 507, 517, are sold out of seats SEA-PDX and most trains are sold out of business class. It is the big Christmas rush day and the new year schedule has only been in effect for about 2 weeks, so maybe a bit of an outlier, but I think it’s a good sign.
 
It looks like there’s still strong demand on the corridor despite the additions. Tomorrow 11, 507, 517, are sold out of seats SEA-PDX and most trains are sold out of business class. It is the big Christmas rush day and the new year schedule has only been in effect for about 2 weeks, so maybe a bit of an outlier, but I think it’s a good sign.
Any count of total seats for each of the cascades trains?
 
Talgos top out at 272 (230 coach, 42 business)

Horizons (with their current 3 coach + BC/Cafe configuration) top out at 218 (204 coach, 14 business)
I'll skip the overall comparisons for this Sunday, Dec. 24th due to the holiday, but it is clear that the two additional trains have brought the coach fares down.

For Business Class, there still are not enough seats with the Horizons:

0645 =$87
0820 = $87
1040 = SO
1410 = SO
1556 = NA
1755 = $56
1925 = $87
 
The Columbian published an article about whether the expanded Cascades service is enough to be a commuter rail option:

https://www.columbian.com/news/2023...commuter-option-from-vancouver-into-portland/The answer is that while it isn't specifically meant to be that, for some commutes, it could be useful, both coming and going.
One thing the article doesn't mention, but that is obvious, is that while the train trip from the Vancouver to Portland stations is very quick, the Vancouver station isn't very accessible from most of Vancouver.
 
Talgos top out at 272 (230 coach, 42 business)

Only 3 - 68 passenger coaches per train set? Ridiculous. How many train sets? Where is Washington DOT?
What is Washington DOT supposed to do? Conjure up equipment out of thin air? Amtrak is short of equipment as it is, and their fleet was never meant to cover Cascades service as it had its own fleet, five sets of which were retired following the derailment and subsequent NTSB report.

It’s, frankly, a miracle Amtrak had the coaches to send out there in the first place.
 
Back
Top