Cascades @ Carkeek Park by Brian Bundridge

The rail office in Olympia just release the final list to be submitted to USDOT for funding.  It’s pretty impressive, as well as aggressive. The total is $692.22 Million.

WSDOT Amtrak Cascades Requests
Location Project Funding Request
Vancouver Yard Bypass and W 39th St bridge $45.1 million
Tacoma Pt Defiance Bypass $60.0 million
Stanwood Stanwood Station $600,000
Everett Curve Realignments and Storage tracks $2.12 million
Cascades Four New train Sets $108 million
Cascades Capitalized Maintenance $97.4 million
Kelso to Martin’s Bluff Rail project (In three phases) $222.0 million
Seattle King St Station Track And Signal Upgrades $120 million
Blaine Swift Customs Facility Siding $3.8 million
Cascades Advanced Signal System/Positive Train Control $30.2 million
Centralia New Crossover near China Creek $3.0 million
Total $692.22 Million

H/T to Mike Skehan for the great news!

58 Replies to “WSDOT Request for Cascades Corridor”

    1. The list is in priority order in case the 8 Billion HSR pot gets a little drained by the other 10 corridors.

      1. true but when you consider how many times $700 million goes into $8 billion (stimulus) + $1 billion (general nat’l spending), its seems quite reasonable that the feds could fund this and just about every other corridor at about this amount of money. of course some corridors like california should get more that $1 billion but even so there should be enought money to fund all or most of this cascades request.

        i understand portland is asking for money for union station improvements.

        i’m starting to think i should reconsider my career path from architecture to transit & rail engineering

      2. Oregon has requested money to upgrade track from Vancouver to Eugene, Or, PTC, and siding extensions.

      3. Even if that is all we get, that still would be huge. Hopefully we will get the new trainsets as well. I’d love to see the Talgo XXI here.

        I don’t know if Talgo has an FRA compliant electric locomotive for the Talgo XXI but if they do I suspect the Talgo XXI would embarrass Bombardier’s Acela on the NEC.

      1. I would hope so, the F59’s seem to be crapping out a lot lately. I have seen WAY more trains powered by P42’s than F59’s in recent times.

      2. Eh, I don’t think so. According to the Mid-Range plan, 2 trainsets if ordered by 2012 is $50.8 million. So $101.6 million would allow for a couple locomotives.

        Unless of course, WSDOT will/could purchase the 16 locomotives @ $88.4 million which would perform MUCH better than the current F59PHI’s we have.

        Baby steps.

      3. To branch off of this in a wee bit of a rabbit trail, what kind of locomotive do the readers of this blog think WSDOT will buy?

      4. I’d rather have the Talgo 350 …

        I do wonder what Talgo could do with a double deck coach using the North American loading gauge?

        I also wonder if those Talgo 22 double deck coaches could fit on the NEC?

      5. The Talgo 350 would be nice too!

        I would think that the Talgo 22 would fit on the NEC…

      6. The PL42AC by Alstom would be an alternative to either the GE P42DC or the MPI MP36PH. However so far New Jersey Transit is the only customer.

      7. Has the FRA had a change of heart on Talgo crashworthiness? And where would this all fit with the “Buy America” laws?

      8. According to Talgo the Talgo XXI is FRA compliant as is the matching DMU/locomotive.

        Not sure about “Buy America” how did the original Talgo sets comply (or not) with the requirement?

      9. The car bodies were built in Spain and imported to Seattle as empty shells where they were completed and furnished.

  1. Assuming Everything gets fully funded, how long would this work take, and what level of service would this put us at?

    1. According to the Mid-Range Plan…

      Eight Seattle to Portland and Two Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. Daily
      Round Trips

      By completing the above projects (new cross-over in Centralia, two new
      train sets and higher speed locomotives, the 3rd main track at Kalama, and
      a new main line in Tacoma), the number of daily round trips between
      Seattle and Portland can be increased to eight.

      1. Would this mean moving the Tacoma Amtrak station up to Freighthouse Square next to the Sounder stuff?

      2. Higher speed diesel locomotives? They need PTC (which is on the list) for that. And the F59 can already go 110mph. Unless, they get some of those cool Bombardier turbine-powered JetTrain locomotives.

      3. Mike B,

        Yep, all Amtrak trains will move to Freighthouse Square.

        As for higher speed locomotives, while yes, the F59PHI’s can do 110mph, their reliability has become very troublesome for the corridor and has frequently needed either non-qualified Amtrak power (meaning, locomotives like the P42 have not been officially qualified for the higher speed running that the F59s can do) or BNSF power on the trains. I am sure that WSDOT are looking for higher reliability locomotives at this since they seem to be a hardpoint for on-time performance.

      4. Aren’t the P42 qualified all the way up to 79mph?

        Also does anyone know what motive power Amtrak uses on the Southwest Chief? Supposedly that train has sections of greater than 79mph running due to ATS installed by the ATSF long ago.

      5. Yes, they are but they aren’t officially qualified for the Talgo speed limits. Only the F59PHI and the NPCU (aka, cab car) can do these speeds from the last that I have heard.

        For those that don’t know, the Talgo can operate at a higher rate of speed in certain segments of the right of way.

        The speed limits can be pretty dramatic as shown above. Locomotives that operate on the Talgo are “supposed” to obey the standard passenger train speed limits (P) instead of the Talgo speed limits (T)… Freight trains is pretty obvious (F)

        British Columbia and Oregon does not “honor” the higher Talgo speed limits and thus must operate at the traditional passenger speed limits

      6. Ah, well then any chance of having the P42 qualified for the Talgo limits?

        Whatever they buy to replace the F59PHI they are going to have to qualify it for the Talgo speeds. Though I suppose with the Talgo 21 trainsets it comes with its own Talgo designed DMU. Still the old trainsets aren’t worn out yet so they need something to pull them.

  2. For more information on the Cascades HSR Corridor, and WHY this is such a big step forward for Washington State, read my article at All Aboard Washington.

    Our state legislators and the good folks at WSDOT rail office are doing their part to get Washington moving in the right direction. It’s our turn to help them.
    Most of the states will all be ‘justifying’ why they should get the lions share of the stimulus funding for HSR. Let’s not get drowned out in the arguements.

    1. Nice! Just got a call from a friend who is on the train from Seattle to the Bay Area. He has the day to enjoy the ride and is very much enjoying it. Think if the time could be shortened…even as you suggest incrementally.

  3. How is it that the “track and signal improvements” at King Street Station require double the funding of the Point Defiance bypass?

    1. I’ve been trying to figure that out as well.

      The only thing I can think of is the installation of power switches (track improvement) and signals (for each track) which would allow the King Street Station trains to be dispatcher controlled.

      The only other part I can think of it the new maintenance facility at the coach yard (between Royal Brougham and Lander Street) but that of course has been talked about for 10+ years now….

    2. Does the “track and signal improvement” possibly include over- or under-pass projects (grade-crossing elimination) for the line as it leaves Seattle-King Street for the south; the portion of the line in SODO until Spokane street where there are many at-grade crossings?

      1. I don’t think so since Sound Transit just finished that particular project last Summer. Passenger trains can do 50mph after Royal Brougham now but it quickly goes to 40mph for a curve just South of Spokane Street. Since the COSTCO expansion, there is no way to widen the curve for faster trains. There would be too much mitigation with the new gas station and car wash facility there now.

        The terminal used to only be 20mph for all trains to Spokane Street.

  4. I wrote to a Mr Witt regarding stimulus funding for rail projects:

    This is what I wrote:

    “Can I express some hope that you will be able to get funding from the stimulus for the following projects:

    § King Street Station renovation project – second phase

    § Point Defiance rail bypass for faster connections for Amtrak and Sounder to Lakewood

    § Second train service to Vancouver, BC.

    § More Amtrak Cascades service between SEA and PDX

    § Faster completion of the Vancouver, WA switching yard issues

    That’s my two cents! I hope some of these come to pass”

    The reply I got to these questions was this:

    “Thank you for your note and interest! I can assure you that the last 4 bullet points are on our list, along with another 8 major improvements to the High Speed Rail System. I believe the King Street Station project renovation is under the transit and City of Seattle ask at this time. Again, thank you for taking the time to make your interests and hopes known to us. Have a great day and watch our website for updates.”

    Best regards,

    Scott L. Witt
    Co-Director Freight Systems Division
    State Rail and Marine Group

  5. Assuming we get all the funding for this list, what’s the time frame and how much time will get shaved off of SEA-PDX??

    1. This should get the scheduled time to just under 3 hours. The big change would be an increase in ‘on time performance’ from 60 to 97% — that’s where all the time is being lost these days waiting for slow freights to switch out.
      Timeframe?? 3-7 years??, Kelso-Martin Bluff is a long term deal for all 3 phases.

      1. Wow. If you’re correct Mike, chalk me up as one anecdotal instance of changed commuter behavior. Presently, when I have work in PDX, I drive to the office, pick up a company car, and drive to the PDX office. My employer would pay for me to fly, but I find the idea abhorrent in the post 9-11 era as it saves exactly no time at all and is a complete P in the A.

        On the other hand, I haven’t been taking the train because the last time I did that, time from Seattle to PDX was close to FOUR hours! Three hours would be a wash on time with driving AND I might get a little sleep on the way down or a drink on the way back ;-).



      2. Right, the on time percentage is the big deal with the initial upgrade. To actually get much of a decrease in trip time is going to take an upgrade in signaling and all of the trains, not just the passenger trains have to be equiped. Even then it only gets it down to 2-1/2 hours so the on time it the biggie.

      3. How much of the run time is for padding the schedule in case the train runs into delays? If they improve the on-time reliability they should be able to cut some run time off the schedule.

      4. I’ve certainly had the experience of Cascades pulling into the station extremely early, so I suspect there is a fair bit of padding in the schedule.

  6. This is great news, I am surprised why the BC folks are moving so slow in what I would think be great for them economically. Creating a special economic zone between BC, Seattle, Portland seems to be a great way to stimulate the economy. In fact, 2 trains is too little. Should closer to 4 trains, but definately need to fix the border wait time and tracks leading in the Vancouver.

    Is there any way, customs can do their job at the station rather than at the border? Seems like a very silly wait they have to do at the border? Or alternatively, can they board at Bellingham and work their way up to the Border to save time? Once Seattle/Vancouver can close the gap to 2hrs+ it makes the day trip much more attractive and definately beats driving or flying.

  7. Its not a BC problem. Its the federal government that is holding up the train. The provincial government knows the second train will contribute over 50 million annually to the local economy, and they want it as much as we all do.

  8. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about the future of the inspections for passenger trains. I would personally rather have the inspections happen at Bellingham Station. A person that does not have valid credentials could be given the option to return on the Southbound train, which normally meets the Northbound just beyond or at Bellingham. The Southbound inspections should happen at the Vancouver Pacific station just to make things easy and simple.

    The biggest delay on the North line is still between Bow and Blaine where there are chunks of jointed rail though BNSF will be replacing those segments this year. Once the siding extensions are completed, they could easily shave off time on the schedule. If there aren’t any delays, the train CAN in fact do 3 hours and 30 minutes scheduled but there is so much padding due to freight trains which gives it a 4 hour scheduled run time. According to a road foreman and good friend of mine for BNSF, the Vancouver trains could handily beat the Portland trains. The biggest issue is just upgrading and improving the rails, expanding the sidings, and more importantly, getting the Canadian’s to be aggressive with the rail expansion since 40 to 60 percent of the Winter Olympic traffic will come from the United States.

    CN, CP, and BNSF has agreed to upgrade the tracks which will allow speeds up to 75mph from the present 35-50mph. This in itself will be completed (maybe) for the Olympics.

    Amtrak and WSDOT will be in Canada next week so we’ll see what will the outcome be. With the Peace Arch not going to be finished in time for the Olympics, I am sure that they are going to be facing massive, massive back ups at the crossings. So far, I’ve heard nothing on rail service to Vancouver besides the 2 Cascades Talgos, which will not do anything for relieving the pressure off the boarder.

  9. Brian – According to the Talgo website the XXI’s power unit is FRA compliant, however I’m not aware that it’s actually been tested in Pueblo? Can you fill us in on this?



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