Amtrak Cascades near Stewart, WA by Brian Bundridge
Amtrak Cascades near Stewart, WA by Brian Bundridge

Here is some news on Amtrak in the past couple of days.

  • Amtrak has received $1.5 billion in the President’s budget. It is expected that Amtrak will overhaul 70 Amfleet I cars in Bear, Delaware with the additional stimulus funding along with new corridor equipment. The Amfleets would provide an additional 5,880 seats to Amtrak. Amtrak has already begun hiring for employees for the overhaul.
  • Leavenworth Station construction starts this Spring with a opening in the Fall
  • Stanwood Station also starts construction this Spring with a opening in September
  • All aboard!! More climbing aboard Amtrak for cheaper travel.
  • Edmonds Crossing could happen but focusing mainly on the station and bus portion instead of the full deal.
  • There is a lot of steam behind a movement to restore the Amtrak Pioneer, The Hermiston Herald has a good editorial on it and a search on Google reveals a heavy search in the past year from states along the entire route that would like to see the train return.
  • Amtrak drops fare on the high-end Acela to be more competitive

18 Replies to “Amtrak News Roundup”

  1. Thanks Brian!

    Any news on when we might hear on the second train to Vancouver?

    Also, I thought they already had a platform at Leavenworth? The article you linked to in the Wenatchee paper was written on February 9th – has there been an update since then? Is this one really for real at this point. I have been following this for about five years now!

    Lastly, I have some great pictures of King Street Station from when I was in the area yesterday – it is looking glorious and it has a steeple on top that I can’t recall seeing before – unless they have just painted it and it looked ugly and non-descript before. Now it shines like a beacon – well stands out at least. How do I send these pictures so everyone can see them?


    1. Tim,

      No news on the second train yet, I’m hoping for a Summer start up in time for the tourist season and cruise ships.

      Nope, no platform in Leavenworth. It is officially a go. Amtrak already has a station code for it though it is not available for public eyes yet. Fares would be about $50 round trip but you would have to stay overnight. The schedule is only good if your interested in a weekend trip over there, say leaving Friday afternoon and returning Sunday Morning. Fingers crossed for a hopeful daylight train over to Spokane!

      What time were you at King Street yesterday? I was there a little after 3:30pm shooting around the entire station before I took the 4:45pm Sounder to Tacoma.

      If your in the area again today, Link and KC Metro will be doing test runs in the Downtown Seattle tunnel from 7pm until an unknown time. I’ll be there for about an hour getting pictures.

      I plan on shooting Tacoma Link, Sounder, Amtrak, KSS, Seattle Streetcar, Monorail, and Central Link all today. E-mail me if you want to meet up!

  2. It would indeed be nice to have Amtrak #25 and #26 The Pioneer return, but even in the current “downturn” it is extremely unlikely the Union Pacific will agree to this proposal any time in the near future. Plus there is the issue of access to Boise which would have to be dealt with before the train returned.

    1. I don’t think UP has to agree, I believe Amtrak can force UP to give it trackage rights.

      What is the issue with access to Boise? Did UP abandon the track?

      1. I am uncertain as to Lloyd’s thinking but the only obvious possibility for a Boise train station is the Boise Train Depot. I think it would need to be renovated extensively. It also in an awkward spot since it has little parking and minimal transit. It has a fantastic view of the Boise area, though!

      2. The Boise Train Depot was fully restored in 1992. It is currently owned by the City of Boise. Based on the photos I’ve been able to find it looks like an impressive and beautiful depot.

        I’m guessing the real question is the condition of the tracks serving the depot. UPRR tried to sell the branch line serving the depot in the past and may have abandoned the line by now.

      3. UP have abandoned one of the branch lines which goes into Boise from off their main line. Restoration of service to Boise would require a many mile “back-in” or “back-out” operation adding 1 hour or more to the trip. I do not believe a railroad can now be forced or required to host Amtrak service.

  3. I wonder how much per car it is going to cost them to overhaul, I see that as money that could be spent better since those cars are Budd cars and very old. It displays how much the FRA needs to change its policy on weight.

    1. My best guess is $20,000 to $300,000 per car *Amfleet I cars*, depending on what they want to do to the car itself. If it is basic, it would definitely be on the low end. If it was at the high end, it would be around $20,400,000 for 68 cars. I would also assume that there will be more money spent on the Superliners and Viewliners cars.

  4. Amtrak drops fare on the high-end Acela to be more competitive

    Good move. Airlines have always charged more (a lot more) for last minute travel reservations.

  5. I think a transit adventure dinner to Stanwood is in order in September or October.

    (From Seattle Sounder to Everett, then Island Transit to Stanwood, return on Amtrak)

    1. Yes, can’t wait for this one. You mentioned, Brian, about improved service to Spokane in the future from Seattle – this would be awesome, not just for those of us like me who haven’t yet visited Spokane and would like to, but towns like Leavenworth would benefit enormously from more civilized and flexible return times on trains returning to Seattle than will be offered by the Empire Builder. For those of us who like to stay at B&Bs in Leavenworth, I don’t think that many of the B&Bs I have stayed in there will much welcome the 6.30am return time to Seattle. Therefore, additional service to Seattle later on in the day from Spokane would be helpful I think.


      1. Sigh, with the state gutting anything related to passenger rail a second daily train to Spokane is likely out of the question.

        At the rate WADOT and the Governor is going we’ll be lucky to keep the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder.

      2. Don’t say that Chris – that would be really bad! Neither is really on the cards is it with the new administration so ‘Amtrak friendly’?

      3. Tim,
        It isn’t the Federal Government I’m worried about it is our own State Government. They’ve deferred a number of rail projects crucial to Sounder and Cascades. They’ve laid off the passenger rail staff at WSDOT. Can dropping the state subsidy for Cascades service be far behind?

        Furthermore what chance do we have to get any Federal passenger rail money when nobody in state government cares to ask for it and even if we get it we don’t have anyone to manage it?

        Since there is only so much money to go around Amtrak is going to go where it is wanted. Sure we’ll probably keep the Starlight and the Empire Builder, but don’t expect any additional frequencies unless Amtrak is doing that for the entire train.

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