The Oregon Department of Transportation moved forward with purchasing two 8th-generation Talgo trains on February 26th, joining Wisconsin’s train order and saving roughly $6m in the deal. The trains are marketed for North American operations and meet FRA requirements. The trains will consist of 13 cars (instead of WSDOT’s planned 14-car trains), seating 285 passengers (instead of 300) and will have free wifi, a bistro/lounge car, coach and business classes, along with baggage and continued bicycle services. These will be built at the new Milwaukee, Wisconsin Talgo assembly plant. These will most likely not use the Talgo-Siemens BT diesel/hydraulic locomotive; however, the Wisconsin trains may use the cab car from the BT locomotive. The stimulus funded rebuilt GE P40 locomotives will be used to power these trains.
The way these trains will be integrated into Cascades is still to be determined. The WSDOT mid- and long-range plans did not consider that ODOT might purchase their own train-sets, even though the mid-range plan was drawn up during the time Oregon was looking at purchasing bi-level coaches and used locomotives, similar to what is seen on the Amtrak California and Surfliner corridors.
ODOT will continue to run 2 daily trains and is in negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad to increase service to 4 daily trains; increase speeds to 79mph for the majority of the route (which mostly just involves improving grade crossing circuit timings); improve reliability between Eugene and Portland, including extending sidings and add double track in key bottlenecks; and reduce run times. Oregon continues to study the Portland and Western Railroad for a 150mph double track electrified corridor.
ODOT staff did not given any clues as to how they will deploy these trainsets when they enter revenue service in 2012, except that they will be used only in the Eugene-to-Portland segment. Given that constraint, one sensible choice would be to replace the two bus round trips that currently connect with Cascades trains that terminate at Portland.
The press release can be found here.