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If you’re journeying down to Portland or coming back for the Christmas holidays, you may want to consider taking a Cascades train, as Amtrak will be adding four trips, one roundtrip on Thursday, December 23rd and another roundtrip on Sunday, December 26th.  Both roundtrips will operate on an identical schedule for both days.

You can refer to the schedule above for specific times.

16 Replies to “Amtrak adding four Cascades trips for Christmas holidays”

  1. Not that you can’t see it in the regular schedule, but here you can really tell where the time padding is.

    Southbound, Seattle to Tukwila, 15 minutes. Northbound Tukwila to Seattle, 44 minutes.

    Southbound, Vancouver to Portland, 42 minutes. Northbound, Portland to Vancouver, 20 minutes.

    I’ll have to go look at the recent arrival times to see if all that padding is necessary. Seems like I always end up arriving early but maybe I’m the lucky one.

    1. Now that I have looked, it actually is more padding than the normal schedule. Regular Cascades trains have 26-28 minutes between penultimate station and endpoint.

      1. These are higher level Amfleet or Horizon coaches that require more steps up from the platform, thus more difficult for less agile folks. Further, these trains have no checked baggage, requiring more loading time by customers getting up those steps w/ their luggage. I’d rather have a bit of padding and arrive early. Thanks, Amtrak, for a few more extras this holiday season, over and above the Thanksgiving extras.

      2. Also this is non-tilting equipment (horizon and amfleet) so trains must go passenger speed and not talgo speed.

    2. It is normal to put extra padding in the segment before the final terminal — that is padding for the *entire trip*. Note, 22 minutes “general padding” southbound, 29 minutes “general padding” northbound.

      The actual source of the usual delays for which the padding is inserted could be anywhere along the route, and probably is.

      1. I get why it’s there. Just seemed like more than needed. As was pointed out above, I forgot about the different equipment being used.

      2. Oh, I mentioned it just because you said “here you can really tell where the time padding is”. I wish we knew where on the route the time padding was *coming* from, that’s much more interesting…. but it’s not obvious. The single-track tunnels in Tacoma, the Vancouver railyard, one presumes.

  2. It’s a bit fun looking at their Thanksgiving and Christmas schedules and these added trains because you’re somewhat seeing into the future and what the schedules may be like with added trips. I’m wondering if these two will be the first added when the Amtrak Cascades schedule is expanded?

    1. Hopefully we’ll move closer to an every other hour, regular schedule between SEA and PDX. However, the two new Talgos will belong to OR DOT, so there’ll be pressure for a 3rd PDX-EUG service, and for a 3rd SEA-VAC train as well.

      1. Judging from the fight about the second VBC trip, I doubt that there will be a third. More likely, the existing schedule for PDX-EUG will stay the same, because the whole point of ODOT buying Talgo sets is that WSDOT is saying that it wants its toys back for SEA-PDX trains 5 and 6.

        Than again, that wont happen until Pt. Defiance bypass is done.

  3. Speaking of new Talgo equipment, is there any news on Washington acquiring new trainsets? I think there was money for that in the ARRA grants, and while I assume the state would need to do competetive bids, Talgo might give some concessions to keep the Wisconsin plant open a little longer.

  4. How about adding — and keeping the extra four trips!

    Oh, and I still think Cascades should make all the Sounder stops.

    This is what happens on the Northeast corridor where NJTransit and Amtrak share some stops.

    Especially here if its a time when Sounder isn’t running…

    1. There are multiple corridors which are shared between Amtrak and commuter rail. The Northeast Corridor is full of commuter rail lines: Wikipedia lists 21 different lines from 6 different railroads (though some are overlapping). The Downeaster (Amtrak service between Boston and Portland, ME) shares track with an MBTA line between Boston and Haverhill, and the Lake Shore Limited (Amtrak line between Boston and Chicago) shares with the MBTA between Boston and Worcester.

      In all of these cases — even NJ Transit (1) — the Amtrak train makes significantly fewer stops than the local (i.e. the commuter train), and it’s really nice. Taking Amtrak between Boston and Providence is about 35-40 minutes, compared to over an hour on the commuter rail. That’s almost exclusively because Amtrak skips seven stops. If the Northeast Regional made every local stop between Boston and DC, it could easily add hours to the one-way trip time.

      (1) See Wikipedia’s article on the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line. Stations not served by Amtrak include North Elizabeth, Broad St-Elizabeth, Linden, Rahway, Metuchen, Edison, and Hamilton, among others.

      1. Yeah, I would hate to stop at every Sounder station on my way from Portland to Seattle. Doubly worse from Eugene to Seattle.

      2. Comparing the NEC, Downeaster, and other local commuter rail agencies against Sound Transit is just plain nonsense in my book. We are talking about long established passenger corridors with population densities that WARRANT separate trains to fulfill the job.

        Worse yet, the simplest solutions have been in front of this moribound and inept ST board for like, well, generations.

        Even in the “old days”, take 1952 as an example; their were numerous trains that would or would not stop at a particular station due to numerous reasons. May be an express, or mail with a coach, or any other reason.

        So, its understandable that someone who’s riding Amtrak to PDX may not want to stop at ST stations. Fair enough if its in the same timeframe as the commutes since they overlap each other.

        But on off-peak hours and weekends, not having Amtrak stop at these stations is plainly one of the stupidest things to not do.

        Take Mukilteo as an example. A MAJOR ferry terminal, but NO train service in the middle of the day or on weekends. Someone here is gonna tell me that they have a rational argument for LACK of SERVICE?

        Highly unlikely. So here we have people complaining about having to stop at a “local” station, while their double standard insists that people should be taking mass transit more.

        This stuff isn’t that hard to figure out. I think that ST and the other agencies are more consumed with theory and studies for white collar types than actually running trains.

        This message sent while aboard ST Commute 1702. Where ST has real professionals working. Someone go up to the ST board and kick the nexec. butts onto the curb where they belong.

      3. I’m thinking about what you write, Anthony, and it seemed to make sense, but then I dug deeper.

        Mukilteo. It’s a ferry terminal, it deserves more service. Yes! But it’s also on the *North line*, which is full of single-track sections and therefore suffers from tight scheduling.

        If Amtrak proposed stopping at Mukilteo, or ST proposed midday service, most likely BNSF would say “Not until we finish the double-tracking”, don’t you think? (After they do finish that, they most certainly should stop there… it’s not like it’ll make much difference on the timing north of Seattle, which is problematic mainly due to the Canadian trackage).

        On the south-of-Seattle stops, with double-tracking to just outside Tacoma, there are four additional stops on Sounder. And the Amtrak schedule is 15 minutes shorter (not counting padding). So it doesn’t make sense to add them — you really would be losing significant Seattle-Portland runtime, and therefore lots of customers, in favor of those stops. Of course, if total Seattle-Portland runtime drops enough due to new projects, there may be room to add those stops later. Or if demand goes up enough, midday Sounder service could be supported.

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