Stadler 2/6 DMU in Austin
Stadler 2/6 DMU in Austin. Flikr user Paul Kimo McGregor.

New regulations from the Federal Railroad Administration could open up exciting new options for passenger rail in the Northwest.   These updates have been in the pipeline for some time now and are finally ready for public review.

The first of the new rules creates a new “Tier III” for high-speed passenger rail. Tier I covers speeds up to 125mph (i.e. Amtrak Cascades, Sounder), Tier II goes up to 160mph, and the new Tier III (220mph) relates to true high-speed trains such as we might some day see in California.

The second and more interesting rule change provides an alternative crash safety standard for Tier I (and only Tier I) trains, for tracks that are shared between passenger and freight rail.  Streetsblog has a good summary:

The FRA expects the new rules will enable railroads to use trains that are safer, more energy efficient, and cheaper to operate. The rules will allow American passenger train operators to purchase rolling stock designed to European safety standards (but not Japanese standards), without going through an expensive waiver process.

“It was an obstacle for all foreign railway manufacturers to bring any state-of-the-art trains into the country,” said Alois Starlinger, a board member for the Swiss train maker Stadler Rail.

Building trains to unusual U.S. safety standards for the small American passenger rail market made rolling stock purchases needlessly expensive. Opening the door to standardized European train specifications will significantly lower prices.

Running cheaper, lighter Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains on existing freight rail tracks could open up some more options for passenger rail.  As our own Bruce Nourish explained when the regs were first announced:

To get a sense of the economic and environmental cost of America’s overbuilt trains, let’s look at a simple number, the weight of the trains, taking Sounder North as an example. To a first order approximation, the environmental and economic cost of building and operating a vehicle (of a certain type of fuel) is proportional to the amount of metal that goes into it. A three-car Sounder North train weighs about 240 metric tons (50 t carriages, 120 t locomotive), while the Stadler 2/8 weighs 79 metric tons. So, roughly speaking, we could comfortably move Sounder North’s passenger load with a third of the fuel and materials we use today. This would do much to bring down Sounder North’s painfully high cost per boarding; to boot, a DMU train would almost certainly accelerate faster, ride more smoothly, and be quieter to the neighbors. DMUs on this line could be a huge win.

A win indeed.  Where else in the Northwest might we see DMUs playing a bigger role? Discuss in the comments.

108 Replies to “Feds Clear the Way for Euro-style Trains in the US”

  1. Not to beat a dead horse – but I think the most obvious win would be frequent all-day service on the South Sounder corridor. Of course, you could supplement the peak times with the existing rolling stock – but mid-day or evenings DMU seems like the right-sized investment for that corridor.

    If ST3 indeed pays for 3rd track (I know that’s still pending negotiation), we should easily get as many slots as we want. Then, truncating routes like the 150 to Sounder could allow for a massive re-ivestment of service hours to create high quality bus feeder service in both South King and Pierce County, but fast smooth rides into Seattle or Tacoma on rail. Win-win!

    1. ST is asking for price options that would allow up to hourly service. Half-hourly slots would presumably be available at a higher price. If we assume that hourly service is good and half-hourly service is excellent, then we’re going in a good direction. The 150 can’t be “truncated” to Sounder because it starts at Sounder (truncate it to zero), it has local responsibilites th Southcenter and north Kent, and even hourly Sounder would not be enough for no supplemental service. Mertro’sd 2025 plan has a RapidRide from Kent Station to KDM station, and the 2040 plan replaces the 150 with a Frequent route to BAR and Rainier Beach stations. I don’t think you can truncate more than that. (Especially with Kent workers living in Rainier Valley and this plan already a 2-seat ride for them.)

      It sounds like DMUs’ cost-savings is so dramatic that ST will want to retire the existing trains later. This would then become a cash flow issue, when can ST retire its fleet early? How fast can the manufacturers deliver trains, and will other cities put in orders at the same time maxing out the capacity? How much more capacity will American manufacturers and European subsidiaries provide? The “buy America” act will still be in effect, so trains can’t just be imported from European factories.

      The other commuter rail that has been studied is Everett to Bellingham and Auburn to Maple Valley. Then of course there’s that Olympia thing.

      1. I should have been clearer – I mean removing the segment that goes from Southcenter to Seattle. If Sounder has better than 30 minute service then this becomes viable. And I’m not just talking about the 150, basically any route from South King or Pierce to Seattle could be truncated.

      2. Auburn to Maple Valley? WHY? Can we please stop encouraging people to build homes out in the middle of nowhere? The WSDOT report runs the line all the way out to Ravensdale! We don’t need more sprawl. Let them sit on their two lane roads in a traffic nightmare.

      3. The Maple Valley line is for the existing residents. New homes will be built to the zoning limit regardless of whether there’s a train or not, because either train commuters or car commuters or non-commuters will buy them. The train project is not going anywhere because none of the cities or the county have expressed interest in paying for it.

        I’ve never heard of Ravensdale so I don’t know where it is and it must be small. Is it like Kangley, which according to Google Maps is just an intersection with about four houses, just before the highway turns into a forest logging road?

      4. I’m with Mike – because of the UGB, homes will be built regardless of transit options in Maple Valley. Building out rail won’t extend the UGB. It will give people an alternative to driving, and perhaps enable some of the outer suburbs to allow for denser development in pockets.

      5. It’s Auburn – Black Diamond – Covington – Maple Valley.
        Ravensdale may be in between there somewhere.

      6. Fuel cost in Sounder budgets was less than 12% of the total operating cost in 2015 (the last year I can see fuel cost broken out as a line item in the budget), so let’s not get too optimistic about how much expansion will be possible with new light weight DMUs. But it would be smart to look at replacing the bi-levels on North Sounder and using the DMUs on midday trains between Seattle and Tacoma. But even with lower charges for fuel, track access and vehicle maintenance costs, the DMUs would likely still be too expensive for use on most other lines. Link style light rail vehicles would still be cheaper to operate.

      7. Everywhere else in the world, there is no diffferenc between Link style light rail cars and what operates on the main line. Thus, they are not cheaper as they are the same thing.

      8. The double-deck coaches are very useful during the peak hours. This is little more than a diesel powered light rail car.

      9. Depends. If they allow UIC trains we could get anything from TGV operating on standard main line track to extend the reach of high speed lines to tram-train operations with light rail cars.

      10. I saw that once on a Narrow Gauge line in Germany. Conventional Steam hauled train was on one track in the station, and a Streetcar powered by a diesel generator buzzed by on the adjacent track. It surprised me to say the least. Afterwards I went and checked out the connection, and the streetcar system was connected into the narrow gauge line (no break of gauge) and this one line has streetcars that can work on electric or diesel, at the small tram station in front of the Bahnhof’s (narrow gauge and mainline) they drop the pan, switch on the diesel generator and head off onto the single track connection alongside the narrow gauge station and onto the Harzer Schmallspur Bahn passing a semaphore in the process.

    2. Aww yeah, Stephen, that’s what it’s all about, that’s what I want to see.

      And with frequent all-day service 7 days a week, it would no longer be commuter rail but an all-out metro line. If ST can pull this off, they should dump the Sounder name and rename it Yellow Line.

      1. “Frequent” implies 15 minutes or better off-peak. That’s unimaginable for Sounder at this time. Even Caltrain only reaches hourly. Half-hourly Sounder would not replace a Link line but it’s “enough” for Kent and Auburn if you give up on 15-minute frequency and Sounder eventually reaching 90 mph.

      2. That 90 mph and 110 mph is the state’s long-term goal for the corridor, not something to give up[ on.

      3. Which Sprinter?

        The 1500 volt version in the Netherlands can do 99 mph.

        The Nantes variation of a light rail car can do 60 mph between cities but is limited to 42 mph on city streets:

        The Stadler GTW as used by New Jersey Transit RiverLINE and others (looks just like a light rail car) is limited to 87 mph, but you could probably get them to build one with different gear ratios for 90 mph if you really need the extra 3 mph

      4. Glenn, I didn’t make up the 90 mph specification. I was just wondering if the Stadlers can meet the State’s declared goal for Sounder; it wasn’t some arbitrary whim which is what the tone of your reply implies.

        Apparently they can; thank you.

      5. No offense or snark intended.

        Some of them can, in certain configurations.

        My big concern is platform configurations. Mainline passenger trains are 10 feet wide. Link is only about 8.6. I don’t know if it is possible to get something that will operate seamlessly with that mixture of platforms. SNCF tram trains seem to involve steps on the platforms at mainline stations.

      6. In other words, it’s mainly for Cascades and future high-speed rail. It makes it possible for Sounder to speed up, but whether it does or not depends on if ST buys the right kind of trains; it’s not the state’s concern whether it does. But it’s a long way off; they’re still working on 90 mph and the third track.

    3. Hopefully, the savings from DMU’s won’t all be eaten up by a Trump’ed out trade war, driving up the price of steal.

    4. With south sounder, you could easily use existing equipment, and it would be more cost effective as well. I doubt with a DMU you’d see a reduction in crew size, so the cost of operations would be minimal, and offset by the purchase price of the equipment, and extra switching and storage that would be nessasary for using DMU’s off peak. North sounder on the other hand, a couple DMU’s running in MU could easily handle the load. Other corridors could be future commuter rail service over stampede pass. Kittitas county has a rail district formed for just such a thing, but they have not gotten anywhere with anything yet.

      1. Alternatively, in that case, could we use North Sounder’s DMU’s for off-peak South Sounder instead and continue parking South Sounder’s equipment just like currently?

      2. If this ever comes about, William’s suggestion is the best ude of the system. It extends the life of the expensive heavy bi-levels but maximizes capacity when it’s needed.

  2. Does this mean the new light rail trains will be even Lighter? Does this mean we will be able to add more car due to less power consumption/requirements? Understanding that the platforms would have to be lengthened for longer trains.

    1. This rule applies to trains that share tracks with freight rail, so LINK is unaffected.

      1. Isn’t the Austin photo above of a DMU light rail vehicle?

        I’d really hate to see municipalities start opting for diesel units over electric, for environmental, noise, and acceleration reasons.

      2. That’s the point of DMUs; they’re commuter trains that look like light rail, and they can operate on some light rail tracks. DMUs open up the possibility of the extensive interurban and local rail network like American cities had decades ago, at much less cost than traditional locomotives and light rail if the right of way exists. That could open up things that were previously considered too costly or low-ridership to be feasible, such as Woodinville-Renton commuter rail, another south King County line, and reviving lines throughout western Washington and eastern Washington.

      3. That depends on what is allowed in the final ruling.

        Currently, most light rail trains in the USA meet UIC safety standards for operating on European main lines.

        Just because this standard would allow for lighter trains doesn’t mean they would allow international standard trains on main lines here.

        So, we would have to see what they decide to do.

      4. Kyle S.
        That Austin train operates on freight tracks, but has 100% segregated operating hours. Freight at night, commuter rail at daytime.

        There is work to reinforce the rail cars to allow intermixed operation — I guess this rule will make that project obsolete.

  3. Finally finally finally. Now it’s time to cook up an article or two thinking about their possible regional applications in this corner of the world.

    1. This is now a whole-state-network type of deal. REAL intercity service on both sides of and across the mountains could start to look financially feasible. (Track owners should want to play along too, because who doesn’t like more revenue magically appearing from an existing resource?)

    2. Certainly, co-operation of the Landlord Railways will be a necessity before any major expansion occurs, and this seems UNlikely until at least after 20 January 2021.
      SEA-PSC-SPK/Walla Walla plus PDX-PSC-SPK. A day train PDX-SLC? DEN-ABQ-ELP?

      1. I wonder what would be the incremental cost and difficulty of building the second downtown tunnel with ventilation and fire protection capable of running DMUs. The vertical clearance of the unit pictures looks adequate to not interfere with light rail OCS wire, and I could see the long term potential of interlining north sounder to light rail in interbay, and bypassing the great northern tunnel bottleneck/and fees. This route could potentially be brought back to freight on the old UP grade south of the OMF and extended south to Renton on the as Zach suggested a couple months back. Once the link spine makes it to downtown Everett, sounder to Everett station will no longer make much sense, given the better speed and reliability of link. Then the north sounder DMU could be routed up Japanese Gulch to terminate at Boeing/future of flight, and potentially extended to the link station in the area.

      2. If I remember correctly from the ESR discussions, the DMU’s are driven by electrical motors powered by a Diesel powered generator. As such, you should be able to order your DMU’s with pantographs (and transformers if needed) and not use the Diesel while running in the tunnel.
        That will change your question to Would it be cheaper to add the infrastructure to the tunnels, or to buy the modified DMU’s

      3. Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF, so it’s just the kind of large company that could get a crony-capitalist deal before 2021. As for the environmental disadvantage of diesel, I’m assuming these could be adapted to renewable power sources later. And “diesel” may be one factor that could favor a crony-capitalist deal, since oil and gas projects are about to be favored.

      4. With regards to Lor’s suggestion of dual-power multiple units, third rail collection is usually preferred to pantographs because only using it in a tunnel negates almost all of the drawbacks of the third rail.

      5. ” sounder to Everett station will no longer make much sense, ” – I disagree. North Sounder serves an entirely different corridor than Link. For the only trip pair that overlaps between the two – Everett Station to Downtown Seattle – North Sounder will be a faster, more comfortable trip. With Link likely significantly expanding the span of service between Everett & Seattle, I’d think Everett to Seattle Sounder ridership will actually go up as people take Sounder one way and Link the return trip.

        Link may be more reliable than Sounder, but it certainly won’t be faster, not with all the stops along the way.

      6. Actually, Sound Transit’s projected travel time for Link from Everett to downtown is something on the order of 59 minutes – a mere 2-3 minutes more than what north Sounder is currently scheduled at – and that’s including the Paine Field Deviation, plus all the stops along the way. However, Link serves all of downtown, not just King St. Station, so if one’s headed to the retail core around Westlake Center, Link would be significantly faster than Sounder. And that’s not even including the “reduced wait time” effect from Link running a much more frequent schedule than north Sounder does (during the limited period that north Sounder runs at all).

        Really, the only trips where north Sounder saves any time over Link is trips involving Edmonds or Mukilteo, and even then, only for people who live right next to the station or ride the ferry (e.g. people who live halfway between Edmonds and Lynnwood would not save any time driving to Edmonds to catch the Sounder vs. driving to Lynnwood to catch Link).

      7. The only possible inter-city route that doesn’t have freight at full capacity and modest potential passenger demand would be Stampede.

        Stevens is choked already, and Bellingham has Amtrak, at least for now.

    3. Hope you’re cooking up service from Renton to Bellevue there ;)

      There’s a neat little hardly-used corridor that they’re thinking of ripping up right now that’d do the trick!

      1. Do you mean the corridor that WSDOT already ripped up when they widened 405 a few years ago and eliminated the Wilburton tunnel?

      2. The 405 Expansion shouldn’t be touching the ERC, at least not the one Ian is specifying. They are actually at pretty different elevations most of the route.

        Also, in Wilburton isn’t it a tressle, not a tunnel?

    4. Both Sounder and Link are 60 minutes to Everett without the Paine deviation. So if Paine is 120 minutes it’s 1:10 for Link. But that’s Link to Wrstlake and Sounder to King Street; different people mighht find one destination preferable. I don’t believe passengers care much about differences up to ten minutes for trips over ten miles because it’s within the margin of error of all the factors (walking time, late train, missing the train, etc). The exception is if it’s part of an inconvenient two- or three-seat ride that has long waits elsewhere and the person does regularly. Then they might be especially interested in economizing those ten minutes. Otherwise the frequency, precise destination, availability of seats, and view comes into play. And the cost difference if any.

      Sounder has a definite advantage from Mukilteo but that’s few people because Mukilteo is very low density. . Mukilteo is very low density. For Edmonds, again Link will have the same travel time to Seattle, and all Edomdites live somewhere east of Sounder. (Edmonds Sounder 29 minutes, Lynnwood Link 28 minutes, Mountlake Terrace Link around 24 minutes).

      1. Exactly. Except for a few trips originating from Everett station, to other sounder north stations, link north will serve commutes into downtown Seattle core with broader coverage at similar trip time and no transfer. Also, the section track north of mukilteo is one of the most susceptibile to slides and creates much of that line’s vulnerability to cancellations. If sounder north were diverted up the hill to Boeing with a terminal at the link station it could make trips into Seattle on bnsf tracks during the peak commute, then pare back to a the Paine field spur shuttle between the mukilteo ferry, Paine field, and the link station the rest of the day without interfering with freight traffic and paying the associated fees. It should be able to make the trip between the ferry and link in less than 15 minutes, so one train set should be able to match the ferry schedule. And single track should be adequate.

      2. Oh OK I thought the time difference was closer to ~20 minutes.

        Having ridden Chicago’s Metra a lot, I think Sounder is a much more comfortable long-haul commuting option than a Link train that is likely super crowed by the time it gets to Seattle; On Sounder it will be easier to have your laptop out to get some work done, or read a book in peace. So there’s a “quality of ride” advantage for Everett-Seattle end-to-end riders.

        I know Edmonds isn’t really growing, but their downtown has basically the same bones as DT Kirkland. It should grow some, eventually. The current parking lots aren’t big, and the bus connections aren’t great – I don’t expect Link to cannibalize North Sounder all that much.

  4. Meant that last post to be a response to Zachs suggestions for future articles…. DMU Piine field spur.

  5. I know it’s not in the Flickr pool but how about a nice little shout-out to Denton County Transportation Authority’s DMUs which are operated because the DCTA got the first-ever FRA waiver to allow DMU use on mixed-use rail lines. That waiver opened the door for what we’re now seeing.

    (And, yes, having ridden a few DCTA trains, they are definitely smoother and quieter than Sounder or Amtrak Cascades. DART will hopefully be using this kind of equipment on the hoped-for-someday Cotton Belt Line since overhead electrification likely won’t be feasible due to objections from suburbs through which the Cotton Belt route passes but that won’t get stations.)

    1. I would think so, especially for a morning train, as the Empire Builder has terrible timing for Spokane. I think a triangular route is ideal, operating from Seattle to Spokane to Portland, with another trainset operating the reverse route. Total time from Seattle to Portland would be about 14 hours, which is pretty good equipment utilization.

  6. This makes intercity rail service in more densely populated areas like the Rust Belt, with dense existing railway grids, much more feasible, financially.

    1. Which could be a good thing if we’d like to see regional rail revived in the states that historically had it. Perhaps privatized and non-union, but still passenger rail.

    2. Yes. This is going to be massive for the Midwest and Northeast.

      Once they manage to buy some new cars, that is!

  7. Just to be clear, this is just a proposed regulation at this point.

    Public comment closes on inauguration day, and the next administration will decide if they actually want to issue the rule. Given all the regulation-bashing Trump has been doing, I suspect this great idea will be die a quiet death, as collateral damage to national politics.

    1. Or as a deliberate squashing in order to continue privileging inferior Made in America railtanks to Euro imports.

      1. Companies like Siemens make rail cars in the US and in Europe. So you can get made in America Rail Cars built to EU standards

    2. Except this is removing regulations that waste money. At least theoretically DT would support that, plus the infrastructure spending he wants would get a bit cheaper. It might even create some additional American jobs if Euro-based manufacturers decide to enter the US market now that they don’t need costly and complicated redesigns of their products.

      Buy America isn’t going away – that seems to be the biggest political issue.

    3. This is removing regulations. It’s creating new business for American manufacturers, and well-paying blue-collar jobs. American companies can license European designs and European companies can set up American plants like they already do at a smaller scale. The main problem is you still can’t import Made-in-Europe trains if your project gets federal grants. And if Trump doesn’t totally destroy Canada-US-Mexico trade, some of these trains might be exported to Canada, Mexico, and South America.

      1. I think this is a scenario where the details of the issue get lost to the politics, and the politics are that the GOP is adverse to both passenger rail and Europe in general.

      2. The politics are that large companies buy the policies they want. Measly anti-rail, anti-Europe ideology won’t stand in the way. It’s just that the companies may not be interested in such a European-style business. They’ve grown up with freeways and drive-ins and freight rail and may have difficulty thinking beyond that. But if they suddenly wanted to do passenger rail, the government would be all ears.

    1. Better hurry to save the ROW before it gets hacked up like the ERC for everything except regional transportation.

      1. Its still an active freight line, and considering the lower income neighborhoods it goes through in Tacoma I doubt there would be any reason for it to change anytime soon.

      1. Which is in the ST service district, but receives no direct service from ST, like most of the central pierce county area. Its not even in the Pierce Transit PTBA boundary anymore.

      2. Sumner-Orting would be a separate line that could be served by DMUs. If single-track rail were extended back into downtown Orting (at low enough speeds to keep trail users happy) and enough DMUs were housed at the Orting end of the line, it could be part of the volcano evacuation plans.

        Graham would be the natural continuation of the Tacoma-Frederickson line, but if it happens, it should be paired with zoning changes to allow dense, walkable, mixed use development at 224th and Meridian.

        Central Graham is just barely within the UGA, and having a train station with abundant parking could increase pressure to expand the UGA south and allow more 2-6 units-per-acre development in current farm and forest land.

        Frederickson, on the other hand, is more workable in the short term, being on one of the County’s main densification corridors for the Central Pierce area (176th St). There is still some space for development around Canyon and 176th, and the industrial area allows for bi-directional commuting. An easy transfer at TDS between the Frederickson line and South Sounder could get a lot of people who currently drive from Auburn or Kent to work in Frederickson out of their cars.

        I see two workable intermediate stops on the Tacoma-Frederickson line: FP High School, and 72nd St. Both would have fairly low ridership to start with, but they could promote densification.

        If DMUs only run Tacoma-Frederickson during the peak and around Boeing shift-change times, then the rest of the day the same vehicles could run Tacoma-DuPont so that the main South Sounder trains only have to go Tacoma-Seattle. The transfer at TDS would be easy, but there would be few through-riders who need to use it as long as there is all-day STEX 580.

      3. ST is maxed out with ST2 and 3 projects, and this is the part of Pierce that voted against ST3 and may want to leave the ST dfstrict.

        Where is Fredrickson and what jobs does it have? I’ve only been to the end of route 1 in Spanaway years ago (when it was the 46 I think), is it near there?

      4. 1, they voted against ST3 because they didn’t get anything out of it. If ST4 gives them something, they’ll vote for it.

        2, Frederickson is east of Spanaway, although many people who live there think they live in either Spanaway or Graham. As for “what jobs does it have”, people who are concerned about industrial jobs know about Frederickson because it’s generally listed with Renton and Everett when talking about Boeing.

      5. Frederickson is a Manufacturing Industrial Center, not a Growth Center. So it’s a jobs center, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a densification corridor.

        For those who never leave Seattle, think of the Duwamish Valley industrial area south of SoDo

      6. The manufacturing is south of where the train tracks cross Canyon. North of that point is 176th, which is part of the rectangle that the County has identified as the main growth area for unincorporated Central Pierce, along with 112th, Pacific, and Meridian.

    2. I thought WSDOT was planning an extension of I-705 towards the south. There’s already space cleared for a diamond interchange at hwy 512 near 112th St SE.

      1. I-705 turns into SR 7 south of I-5. SR 7 is a freeway until 38th St. The original plan, which may or may not still be on the books, was to continue the SR 7 freeway at least to SR 512, but community opposition (from the people whose homes would have been demolished) brought it to a halt, and anyone who tries to extend the SR 7 freeway will probably see the end of their political career. I’m curious where you think there is space cleared for a diamond interchange with SR 512, because I live around there, and I’m not aware of any open area large enough.

      2. That spot would work for an interchange, but it’s never going to happen, because there is no clear path to or from that spot that does not require demolishing a bunch of homes.

      3. It’s not like WSDOT hasn’t demolished a bunch of homes to build highways before. If WSDOT wants it to happen it’ll happen eventually.

      4. It’s a lot harder to demolish a bunch of homes to build highways these days. On the downside, it’s also a lot harder to demolish a handful of parking spaces to build bike paths…

  8. Time to give South Lake Washington the love it deserves!

    Heavy Rail Passenger corridor: Shattuck Ave (near proposed transit center) in Renton to Bellevue’s Hospital district ST LRT station!

    There would be 4 total stations: Renton’s DT station, The Landing, across from the Newcastle Transit Center at NE 44th, and the terminating station by Overlake Hospital.

    No dream is too big!

    1. You skipped Factoria, which is semi-walkable from the corridor along the existing path paralleling I-90. (Much closer, and more level, than access from the grade to Newcastle P&R – there’s a long walk with a lot of elevation between those two). About 10,000 people work in Factoria which doesn’t have any direct freeway access, other than to and from I-90 westbound.

      1. The rail corridor is west of 405 until north of I90, so serving Factoria would require building new ROW, rather than just following the existing ERC

      2. There’s already a path between 118th and Factoria Boulevard that passes underneath the ERC just south of I-90. It shouldn’t be too difficult to connect that to a potential rail station.

    2. Yes but Factoria isnt separated from 405 by more than a few hundred feet. its as close or closer to the ERC than most of downtown Bellevue is to the link station on 112th.

      1. Yeah, you could put a station at 118th just west of 405. Walkshed wouldn’t be great, but it would be something. If we are going to run a line between Renton and Bellevue it certainly should be considered in the initial design. Newcastle will probably ask for a P&R there…

  9. Electric multiple units when possible (green, quiet).
    Two-way all-day service.
    South Sounder: how about bringing UPRR into negotiation and shift some BN frieght to UP track to make room for passenger trips.
    Nalley Valley service.

  10. Sounder spurs to Renton and/or Ortig seems like the two new options this opens up, plus cheaper operations on North & South Sounder. Rail between Renton and Bellevue along the ERC likely a non-starter regardless of the technology used.

  11. First service is going to be DuPont to Tacoma. Line already owned by City of Tacoma, and freight traffic is infrequent.

    1. Yeah!

      After that DuPont-Olympia would require expensive track rebuilding, but do you think the state legislature might finally consider it? It’s getting to the point where you could get from almost any legislative district to *Lacey* by train… but that doesn’t get you to Olympia… maybe they’ll think about it?

  12. This may be naïve on my part, but the DMU’s don’t look like they’ll be a part of our regions transportation solutions in the near term (5-10 years), my hope would be that they’d be a good candidate for Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. Then we’re not worry g about duel fuel technologies in tunnels, and we’d be able to run these units everywhere we chose.

    1. DMU is the term everyone uses, but it is required to be diesel? Or is the “D” just shorthand for any type of fuel that doesn’t require wires?

    2. Alstom is already working on that (see 4th photo), but with all the advances in battery technology such a thing may never be needed. There is a fair amount of effort going into eliminating carbon based fuels due to global warming.

      1. Battery tech is getting very good. Right now a pure battery-electric train would require a pretty big battery car, though it’s quite viable for short trains over short distances.

      2. See the 5th photo on that same page for a freight locomotive that has off-wire battery power.

      3. Oh, yeah, and there is also the Norfolk Southern effort at a battery powered freight locomotive.

        In addition to the NS 999, the company continues to research development of a hybrid electric six-axle long-haul locomotive.

        If battery technology is getting there for use in long-haul freight locomotives, not to mention the various battery buses on display at Innotrans this year, it won’t take too much to get it into the passenger realm for “last mile” off wire situations.

  13. I fully support lighter trains but question if they are actually quieter and smoother riding than heavyweights.

  14. Would this enable the existing Talgo consists used by Amtrak Cascades to run without having to have a locomotive on each end? IIRC, Oregon and Washington had to get exemptions from the FRA to be able to run the Talgo trains at all (and at one time almost lost the permission to legally run them).

    1. Currently, they are allowed to run with a locomotive on the front only, but since it is difficult to turn the entire train it means putting something heavy there.

      If UIC trains are allowed, those locomotives become much lighter.

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