WES Rumors

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WES Rumors

Postby AgentSkelly » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:57 pm

I've heard some various interest rumors going around lately:

-Washington Square might run an shuttle bus of some sort for employees from the Hall Blvd station to the mall itself. They apparently want to spread the word especially to mall employees to use WES if at all possible to maximize parking for customers. They might offer the shuttle during the holiday period to customers as well.

-Bridgeport Village might offer the same from the Tualatin station. I heard this one from the manager at the Whole Foods in Bridgeport while I was talking to him about the posters and flyers they had in the store welcoming all future WES passengers. The thing he said BV Security was thinking of charging for the service for customers to offset the purchase of a mini-coach, which doesn't surprise knowing what goes on behind the scenes there.
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Re: WES: Feb 2

Postby wigwagfan » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:04 am

AgentSkelly wrote:I've heard some various interest rumors going around lately:


I find those two rumors to be highly unlikely, at least with the current schedules. The morning rush hour operates well before either Bridgeport Village or Washington Square opens. So it would have limited use for employees - that's it.

Washington Square has ample parking, except at Christmas (and even this year it wasn't a problem). Washington Square also has a transit center with three bus lines (43, 76, 78) that would make the connection between WES and the mall without too much wait.

Bridgeport Village already has an employee parking lot located west of Upper Boones Ferry Road and runs a shuttle, so it wouldn't take much for them to extend it if necessary. However...Bridgeport Village also happens to be next door to a transit center.

The evening rush hour might help somewhat, but the service ends before the malls close. So late evening employees (those who work after 7:00 PM) wouldn't be able to count on WES to get them home.

If the malls want to try it, great...but the schedules just don't make sense for mall employees - one of my chief criticisms of this service. Its schedule precludes a large percentage of potential transit riders from realistically being able to use it.
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Re: WES: Feb 2

Postby AgentSkelly » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:32 am

wigwagfan wrote:
AgentSkelly wrote:I've heard some various interest rumors going around lately:


I find those two rumors to be highly unlikely, at least with the current schedules. The morning rush hour operates well before either Bridgeport Village or Washington Square opens. So it would have limited use for employees - that's it.

Washington Square has ample parking, except at Christmas (and even this year it wasn't a problem). Washington Square also has a transit center with three bus lines (43, 76, 78) that would make the connection between WES and the mall without too much wait.

Bridgeport Village already has an employee parking lot located west of Upper Boones Ferry Road and runs a shuttle, so it wouldn't take much for them to extend it if necessary. However...Bridgeport Village also happens to be next door to a transit center.

The evening rush hour might help somewhat, but the service ends before the malls close. So late evening employees (those who work after 7:00 PM) wouldn't be able to count on WES to get them home.

If the malls want to try it, great...but the schedules just don't make sense for mall employees - one of my chief criticisms of this service. Its schedule precludes a large percentage of potential transit riders from realistically being able to use it.


Well, its a reason this comes from the rumor mill, Mr. WigWag :) And as I do work in the mall time to time, I can tell you the schedules would work for the standard mall shifts. Most mall shifts at least at Washington Square start around 8 AM and sometimes even earlier.

When I took WES to Wilsonville on Friday, actually, I ran into several Mall employees on the 4:30 departure using WES. I know there's a major shift change around 3 PM to 5 at Washington Square for part timers, so it would work.

I can see maybe in a year from now, Tri-Met adding an all day train outside of rush hour; just a single train that would do the run back and forth.

On a side note, what is the title of the P&W Crewmen that are in the passenger cabin of the train? Are the conductors or something else? They have both P&W and TriMet badges on their uniforms and their radios have a sticker that identify them as P&W employees. I suppose I could of just asked them, but I felt that was an idiot question lol.

And in case you missed it in the other WES thread, the on-board crew uses AAR 103 for communication on the train itself. Thats one of the new AAR Narrowband channels.
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Re: WES: Feb 2

Postby wigwagfan » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:37 am

The trains are operated by the P&W, so the titles are Engineer (guy in the cab) and Conductor (guy chatting with the passengers). They are both P&W employees, thus the P&W shoulder patch on their uniform shirt.

I also doubt that there will be mid-day trains - at least anytime soon, this is because P&W has a freight railroad to run. They are trying to schedule freight trains through the mid-day break in passenger runs. The break also allows the crews to get the mandatory four hours rest between the morning and evening runs - the same crew works both the morning and in the evening. A mid-day run would require an entirely new crew - and TriMet would end up having to pay for a full crew to only work a few hours.

And, I did see your earlier comment about the radio frequency, thanks for the heads up. I thought they were using a different frequency...I can't remember which one but it's different than what P&W had been using. They were using it during signal testing...
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Re: WES: Feb 2

Postby AgentSkelly » Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:45 am

wigwagfan wrote:The trains are operated by the P&W, so the titles are Engineer (guy in the cab) and Conductor (guy chatting with the passengers). They are both P&W employees, thus the P&W shoulder patch on their uniform shirt.

I also doubt that there will be mid-day trains - at least anytime soon, this is because P&W has a freight railroad to run. They are trying to schedule freight trains through the mid-day break in passenger runs. The break also allows the crews to get the mandatory four hours rest between the morning and evening runs - the same crew works both the morning and in the evening. A mid-day run would require an entirely new crew - and TriMet would end up having to pay for a full crew to only work a few hours.

And, I did see your earlier comment about the radio frequency, thanks for the heads up. I thought they were using a different frequency...I can't remember which one but it's different than what P&W had been using. They were using it during signal testing...


Ah, so he is called an conductor!

Yeah, I understand the labor ramifications of it; I know they have to pull a crew out of somewhere to make it work. I imagine that the all day service would just have a lower priority over frieght in that case, which WOULD work since there's slots from observation of P&W. Even GO Transit (my model for perfect service BTW) and MBTA reduce their service to about once an hour (or less) between each rush hour period. Then again, GOT has priority over frieght.

Yeah, the AAR narrowband frequency caught me off guard. I brung my scanner on the train that day, but I didn't catch anything just scanning standard AAR channels. But then I got a peak at the radio the conductors were using and it gave a clue at narrowband since they were brand spanking new Motorola HT1250 portables. I had to actually go to FCC ULS and look up all the licenses for P&W and found one that while was applied for in P&W's name, it had a contact for the head of engineering at Tri-Met.

I do have to say though, I think this Tri-Met/P&W relationship is a start of more good things to come. I think it could open up an option for somehow for Amtrak to operate on P&W track...somehow.
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Re: WES: Feb 2

Postby wigwagfan » Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:14 pm

AgentSkelly wrote:I think this Tri-Met/P&W relationship is a start of more good things to come. I think it could open up an option for somehow for Amtrak to operate on P&W track...somehow.


Remember that P&W and Amtrak have already worked together historically.

The Lewis & Clark Excursion Train was supposed to be manned by Amtrak crews yet operate on P&W trackage. Unfortunately, David Gunn did not want Amtrak to "start a new service" (even though Amtrak was nothing more than a contract operator). As a result, BNSF didn't want the train to originate at Union Station without an Amtrak crew. P&W agreed to provide crews for the train at the last minute, and Amtrak continued to sell the tickets for the first year. (A local travel agency sold the tickets for the second and third years.)

(Ironically, today it would be a non-issue, as P&W now has trackage rights from East Portland to Willbridge...and actually up to Vancouver.)

Last year the Coast Starlight got stuck due to a derailment on the UP near Salem. P&W agreed to take the train - the Starlight crossed over onto the OE line at Albany and headed north...only to be stopped by downed trees. The derailment was cleared and Amtrak ended up backing up back to Albany and continuing on the UP, but the original plan was to take the OE into Salem, cross back over onto the UP...yes, it was at 20 MPH but it was better than waiting for hours. (However in retrospect, they should have just waited -- but you can't blame Amtrak for trying and the P&W to make it happen!)

Amtrak specials for the Civil War have operated in the past from Portland to Corvallis, again using the P&W's Toledo District. And I'm not sure how far Amtrak was involved, but when the IC3 trainset was being demonstrated in Oregon (pre-Amtrak Cascades/Talgos) it ran several public excursions on the Westside Line and was lettered for Amtrak.

However, I don't see how P&W could help Amtrak out long term...I could see more commuter services - although I do not like the idea of extending WES to Salem via the OE, it is possible, and Milwaukie-Lake Oswego-Tualatin-Sherwood-Newberg-McMinnville has been talked about frequently. I could also see a Albany-Corvallis-Philomath service in the future, or a Eugene-Junction City-Harrisburg service. P&W's former President/General Manager even suggested that Hillsboro-Cornelius-Forest Grove is extremely possible and P&W was willing to make it happen (of course, if the public pays for it...but he said that it could be done for a tiny fraction of what WES cost.)
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Re: WES: Feb 2

Postby AgentSkelly » Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:57 pm

wigwagfan wrote:
AgentSkelly wrote:I think this Tri-Met/P&W relationship is a start of more good things to come. I think it could open up an option for somehow for Amtrak to operate on P&W track...somehow.


Remember that P&W and Amtrak have already worked together historically.

The Lewis & Clark Excursion Train was supposed to be manned by Amtrak crews yet operate on P&W trackage. Unfortunately, David Gunn did not want Amtrak to "start a new service" (even though Amtrak was nothing more than a contract operator). As a result, BNSF didn't want the train to originate at Union Station without an Amtrak crew. P&W agreed to provide crews for the train at the last minute, and Amtrak continued to sell the tickets for the first year. (A local travel agency sold the tickets for the second and third years.)

(Ironically, today it would be a non-issue, as P&W now has trackage rights from East Portland to Willbridge...and actually up to Vancouver.)

Last year the Coast Starlight got stuck due to a derailment on the UP near Salem. P&W agreed to take the train - the Starlight crossed over onto the OE line at Albany and headed north...only to be stopped by downed trees. The derailment was cleared and Amtrak ended up backing up back to Albany and continuing on the UP, but the original plan was to take the OE into Salem, cross back over onto the UP...yes, it was at 20 MPH but it was better than waiting for hours. (However in retrospect, they should have just waited -- but you can't blame Amtrak for trying and the P&W to make it happen!)

Amtrak specials for the Civil War have operated in the past from Portland to Corvallis, again using the P&W's Toledo District. And I'm not sure how far Amtrak was involved, but when the IC3 trainset was being demonstrated in Oregon (pre-Amtrak Cascades/Talgos) it ran several public excursions on the Westside Line and was lettered for Amtrak.

However, I don't see how P&W could help Amtrak out long term...I could see more commuter services - although I do not like the idea of extending WES to Salem via the OE, it is possible, and Milwaukie-Lake Oswego-Tualatin-Sherwood-Newberg-McMinnville has been talked about frequently. I could also see a Albany-Corvallis-Philomath service in the future, or a Eugene-Junction City-Harrisburg service. P&W's former President/General Manager even suggested that Hillsboro-Cornelius-Forest Grove is extremely possible and P&W was willing to make it happen (of course, if the public pays for it...but he said that it could be done for a tiny fraction of what WES cost.)


Well, I think P&W COULD be the ticket to get Cascades service more reliable and reduce the load off UP's back. But it would require some capital improvements among other things to even make that work.

Hillsboro-Forest Grove service would QUITE easy. The route runs right next to Intel Aloha! Sure, its not where the main magic happens, but Intel runs inter-campus shuttle buses already, so it could be the hub point for that service. Line is already pretty quiet during the day so it wouldn't hinter any major frieght ops (I live right next to it).

I would like to see some sort of service to the coast, but with POTB out of operation, that leaves the old BN route via St Helens to Astoria which would take quite some time to get there.
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Re: WES: Feb 2

Postby wigwagfan » Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:36 pm

AgentSkelly wrote:I think P&W COULD be the ticket to get Cascades service more reliable and reduce the load off UP's back. But it would require some capital improvements among other things to even make that work.


Hmm... Possibly, but the P&W alignment within Salem is poor, and you have the issue of getting into Portland. From Albany to Eugene, it's a piece of cake (as neither line really goes anywhere and they are both relatively close to each other.)

One problem goes back to how the lines were built. The SP line was built as a mainline railroad. The OE was built as an interurban. It was built for short electric trains to head straight into downtown, and sharp curves and street trackage was acceptable; you won't find either on the SP main.

IMO, it'd still be a lot easier if Oregon would just pay to double-track the UP main.

AgentSkelly wrote:Hillsboro-Forest Grove service would QUITE easy. The route runs right next to Intel Aloha! Sure, its not where the main magic happens, but Intel runs inter-campus shuttle buses already, so it could be the hub point for that service. Line is already pretty quiet during the day so it wouldn't hinter any major frieght ops (I live right next to it).


Isn't Intel Aloha EAST of Hillsboro, and Forest Grove WEST? ;-) But I see what you mean, use the P&W Tillamook District between Beaverton and Hillsboro (which would replicate MAX).

In theory, maybe. The railroad is in good condition and straight, with few obstacles. Getting a train in/out of Beaverton to go west would require a wye to be built, but the land is already vacant where a wye would be built and wouldn't create any more traffic congestion (than already exists). But the train would provide very little service at high cost, when you already have MAX to the north, and the 57 bus right there. A Los Angeles Metro "Rapid" style bus (also known as 'BRT Lite') would give you the same benefits at a tiny fraction of the cost - both capital and operating. I think running Hillsboro-Forest Grove, as a separate service (preferably using a Talent or Desiro style vehicle) as an extension of MAX would be better than running all the way into Beaverton.

AgentSkelly wrote:I would like to see some sort of service to the coast, but with POTB out of operation, that leaves the old BN route via St Helens to Astoria which would take quite some time to get there.


It takes 10-12 hours for a passenger train to get from Banks to Tillamook. It takes a bus one hour. Add to that the scarcity of traffic demand... It would be ridiculed as a "train to nowhere".

But, it is one of my biggest regrets, never actually riding one of the POTB excursion trains when they were running. I kept telling myself I need to... And now I can't.
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Re: WES Rumors

Postby lbshelby » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:30 pm

ODOT is quite serious about a reroute possibility for Amtrak onto the OE between Portland and Salem. Naturally that would require some significant junction work. On the other hand, the OC station might close in favor of LO, who would likely have Prada design their platforms and Chihully do their lights. :-\
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Re: WES Rumors

Postby westr » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:17 am

AgentSkelly wrote:I would like to see some sort of service to the coast, but with POTB out of operation, that leaves the old BN route via St Helens to Astoria which would take quite some time to get there.


I can see a WES-like commuter train running on the Astoria line...someday. Columbia County's population would have to increase dramatically, but commuter service as far as St. Helens, or maybe even Rainier if they thought people from Longview would cross the bridge to ride it, is conceivable. People already commute into Portland from that far out. I don't think there will ever be regular passenger service all the way to Astoria again, but it's possible, even if only on weekends for tourists. They are making a lot of improvements to the line due to increased freight, so the run to Astoria could be done a bit faster than the L&C Explorer did, but I doubt a tourist train would get much government funding so it would have to be profitable on its own.

lbshelby wrote:ODOT is quite serious about a reroute possibility for Amtrak onto the OE between Portland and Salem. Naturally that would require some significant junction work. On the other hand, the OC station might close in favor of LO, who would likely have Prada design their platforms and Chihully do their lights. :-\


I don't see how that would be an improvement for Amtrak. Even after you upgrade the OE and Lake Oswego line, it'd be going out of the way to run out to Tualatin and back in through Lake Oswego, seeing as how Amtrak wouldn't be stopping to pick up westside passengers (and I don't think Lake Oswego is far enough from Portland to justify its own Amtrak stop), and you still have to get back on UP at Milwaukie and go through Brooklyn Yard to get into Portland and connect to BNSF to get to Seattle. If WES is successful enough to expand to other lines, running through Lake Oswego to Milwaukie would probably be a good choice for TriMet, especially once the streetcar is extended to Lake Oswego and MAX to Milwaukie, but I don't see it in Amtrak's future.
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Re: WES Rumors

Postby railohio » Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:35 am

It may not seem like an improvement, but ODOT is angling to try it. Remember that Amtrak does offer 10-ride commuter tickets on the Cascades south of Portland. Addling Lake Oswego would make up for the loss of Oregon City by changing lines.

Also, given the cash cow that is WES, Portland & Western may be more likely to play ball than Union Pacific when it comes to expanding service. Rebuilding the Oregon Electric and adding a few connections might be cheaper and easier than the demands UP has made for use of its line.
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Re: WES Rumors

Postby wigwagfan » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:39 pm

lbshelby wrote:ODOT is quite serious about a reroute possibility for Amtrak onto the OE between Portland and Salem. Naturally that would require some significant junction work. On the other hand, the OC station might close in favor of LO, who would likely have Prada design their platforms and Chihully do their lights. :-\


The cost to do this would be astronomical:

1. Rebuilding the entire OE line from the ground up. Much of the line is 90 pound jointed rail. Add signals (both crossing signals, many of the crossings are signs only, and block signals).

2. A new track connection in Salem. Assuming that the SP Amtrak station would continue to be used, there is only one location (which is just southwest of I-5) where a junction could be built, without a massive overpass.

3. A new junction would have to be built in Tualatin. The existing track crossing puts the OE underneath the SP Newberg Branch (P&W Westside District) which also crosses the Tualatin River, at Tualatin Community Park. Taking out a popular city park for a new bridge would be politically difficult to do; there is also a major street that crosses the OE in the same area that would need to be rerouted.

The alternative is to create a new wye further north (in Tigard city limits) but would require purchasing and demolishing several businesses. Depending on the size of the wye, it would create a significant speed restriction.

4. Where is one going to put a station in Lake Oswego that would accommodate an Amtrak train? There is exactly one suitable location, which requires eliminating the WST (trolley) track (which certain city leaders want to use for a streetcar), and there is no place to put parking there. What about noise abatement - Lake Oswego is, well, not going to tolerate anything it doesn't have to, and it has the political firepower (and money) to fight it.

5. The Willamette River Bridge (between Lake Oswego and Milwaukie) would need to be significantly upgraded or replaced; this is a very large structure. Same is true of the Kellogg Lake Bridge in Milwaukie.

6. Most of the congestion happens in East Portland, and running on the OE doesn't eliminate that problem.

Running Amtrak on the OE, well, will not be cheap. I fail to be convinced as to how spending the money and building double-track on the UP is still not a viable option; especially given that if there is future population growth, the OE line bypasses many northern valley communities (Woodburn, Canby) with significant population.

The only benefit? ODOT owns the OE line north of Quinaby (thanks to BNSF donating it to the state.) But ODOT doesn't own the ex-SP trackage from Tualatin to Milwaukie.

westr wrote:I don't think Lake Oswego is far enough from Portland to justify its own Amtrak stop


Rail distance from Lake Oswego to Union Station is approximately nine miles. In comparison, Union Station to Vancouver is ten miles to the milepost. But Vancouver is far greater an Amtrak destination than Lake Oswego ever, ever would be (unless Lake Oswego has storage for PV cars.)
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Re: WES Rumors

Postby wigwagfan » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:44 pm

westr wrote:If WES is successful enough to expand to other lines, running through Lake Oswego to Milwaukie would probably be a good choice for TriMet


About the only thing I can agree with, as the line is only seldom-used for freight traffic, and would theoretically connect Sherwood with Tualatin (WES), Lake Oswego (Streetcar, buses) and Milwaukie (MAX, buses).

Problem: It's still owned by UP, and UP wanted $25 million (give or take) for the five miles of track between Tigard and Beaverton to get WES rolling. And there is very little transit in this corridor. Because of that, I could see P&W agreeing to time-of-day separation between freights/passenger ops, opening up the window for the use of a Bombardier Talent or Siemens Desiro type DMU.
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Re: WES Rumors

Postby lbshelby » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:26 pm

A significant amount of the OE between Salem and Wilsonville is welded. There's no need to upgrade the bridge at Lake Oswego, at least not anymore than there was to upgrade the OE bridge over the Tualatin River that WES uses. (No changes to the bridge itself were made, despite significant paint and maintenance issues.)

The junction issues are certainly a major problem. On the other hand if WES is going to Salem, you may have to handle the Salem end anyway and the crossings would likely all get upgraded at that time, along with signals. The desire to try and share those costs out and maximize the investment is behind the idea of putting Amtrak on the route.

It's not my project so no skin off my nose either way. Just passing along the current happenings.
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Re: WES Rumors

Postby wigwagfan » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:39 am

lbshelby wrote:There's no need to upgrade the bridge at Lake Oswego, at least not anymore than there was to upgrade the OE bridge over the Tualatin River that WES uses. (No changes to the bridge itself were made, despite significant paint and maintenance issues.)


The entire trestle on the north end of the bridge was replaced with a pre-cast concrete deck and steel pilings.

TriMet had wanted to replace the main span but had to cut it from the budget due to early cost overruns (back when it was still a $117.5 million project). I believe that there is a speed restriction over the bridge and TriMet wants to replace this bridge as soon as possible. (Although given today's long list of proposed TriMet service cuts...sooner is going to be later.)
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