All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby lpetrich » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:33 am

Rail - Tacoma - Bypass of Point Defiance | WSDOT

It is now in final testing, and it is due to open December 18. The Amtrak Cascades and Coast Starlight trains will be diverted to there, a route which will be less scenic but faster and less congested. Amtrak will be adding two Seattle - Portland Cascades daily trains, going from 4 to 6. With the CS, that makes a grand total of 7.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby gokeefe » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:31 pm

Thank goodness this is finally happening.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby Woody » Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:55 pm

gokeefe wrote:Thank goodness this is finally happening.

The Cascades will be the first full project completed of the major programs of the Obama optimism, Stimulus funding era.

Meanwhile, much, most of the trackwork on the Piedmont route Raleigh-Charlotte is completed. But the new station at Raleigh is still finishing up, and the facilities at Charlotte will finish later next year. Then the promised additional Piedmont frequency will launch.

Much has been accomplished for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Shuttle, aiming to finish this funded round of work in May iirc. I'm fuzzy about how to sort out Connecticut's new commuter line on these same tracks vs the Amtrak Shuttle and Regional trains, but it should all fall into place in 2018.

The star project was for "110-mph High Speed" service on about 75% of the track miles St Louis-Chicago. Did I miss some announcements? Last I heard, fixing innumerable grade crossings had bogged down in delayed approvals and missed deadlines. Now construction season has ended. At least they'll be getting the new Chargers to improve the trains. But with Siemens filling in for Nippon Sharyo on the defunct order for bi-level equipment, the passenger cars are still years away. No official news of more frequencies either, so ... maybe 2018 will go better.

Seems like we'll wait for 2018 for 110-mph Wolverines, too. Perhaps as a cost-cutting measure (?), Michigan has gone silent on the progress or lack thereof on the upgrades coming Kalamazoo-Dearborn. Anyway, no new timetable this year.

New York and Amtrak took over CSX tracks and invested in new signaling north of Poughkeepsie, trackwork and platforms at the Albany station, 17 miles of double track Albany-Schenectady. No doubt things will get better, apparently next year.

Well, that's it, Folks. Sink roughly $10 Billion into the nation's passenger railroad system and it ends with a whimper. Excepting the bang from the Seattle-Portland Cascades Corridor. Good for them.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:40 am

Admin note

Temporary lock while the wreck sorts itself out. Please post wreck discussion in the wreck thread.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:06 am

Wreck thread: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=166546

Please continue to discuss the wreck in the above thread. I've reopened this thread for regular discussion of the Cascades.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby andrewjw » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:05 pm

Is discussion of the Cascades fleet (possibly feat. Wisconsin Talgos) fair game for this thread?
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:27 pm

Most assuredly. Just keep wreck specific posts to the other thread. But fleet, etc., even if it's due to the fallout, that's fine here. I understand the line may be blurred.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby dowlingm » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:19 pm

One potential issue with acquiring the Series 8 trainsets is: who pays? Does WSDOT self-insure the Chargers and their Talgos? Acquiring both trainsets would eliminate the current need for a Superliner set but is that WSDOT's problem? Similarly the Series 8s have NPCUs but are the States currently paying Amtrak for the ones the pre-Series 8s use (when they don't have locos on the tail as with 501). Also, there is the issue of refitting the Wisconsins with business cars at some point.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby gokeefe » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:47 pm

If it's going to happen I would imagine a short term lease may come first before anything else. If I were Talgo that's what I would do. 12 months favorable terms with mutual severability and an escalator clause to normal terms thereafter.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby east point » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:53 pm

Has any thing official been announced as to when the talgo train set sent for repair will be finished ? Am referring to the first train set damaged at the draw bridge.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby wigwagfan » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:09 am

dowlingm wrote:Also, there is the issue of refitting the Wisconsins with business cars at some point.


Or, dedicate that train to a specific run(s) and advertise that there is no Business Class seating on it.

Frankly...Business Class on the Cascades is overrated (every time I use Business Class I get stuck in an aisle seat, and all I get is a lousy $3 coupon in the Bistro car), and if it were my way I would reconfigure the train to put the Bistro/Table car in the middle of the consist, and place coaches 3 & 4 (the ADA compliant cars) between the Business Class and the Table car. It's ridiculous that the majority of the long distance (Seattle-Portland) riders, who are most likely to purchase items in the Bistro, are seated the furthest away from the Bistro.

It's also ridiculous that one cannot reserve an assigned seat ahead of time...
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby Tadman » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:58 am

Agreed, Amtrak as a whole misses the train on business class. Business class is not just about a bigger seat. It's about better service, much better service. Better waiting facilities at terminals, better food, better food service, better baggage handling, I could go on and on. Given that biz class tends to sell out on many trips I take in Midwest, Cascade, and NEC, it's not like the price point is a hurdle, either. Amtrak could probably double ticket prices in biz class to cover the above needs and not see attrition.

Ideally, business class on the train would see the following:

1. Cars maintained better. The amfleets in midwest rattle like a sack of bolts.
2. Priority boarding and business lounge in terminals. Nothing says "we don't care" like sitting in that dump of a terminal in Detroit and getting hassled by the a**hole security guard. Far as I'm aware, there is no business lounge in PDX or SEA, and Amtrak passengers are not allowed in Via's at VAN.
3. At-seat good meals. Allow us to pre-select meals online at time of booking and pay for any options for any trains on the rail at 8a, 12noon, and 6p. Whole Foods will cater deluxe meals and deliver. I really hate getting on at Tukwila after a long flight and seeing a mile-long cafe line stretching back three coaches. I'll bring Arbys if that's the case. Also, take drink orders. We'll pay for it.
4. Decent wifi! Airline wifi is crummy and Amtrak is worse. Dedicating a piece of biz class revenue to update and maintain wifi would be a huge selling point.

I travel for a living so while I appreciate a bigger seat or a private compartment, I really appreciate the carrier showing me that they want to make the trip easier. That's why I prefer Delta over UAL or AMR. The "we care" factor is so much greater.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby STrRedWolf » Fri Dec 22, 2017 12:50 pm

Tadman wrote:4. Decent wifi! Airline wifi is crummy and Amtrak is worse. Dedicating a piece of biz class revenue to update and maintain wifi would be a huge selling point.


Well... there's a few reasons for this, but different.

Airline Wifi is horrible because the airplane has to signal up to a satellite or down to ground receivers (likely both). Just this latency is bad enough. I won't be surprised if the built-in "streaming TV" is really just the satellite receivers on the plane picking up the stations. But the good thing is that you can get it from ether end of the plane.

Amtrak's Wifi is horrible for a few reasons:
  • It's only in one spot on the entire train (usually business class or cafe car).
  • It's entirely cellular based. Thus it cuts out when you're in a dead zone that hasn't been wired up yet. (Ooooh give me mesh networking along the rail lines any day; Amtrak funding for cell receivers along the tracks....)
  • Since it's cellular based, it's got limited bandwidth. This ain't cable or fiber! It may have 4G LTE speeds, but more likely 3G.
  • Everyone is on it, so you're congested up to the wazoo.

Could it be better? Yes, but it requires a ton of investment.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby David Benton » Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:10 pm

I guess we are getting offtopic , but I wondered why they didnt go to a fiber cable system for PTC, the intial investment high, but would have been ongoing revenue form the excess capacity of the fiber optic cable been rented out.
another possible option , pulsing the high freuency through the steel rails in cellular dark zones.
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Re: All Things Cascades incl Vancouver

Postby wigwagfan » Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:15 pm

Tadman wrote:2. Priority boarding and business lounge in terminals. Nothing says "we don't care" like sitting in that dump of a terminal in Detroit and getting hassled by the a**hole security guard. Far as I'm aware, there is no business lounge in PDX or SEA


In Portland & Seattle, Business Class passengers on the Cascades pick up their seat assignments from the ticket counter at any time (coach passengers must wait for the Conductor to set up his podium, usually about 45 minutes prior to departure), and are pre-boarded prior to everybody else.

However, they are not permitted use of the Metropolitan Lounge at Portland Union Station, although Coast Starlight Business Class passengers are. The Met Lounge is open from 9 AM to 5 PM but the Starlight and Empire Builder don't leave until 2:30 and 4:30 PM, so the lounge sits empty/unused for most of the day.

Tadman wrote:3. At-seat good meals. Allow us to pre-select meals online at time of booking and pay for any options for any trains on the rail at 8a, 12noon, and 6p. Whole Foods will cater deluxe meals and deliver. I really hate getting on at Tukwila after a long flight and seeing a mile-long cafe line stretching back three coaches. I'll bring Arbys if that's the case. Also, take drink orders. We'll pay for it.


Totally. Right now all they get is a $3 coupon. That's enough to buy a cookie or a can of Pepsi. Have a car attendant and provide free non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. Seriously, airline style service. That would fill up business class all day, every day.

Tadman wrote:4. Decent wifi! Airline wifi is crummy and Amtrak is worse. Dedicating a piece of biz class revenue to update and maintain wifi would be a huge selling point.


I haven't had problem with the Wi-Fi even in the dreaded Car 9 as it seems there are multiple routers installed. The problem is the route ventures away from I-5 in so many places there are plenty of dead-zones.

That said, on our re-route along Puget Sound, it seems I had much better connectivity this time than on trips in the past, and had usable Internet service except for going through Nelson Bennett (for obvious reasons).

Then again, I wonder if maybe it just had to do with fewer people onboard since I normally travel on a weekend and not a Monday...
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