I'd love to see ODOT buy a pair of TPU sets, with six coaches, one bistro, one table and one baggage/service car each - and use it between Portland-Boise on the UP main.
Sounds good, and they can add cars if demand requires it, even though they are articulated. I think they can be stretched, although it would require substitution by Horizon and Superliner coaches, but that happens when they come due for repainting and overhaul, anyway.
There is considerable interest from the on-line communities, UP is not entirely opposed to passenger service on the line (as long as the passenger trains do not carry any type of freight other than passenger baggage), and the tilt technology would prove itself in the western part of the Gorge as well as in the mountains between La Grande and Ontario. A seven car set would be less expensive than the sets used on the Cascades (they have more regular coaches as well as two business class coaches each), yet would still have over 200 seats per train (the equivalent of over four Greyhound busses); the run can be made in about 12 hours with conventional Superliner equipment which is a good fit for Talgo equipment
Since Talgo equipment can stay at top speed whent hey go into curves, because of the tilt-train technology, first developed in the United States(Talgo was originally designed by ACF 50+ years ago), I think it would do the run in less than 12. I think Union Pacific, Great Northern, and Northern Pacific should have tried this technology out in the '50s on their Seattle-Portland Pool Trains and Great Northern should have tried it out on the Internation between Seattle and Vancouver B.C.
With a reduced number of cars, the TPU itself could even have less powerful prime movers, reducing both the power unit costs and fuel consumption, but still be able to maintain 79 MPH speeds.
I wonder what kind of smaller prime mover could be used in a shortened TALGO set. I would see if GE could use the GEVO engine in something like an F59 Cab. Unfortunately, the Shark-Fins would have to stay.
The UP line is cab signalled and has (or had) positive train control, so there is the possibility of faster speeds if UP and ODOT could cooperate on some improvements.
If they already had the improvements in place, it could help save on costs.
From a passenger perspective, each Talgo "car" is shorter and wider than a bus, the seats are larger, and the overhead storage (as well as luggage racks at each end of the car) are much better. If two trains were operated, the ridership could certainly be stolen away from Greyhound - and Horizon Air is awfully expensive to fly from Portland to either Pendleton or Boise.
Good selling points for passengers. It would work. The day I rode Amtrak Cascades from Portland to Seattle, I had taken Greyhound from Seattle to Portland. The driver allowed stretch breaks at every stop, including three seemingly long stops at Tacoma, Olympia, and Centralia. Amtrak Cascades stopped in just about every place the bus did, but only an average of 3 minutes, they did not even open all the doors. Greyhound cut stops at Fort Lewis and Castle Rock last year. Fort Lewis because of security, and Castle Rock because it seemed to be a time-waster. Castle Rock does not have Amtrak Service, I do not even know if it is on the BNSF main. I think Greyhound would not be able to compete with this service if offered in Eastern Washington.
Another alternative would be for the exact same trainset, owned by WSDOT, to run on the "north bank road" from Portland to Spokane on a schedule approximately 12 hours opposite that of the Empire Builder run, or Seattle to Spokane - again, opposite the Empire Builder.
I have been thinking of an Amtrak Cascadses service in Eastern Washington for awhile, mainly as a bridge builder between East and West that could even help out during bad weather on the passes. I rarely hear of the North Bank Route or the Cascade Tunnel being closed on account of snow. Washington needs to be brought back together. especially with the continued turmoil in Olympia as a result of the Gubenatorial Election in November(all I will say about the Turmoil in Olympia on these boards.) The BNSF Stampede Pass Route hits the major population centers of Eastern Washington, Ellensberg(county seat of Kittitas County, and home to Central Washington University), Yakima(County seat of Yakima County), Pasco, Rtizeville(a stop in that area would be a good idea), and Spokane. Just before Spokane is Cheney, home to Eastern Washington University.