Facebook Advocacy for a High-Speed Rail Corridor


Daniel Ronan, a Freshman at the University of Oregon, has set up a Facebook group to advocate for a high-speed rail corridor from Eugene to Vancouver, BC.


93 responses to “Facebook Advocacy for a High-Speed Rail Corridor”

  1. How come the governors of OR & WA aren’t doing this? I could see spending $4.5 Billion on HSR.
    Portland/Seattle/Vancouver BC are three pretty small dots on the globe and are pretty far from major markets, to boot. We need to link us up.

  2. What’s with this ‘you must join-up’ in order to have anything to do with facebook? Forget it. I’ll come right out and say that a high-speed rail project is a non-starter.

    Downtown Eugene and Springfield are suffering from the results of urban sprawl and isolated shopping malls. Yeah, like a high-speed train is going to fix those problems.

    Eugene Weekly advocated for a streetcar line on Willamette Avenue from the train station through town, an early historic route. That minimal streetcar project would improve Eugene livability more than a high-speed rail line. Students again are learning that in order to solve problems, they must be left far behind as fast as possible.

    Wait until the Washington County rail line is operating, then consider its extension to Salem and Eugene.

  3. Lets hear some cost and ridership numbers. Be sure to include construction.

    I hear that Amtrak is delivering rides from Portland to Eugene for only about $80.

    Thats about $0.80 per mile, about double the cost of max and FOUR times the cost of driving.

    Thanks
    JK

  4. FOUR times the cost of driving

    Setting aside your oft-disputed numbers about the cost of driving, the cost of _being_ _driven_ which is the appeal of riding a bus or a train for a medium-distance trip like this, is considerably higher in an automobile.

    Try taking a taxi from Portland to Eugene. According to the New Rose City Cab Company (not all cab companies publish rates on their sites), taxi rates are:

    * Flag drop or starting rate $2.50
    * Extra Passengers are $1.00
    * Cost per mile is $2.20

    That would put a Portland-to-Eugene cab fare for one passenger (city centers, 109mi) at $242.30. Splitting the ride helps a lot, and obviously door-to-door service is involved, which Amtrak and Greyhound cannot do.

    Greyhound charges $23.50 one-way, Amtrak charges $25-$28.

    There is a shuttle company offering Eugene-to-Portland fares of $140 for 1 to 4 people.

    If, as you say you heard, Amtrak is delivering these rides at a cost of $80, they are in the ballpark of some of the other providers depending on service offered, though clearly not in the same league as Greyhound cost-wise. (Assuming Greyhound makes a profit or at least breaks even on those fares.)

    What Amtrak/Cascades needs, however, is more runs between Portland/Eugene. It nearly impossible, following a conventional business-traveler schedule, to make a same-day trip from Portland to Eugene on the Cascades. Although you can easily split the difference use Greyhound for half the journey, I suspect most people won’t bother trying that approach. Improve the number of runs at the right time, and ridership should increase in greater proportion.

    I think once service levels were increased to fit more people’s schedules, Amtrak could also get away with charging more than Greyhound for the same corridor — the train offers a more comfortable ride, with the ability to get up and walk around, visit the snack bar, etc.

  5. I’d like to add the Rogue Valley as the southern terminus for statewide north/south rail service — either Medford, Ashland or both (with likely stops in Grants Pass and Roseburg, too).

    I hear that there is currently an update taking place of the statewide Rail Plan (or some other statewide effort related to planning or implementing rail service). Has anybody else heard more about this?

  6. Downtown Eugene and Springfield are suffering from the results of urban sprawl and isolated shopping malls. Yeah, like a high-speed train is going to fix those problems.

    Wells, I don’t agree with this sentiment. Ideally, HSR provides the interregional transit trips to complement local transit trips, serving trips between city centers. This results in personal mobility throughout the larger region sans-auto, reducing the need for auto ownership. Picture the European model – you can travel between and within every major city without ever touching an auto. All this concentrates the economy and energy where it belongs, in the city – not in the sprawl and isolated shopping malls.

  7. That is an excellent idea! I wish they would divert some of the money they’re wasting on ineffective trolleys that only go a few blocks at 2MPH (if at all) and spend it on region-wide mass transportation projects. People in the cities can use alternate means to walk a few blocks.

  8. I, along with most people, would rather shop in an isolated shopping mall and live in “sprawl.” Why? Because sprawl provides me and most everyone else a housing choice that I prefer [that is single family detached home with big yard and a 2 car garage to keep all of my junk]. Sprawl provides plenty of open space and isolation from my neighbors [as well as criminals and other undesirables]. Sprawl provides me a great escape from work [the further away the better]. Isolated shopping malls give me and most everyone else a convenient place to shop for junk to fill up our two car garages, as well as plenty of free privately owned parking [something downtowns lack].

    Downtowns and trains and streetcars all have a great nostalgic value but, lets face it, they are all obsolete. Make way for the 21st century already.

  9. I wish they would divert some of the money they’re wasting on ineffective trolleys that only go a few blocks at 2MPH (if at all)

    Fortunately, no money has been wasted on such projects. There are no ineffective trolleys in Portland that go only a few blocks at 2MPH. Now we can get back to talking about high-speed rail without other bashing other modes, and a great weight is lifted from your shoulders.

  10. There is one problem with High Speed Rail in the Eugene to Vancouver BC corridor – Freight Trains.

    Medium speed trains would be fine, 110mph would cut the times down to around 3-4 hours from 6 hours, end point to end point. The people will need to expect that Manifest trains might increase from 40-50mph to 60mph and Intermodal trains could go from 50mph to 60 or 70mph.

    There is one thing that most people simply do not understand about the corridor that if it is to be done right, it needs to be completely separated from the current system, leaving the local service to Amtrak Cascades.

    Doing a completely separated system that is rated for 186mph or 205mph be almost unrealistic because 70% of the people whom ride the Cascades corridor are picked up mid-corridor or the next intermediate station. This is why as I’ll explain down below why true HSR won’t work here. The speeds I mention are for passenger trains.. not freight.

    High Speed Rail would be severely bottlenecked from Seattle to Tukwila due to curvature and there is simply no room for additional tracks along the corridor without an extensive EIS. Just for the 3rd track through the Kelso – Martin Bluff region has taken 8 years and still has yet to start construction.

    A 90mph to 125mph corridor may be possible between Vancouver BC and Eugene, Oregon but not until at least 40 to 50 track relocations are made to allow a consistent speed.

    [b]South Corridor[/b]

    King Street Station to Tukwila is the lowest section of main line on this corridor, with the lowest of 20mph through Seattle to Spokane Street and picks up to 40mph and eventually 79mph but only for a short segment before Tukwila where the train slows down to 65mph to Tukwila. Tilting trainsets might be able to reach 90mph MAX on this segment but anything faster would be pushing it.

    From Tukwila to Tacoma, trains travel 90% of it’s time at 79mph until Sumner where they slow to around 65mph for a curve and proceed up to 79mph. Just North of Tacoma, they slow again for a 60mph curve and maintain between 45 and 65 until they arrive in Tacoma. For HSR, trains may be able to reach 90 to 125 in this corridor if some curves are adjusted.

    If and when the new route via Point Defiance is used, trains will be doing 35 to 79mph until Nisqually where it would slow to around 40mph to reconnect to the BNSF mainline. This will cut up to 13 minutes off the Amtrak Cascades corridor but it eliminates one of the highlights of it’s South Corridor trip – slogging along the water until Nisqually which in my opinion makes the Cascades trip much, much more enjoyable than going through the industrial wasteland of Tacoma and Lakewood. There is no possibility on either route for HSR.

    Trains after snaking through Nisqually would be able to resume 125mph until Olympia, it’s pretty much a straight shot after the Nisqually River Bridge. The current speed is 79mph.

    Olympia to Centralia would be good for 90 to 110mph if minor relocations were made. It’s currently 65mph to 79mph between these points.

    Centralia to Napavine would require a tunnel under Napavine for about 6 to 8 miles to maintain at least 90mph in either direction. It’s currently 65mph to 79mph between these points.

    Napavine to Winlock would need to be straightened out and there are several homes that would be displaced to even maintain 79mph and most so would be needed to maintain 90mph or greater. It’s currently 60mph to 79mph between these points.

    Winlock to Vancouver would be good between 79mph and 125. There is no physical way of getting trains above 79mph after Vancouver and as it is, it is hit or miss to even see 60mph from Vancouver to Portland without a massive, massive, upgrade of the bridges and rail.

    Now all of that is fine and dandy but comes the issue of Equipment. Talgo is one of the leading manufactures of Active Tilt passenger trains however the current Talgo TPU trainsets are grandfathered by the FRA. Unless Talgo USA can present the (FRA) with a new trainset that is compliant with the Crash Worthiness standards, we will not see another new Talgo trainset in the United States.

    The State of Washington and Oregon will need to look for a streamlined, low center of gravity trainset and ditch the tall locomotives (F59s, P42s, P32s) to take advantage of the true tilting capabilities. As it stands now, the current trainsets can do the run in 3 hours flat if it wasn’t for the locomotives used however the locomotives height is it’s major failure.

    But lastly… http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/217

    “The FRA’s goal for high-speed grade crossings is to achieve an acceptable level of grade crossing risk. Regulatory requirements for high-speed grade crossings are:

    * For 110 mph or less: Grade crossings are permitted. States and railroads cooperate to determine the needed warning devices, including passive crossbucks, flashing lights, two quadrant gates (close only ‘entering’ lanes of road), long gate arms, median barriers, and various combinations. Lights and/or gates are activated by circuits wired to the track (track circuits).

    * For 110-125 mph: FRA permits crossings only if an “impenetrable barrier” blocks highway traffic when train approaches.

    * Above 125 mph, no crossings will be permitted.

    There are over 100 grade crossings between Vancouver BC and Eugene, Oregon…..

    For a good example at what I am blabbing about….

    http://www.transportation.siemens.com/ts/en/pub/products/tr/services/highspeed/concept.htm but with a Velaro nose.

    http://www.talgousa.com/ Talgo XXI which is “US Ready” according to Talgo

    http://bombardier.com/ Various DMU trainsets for Intercity Passenger train use.

  11. There is one problem with High Speed Rail in the Eugene to Vancouver BC corridor – Freight Trains

    I live right next to the main line that goes through Salem. I don’t observe freight trains don’t go by very often. I think they should take an incremental approach and put more passenger trains on the existing lines then if there is demand then introduce a higher speed service.

  12. Do you live on the P&W, CORP, or Union Pacific side of the tracks?

    I know UP is talking about increasing the I-5 Intermodal trains quite dramatically this year but the slide near Cascade Summit has pretty much killed the start day of that.

  13. Anthony Said:

    Downtowns and trains and streetcars all have a great nostalgic value but, lets face it, they are all obsolete. Make way for the 21st century already.

    — I take it that in the 21st century the supply of available land and roadways will increase at a rate slightly greater than the increase in population, and the speed limit will increase apace as well (we don’t want to be kept waiting from enjoying our junk by a longer commute home from work, do we)?

  14. I wish they would divert some of the money they’re wasting on ineffective trolleys…

    Why not start a Salemet income tax like TriMet did to throw some funding at such projects in the Salem area?

    If one thing can influence a new project, it’s a fired up constituent. Identify and find funding sources, and we can have some awesome HSR from Eugene to Seattle. I’ll back you up on a reasonable proposal to do so.

    Maybe a way to make the Pay-Your-Way and the Don’t-Build-It-There’ers is to steal an idea from SoCal for once, and charge based on new construction. Charge new houses say $3000, and new multi-family dwellings $2500 (less infrastructure needed with multiple venues on the same site) and maybe $.50/sq ft for new retail and office, $.20/sq ft for new industrial, etc.

    It encourages re-use of existing areas and structures, discourages sprawl, and gives a new funding source for streetcar, LRT, bus routes, HSR, freeways, etc.

    Find a fair division (maybe 25% for local roads/bridges, 25% for statewide-importance roads/bridges, 25% for local transit, 25% for statewide-importance transit) and is it really a bad idea? (Oh, local means the neighborhood the housing is built in, statewide-importance would be distributed based on contributions in the state.)

    I won’t use Facebook, but I like the idea of finding a new solution to the funding and divisions of interest. I like the idea also, of knowing that while NW Portland got a new streetcar, Salem doesn’t feel ripped off either.

    Anyone else have ideas on how to make HSR a possible reality?

  15. The State of Oregon has subsidized to the tune of $5M a year, two Amtrak Cascades trains between Eugene and Portland (continuing to Seattle under WSDOT sponsorship), plus a handful of busses that receive zero subsidy.

    These trains carry, on a daily average, about 70 people per day.

    The train’s capacity is 250.

    In other words, if you take every person on the train between Eugene and Portland (including those who might ride from Eugene to Salem, for example), you could fill up less than two motorcoaches. Meanwhile the trains that do operate have a load factor of less than 30%.

    You could add two Greyhound busses for each train departure (for a total of eight bus trips) and still have empty seats available to sell.

    Oregon has bigger priorities than this. I-5 (south of Wilsonville) is operating at well under capacity, and even if I-5 were filled up there are several alternate routes (namely 99W and 99E); and considerable north-south through traffic uses U.S. 97 through Central Oregon as well.

    At least Portland-Seattle serves an actual market with trains that are routinely sold out, but not Portland-Eugene.

  16. Portland to Eugene ROUND TRIP = $36.50 ($18.25 each way)

    1/4 the cost of train.
    NO GOVERNMENT SUBSIDY!!! greyhound.com/home.asp

    Trains cost too much and do too little. That is why, even Europeans are abandoning them.

    Thanks
    JK

  17. That is why, even Europeans are abandoning them.

    In JK speak, “abandoning” is the term used in place of “record ridership” and “continues to expand”.

  18. Bob R. Says:

    That is why, even Europeans are abandoning them.

    In JK speak, “abandoning” is the term used in place of “record ridership” and “continues to expand”.

    JK: Oh, Bob, apparently you missed this European Union Document, ec.europa.eu/publications/booklets/eu_glance/44/en-3.pdf,
    which can contains the page that I put on PortlandFacts.comTransit/EuroTranistShareLoss.htm (Complete with links to the original.)

    Here is the summary:
    Over the 20 year period form 1980-2000, transit lost massive market share while aircraft and, the already dominate, car increased. Why do you try to hide this reality:

    Air = +132%
    Passenger Car = +2.5%
    Rail = -23%
    Bus&Coach = -27%
    Tram & Metro = -21.4%

    Notice that Rail is down 23% and Tram (streetcar) & Metro are down 21%, while passenger cars continue their domination by being up from 76% to 78% of passenger miles. (Just in case you are thinking of picking this nit, miles and kilos are interchangeable for ratios.)

    How do you justify your claim of “record ridership” and “continues to expand”. When rail has declined by over 20%????

    Or are you, like Trimet, looking at numbers instead of percentages of an expanding population?

    For instance Trimet’s ridership increased dramatically between 1990 and 2000, but so did the population. Trimet’s ridership only increased 1% more than the population, probably due to the influx of poverty stricken immigrants who tend to be heavy transit users until they climb the ladder of wealth and are able to abandon transit for faster, more convent cars, first as car pooling then as their own car.

    There was/still is a reason that people abandoned mass transit for cars 80-90 years ago – why do you keep trying to repeat history, hoping for a different outcome?

    Cars are lower cost, more convenient and faster than mass transit – why do you keep trying to ignore this reality?

    Thanks
    JK

  19. Jim:
    I’m reluctant to even respond to you, but here it goes:
    I am sitting at a computer in Seville, Spain right now and I rode the new AVE high speed rail to get here. It was the first line to open and now 70% of commuters from Madrid to Seville choose to ride the AVE over air travel or bus. The government plans to have over 4000 miles of high speed lines by 2010, putting all provincial capitals within 4 hours of Madrid. I can personally say as well that the riding experience is infinitely better than flying or driving.

    Erik:
    With service like Amtrak’s, do you expect trains to be full? The trains are almost never on time, and take nearly twice as long as driving. The AVE described above is only late .16% of the time, and takes only half as long as driving. Commuters will choose the mode of transport that is most comfortable and convenient, and Amtrak is certainly neither one of those right now in the Northwest.

  20. Garlynn:

    There is a good reason why the high speed rail corridor ends in Eugene and not in the Rogue Valley. There is no major railroad that runs between these two areas. Once it leaves Eugene, The UP main line follows the Wilamette River up over the Cascades and on to Klamath Falls.

    It was much easier to build a railroad over the steady climb of Wilamette Pass then it would have been over the steep foothills of Douglas and Jackson counties.

  21. JK –

    Your link is broken in two places, but I was able to figure it out. The correct link to your site is:
    http://portlandfacts.com/Transit/EuroTranistShareLoss.htm

    The original EU document comes from the “Easy Reading Corner” for children, and offers only the two data points, 1980 and 2000.

    More recent data from the EU’s transport web site ( http://ec.europa.eu/transport/index_en.html ) show an increase in rail public transit ridership of 18% between 2000 and 2004.

    The two-point summary data you provided doesn’t show overall trends or compare levels of investment, or the margin-of-error for that matter. (Neither does the 2004 data I listed above — the point is that you need to do a lot more to make the case that Europeans are “abandoning” rail. If there are fluctuations or even a shift among mode share, that does not necessarily mean abandonment.)

    The 2004 EU numbers also show the mode share of tram/metro as being over 5X that of the US, and over 20X that of the US for passenger rail.

    You chose to present us with your own rates of change inferred from two data points from a children’s summary book, rather than the actual numbers (which were rounded in the first place and presented without a margin-of-error) — rates of change that look astonishingly high as numbers on a screen but in fact don’t mean much at all without significant additional context.

    But let’s get right to the meat … this document:
    http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/energy_transport/figures/pocketbook/doc/2006/2006_transport_en.pdf

    It has all kinds of stats and graphs. They’re not as pretty as the one you took from the children’s book, but provide more info. Look on document page 3.3.1 (page 30 of the PDF) and you’ll see that passenger miles on passenger rail and tram/metro have inched up very slightly over the last decade, while auto usage and air travel have grown much more significantly.

    This shows that the growth in transportation has gone to the auto and to air travel. This makes sense with the opening up of air markets and travel between nations in the EU over the same period of time. What it also shows is that people aren’t “abandoning” trains at all. The people who were using them before are still using them, and passenger-miles have grown ever so slightly.

    Put it another way: If patronage at, say, Clackamas Town Center levels off but continues to grow slightly, while patronage at a new mall grows more rapidly, are people “abandoning” Clackamas Town Center in droves? NO! There is stagnant growth, and the reasons for that should be carefully examined (perhaps it is a lack of capacity, perhaps it is a failure to recognize new market trends, perhaps it is a failure to invest in existing infrastructure, etc.), and it is a cause of concern, but it does not in any shape or form indicate “abandonment”.

    I’m reminded of the Yogi Berra quote, “Nobody goes there no more, it’s too crowded!”.

  22. I agree with Unit’s assessment of how high-speed rail focuses attention to downtowns, but this HSR is being proposed as if in a vacuum, without that due attention to the economic needs of downtowns, and which is more apt to occur with local transit and with public and private investment in downtown commercial venues, housing and amenities.

    As I suggested before, wait until the Washington County commuter-rail line is up and operating and then consider its extension south to Salem and Eugene. Rail service through this corridor need not exceed 80mph. In Wellsian theory, ‘faster’ is actually slower.

  23. That would be nice to see the system extended to Salem and Eugene but it all depends on the desire of those in Salem and Eugene to really want the train to come to town.

    The First DMU btw is to be shipped in March.

  24. Bob R.: Put it another way: If patronage at, say, Clackamas Town Center levels off but continues to grow slightly, while patronage at a new mall grows more rapidly, are people “abandoning” Clackamas Town Center in droves? NO!
    JK: There you go again with that static thinking so typical of “progressives”. Ratios count. Lots of people still ride horses, but I think it is fair to say we have abandoned the horse.

    Bob R.: There is stagnant growth, and the reasons for that should be carefully examined (perhaps it is a lack of capacity, perhaps it is a failure to recognize new market trends, perhaps it is a failure to invest in existing infrastructure, etc.),
    JK: Transit is simply too expensive, too slow and less convenient. You seem to keep forgetting that the great transit – car battle happened about 90 years ago. Cars won. Transit lost. Why are you trying to repeat the past and hoping for a different result?
    (One big difference: in the 1920s transit users paid their own way. Now they pay a tiny fraction of their cost.)

    PS: Good spin job – have you considered working for Trimet? You are almost a good as Mary.

    Thanks
    JK

  25. There you go again with that static thinking so typical of “progressives”.

    Nice to know you don’t insult the messenger like you accuse other people of doing. At least you didn’t call me “commie” this time.

    You seem to keep forgetting that the great transit – car battle happened about 90 years ago. Cars won. Transit lost.

    You seem to keep thinking that there is some kind of war between cars and transit. There isn’t. It’s about having a multi-modal transportation system.

    It seems you’d rather insult people and whip up false conflicts (“great battle”). Typical.

  26. Bob R: You seem to keep thinking that there is some kind of war between cars and transit. There isn’t. It’s about having a multi-modal transportation system.
    JK: Of course, multi-modal is code for spend 90% of the money on transit for 5% of the people and letting those evil drivers waste time in gridlock.

    Thanks
    JK

  27. Of course, multi-modal is code for spend 90% of the money on transit for 5% of the people and letting those evil drivers waste time in gridlock.

    More conspiracy theories. Still typical.

  28. “Of course, multi-modal is code for spend 90% of the money on transit for 5% of the people and letting those evil drivers waste time in gridlock.”

    Uhmm, no. PDOT spends about 6% of their budget on transit, including the one time only budget item to rebuild 5th and 6th avenues (better known as the bus mall,) for a through auto lane.

  29. JK: While we are on the subject, multi modal really isn’t because when Trimet adds light rail, they cancel the bus along the same route, so there is no additional mode, just the substation of a high cost mode for a low cost one – the line about rail increasing choices is simple not the case. If they add streetcars to Hawthorne, Division etc, I suspect that they will cancel the buses along those same lines.

    Unless multi-model refers to being forced to transfer from bus to rail ands back to bus for a complete trip.

    Thanks
    JK

  30. Unless multi-model [sic] refers to being forced to transfer from bus to rail ands back to bus for a complete trip.

    We’re getting way off the topic here, JK, but that’s your skill and I usually take the bait, so here we go ONE MORE TIME: The rate of transfers per originating ride (complete one-way transit journey) has remained quite steady for the past 20 years. The overall number of people transferring from bus-to-bus vs. bus-to-rail vs. rail-to-rail has not changed. For every individual where a route change has induced a new transfer, there is another individual whose route does not induce a transfer. Whether it is a bus or a train has nothing to do with it.

    Also, “multi-modal” means a transportation system featuring cars (yes, cars), transit (buses, light rail, streetcars, etc.).

    You’ve previously stated your dream is a world without transit (whether bus or rail), so putting forth false arguments about rail causing bus riders to have to transfer in greater numbers is really just a big distraction.

    Your strategy appears to be to jump into any discussion about expanding a mode of public transportation (in this case, intercity high-speed rail) and inundating the conversation with distractions (inaccurate ones, too). You rarely, if ever, correct your assertions when presented with facts which contradict what you’ve said.

    This isn’t the first time, for example, where you’ve been corrected about boardings per originating ride (transfers). I suppose it won’t be the last, either.

  31. Moderator Note: Let’s stay on-topic. I promise not to take any more deliberate-distraction bait in this thread.

  32. I can’t say how it is in EVERY European country but when I was on a long term work assignment in Paris and Annecy France, Herzo and Frankfurt Germany and London England after about 2 weeks I got so fed up with the crappy unreliable train service that I rented a car (even though it was very expensive). I don’t really think the European model is something we should aspire for. Their system is crap and the system employees can hold the entire populace and economy hostage with strikes and lousy service.

  33. That would be nice to see the system extended to Salem and Eugene but it all depends on the desire of those in Salem and Eugene to really want the train to come to town

    Probably no desire at all if it makes frequent stops like the MAX does. If it takes 2-3 hours to get from Salem to Portland nobody would use it, especially if they had to make a transfer in Beaverton to get to Portland. I think the WES idea was stupid from the get-go. A commuter train from Portland to Wilsonville makes sense. Making people go from Wilsonville to Portland via Beaverton is just asinine.

  34. GT’s opening statement:

    I can’t say how it is in EVERY European country but… ,

    then he makes the “logical” leap to

    I don’t really think the European model is something we should aspire for. Their system is crap…

    Do you honestly expect us to take this type of argument seriously? If you can’t say how it is in every European country, then don’t.

    I’ve traveled extensively across Europe via trains and really think this claim is really over the top. Yes, I’ve experienced a delay now and then, but for the most part, rail service in Europe works well. I’m not alone in my experience, judging from my conversations with others and reading other postings in this thread.

    What model, then, should we aspire to?

    Boy, the world must have it in for you. First, Portland has conspired to make your life a living yuppified hell; now Europe is releasing its venom on you. You have my deepest sympathies.

  35. Making people go from Wilsonville to Portland via Beaverton is just asinine.

    It’s called Westside commuter rail, not Portland commuter rail. Rumor has it that a lot of people like to go between Wilsonville and Tigard/Beaverton.

    For a Salem-Portland commuter rail (or portion of a high-speed network), obviously something would have to be worked out somewhere north of Wilsonville. But it was never the intention of what is now called WES to serve a large number of Wilsonville-to-Downtown Portland trips. For years, critics of the larger transit projects around here have claimed there is a downtown-Portland bias. Now that there is a project which, by design, serves centers other than Portland, it is being criticized for not going downtown. Figures.

  36. “I don’t really think the European model is something we should aspire for. Their system is crap and the system employees can hold the entire populace and economy hostage with strikes and lousy service.”

    And yet last year, the EU’s GDP was larger than the US’s, so they seem to be doing something right. And given that the EU is made up of third world countries (according to you) like the Czech Republic, that is indeed amazing.

  37. Let’s get back to the practical considerations of high-speed rail in the Pacific NW. Earlier in this thread, Brian Bundridge brought up a lot of points and provided a number of links. Any comments regarding that?

  38. What model, then, should we aspire to?

    Japan or China MAGLEV trains. With the trillion dollars we flushed down the toilet on an unwinable war in Iraq and Afghanistan we could have bought several nationwide MAGLEV systems going 500MPH or faster.

  39. [Moderator: Off-topic portion removed.]

    For years, critics of the larger transit projects around here have claimed there is a downtown-Portland bias. Now that there is a project which, by design, serves centers other than Portland, it is being criticized for not going downtown. Figures.

    I think in consideration of the WES extension to Salem they should plan an additional alignment from Tigard T.C. to downtown Portland. Then people from Salem or Wilsonville could ride into either Beaverton or Portland without having to transfer to the slow MAX.

  40. JK:Sorry to have drifted off topic, but I feel I must correct an error:

    Bob R.: You’ve previously stated your dream is a world without transit (whether bus or rail)
    JK:I don’t recall that. I do recall saying that there may be lower cost options that will serve people better. Please provide a reference, or please try to be more accurate.

    Bob R.: so putting forth false arguments about rail causing bus riders to have to transfer in greater numbers is really just a big distraction.
    JK: Where did I do that? Are you misunderstanding the following:
    Unless multi-model refers to being forced to transfer from bus to rail ands back to bus for a complete trip.

    Thanks
    JK

  41. Please provide a reference, or please try to be more accurate.

    http://www.commissionersam.com/node/3379#comment-63415

    Take a break, contemplate a world without transit – with only happy people […] That is the real ideal world, not some high density rat hole served by overpriced toy trains […]

    I’ll let your restatement of your falsehood about transfers stand for itself.

    Now that’s the end of it, no more of your diversions.

  42. Bundridge posted a link to Talgo website where their new model meets US standards and comes with two styles of window curtains. I’ve been saying Talgo is the way California ought to go between San Jose and LA. The diesel/electric tops out at 125mph, fast enough according to Wellsian theory, and saving many billions on that HSR project.

  43. To follow up on Brian’s review of the feasibility of HSR, I see true HSR requiring its own right-of-way, tracks, and grade-separated crossings. This is how they’ve done it in most (all?) European and Asian systems, to my knowledge. Running HSR on freight tracks or right-of-way inherently kills the “high-speed” part of it because the curves are too tight, conflicts occur with freight, and grade crossings are frequent.

    True HSR would require an interstate-system-type endeavor (and comparable funding). New alignment, full right-of-way acquisition, etc. Portland-Seattle-Van/BC justify this. Eugene, probably not. Anyone disagree?

  44. full right-of-way acquisition, etc. Portland-Seattle-Van/BC justify this. Eugene, probably not. Anyone disagree?

    I think even SALEM is a bit of a stretch but Eugene even more so. Maybe they could do it in phases, complete PDX-SEA first and at the same time improve the frequency of existing passenger service between Portland and Eugene and Seattle to Vancouver. When people get excited about it and start using it more, then talk about expanding the HSR further.

  45. Bundridge posted a link to Talgo website where their new model meets US standards

    It should be noted that:

    1. Talgo, outside of the sets purchased for Amtrak Cascades service, has not made a single sale of any product in North America.

    2. Talgo has shut down its U.S. Sales office; in fact its remaining employees are now fully dedicated towards “maintenance programs” to existing Talgo trainsets,

    3. Talgo let its ownership in a Montana heavy repair shop (Livingston Rebuild Center, a.k.a. Talgo-LRC) expire by essentially going bankrupt. Montana Rail Link and its owner the Washington Corporation purchased the property, and is using a portion of the facility as a locomotive shop for its own locomotives; the rest of the land is to be redeveloped.

    4. The Talgo trainset that supposedly meets U.S. requirements has never been tested in the U.S.; nor has a prototype version even set foot on North American soil. I do not believe it actually exists.

    Conventional rolling stock can be made to support high speeds; Amtrak’s Amfleet-I car design which dates back to the 1970s operates routinely at 125 MPH in the Northeast Corridor. (I’m not saying I support the car type; just that high speed operations do not require European rolling stock that is incompatible with anything else.)

    I think in consideration of the WES extension to Salem they should plan an additional alignment from Tigard T.C. to downtown Portland. Then people from Salem or Wilsonville could ride into either Beaverton or Portland without having to transfer to the slow MAX.

    I do not believe extending WES south makes sense by any means – with one exception.

    A Portland-Salem passenger rail corridor MUST use the UP mainline – it is the only right-of-way that connects the two cities, and it has room to be expanded to double track. It already serves Amtrak and is suitable for 79 MPH passenger operations. Three passenger stations already exist and there is room to build additional stations that serve central business districts of cities along the line.

    Using the Oregon Electric route is, literally, “in left field”. South of Wilsonville and north of Keizer, the railroad passes through ONE community – Donald.

    The OE is well west of Woodburn. What is most ironic is that I have heard supporters of the OE line state that building a railroad station in West Woodburn is ideal; yet it is situated in the middle of some very prime farmland. (Can you say urban sprawl????)

    Meanwhile, the UP (ex-Southern Pacific mainline) serves a number of communities:

  46. Portland,
  47. East Portland,
  48. Milwaukie,
  49. Clackamas,
  50. Oregon City,
  51. Canby,
  52. Hubbard,
  53. Woodburn,
  54. Gervais,
  55. North Salem (Chemawa),
  56. Salem
  57. And each of the cities from Oregon City to Gervais have their core business districts located along the railroad tracks. Isn’t that what commuter rail is supposed to bring together – dense neighborhoods?

    Now – I would agree that creating a “Y” shaped system also makes sense – north of Hubbard, a new railroad line could be built within the right-of-way of the Wilsonville-Hubbard Highway (a.k.a. Highway 551), along the Aurora State Airport, and then over I-5 near the Rest Area/Charbonneau interchange to connect with the Oregon Electric just south of the Willamette River (I believe that the connection, once leaving the Highway 551 right-of-way, is about 3/4s of a mile.)

    This way, there is a direct path between Salem and Beaverton (important, since ODOT traffic volumes show that over 50% of the traffic at the I-5/217 interchange travels from I-5 (south) to 217. It also maintains the link from Salem to Portland including links along the communities along the route. It uses an existing railline that serves more communities, does not contribute to sprawl, encourages new stations to be built in underutilized land near the railroad tracks (which then promotes healty urban infill development), and does not require the massive rebuilding of a separate railroad.

    And never mind that the OE route through Salem is simply unsuitable for anything faster than 10 MPH – between multiple curves in residential neighborhoods with close clearances, and a stretch of in-street running down Front Avenue. Plus there is no suitable location for a train station in downtown Salem, because the “suitable” land is taken up by Riverfront Park – surely, I don’t think many people would support ripping up a new park for a train station. (But there is a perfectly good train station located blocks from the State Capitol and practically on the Willamette University campus.)

  58. I’ve seen freight go on HSR in France. While I would like to see HSR between Portland and Seattle, I don’t know if the economics would really justify it. Since the track is always available 24/7, if it would be possible to run freight on the HSR line at night, that would maybe be a way for it to work, but I bet that it probably still wouldn’t pencil out without a massive government subsidy. C’est la vie, I suppose.

  59. Erik,

    You should be put on a planning board for your ingenious thinking! The only problem is your approach wouldn’t cost enough or substantiate more bureaucrats. They could use what they already got. BTW, The UP mainline that passes by my place gets an average of 17 freight trains per day and 4 Amtrak passenger trains. All this blather about “the freight trains” is really ridiculous – there aren’t very many freight trains. I wonder just how congested the Portland Vancouver route is? Why are they trying to sell an overpriced MAX solution/megabridge when they could utilize what they already have? This is what my point was regarding “sustainability”. They don’t apply it to transportation projects at all. Build new, spend tons of money! Import from foreign countries!

  60. yet it is situated in the middle of some very prime farmland. (Can you say urban sprawl????)

    Yeah and most of the westside MAX is on very prime farmland too but they don’t ever mention that, do that?

  61. I would like to see the next step done with Amtrak Cascades Seattle-Portland, but also incremenatal improvements across the mountains on several corridors. Leavenworth is about to get an Amtrak Station. Would have been great tonight, as from somethign I heard on another blog, that while US2 Stevens Pass was closed, the BNSF line was still open, with spreaders removing the snow. Intersate 90 was also closed, US12 WHITE PASS was open, but I-84 was also closed. Oh, and yes, the Leavenworth Station will be Bavarian Architechture, it’s the law in Leavenworth, WA. The corridor I would like to see at least twice daily service would be Stampede Pass, because that route hits most of all of Eastern Washington’s main cities. Ellensburg, Yakima, Kennewick, Pasco, Ritzville, and the college town of Cheney as well as Spokane. Unfortunately, even if Stampede Pass tunnel was upgraded(WSDOT was going to give BNSF around $15 million to do it), that leaves another bottleneck, Yakima Canyon, no room for an extra track, although maybe an extra track that is capable of 110-125MPH so they can make up time elsewhere.

    Also, at least Amtrak is still American, anybody notice Greyhound’s new owners. Who buy the way, are greedy. Not sure when the sale went through, whether it was before FirstGroup bought them or not, but Greyhound sold their Seattle Terminal, which was built in 1928 not for Greyhound(they were barely in existance), but for the Seattle-Everett Interurban. It was for a few million, and the new owners want to build a 51 story hotel on that site. Greyhound will probably move to their garage, a few blocks away, and miss a perfect oppurtunity to move to another site on the other side of Downtown in SODO, around 2nd and King Street, that is close to both I-5 and I-90. What location is this? King Street Station, a hub for Amtrak, Amtrak Cascades, Northwestern Trailways, Canadian Trailways(not sure how much longer they will do thruways, a 2nd frequency to Vancouver B.C. is due soon), King County Metro, ST Express buses pass within a few blocks, and then their is SOUNDER Commuter Rail, as well as across the street the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, with Light Rail due to come on line next year(finally!).

  62. EvergreenTransitFan,

    That may fly in Washington where there are several large cities. Here in Oregon we only have towns the only area that is an actual city is Portland. I think Oregon would need to increase its population tenfold before it could consider statewide rail like you’re proposing for Washington.

  63. True HSR may make sense between Portland and Seattle, but I think we can settle on incremental improvements in the Willamette Valley for the foreseeable future.

    These trains carry, on a daily average, about 70 people per day. The train’s capacity is 250.

    You take the fact that the existing trains, with a lopsided, poor schedule attract relatively few riders, and extend that to mean that if service were improved/trains added, the same performance would persist. I suspect that adding 50% more service (if done correctly) would attract much more than 50% more ridership.

    Now – I would agree that creating a “Y” shaped system also makes sense – north of Hubbard, a new railroad line could be built within the right-of-way of the Wilsonville-Hubbard Highway (a.k.a. Highway 551)

    You’ve posted this idea before, I’ve given it some thought, and it doesn’t make much sense to me. All it does it make it easier to get between North Marion communities (Woodburn, etc) and the Westside. If you want to connect them to Portland and/or Salem, just use the existing UP line. The line south from Wilsonville doesn’t have much in the way of intermediate stops, but it is a flat, mostly straight, lower trafficked line positioned much better for a Keizer station. The main issue the best way get it into Salem.

  64. More like a redundant grid system for when heavy snow shuts down the Mountain Passses. Plus, in Oregon, other than the Inside Gateway for BNSF, there is only one Class I, and unfortunately it is the anti-passenger one. Earlier today, I saw the Modern Marvels piece on Mountain Roads, and they had the piece about Donner Pass and how much in Interstate Commerce is halted for every hour it is closed. About $1 million an hour. Too bad the European-style Rolling Highway would never catch on here, give truckers a boost over our mountains, as well as a way around the snow. I do not know how much it costs every hour that Snoqualmie Pass is closed. US2 is hardly a desirable route for truckers.

    There are portions of this state that I would not go for Intercity Rail at, yet. The Northern Pacific Line in Eastern Washington, yes if they can make up the lost time in Yakima Canyon. The Great Northern route across Stevens Pass, maybe a second train a day, but nothing Like Amtrak Cascades, but I could go for a new stop in Snohomish on the builder if something All Aboard Washington mentioned in passing got tried out.

    Statewide in Oregon, a restoration of the Pioneer, maybe. The Inside Gateway, just put a coach on a Freight Train, but I doubt the Mixed Train will ever make a comeback here. In Canada, the total number of that type they have has been reduced by 50% from 2 to 1 with Ontario Northland upgrading the Little Bear to a stand-alone passenger train, with the freight running on a separate train. The VIA Mixed Train that is a branch off of the Hudson Bay still runs on alternate days. Right now on some branchlines, I could go for an expanded version of a program called TravelWA, which is an attempt to bring Intercity Bus Service back to towns Greyhound has cut. Cutting Walla Walla was a mistake, it is a college and prison town, and the latter is home to a controversial activity that would probably bring people by the busload to protest.(It’s an activity that I think should not be mentioned on this board, though). The Grape Line from Walla Walla to Pasco has just started, two new lines are about to be put out to bid, the Apple and Dungeness Line. Although it would be criminal if Northwestern Trailways does not win the Apple Line, because they already run service over it’s route.(Okanagon-Ellensburg via Wenatchee)

    Also, one aspect of Europe’s HSR I do not like, is that there still is not a common signal system. I picked up a copy of a magazine called Today’s Railways:Europe, and they were talking about Eurostar being expanded beyond Paris and Brussels to Amsterdam, and possibly Germany, but there is just no more room in the cab for the different cab signal systems that would be required. A common signal system would do wonders for opening up their system even more. That is something on the national policy that should be considered.

  65. I’ve given it some thought, and it doesn’t make much sense to me. All it does it make it easier to get between North Marion communities (Woodburn, etc) and the Westside. If you want to connect them to Portland and/or Salem, just use the existing UP line. The line south from Wilsonville doesn’t have much in the way of intermediate stops, but it is a flat, mostly straight, lower trafficked line positioned much better for a Keizer station. The main issue the best way get it into Salem.

    The point of the “Y” system is the best of both worlds:

    1. It provides access from Salem to Portland (the city centers) using the existing UP mainline also used by Amtrak’s existing passenger trains (I think this is what you are supporting, and the right side of the “Y” would do just that)

    2. It leverages the WES line and allows passengers who live in Marion County to access Washington County (which I-5/Highway 217 does) – a Portland-Salem only line would not provide this service, except through a connection with MAX which significantly lengthens the travel time and makes the rail solution impractical for most (by way of a new rail line using an existing state owned right-of-way along Highway 551, and a connection over I-5 to the OE that is less than one mile in length (but requires a viaduct or underpass under I-5) (this is the left side of the “Y”),

    3. It provides connectivity between all major Marion and Clackamas County communities on the I-5/99E corridor; a commuter rail project that uses the Oregon Electric line skips past all of those communities (from Hubbard to Salem is the bottom of the “Y”).

  66. You take the fact that the existing trains, with a lopsided, poor schedule attract relatively few riders, and extend that to mean that if service were improved/trains added, the same performance would persist.

    That is proven by the disparity of traffic patterns using existing infrastructure in the Portland-Eugene vs. the Portland-Seattle city-pairs.

    Clearly if there was more demand between Portland and Eugene, that Greyhound, Horizon Air and SkyWest would be exploiting that traffic, and there would be strong demands to increase highway capacity between the two cities.

    We could demonstrate the need if Oregon cancelled the two trains, and ran a bus service with hourly departures from Eugene and Portland starting at 5:00 AM continuing with a last bus at 9:00 PM. All of the current Amtrak ridership would fill up a small number of those busses, leaving considerable capacity for those who would travel only if there was more frequent service.

    It doesn’t help that $5M/year could provide that same service, save for the anti-bus zealots who are “train or nothing”. Thus, we have poor rail service because poor rail service is better than excellent bus service.

  67. Even 1x to Wilsonville to transfer to TriMet 96 is acceptable in my experience. Too bad they don’t go on the weekends :(

  68. I think Erik’s Y idea is an excellent one – providing access to the central city and rapidly developing Washington County. It also hits all the significant town centers along the way – an ideal commuter rail alignment.

    Erik, regarding bus vs. rail to Eugene – isn’t a large advantage of rail here the avoidance of transfers for passengers originating north of Portland?

  69. How many passengers originate in Eugene and continue north of Portland? 20 a day?

    It doesn’t make sense to operate an expensive train (requiring four crew members and has a capacity of 250) for a handful of passengers just for the sake of convenience when the train is underutilized. A less expensive bus option could even provide for one bus that runs local Eugene-Salem and one bus that runs Eugene-Portland express (at a given departure time). You’ve already achieved a 50% labor reduction right there; plus two busses with much smaller diesel engines are more fuel efficient and less polluting than a F59PHI.

    At Portland, the transfer is very simple – the bus pulls up to the front door of Union Station and passengers simply walk in the door, through the concourse, have an opportunity to get a bite to eat or use a restroom (although one would be on the bus, I know many people would not use it unless they had to), before boarding the Cascades north to Seattle.

    If passenger ridership increases with this less expensive, but more frequent option, trains can always return to Eugene. Remember that back in the 1990s, ODOT’s proposal was to run a DMU service from Eugene to Portland and requiring a transfer between trains in Portland so the transfer concept is not new. A bus could also make a couple of stops along the Transit Mall for passengers who aren’t actually headed to Union Station (i.e. Eugene passengers who actually are catching a flight out of PDX, are headed to Beaverton or Hillsboro – they could stop on the Transit Mall at the MAX station as opposed to transferring to a bus/Yellow or Green Line MAX to transfer to Red/Blue Line MAX.)

    In Spokane, which also has busses and rail in one location, a bus-to-train connection is literally “across the platform” because the busses are at the same level and at the same side of the station as Amtrak. Unfortunately Portland could not do this without ripping up Tracks 1 and 2 (and thanks to the redevelopment of Depot Yard, there is no longer any room to install new tracks where the old platforms used to be); however the storage area located to the north of the Concourse and baggage room could be rebuilt as a bus area. (And if this were done, Greyhound could be moved there, eliminating the duplicative Greyhound station across the street.)

  70. I second or third (…..) Eriks points for the UP corridor being our HSR Corridor down the road. The issue is that the ODOT will not spend any money on right of way purchase for true HSR. And everything about Eriks post supports both sides of the river in Portland. But Oregon and Portland don’t or won’t brainstorm or plan for HSR. As I have stated before, they will not consider moving Union Station to the East Side (its the dark side of the force to them).

    The CRC members would not consider the future location for a HSR corridor through Portland and Vancouver. This planning and purchases of right of way is the first step for true HSR in the NW. Union Station is on the wrong side of the River for HSR.

    Memorial Coliseum is the ideal location for a multi-functional “Memorial Station”. I have called a new Transit Station at the Rose Quarter/OCC the “Trails End Transit Station” (TETS) Very historical and very easy to remember to the point that everyone will know where and what you are talking about. Tri-Met and Amtrak (even I5) will need to go underground at some point through Portland. The transportation planner of Oregon are decades behind Washington planners on HSR. And in my mind, the Oregon transportation planners only needs to work the 5 miles North of the Rose Quarter (Washington has to invest in 175 miles!) seriously right now. They need to concentrate on the total and complete corridor from Eugene to PDX, but the Eugene to PDX planning and investment only need to be for right of way purchases. But the Rose Quarter to the Columbia River section over two Willamette River Bridges that are at capacity now is not the answer.

    (Question to those in the know: Can the Peninsula Tunnel 18 be expanded or turned into a HSR route to help get past the two Willamette River Bridges? What is the uses of that tunnel right now? Is it safe and usable?)

    I second the points that we need to first work the SEA/PDX corridor first for true HSR (think getting to 125mph avg. by a date certain, then to 200+mph at some future date that is realistic). I think WDOT has done this goal setting for HSR, but ODOT hasn’t even started this process.

    PDX to Salem and then Eugene should first be commuter rail focused and get the communities of the Willamette Valley connected to the Main Line (future HSR Corridor). This can only be done piece by piece with buy in from all communities.

    So, practically, we need multiple timelines for multiple needs and expectations. Can Oregon even think in these terms? Please exclude some from this process who cannot stay focused or understand the goal in the first place. The late-adopters need to be handled very gentle.

    Ray

  71. Another thought about the “Memorial Station” concept for getting our train station into alignment for true HSR.

    Think of the largest coffee house/brew pub on the West Coast (Starbucks/local and Widmer/others would fight bigtime for this location). Think of having a Hostel inside the Station for people who are using local transit or bikes/feet to get around the City. They just need a place to rest for one night or two before they move out beyond the City on their visits. Do you think a “Memorial Station” would be boring or unused on non-game or non-convention days? Talk about the new “Family Room” for PDX!

    Place the Oregon Sports Museum in the Station too.
    This concept has been posted on other sites.

    Ray

  72. Ray,

    I’m not so sure about putting a rail station at the Rose Quarter/Memorial Coliseum site; I know Jim Howell and AORTA both support this location, but it seems too constrained to me – it’s on a curve at the base of a cliff and there’s no room for parking. Plus I’m sure Paul Allen has other ideas for the land that he owns (the old Red Lion Hotel site).

    IMO, I think a better location for a train station would actually be located along the UP mainline between the Hawthorne and Morrison Bridges (or even between the Morrison and Burnside Bridges) – with the mainline remaining in place as a through track for freight trains, the block between the UP (1st Avenue) and 2nd Avenue used as the passenger tracks/platforms, and the area between 2nd and 3rd Avenues being used as a multi-purpose station building that could also be used as a shopping center (much the same way that European and some NEC stations are used).

    The block between 3rd and MLK would then be used as access to the station – whether it be a driveway, a parking garage, or even an eastside transportation center (Greyhound bays? TriMet Transit Center? Regional commuter busses to eastern and southern suburbs?).

    Because TriMet frequently serves all of these bridges there would be convenient and frequent connections to downtown (and I would presume, if Fareless Square remains, that this station would be within the Fareless Square). If Streetcar were extended to the Eastside it would create a whole brand new destination that would be a major Streetcar O&D location.

    An Eastside Rail Station located here would be the linchpin that would support redevelopment of this area as well.

    Union Station would then be redeveloped – I would support a railroad museum to be located there, with maybe the “artists space” to occupy the upstairs (2nd and 3rd Floors) of Union Station while a regional railroad museum occupy the Concourse and three or four of the five railroad tracks (two tracks would remain for freight service, however the two tracks could be track 5 and a new track 6.) The old Post Office/Federal Building would once again be the Post Office (main floor) with other purposes for the upstairs levels (Post Office sorting and maintenance functions moved out to the airport) and the Main Post Office site be redeveloped (for affordable housing).

    If Greyhound moves to the new Eastside Transportation Center that would free up an additional four blocks (the two that the Greyhound Station occupies plus the parking lot and vacant lot between 6th and Broadway) for additional affordable housing – for a total of 11 blocks of affordable housing plus portions of five other blocks (or the North Park Blocks could be extended all the way to Lovejoy.)

    So we have:

    1. Moved Amtrak services to a location on the Eastside to a brand new building,
    2. Consolidated Greyhound with Amtrak,
    3. Consolidated regional bus operations,
    4. Provided a direct connection with TriMet,
    5. Redeveloped the Central Eastside Industrial District,
    6. Located a new use for Union Station that preserves its heritage,
    7. Found a home for Portland’s three steam engines and other railroad artifacts,
    8. Provided artists with a new location to work,
    9. Preserved Union Station,
    10. Created a LARGE amount of affordable housing in the central core area that is tied to transit (Streetcar, MAX AND frequent bus service that serves the entire Portland region.

    Oh, and found a lot of uses for currently underutilized properties both in the CEID and surrounding Union Station – thus adding considerable property tax revenues.

  73. Erik, we are on the same page for this required change to make HSR truly “fly” through PDX. Only the location of the Station itself separates us. If Tri-Met and Amtrak, CoPDX agree that MAX and streetcar will go by a CEID location then I would be for it.

    But, my guess, is that the main hub will remain at Rose Quarter/OCC. I also think a subwsy line on the East Side will dive under the Lloyd District somewhere around NE 20th(?) so that the grade is doable. I doubt the subway line will curve SW to your location for a new Amtrak/Bus Station. Having everything near the Quarter and OCC seem the most logical.

    I would look for tunnels or elevated (futuristic) HSR (again described in other sites by myself and others(?)). Think of a HSR line that rises over the East Side along the same corridor of the moved I5. As the train slows along the elevated tracks it replaces the I-84 and dives (just like I-84 does at 12th) and then moves into the Memorial Station either elevated or underground.

    Everything about our visions will require 30 years of work but as you noted will create major redevelopment opportunities in all parts of the Central City.

    Bottom line is still that the City of Portland, Metro, Amtrak, and ODOT are not thinking about HSR in any way, shape, or form.

    Ray

  74. The problem with Rose Quarter is that there’s no location for a station building, for parking (yes, there has to be parking) and auxiliary tracks for parked/stopped passenger trains (as well as tracks for through freight trains).

    Are you suggesting that Amtrak essentially is put in an underground station there (underneath Interstate Avenue?) If so, how would that build ridership, when people can’t even see the station? When I look at aerial photographs – IF the UP mainline were straightened from the Steel Bridge to the Broadway Bridge, the main track would essentially be right next to Interstate Avenue. The passenger station would then have to be located on the westside of the tracks (next to the river) – and getting access to/from the station would be difficult at best. Again, there’s no vehicular access, so this station location couldn’t be used for multi-modal connections (i.e. Greyhound, Tillamook County busses, Central Oregon Breeze busses, etc.)

    TriMet connections at the Rose Quarter TC would be two-three blocks away (by walking).

    I am not sure a Subway would ever get built in Portland, at least in my lifetime. Right now Portland is so obsessed with MAX and Streetcar that it doesn’t make sense to introduce a third transport mode; nor does it make sense to convert MAX to a subway on the eastside (right now MAX doesn’t really constrain anything on Holliday; the main vehicular streets are to the north or south.) However there is a desire to put a Streetcar line on both MLK and Grand – if a new Eastside Transportation Center/train station would located – for example, between the Hawthorne and Morrison Bridges – the Streetcar Loop – as designed right now – would literally stop at the front door of the train station (at least southbound on MLK). This is in addition to the busses that cross on the two bridges – lines 14 and 15 (both Frequent Service) on the Morrison, and lines 4 (FS), 6 (FS), 10, 14 (FS), 31, 32, 33 (FS), 41 and 99.

    The biggest draw for the Rose Quarter is the direct access to two MAX lines; however if the Green Line were routed across the McLoughlin Bridge instead of building an expensive new bridge to serve SoWa, then a direct MAX connection would be available at the Eastside Transportation Center. If (as I believe Jim Howell supported) Green Line MAX simply connected at the Rose Quarter rather than going downtown; it too would directly serve the ESTC.

  75. PDX to Salem and then Eugene should first be commuter rail focused and get the communities of the Willamette Valley connected to the Main Line (future HSR Corridor). This can only be done piece by piece with buy in from all communities.

    I think this MIGHT work *IF* the speed is at least comparable with Greyhound. If an extension of the WES to Salem via wilsonville is “the answer” then I doubt people would tolerate 3 hour commutes on such a slow service to get from Salem to Beaverton. All they need to do is bring another 2x Amtrak Cascades ON EXISTING TRACKS so there is service Portland -> Salem -> Eugene in the morning. I think it would be nice if it were possible for Portlanders to be able to go south for the day and return on the evening train. The way it’s set up currently you can get from Eugene/Salem to Portland, spend the day in Portland and return in the evening. Also, what’s up with a Amtrak BUS leaving at 5:45 then the train leaving 30 minutes later? Why don’t they have the bus leaving much earlier instead of so close to when the train leaves? This seems ridiculous to me. Tonight when I rode on the train I walked up every single car and counted up to 200 people – far more than the “70” Erik mentioned. Maybe its because it was the weekend? When I was riding on the train tonight I thought it would be neato to have a European HSR like system but we plainly don’t have the population as Europe to support such a system. France, for example, is roughly the same size as Oregon. They CAN support an electrified HSR and it is justified. It has 64 million people – Oregon doesn’t even have FOUR million people. Now if you were to advocate such an increase for Oregon it would give 1000 fiends a coronary. BTW, I had a fabulous weekend in beautiful Portland Oregon today. I rode TriMet bus, MAX (even though it wax broke last night), I even rode the Streetcar from the Pearl to Riverplace. I think I may be a convert now!

  76. I think I may be a convert now!

    Welcome, Greg … you’ll be receiving your membership card and secret kool-aid recipe shortly. :-)

  77. Regarding France’s population versus Oregon’s…. you have to look at the corridors that HSR is serving, not just the total population of the country/state. France has a network of HSR (TGV) lines that radiate out of Paris to every corner of the country. Each line serves the 8 million people in Paris plus several million more along the corridor it travels. So each line serves anywhere from 12-16 million people.

    For the Cascadia corridor (Portland to Vancouver, BC), currently we have about 2.5 million at each end, plus at least 5 million along the I-5 corridor in western Washington. That’s 10 million people along a 300 mile corridor TODAY. By the time a true HSR line is built here, that population will likely be closer to 15 million. That’s more than enough to support true grade-separated HSR.

  78. I agree with Aaron. Oregon obviously doesn’t need HSR anywhere but the Willamette Valley, and no one is proposing anything other than that. In fact I think the geographic distribution of the population in the Northwest presents a unique opportunity to connect a large majority of the residents in one linear line of transportation, which is currently our beloved I-5.

  79. Tonight when I rode on the train I walked up every single car and counted up to 200 people – far more than the “70” Erik mentioned. Maybe its because it was the weekend?

    My figures are from WSDOT; it is simply total boardings/alightings (of all stations south of Portland) divided by four (for the four trains) and then by 365.

    Therefore, yes it is an average. I have heard reports of trains going south with only a handful of souls. Weekends do tend to have a lot more traffic; the same is true north of Portland where many weekend trains sell out well in advance, but there is more room during the week. I believe every train I have taken to Seattle has been sold out.

    Do we build an expensive rail system just for two or three days of the week? PDX-SEA makes sense, plus commuter rail to Salem and frequent bus service to Eugene and other points within the Willamette Valley to create a transportation network.

    As routes become popular they can be upgraded to commuter rail or ultimately HSR. This is exactly how it works in Europe – TGV and ICE lines do not connect every community, and in general a city the size of Salem or Eugene would not rate a TGV/ICE stop (or if it did, only select trains would stop). Those cities would, however, receive frequent commuter and regional train stops.

  80. Salem and Eugene would rate HSR stops if they were between two termini (say Portland and Sacramento), but they don’t have the population to justify the cost of a stub only to Eugene. I don’t think the Cascadia corridor would be connected to the California system unless there is a concerted effort by the federal government to build a nationwide HSR system.

  81. If we get the Cascade Talgos going at top speed…125mph…what kind of travel times are we looking at between Eugene and Vancovuer BC?
    Where are the bottle necks on the existing lines that require added capacity to get to those speeds? What would fixes costs?
    If Eugene is under two hours and Seattle under three AND frequency is increased, ridership will follow. Its an affordable bridge to real HSR.

  82. The rail line that runs from Milwaukie through Lake Oswego should be included in any consideration of regional rail between Portland and Eugene. But, whatever. We’ve got enough from the rail buffet on our plate for the time being. Yummy!

  83. Lenny –

    Some of your questions may be answered by what Brian Bundridge posted earlier in this thread. Scroll up to January 30th, about 6PM, for a description of the issues involved in increasing speeds through the existing corridor.

  84. “Downtown Eugene and Springfield are suffering from the results of urban sprawl and isolated shopping malls. Yeah, like a high-speed train is going to fix those problems”.

    I can’t believe those words came out of Mr Karlock’s mouth!

    Is this the same Mr Karlock that is pro-private automobile?

    That’s kind of funny, because isn’t it the private automobile that has *caused* these problems of urban sprawl and shopping malls in the first place?

    Good grief ;-)

  85. Some of your questions may be answered by what Brian Bundridge posted earlier in this thread.

    That’s too bad. I guess they’ll need to have flights flights between Eugene, Salem, Portland, Seattle and VancBC.

  86. The rail line that runs from Milwaukie through Lake Oswego should be included in any consideration of regional rail between Portland and Eugene.

    That wouldn’t make sense…BUT…the route (the Tillamook/Newberg/Westside Branch) from Milwaukie to McMinnville (via Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Sherwood, Newberg, Dundee and Lafayette) would make a good route to be upgraded for commuter rail.

    That is, when the funds are available to rebuild the line over Rex Hill. Until then, regional bus service using existing 99W makes a lot more sense to build a traffic base.

  87. Thanks Bob,
    I read thru Brian’s post, and he knows all the bottlenecks. But he didn’t do the math to calculate what is a realistic Seattle-Portland travel time on the Talgo equipment. If that is 2.5 hours, I think we have hope. Then the issue is how to get more frequent service, and how to get Portland-Eugene down to 1.5 hours.
    Maybe the place to start is a state constitutional amendment allowing ODOT to spend gastax dollars on passenger rail capacity in order to moderate travel demand on I-5.

  88. Forgive me if these points have already been made in this *fascinating* discussion, but-

    HSR is faster than air for distances under 300 miles, city-center to city center, and should be aggressively implemented to decrease short hop commuter flights.

    Yes, HSR is also used to move freight. In the past, a passenger train consist might be as much as half head-end cars, carrying mail and parcel freight. Where governments are actually concerned with rational transportation planning, high-speed freight and mail movements are an important part of the picture.

    A large part of the above thread apparently does not understand that the US has historically spent over 90% of the transportation dollar building roads and subsidizing air travel, that we are at peak oil, that population will continue to increase in the PNW, and that the Chinese and EU economies are now challenging our own. And this is all before we get into the nitty gritty of the local cost of sprawl, or the importance of slowing global warming.

    Ironically, TC Mits (The Common Man in the Street) may actually get the big picture before the transit enthusiasts reading this blog do. An interesting comment on the nature of distributed knowledge.

  89. I think they should quit subsidizing buying from foreign countries. The feds should stipulate with this and all handouts that the projects needs to be made entirely with American products. Quit outsourcing America!

  90. Yes, HSR is also used to move freight. In the past, a passenger train consist might be as much as half head-end cars, carrying mail and parcel freight. Where governments are actually concerned with rational transportation planning, high-speed freight and mail movements are an important part of the picture.

    WHERE?!!!!!

    I know of NO HSR trainset in the world (Shinkansen, TGV, Thayls, Talgo, ICE, Acela Express) whose trainsets have any freight (mail & express) carrying capacity.

    Further, on lines that are built to the highest speed specification, freight trains are prohibited (both due to safety, as well as to minimize impact to the track structure).

    It should also be noted that in Europe freight trains are VERY different than in the U.S. – they are often short trains that run infrequently, often only at night. In the U.S. freight trains are predominate and are long and heavy, and travel much, much further distances. Rebuilding the nation’s rail network to HSR standards would effectively send much of the U.S. freight traffic onto highways – which is counterproductive to state the least.

    It should also be noted in the United States, when passenger trains were “more than half Mail & Express”, those trains were not the trains that you would ride to get anywhere fast, they were the slowest passenger trains on the network. By the 1950s they would not show up in public timetables, and would only have one or two “rider coaches”, essentially there for nothing more than convenience. Mail would be carried on the fast trains (i.e. the Cascade, the Coast Daylight, the Empire Builder, the North Coast Limited, the City of Portland) but not much in the way of express shipments.

  91. Aux contraire, up through the 40s the name trains carried very heavy head-end consists, as you can plainly see looking at photos of trains like the Broadway Limited or the Twentieth Century.

    The big change in the handling of mail came during the Nixon administration, when new mail-handling nodes were built to put all the mail on airplanes instead of trains. The big change in commercial freight came with the development of suburban distribution centers, usually in conjunction with the interstates, which mainly came on line in the 60s and 70s. Today, Amtrak has been reclaiming some mail business.

    Obviously, the US freight railroads will not be ‘rebuilt’ to HSR standards. (So much wrong there.) Real HSR requires an HSR ROW, as can be seen looking at any system built abroad.

    I would hope it would be obvious, but maybe it isn’t, that you would not be shipping stoves and tractor parts on HSR trains, but you would be trying to capture overnight and same-day delivery business.

    I agree with Erik that freight does not move in TGV or Shinkansen trainsets. However, it does move through the Chunnel and the Swiss apparently keep freight moving at passenger train speeds through their tunnels.

    One misconception above- the US railroads never (with the possible exception of the Southern and the Denver & Rio Grande) ran a passenger train or car for anyone’s convenience. When legislators and factory owners traveled by train, the railroads put their best foot forward, but when that traffic switched to automobiles and planes, the railroads lost interest. Motivated by dreams of profit, they invested disastrously in passenger trains in the 40s, but after the mid-50s they only ran the trains they were ordered to run, and quite a few rail-fans of the time thought they ran those badly in the hope of driving traffic away (one reason the trains were not shown in the public timetables).

    Timetable or hot-shot freight is a fascinating subject but essentially entirely separate from HSR. However, it would seem like a no-brainer to try and grab some same-day market for city-center-to-city-center traffic on an HSR rail line.

  92. Aux contraire, up through the 40s the name trains carried very heavy head-end consists, as you can plainly see looking at photos of trains like the Broadway Limited or the Twentieth Century.

    OK, and show me a picture of:

    1. The SP&S Streamliner,
    2. The GN/NP/UP “Pool Train”,
    3. The Cascade,
    4. The Shasta Daylight,
    5. The City of Portland.

    Today, Amtrak has been reclaiming some mail business.

    Amtrak has discontinued it’s Mail & Express business, save for the “Amtrak Express Shipping” small parcel business that it’s always offered (even Greyhound offers a similar service, as does any airline – even Southwest). All of Amtrak’s mail equipment have been sold/scrapped.

    the US railroads never (with the possible exception of the Southern and the Denver & Rio Grande) ran a passenger train or car for anyone’s convenience.

    That generalization is so laughable, I’m not even going to take the time to respond further. All I can suggest is to read up on railroad history, because it’s just not true.

    In fact, Union Pacific and BNSF both proved your statement wrong just last year when the two railroads ran a steam excursion train, clearly for the convenience of railfans and those who wanted to see two working steam engines.

  93. OK, and show me a picture of:
    5. The City of Portland.

    Picture, complete with consist list:
    http://www.thecoachyard.com/PDF/COPT.pdf

    Note the car labeled:
    “UP 5800-5810 LW Baggage – RPO Pullman-Standard”

    RPO stands for Railroad Post Office. Not only was it carrying mail, but it also sorted mail in route, including dropping off bags of mail and picking them up at the smaller stations along the route without even slowing down… If you want something postmarked today, you can take it to central post office before midnight, but 40 years ago you took them to the train station just before the train left. (Note how those are right next to each other in Portland, and in a lot of other cities too.)

  94. Ha ha, Erik, I have about 600-700 books here about railroads and if you want to show up with a two-ton truck and pay what a dealer would pay, you can have them all- my life-circumstances have been changing. I have made many mistakes in my life, but failing to read about railroads has not been one of them.

    But, no, I am not going to spend my days as your private tutor. If you want to get up to speed, check websites, join NAARP, and crack a few books yourself.

  95. RPO stands for Railroad Post Office. Not only was it carrying mail, but it also sorted mail in route, including dropping off bags of mail and picking them up at the smaller stations along the route without even slowing down… If you want something postmarked today, you can take it to central post office before midnight, but 40 years ago you took them to the train station just before the train left. (Note how those are right next to each other in Portland, and in a lot of other cities too.)

    That is ONE car.

    Serial Catowner stated that HALF of the cars were head-end express. That would suggest that the City of Portland was TWO cars long.

    Which, as the link (which was an advertisement for a model of the City of Portland trainset) clearly showed, was a bit longer.

    BTW, I’ve been inside restored RPOs. I also know that the Washington Park & Zoo Railway is the last railroad (as defined by the Postal Service) authorized to issue a postal cancellation. The last actual Railway Post Office cancellation is issued/authorized to a railroad museum.

  96. Ha ha, Erik, I have about 600-700 books here about railroads and if you want to show up with a two-ton truck and pay what a dealer would pay, you can have them all- my life-circumstances have been changing. I have made many mistakes in my life, but failing to read about railroads has not been one of them.

    But, no, I am not going to spend my days as your private tutor. If you want to get up to speed, check websites, join NAARP, and crack a few books yourself.

    Given that you refuse to answer my very specific question, I have to question the legitimacy of your response as anything other than a poor attempt to call my bluff as to my knowledge.

    Further, your comment of “check websites” seems to suggest a lack of knowledge of any specific websites that offers information, and join “NAARP” – who is “NAARP”, the National American Association of Retired Persons?

    I presume you must mean NARP, the National Association of Railroad Passengers, a group that advocates the expansion of Amtrak and other passenger services, but is NOT a historical society. Not only would I not join NARP (because its believes and interests are hardly those I would personally advocate for) but I certainly would not look to them for historical information, unlike, say the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society or the National Railway Historical Society.

    So, once again, I will ask you the question, and all I ask is for you to answer the question. In essence, “pay up or shut up”:

    OK, and show me a picture of:

    1. The SP&S Streamliner,
    2. The GN/NP/UP “Pool Train”,
    3. The Cascade,
    4. The Shasta Daylight,
    5. The City of Portland.

    that has a “very heavy” head end consist (Loosely I’m going to ask for more than one car.)

  97. “Serial Catowner stated that HALF of the cars were head-end express. That would suggest that the City of Portland was TWO cars long. Which, as the link (which was an advertisement for a model of the City of Portland trainset) clearly showed, was a bit longer.”

    Uhmm, if you are going to have an argument like this, you might want to go reread what they said:
    might be as much as half head-end cars, carrying mail and parcel freight

    The picture shows 14 cars, in which 3 have no windows, so are probably carrying baggage or freight or mail. But maybe they are full of blind people or something, I can’t tell you, I wasn’t alive in 1955. But I can tell you that there are 16 cars for sale with that set, (and the coach yard is fairly good about being historically accurate,) including 4 that would carry freight/baggage/mail. In particular, besides the RPO, there is also this one:

    UP 5700-5710 LW Postal Storage Pullman-Standard

    that has a “very heavy” head end consist (Loosely I’m going to ask for more than one car.)

    Well, it looks like the City of Portland at least sometimes ran with two, so…

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