Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Talgo's Ordered for the Northwest

Port Townsend, today.  Shortly after the Feds announcement of funding being made available for high speed rail service, we now learn the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has  just negotiated the purchase of two new passenger train sets from Talgo-America for the Amtrak "Cascades" Route.

Each 13-car train set seats 285 men, women, and screaming kids. Well, “screaming kids” is my editorial bias, based on personal observation!

The new trains will be will be updated versions of Talgo-made trains presently serving the Northwest. Amenities will include WiFi service, a “Bistro” food and beverage car, a business class section and baggage car bicycle racks.

The trains, which cost $18.3 million per set, will be assembled at a new Talgo-America plant in Wisconsin with a majority of “American-made” components. The locations of the assembly and maintenance facilities have not yet been determined, but are likely to be in south central or southeastern Wisconsin.

Aluminum alloy structural frame parts for the Talgo trains will be manufactured in Spain and then shipped to Wisconsin for assembly. Talgo will be working with Wisconsin and other U.S. vendors to supply parts for outfitting the trains.

A dedicated rail car maintenance facility will provide ongoing service for equipment used in the Midwest. Talgo currently operates a maintenance facility in Seattle, Washington, to service Amtrak Cascades trains.

Delivery is expected in 2012. The Oregon-owned trains will join five older Talgo-America train sets; Washington State owns three, and Amtrak owns two, as of this writing. The new equipment will provide continued Amtrak Cascades passenger service in the Pacific Northwest rail corridor between Eugene and Vancouver, B.C.

Performance Issues

Despite spikes attributed to the economy and gasoline prices, the load-factor for Amtrak system wide was 52%, the "Cascades" service registered 56% in the most recent report available mid-2009.

I'm sure that factor is negatively impacted by the Portland to Eugene segment, although that is my personal opinion. It's a logical function of population imbalance.

There have been improvements from the miserable 52% on time performance of the "Cascades" service, to near 80% last year.

And last year the “Cascades” recorded it’s 5th straight year of increased ridership, an impressive 823% since beginning of service in 1994. 

You’d never know it, driving on I-5!

2 Comments - Click here:

Steve Boyko said...

I'd love to see a Talgo in person sometime.

Your orange highlights look great, by the way! Thanks for the change.

Robert in Port Townsend said...

I've ridden the "Talgo" several times. It's a shame the tilt car technology (leaning into high speed curves) can't be realized on this corridor. Always slowing down to do a meet with BNSF freights.

Imagine riding inside a Coke can, and you've got it!

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