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View Diary: Sunday Train: HSR & the Slow Trains of No. California (131 comments)

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  •  Slow steps to greater speed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, markdd, raines

    On the Cascades Corridor, the first steps being taken with the stimulus money is to try to eliminate bottlenecks that lead to a MISERABLE on-time record -- something like one third of all trains are late.

    The Cascades will also be getting two more tilting Talgo trains for the equipment pool. If I got it right, that will allow at least one more frequency between Seattle and Portland starting next year. It will also add two more frequencies between Bellingham (or possibly Vancouver, B.C., subject to bureaucratic hurdles) and Seattle at one end, and between Eugene and Portland at the other end.

    Adding frequencies cuts trip times if you consider how-long-until-the-next-train? as part of the larger question.

    The next steps will work to add passing lanes or doubletrack where possible. These steps will add capacity (so another round trip can be added to the schedule) as well as speeding up the schedules.

    In general, trip times are reduced when slow spots are eliminated, rather than when top speeds are increased. If a section of track is limited to 30 mph before upgrading, but can handle 60 mph after the work, you will gain more time than by raising a 60 mph section to 90 mph. So expect many many incremental steps on the Cascades route, with sharp improvements in on-time reliability and then continuing gains in average speed.

    •  Ooh, ooh, ooh, I just said that ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markdd, raines, KenBee

      ... yes, +10mph makes the biggest impact to a train that is stopped waiting for something, next to a train moving 10mph, and so on ... because the slower the speed in a segment, the more heavily the segment weighs in the average trip speed.

      110mph is (1) after you have the bottlenecks worked out for a good 79mph system or (2) if you are building from scratch and can avoid building those bottlenecks in, in the first place.

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      by BruceMcF on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 03:38:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  IIRC (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raines

      We're supposed to get up to 5 more Sounders over the next 5 years, Everett to Seattle, Tacoma to Seattle routes.  They mostly follow drive time commutes, 4 inbound in the AM, 1 outbound in the AM.

      Everett to Mukilteo has about 2 lost weeks per year for mud slides and some part of the Everett to Bellingham main line also gets shut out by slides.

      There is a 3-4 track main from Seattle to Everett.  But it follows the coast very closely, getting up to speeds here will be difficult.  And some of the houses overlooking the tracks cost a lot more than rebuilding the track.

      With 2 intermediate stops, Sounder schedules 59 minutes from Everett to Seattle.  Google claims 31 miles via Interstate and surface streets.  Not LOS by any means.

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      by markdd on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 04:09:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounder + Cascades (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        markdd

        It helps to have both Sounder and Cascades growing together, adding frequencies. That spreads the cost of capital investments over a larger base of passengers. So the more trains, and the more passengers the trains get, the more that paying for further upgrades becomes a political and budget possibility.

      •  More trains coming this summer! (0+ / 0-)

        From the NARP newsletter

        Washington State and Oregon announced on April 4 that they will be creating a unified management structure for the rail corridor stretching from Eugene, Oregon all the way north to Vancouver, British Columbia.
        ...
        The Cascades will introduce two new 13-car Talgo trains into the fleet this summer, funded in a partnership between the state of Oregon and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  One of the first goals for the new director is to add two daily Amtrak Cascades roundtrips between Seattle and Portland, for a total of six each day.
        Much more info at the link.

        NARP is the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

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