Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Consultant sought for Amtrak Pioneer

And no consultant jokes.Heck, I’m available!

There is a development in Idaho. Channel 6 (Pocatello?) files this report.

A spokesman for Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho says Amtrak has started a search for a consultant as a step in possibly restoring the Pioneer Route.

Lindsay Nothern says the consultant could come to Idaho to meet with state officials about restarting the train route.

This is a fine idea and does not diminish any other route. As I recall, the UP railroad in this area is excellent, but there is now a possible problem getting into Portland Union Station from this route. Maybe some local people know better than me.

This addition connects the Midwest and the mountain region to the northwest. It will be an excellent addition.

Now, to address the elephant in the room. Some of the restored Superliner equipment will go to the Zephyr and it makes sense to put some of that equipment into Salt Lake-Seattle service. This does not “steal” equipment from any proposed Sunset restoration. At least, that is how it looks from an unbiased observer in Arkansas.

Your opinion?

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

10 Responses

  1. Mad Park says:

    Restoring #25 and #26 is a laudable goal. In the context of Amtrak’s needs, it must and will be a very low priority. Access to Boise is a problem, a pathway on the busy BNSF Seattle to Portland line will surely be problematic, and Union Pacific’s abysmal handling of trains #1, #2, #5, #6, #11, and #14 in recent years certainly ought to raise questions about their ability to start-up the Pioneer again.

  2. Chris G says:

    I believe all of this, the Sunset, the Pioneer, etc all hinge on the ability to get a car order in. Until they find a manufacturer and get an order in, none of this matters except to the consultants.

    I want routes expanded. I want frequency expanded. I want average running times improved.

    But it all starts with a rail car order.

  3. Mad Park says:

    Absolutely – 200+ new Superliners, 200+ new bi-level corridor cars (“California Cars”), 200+ Viewliners/single level long distance cars at a minimum need to be ordered and delivered yesterday!

  4. patlynch says:

    While I agree with the dire necessity for a substantial new car order, it would appear that the Pioneer is a possibility for service restoration with equipment that would become available from the repairs and be assigned to the Zephyr – of which the Pioneer is an extension.

    Mad, your earlier post also contains some good points and getting into the Portland UD may pose a real difficulty now. Amazing.

    I would be curious about the Boise situation. Somebody went to a lot of trouble to get trains into the old downtown station instead of the previous strip of pavement in the middle of nowhere. Who knows what obstacles exist today?

  5. Ran says:

    From whom will Amtrak order these cars? Budd, Pullman, MKI, Colorado? Nippon, Kawasaki, Alstom, Bombardier? It’s not easy to convince Congress to spend big bucks on stuff not belt in the US. Hence the loss by ABB in the Acela contract. The lack of domestic producers is a big impediment.

  6. Ran says:

    From whom will Amtrak order these cars? Budd, Pullman, MKI, Colorado? Nippon, Kawasaki, Alstom, Bombardier? It’s not easy to convince Congress to spend big bucks on stuff not built in the US. Hence the loss by ABB in the Acela contract. The lack of domestic producers is a big impediment.

  7. 1. It doesn’t appear many superliner cars are being rebuilt. If there are more around, perhaps it’s viable to say there will be enough for the Pioneer, but as it appears to me, it’s not enough.

    2. I’m all for the Pioneer, but more important to the national network would be the Desert Wind. Certainly other routes are contenders as well: Chicago – Florida, extending the California Zepher overnight Oakland – LA, a Pheonix section, bringing the Sunset Limited back to Florida, making it daily and giving it a Dallas section, etc, etc

    3. Contradicting the above is that all politics are local. If adding a train happens because it makes sense to the national network, fine. But realistically it happens because there is political will to assemble the assets to make it possible. Therefore where there is political will, lets get a train running.

    4. Amtrak could order superliner-like cars tomorrow from Bombardier and Alstom. These cars would be built in America – either Plattsburg NY (Bombardier) or Hornell NY (Alstom). It’s highly unlikely a specific supplier would be named in funding for new cars. It’s highly likely that they would have a buy-America provision – which would be met by any of the above firms.

  8. Yesterday, a rumour (we hope it is an April fool rumour) came out of Amtrak to the effect that there would be a push to make the Sunset daily west of NewOrleans and at the same time, abandon the eastern route, at least east of Mobile or possibly Pensacola, and provide a coach only, day train between NewOrleans and Mobile or possibly Pensacola. I certainly hope that advocates get up in arms over such an idea and I am willing to state that if this happens, I am no longer an Amtrak advocate. Amtrak, has for the past 4 years now, been totally irrelevant to my travel needs and a permanent loss of the Sunset or loss of a connecting service, means I have become a permanent user of SouthWEst Airlines.

  9. With reference to SuperLIner car orders, I am all for it, but there is a slight problem. The existing Superliner design, great as it is, does not meet FRA crash worthiness standards anymore and so a complete redesign would be required. The bi-level long distance cars mentioned recently by Amtrak would have their diaphragms at the height of low level equipment so that transition cars would not be required. I think this is a good idea from the standpoint of safety. If you have never rode a Superliner on rough track, you will have no idea of how dangerous it can be to pass between cars with the diaphragms scissoring back and forth and leaving a gap of 12″-18″ between them, laterally. This is simple function of the geometry which places the diaphragm some 4 feet higher above the coupler than low level cars.

  10. patlynch says:

    A rumor? Say it ain’t so. Not in the railroad business!

    But seriously, Amtrak has explicitly put everybody on notice that there is a commitment to improving the Sunset. Amtrak has also explicitly said that every aspect of operation is on the table.

    I think we have to take Amtrak at its word and my general intention is to go along with whatever they propose. I say that knowing the nature of change. Amtrak cannot improve the Sunset without making changes and that is bound to make somebody unhappy.


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