THE FEDERAL Railroad Administration and BNSF have given Amtrak West permission to raise the speed of its Talgo tilting trains through curves on the Seattle - Portland portion of the 750 km Pacific Northwest corridor. The move will cut journey times by up to 25 min, permitting introduction of a third daily return trip from May 17.

To concentrate both leased Talgo Pendular 200s on the Seattle - Portland route, Amtrak will swap trainsets between the Talgo-operated Mount Baker International from Seattle to Vancouver and the Superliner-worked Cascadia which links Seattle and Eugene, Oregon. Three new custom-built Talgos, purchased in conjunction with Washington State DoT, are due to enter service in November. Planning is also under way to increase curve speeds between Eugene and Portland and from the Canadian border to Vancouver.

Amtrak is to invest over $30m in the Pacific Northwest this year, including the first $10m phase of a $50m maintenance depot in Seattle for the Talgos and the Seattle - Tacoma Sounder commuter trains. Another $12m will go towards track and signal upgrading between Seattle and Blaine, paving the way for introduction of a second daily train between Seattle and Vancouver next year.

  • Talgo sets are also envisaged for a daily train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas; cancellation of the thrice-weekly Desert Wind last year left the gambler’s city without passenger services. Amtrak West President Gil Mallery says it is to invest $9m in improvements on the UP-owned route, sending ’a strong message about our commitment to restore rail service in this market,’ which he hopes will garner financial backing for a three-year Talgo demonstration service. o