Facebook Page

Portland Westside Express Service 2/5/2010

by Chris Guenzler

I awoke at 5:30 AM and by six, was on the TriMet platform at NE 82nd Street station just as a Red Line train for Hillsboro arrived. I boarded this train and took it to the Beaverton Transit Center where I walked over to the Portland West Side Express platform just as one of their trains arrived.

Portland Westside Express Service

I heard the crossing gate and soon the train I would be riding came into view.

Line History

The route presently used by WES consists of two historically separate railroads. The segment between Greton (near Tigard) and Wilsonville was originally built by the Oregon Electric Railway in 1908; at Greton the line continued northeasterly to Portland, a route that was abandoned in the mid 1930's. The Oregon Electric stopped running passenger trains in the late 1930s and soon after switched to diesel locomotives, continuing to run freight trains to Beaverton and Portland to the north, and to Salem, Albany and Eugene to the south.

The route from Greton to Beaverton was built by an affiliate of Southern Pacific beginning in 1906, and opened to traffic in 1910. This route connected with Southern Pacific's existing west-east line in Beaverton that provided service to Portland and Hillsboro, and a second route south of Tigard to Cook, which was a junction with an existing route between Lake Oswego and McMinnville. In 1914, the Southern Pacific electrified these lines as part of its Red Electric service in competition with the Oregon Electric Railway; by 1929 the Southern Pacific ended electric service, and passenger service was switched first to steam trains and doodlebugs, and later buses.

Both the Southern Pacific and the Oregon Electric (and its successor Burlington Northern) continued to provide freight service on the line until the 1990's when both railroads leased its low-density branches to shortline operators. In this case, the Southern Pacific leased its lines to newly formed Portland & Western Railroad in August 1995; followed by the Burlington Northern leasing its lines to the Portland & Western in October 1995. This put the operations of two competing railroads in the same hands for the first time in history.

Westside Express Service is 14.7 miles long and is the first commuter rail line in the state of Oregon. It serves the communities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville and connects at the Beaverton Transportation Center with 11 bus lines and the MAX Blue and Red Lines. There are bus connections at each station and at Wilsonville, a connection with the Smart Bus system provides a connection with Salem.Service began on Monday February 2, 2009. TriMet purchased three Diesel Multiple Units {DMU} cars and one trailer from Colorado Railcar Manufacturing and contracted with CRM, the only U.S. firm that builds DMU's that meet federal standards and complies with Buy America. The line is shared with the Portland & Western Railroad that operates freight service over the railroad. TriMet purchased a state-of-the-art signal system for the Westside Express Service that is being fully integrated with the P&W freight service. All of the 35 freight engines that will operate in this corridor, as well as WES vehicles will include cab signals that are part of an overall signal system that will prevent train-to-train collisions similar to the what occurred in the Metrolink Chatsworth Collision. The line also has a pair of Rail Diesel Cars to help with providing service on this line.

Our Trip

The train arriving into the Beaverton Transit Center.

After this picture I boarded for my trip to Wilsonville. About ten minutes later, we proceeded south for my first trip aboard this unique train service. The first stop was Hall/Nimbus which was followed by the Tigard Transit Center, where we met Car 101 on its way to Beaverton. Our train passed a small yard of the Portland and Western Railroad on this pre-dawn trip south. Next we stopped at Tualitan before we made our way out to Wilsonville where I would be laying over and getting pictures.

Westside Express RDC-1 1711, ex. Alaska Railroad 711, nee New York, New Haven and Hartford 121 built by Budd, that would be used on this line at some point.

Car 1002 at Wilsonville. Now I will show you the interior.

One end of the train.

The WES has free wireless Internet aboard its trains.

The TriMet map in each car.

The other end of the train.

Westside Express RDC-3 1702, ex. Alaska Railroad 702, nee New York, New Haven and Hartford 129 built by Budd.

Our train at Wilsonville.

The Wilsonville station parking lot and a low level of fog.

The WES Maintenance Building.

This is an interactive sculpture created by Frank Boyden and Brad Rude which features bronze heads and a vehicle designed to represent the train and the variety of people who ride the line. Other stations along the route feature different art and sculptures.

The main operating cab and controls.

The B end with a cab car set of controls. I relaxed until departure time and was soon returning to Beaverton.

At the west end of Wilsonville, we passed an outbound train.

Scenes between Wilsonville and Tualitan.

Our route passed this nice lake.

Crossing a bridge.

Goinig under another freight line.

At the Hall/Nimbus station, we passed another outbound train before running the rest of the way back to the Beaverton Transit Center. It had been a great trip aboard the Westside Express, but I still had a pair of pictures to take.

Our train back at the Beaverton Transit Center.

The final picture at the Beaverton Transit Center. I walked over to the Red/Blue Line and waited about ten minutes for the next train, which took me back to the Days Inn where I had some breakfast then wrote this part of the story before checking out and taking a Green Line train back to Portland Union Station.

Amtrak Cascades 506 2/5/2010

I decided to pick up my ten-ride Pacific Surfliner ticket so I would have it when I returned home. While I was at the counter, I upgraded to Cascade Business Class, getting my seat assignment and my three dollars off Bistro purchase aboard the Cascades today. I went into the First Class Lounge and checked my e-mail before it was time to board, being in Car 1, Seat 4 on the inland side of the train, with a curtain blocking my view so could not take any pictures on this trip.

I watched my Jethro Tull "Live in Germany" DVD and we departed on time but were stopped by an open bridge over the Willamette River. Once it closed, we were off to Vancouver, Washington then north of there, we were slowed for track work on the way to Kelso-Longview, our next stop. The movie was "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". Our train was stopped at a red signal at Ostrander and we sat until the dispatcher crossed us over to the other track then made its way to Centralia, with the film ending north of there. I put on the rest of the second disc of "Fawlty Towers" as we proceeded to Olympia-Lacey then Tacoma.

Mount Rainier. The train made its way to Tukwila before making its final into Seattle, arriving at 4:04 PM {3:45 PM}, ending another enjoyable trip aboard the Amtrak Cascades.

Seattle 2/5/2010

Bob and Elizabeth picked me up and once we escaped from Seattle, took Interstate 90 out to the Snoqualmie Casino where we enjoyed a buffet dinner. Bob and Elizabeth then drove back to Seattle to see "South Pacific" at the 5th Avenue Theatre and I stayed at the casino and saw the Queensryche cabaret show which was excellent. Bob and Elizabeth picked me up after the show and we drove to their house in Lynnwood for the night.