PORTLAND-- If you ride Amtrak your next trip in the Northwest could be on board a brand new state-of-the-art train.
The State of Oregon has purchased two new Talgo trains for the Amtrak Cascade line running between Eugene and Vancouver British Columbia. The trains were on display for a public sneak peek Friday morning at Union Station.
The trains were paid for with federal and state funding and feature bike storage a bistro and dining car, business class seating and Wi-Fi.
"This is brand new, in that it's a digital train,” said Gary Young of Amtrak. “It has Wi-Fi in the entire train, even in tunnels." Each new 13- car train seats 286 passengers. Keeping in the Cascade Corridor tradition of naming train after local mountains, the new trains are called the Mt. Jefferson and the Mt. Bachelor.
The Oregon Department of Transportation said the new trains will boost service and relieve pressure on the five existing trains operating in the corridor. Washington state currently owns three trains and Amtrak owns two.
The new trains are part of an effort to promote rail transportation in Oregon’s Interstate-5 corridor. Nationally Amtrak ridership is growing by about 1 percent.
Ridership on the Cascades line have grown dramatically in the last several years, with Portland ranking as the 16th busiest Amtrak station in the country, according to the Brooking Institute. But a recent Seattle Time report said ridership on the line fell four percent in 2013. The newspaper suggests competition from low fair startup Bolt Bus may be driving the declines.
The Jefferson is schedule to head to a Seattle maintenance facility and will be in service soon afterwards.
Eric Heartquist and Cornelius Swart contributed to this report