Portland to Seattle on the Cascades.
At noon today, I took Amtrak’s Cascades service from Portland up to Seattle, about a three-and-a-half hour ride. And it’s a nice ride … the scenery isn’t spectacular, but it is nice, especially the last hour when the train runs along the shore of Puget Sound.
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is an interesting landmark about a half hour before arriving in Seattle. The original bridge had a design flaw that caused it to twist violently in high winds.
There is spectacular black-and-white footage of this phenomenon which actually caused the bridge to collapse in 1940. The bridge was rebuilt and has had no problems since.
I’ve ridden the Cascade trains before and I’m sorry to say I really don’t care for them. It’s Talgo equipment and considerably lighter than traditional railcars. It also rides lower to the ground As a result–and I have to remind everyone here that I am by no means an expert at this stuff–it’s a loud and bumpy ride.
It’s an articulated trainset so there’s an open passageway between cars. As a consequence, it’s loud and especially so if you’re assigned a seat at the end of one of the cars. I also found it annoying that whenever we changed tracks or when another track merged with ours, a loud metallic CLANG when we passed over that spot. It’s also a rougher ride compared with the traditional rolling stock, especially the bi-lever Superliners, obviously because they are so much heavier than the Talgo coaches.
That said, I suppose I really can’t complain since we departed at noon on the dot and arrived just a couple of minutes behind schedule, but within the allowable margin. So we’re in the record books as “on time”.
Tomorrow I’ll be on the Empire Builder, which means my next post will be from Chicago on Friday.