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Amtrak Cascades Train Equipment

Amtrak Train
Five trains built by Talgo operate as the Amtrak Cascades.
The train equipment comprising the Amtrak Cascades is made by Spanish train manufacturer Talgo.

Train manufacturer
Talgo, Inc., is a company that designs and manufactures trains, much like Boeing designs and manufactures airplanes. Talgo trains have been in use throughout Europe for more than 50 years, where they often operate at speeds exceeding 100 mph.

Pendular technology
Our trains are different from typical passenger trains used in the United States and Canada. Talgo trains are articulated, which means the train cars operate as a set: adjacent cars share axles and wheels and function as a single, complete unit. This increases stability and improves safety and the smoothness of the ride. In addition, a gravity-based tilt system reduces travel times, while also assuring that passengers are comfortable and safe, even when traveling through curves at high speeds.

Our trains are well-suited for the Pacific Northwest
The use of Amtrak Cascades trains, which travel quickly around curves, is far less expensive than straightening the Pacific Northwest's curvy tracks through extensive (and expensive) reconstruction. In addition, Amtrak Cascades trains are light, comfortable, safe, reliable, and offer amenities local travelers desire. Washington has taken the first steps toward fast, frequent Amtrak service on the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor, stretching from Vancouver, B.C. to Eugene, OR. This is a long-term effort that requires substantial reductions in train travel times and increases in train frequency—key factors for people when they decide whether to drive their car or take the train.

Amtrak Cascades trainsets
A typical Amtrak Cascades train seats approximately 250 passengers and typically consists of 13 train cars, including one baggage car; two Business Class (first-class) coaches; seven standard coaches; one Bistro (cafe) car; one Lounge car; and one service car that provides onboard electricity for the other cars. Near the center of the train are four, wheelchair-accessible cars: a Business Class car, a standard coach, the Bistro car, and the Lounge car.

Train origins
The train car bodies were built at a Talgo plant in Spain. The car bodies were then shipped to Seattle where Pacifica Marine, a local company, completed final assembly. This helped Washington obtain world-class trains, while keeping tax dollars and jobs in the local economy.

More Amtrak Cascades trains on the way
When the current program of track, safety, and service upgrades is completed in 2017, one more Amtrak Cascades train will be needed to enable six round trips per day between Seattle and Portland.

Amtrak Cascades tail fins
The tail fins are purely aesthetic. Amtrak Cascades trains are sleek and low-slung. Current locomotives are seven feet taller than the train cars. The tail fins were designed and built onto the trains to make a smooth visual transition from the low trains to the taller locomotives. The tail fins make Amtrak Cascades trains look faster and more attractive.

Upgrades and modifications
WSDOT began a major interior renovation on all the trainsets used on Amtrak Cascades service in 2008. The first two phases of the $10 million project began with the refurbishment of both the Coach and Business Class cars, which were outfitted with new leather seating, updated interior color schemes and paneling, and new flooring, as well as improvements to the vestibules (sections between cars).

In early 2011, WSDOT and Amtrak installed onboard Wi-Fi service on all five Amtrak Cascades trainsets and began upgrading the audio/visual equipment.

A major renovation of the Bistro and Lounge cars is currently underway to upgrade the interiors, improve passenger mobility and seating, and help Amtrak staff provide more efficient customer service. These renovations are the final phase of the interior upgrades on the entire fleet begun in 2008. After more than a decade of use, the Bistro and Lounge cars are getting new floors, new paint, new upholstery, and re-finished surfaces. While each trainset's Bistro and Lounge cars are out of service for their upgrades, the rest of the trainset will luxuriate in a deep-cleaning spa-treatment of its own.

For more information about Amtrak Cascades trains and service, visit the Amtrak Cascades website.