SALEM, Ore. – Two passenger trains commissioned by the state of Oregon are months behind schedule. The trains were due to arrive nearly two months ago and enter service this fall at a cost of $36 million. But they haven't even left the factory in Wisconsin yet.
An Amtrak Cascades train pulls away from the station in Salem.
This train is owned by the state of Washington, which plans to expand service there. That means Oregon needs to buy its own trains if it wants to maintain service along the route between Portland and Eugene. But talk about a late train. The new equipment isn't expected to enter service until next spring…up to six months later than originally planned. Shelley Snow of the Oregon Department of Transportation says there have been a number of delays at the Wisconsin factory where the trains are being manufactured.
For instance, an ODOT inspector discovered during an onsite visit that the new trains had no wi-fi. Snow says ODOT had not put it in the original contract and only added it later.
"And apparently that's a fairly large issue," SNow says. "So that's holding things up because they've got to get the wi-fi put in there."
Passengers board a Portland-bound Amtrak Cascades train in Salem. Photo by Chris Lehman
A spokeswoman for Talgo, the Spanish-owned company that's building the trains, says another reason for the delay is a slower-than-expected process to get federal approval to test the new trains.
UPDATE: In a previous version of this story, an Oregon transportation spokeswoman said WiFi was included in the original contract with Spanish train maker Talgo. That is not correct. The spokeswoman contacted us to say that ODOT had not put WiFi in the original contract and only added it later.
On the Web:
ODOT Rail Division: http://cms.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/pages/talgohome.aspx
Amtrak Cascades: http://www.amtrakcascades.com/default.htm
Talgo in North America:
Oregon's two new train sets are months away from completion at a Wisconsin factory. Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Transportation
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