Posted 11 June 2018 - 02:38 PM
There are actually quite a few routes possible but most of them don't make sense because of track speed or capacity constraints.
1. The old Oregon Trunk line via Bend, OR is nearly at capacity already but it has decent speed.
2. The ex Southern Pacific Mainline before the Cascade Subdivision line was built in the 1900s that goes via the People's Republic of Ashland. That line however is incredibly slow with mostly a 10-15 mph speed limit. However very scenic.
The issue that really plagues the northwest is that there really aren't that many rail lines in the region and the ones that are there are all running at capacity. You have Stevens Pass which is limited to two trains an hour by the tunnel so it's 24 trains a day. Then you have Stampede Pass which also is near capacity.
Moving further south you have the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle route via the North Bank of the Columbia River which is largely single tracked but incredibly busy.
Don't forget that the three busy BNSF routes then converge into two to cross the Rockies with one going via Glacier Park and another further south that partially runs over a regional railroad.
Across the river on the Oregon Side you have the Union Pacific mainline from Portland to the Overland route. Largely single tracked and incredibly busy.
Going into California you have the Oregon Trunk and inside gateway route of BNSF which connects to the old Western Pacific now UP at Keddie, CA. I think this line only sees eight or so trains a day. It's not a lot.
Further west we have the Cascade Subdivision ex Southern Pacific that the Starlight itself runs. An incredibly busy line that is bogged down with freights. Definitely the largest player of the southward lines.
Even further west we have the old Siskiyo Line which runs via the People's Republic of Ashland. Incredibly scenic route but now it's a shortline and the speeds are dreadfully slow. But there is a higher population along this route. It connects back into the main Southern Pacific line near Weed, CA.
Other lines going into the Northwest area include the Canadian National route into Vancouver which as everyone knows is exploding with Trains and majorly messing up the Canadian on a regular basis. Even though I think most of the new traffic comes from Prince Rupert on the skeena route. But I think everyone knows this line is at capacity of not over.
The next route east is the Canadian Pacific mainline which is approaching capacity if it isn't a little over. It's situation isn't as dire as the one on Canadian National.
You also have the former British Columbia Railway now Canadian National that I'm not really sure what uses this route. But I'm sure knowing the rest it's near capacity.
Formerly there was an additional route into the Pacific Northwest that I am sure the people at BNSF and Union Pacific are regretting that they didn't buy and that is the former Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension. Which in itself is a hot bed issue for debate on another thread. But that would have given another route over the Cascades which is badly needed. With the Port of Seattle being one of the closest to the Orient market it makes a lot of sense for why rail traffic is so tight here.
And don't forget the equally constrained line from Seattle to Portland that both class one railroads use. The big reason though for this traffic boom is trade with the Orient. And it's not going to go away. We need more sidings, double track, and more options in the area.
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Amtrak Routes I've riden: Silver Star(NYP-ORL), Silver Meteor(KIS-NYP),Carolinian(CLT-NWK), Palmetto (FLO-NYP), Acela(WAS-NYP), NE Regional(WBG-RVR), Pacific Surfliner(SAN-OSD), Piedmont(CLT-SAL), Crescent(NYP-CLT), Cardinal (WAS-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Cascade (PDX-SEA)
Steam Engines I've worked behind: Norfolk & Western No. 611; Nickel Plate Road No. 765; Southern Pacific No. 4449