Sponsored by Lane Powell

Pioneer rail line could return to rural Oregon

| Print |  Email
Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pioneer RailFreight trains clatter through Eastern Oregon all day, but ever since Amtrak discontinued the Pioneer line in 1997 because it was losing money as passengers dwindled, no passenger train has stopped in Pendleton, Ontario or Baker City. In fact, the Pendleton train station is now a museum. But that may change as Amtrak considers reinstating the Pioneer, a move that could give an economic boost to Eastern Oregon.

The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 requires Amtrak to re-evaluate several former train lines throughout the country, including the Pioneer. Amtrak will present the results of this study to Congress this fall.

A major aspect of Amtrak’s decision to reinstate the Pioneer, which started in Seattle and ended in Chicago, is whether or not there’s a renewed interest in riding the train. Throughout the country, ridership is up; 2008 was the sixth consecutive year of growth nationwide, with ridership on the Cascades line between Eugene and Vancouver, B.C., up more than 12%.

“If there’s ridership, the communities can benefit,” says Vernae Graham, Amtrak spokesperson. “It can stimulate all sorts of economic growth in those communities.”

Baker City and the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners have written letters to their representatives encouraging the reinstatement of the Pioneer. In October 2008, Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Greg Walden and two Idaho congressmen sent a letter to Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant supporting the reinstatement of the Pioneer.

Jake Jacobs, Baker City economic development manager, and Tracy Bosen, Pendleton economic development director, agree that the Pioneer would increase tourism, particularly to historical downtown areas.

“It’s going to require a lot of change at the terminals,” says David Richey, Ontario planning and zoning administrator. “There should be other types of transportation, taxi cabs and bus services.”

For some, riding the train would be an activity in itself.

“There would be a lot of people who would take a train ride, including myself, just to take the train ride,” says Jacobs. “It’s a recreational thing as well.”

Reinstating the Pioneer is more than nostalgia for a time when train stations were busy centers of communities. It’s a way for green transportation options to be extended east of the Cascades to rural Oregonians.

JENNY FURNISS
 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 RETIREDGuest 2013-09-09 17:29:31
THE "PIONEER" NEEDS TO BE REINSTATED AS THERE ARE MANY RESIDENCE OF THAT COULD USE THIS MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION, FOR PERSONAL TRAVEL, DESTINATION TRAVEL, STUDENT TRAVEL TO COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES AND FAMILY. THIS IS A SAFE WAY FOR MANY SENIORS TO BE ABLE TO VISIT FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND TOWNS AND CITIES.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Rooster Ridge Enterprise ownerGuest 2014-09-17 19:36:42
My wife and I are both farmers, and, somewhat retired. We would love to have the Pioneer reinstated as a means of travel for us. It is a much needed means to travel for young and old.

I know we would enjoy trips with our family, including grandchildren and friends.

My father was a Barber on the Southern Pacific and other trains in the midwest as a young man. He thoroughly enjoyed the
people he met, as well as, the trips. It was very classy.

We will get our bags packed and hope this does occur.

Sincerly,

Ken and Raegene
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Umbrella Revolution

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015

Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.


Read more...

Chronicling Gov. Kitzhaber's march to resignation

The Latest
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
021115-kitzhaber-jekaplan14-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Recapping a wild week featuring plenty of will he or won't he resign drama.


Read more...

Downtown flower shop readies for the Valentine's Day rush

The Latest
Monday, February 09, 2015
021015-giffords-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Gifford's Flowers brings family approach to PSU-area shop.


Read more...

10 quotes explaining crisis at Port of Portland

The Latest
Friday, February 20, 2015
022015 port portland OBM-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The ongoing labor disputes at the Port of Portland came to a head two weeks ago when Hanjin, the container port's largest client, notified its customers it would be ending its direct route to Oregon.


Read more...

Taking the lead in boosting Oregonians’ health and strengthening our economy

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 08, 2015
0108-injection-thumbBY CAMBIA HEALTH SOLUTIONS & OREGON BUSINESS COUNCIL | OP-ED

Businesses have a significant stake in the health of Oregonians. In fact, we cannot succeed without it. By committing to using our companies as levers for good health, we invest in our people, our business, our quality of life and our economy. 


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


Read more...

Transportation Fairness Alliance holds demonstration in Pioneer Square

The Latest
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
IMG 3367BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland's cab companies urged city hall for consideration as officials weigh new rules for Uber and other ridesharing companies.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS