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

Up on the Roof

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction. 


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

The 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
081915-crowdfundingmainBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.


Read more...

Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.


Read more...

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


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