Home Back Issues September 2009 Pioneer rail line could return to rural Oregon

Pioneer rail line could return to rural Oregon

| Print |  Email
Archives - September 2009
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

Shifting Ground

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Bans on genetically modified crops create uncertainty for farmers.


Read more...

Woman of Steel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Tamara Lundgren tackles the challenges—without getting trampled.


Read more...

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 11.17.21 AMMore than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.


Read more...

Knight Vision

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Travis Knight wants to release a movie a year. Can he pull it off?


Read more...

True Blood

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Antibiotics really aren’t magic bullets.


Read more...

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


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