Tag Archives: transportation

Media: Slow Train Coming (Cascadia Trains) / Vancouver Courier, Oct. 22, 2008

from the article by Robert Alstead, Oct. 22nd, 2008
from the Vancouver Courier article by Robert Alstead, Oct. 22nd, 2008

I was interviewed (and used loquacious quotes like “super lame”) for an article about train travel in the Vancouver Courier.

I am including my quotes and a few other snippets about my pet-rant, ergo: inadequate train travel between here and points south – as well as the photo by Dan Toulguet so it doesn’t disappear…

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Slow train coming

Robert Alstead takes a journey north by rail from California and wonders if Canada’s vanished passenger trains will once again carry us from coast to coast – Robert Alstead, Vancouver Courier Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dave Olson, who works in marketing for Gastown web design company Raincity Studios, travels six or seven times a year by train, on business and pleasure. “I don’t care for jet travel because of the incredible hassle and huge eco-footprint,” says Olson. Like many, he would take the train more if he could. “I like the pace and not having to drive, I like the rhythm and the scenery you normally don’t see, the rail yards and seashores and forgotten neighbourhoods. I find the train-riding experience somehow charming, even poetic and certainly creativity stimulating,” he says.

However, he complains Amtrak’s evening train south is hardly convenient for trips to Olympia or Portland, seeing as travellers must make an overnight stopover in Seattle. The Amtrak Cascades is also infrequent and often booked up. Amtrak does offer several “train buses” which Olson has found “super lame” with long border waits. He’d rather take the car if there are no seats on the train, although it did mean a $124 parking bill and a chipped windshield on a recent three-day trip to Seattle. “I know we would’ve enjoyed some work or playing cards or meditating on the train,” he rues.

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However, the Amtrak Cascades offers a good example of the difficulties faced in enhancing rail services.

For years, Amtrak has wanted to add a second roundtrip train between Eugene and Vancouver. However, congestion due to heavy freight movement on track this side of the border meant that a new siding needed to be added to allow trains to pass. For six years, Canadian and U.S. officials and railroad owners Burlington Northern Santa Fe had been unable to hammer out a deal over who should pay for the upgrade.

That means that a second Amtrak Cascades has been running only as far as Bellingham. Then in March of last year, spurred on by the onset of the 2010 Olympics, B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon announced that he was committing “up to $4.5 million” (reportedly 57 per cent of the upgrade cost) to build the siding.

In June last year, Premier Gordon Campbell marked the new service on the platform at King Street Station in Seattle by exchanging a large symbolic train ticket with Washington Governor Chris Gregoire in a photo op.

The siding was completed months ago. Amtrak is ready to go. But the service hit the buffers due to complications with the Canadian Border Services Agency, which reportedly wants $15,000 per day to clear the train.

Graham says the matter is in the hands of the B.C. government. A spokesperson for the province says it’s a federal government issue. Faith St. John, spokesperson for the CBSA, said she could not comment on the matter “because we are in discussions.” But she did say that “decisions to provide CBSA services at a new location or to expand current services take into account human resource requirements and the ability to provide security and service to the public.”

She could not say when the matter would be resolved.

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Update, the article “disappeared” from the internets (mostly), 

Print version of Slow Train Coming

Web version of Slow Train Coming [archived link via WayBack]

Rolling Elsewhere: Japan trains / various incl. Kanazawa and Yokohama

Roll around Japan with ambient train window views from various locations and rolling stock including the Thunderbird Limited Express towards Kanazawa and a Shinkansen service from Yokohama towards Osaka. In situ sound with no narration or drama rather a rather meditative “space cruise” looking as rice fields, towns and stations go past, and occasionally abstract from the speed, plus the whooshing of zipping through tunnels. That’s all. Enjoy the ride. 

Rolling Elsewhere: Kurobe Gorge Railway, Toyama, Japan (ambient, excerpts)

Rolling Elsewhere: Kurobe Gorge Railway, Toyama / Unazuki to Keyakidaira stations (ambient excerpts)

Ambient meditative scenes of riding the narrow gauge railway up Kurobe Gorge, one of the steepest canyons in Japan with spectacular scenery, choogling open air carriages, and hydro-electric dam with medieval style castle (really).

Not documentary per se – just as-it-is snippets, stitched loosely to capture the feeling of the trip from Onazuki Onsen station to Keyakidaira (end of the line) station way up in the Japan Alps.

Backgrounder: Kurotetu Railways (official) JNTO Magazine Travel Japan Visitor Kurobe Gorge Railway (wikipedia)

The Kurobe Gorge Railway (黒部峡谷鉄道株式会社 Kurobe Kyōkoku Tetsudō Kabushiki Kaisha), or Kurotetsu (黒鉄) for short, is a private, 762 mm (2 ft 6 innarrow gauge railway company operating the Kurobe Gorge Main Line along the Kurobe River in the Kurobe gorge area of Toyama Prefecture, Japan. The railway was built to serve the construction of the Kurobe dam for the Kansai Electric Power Company, which was completed in 1963; Kurotetsu was spun off from the power company in June 1971, but remains a wholly owned subsidiary. At its terminus, the Main Line links to Kurobe Senyō Railway, which is not open to general public.

 

Rolling Elsewhere: Joetsu to Tokamachi, Niigata, Japan (ambient, excerpts)

Scenes out the window on a train ride from Joetsu to Tokamachi in Niigata, Japan, including stops at various stations. No narration or whatnot. This is all, roll on pleasantly.

Transport card (English version) / Dave + Ryoko 4-20 Kekkon-shiki

transportation info card – English version – by Ryoko Fujita (Olson)

 

 

 

 

Japan: Transport Logistics to Locations in Okayama

Going Places in Okayama: Shrine + Resto + Farm

This dispatch shares the logistics of getting to and fro various important locations for the wedding festivities, specifically: Munetade Shrine, Fuyahei resto and Rural Caprine Farm goat farm by party via train and taxi.

Also, the general plan about what to expect, when to show up and how to dress. Plus an overview of activities to do with free time like museums (lots), hot springs, picnics, and day trips to Kurashiki (art and canals, Bizen (pottery and swords), Hiroshima (bombs), and Kyoto (everything).

Plus tips on staying in communication with all your new friends – both Japanese folks and the other international renegades.

Note: made for guests coming to DRO420 wedding festivities, so kinda specific to that, but perhaps useful otherwise… carry on

Rolling Elsewhere: Osaka to Okayama Japan by train (ambient, excerpts)

Just riding the Hikari Shinkansen train from Shin-Osaka to Okayama, Japan, looking out the window. No action, narration, or fanciness… just spacing out a window as various scenes flash past. Brief stops along the way, not necessarily arranged sequentially. 

Japan: Okayama Local Transportation Options

Getting Around Okayama by Streetcar, Bus, Taxi and Bicycle

In prep for a barrage of international renegade diplomats descending upon Okayama comes a few ways of getting around the city, as well as a finding other information about information, ya know for tourists.

Note: This was originally created for guests coming to #DRO420 wedding festivities, another dispatch shares specifics about getting to shrine (ceremony), resto (fancy lunch) and goat farm (party). In the meantime, please accept my humble offering. Ergo:

Okayama Transport primer with specific locations -> is station, x are hotels and o are shrine and resto

Japan: Okayama Station to Hotels, Wayfinding

Wayfinding from Okayama Station to Hotels

This dispatch shares wayfinding tips to get from the main train station, down a covered shopping arcade, over a canal, a stop for coffee at Stand (optional) and then to Koraku hotel (conveniently embedded with a post office and convenience store). Then passing statues and bars, to the Okayama View Hotel – located across from the Birkenstock store and ¥100 shop – and over to the Tenmaya shopping area and transit hub as needed.

Note: originally created for guests coming to #DRO420 wedding festivities. Carry on. 

Okayama Station to Koraku Hotel
Koraku Hotel to Okayama View Hotel

 

Japan: Riding Trains from KIX Airport to Okayama

Japan Train Tips

A lil video in which i provide semi-useful instructions for riding trains (specifically from Kansai /KIX airport to Okayama), buying tickets, redeeming JR Rail Pass and getting to platform… as well as mispronounce various words, stumble through “advice”, share poorly-made photos, and in general provide a vaguely amusing – if not entirely useful – primer.

Note: made for guests coming to DRO420 wedding festivities

Japan: KIX (Kansai/Osaka) Airport Tips and Logistics

Tips for KIX Airport 

A few handy annotations for pals coming to Ryoko and my wedding about what to do when you arrive at Kansai/Osaka (KIX) airport including: getting cash, finding food, hitting up toilet and a few other fun oddities up until you get to the train station (more on that later). 

Note: originally created for friends coming to #DRO420 wedding festivities, 2019

Rolling Elsewhere: West Coast by train and seaplane

Rolling from Jack London Square in Oakland, California through the night on Amtrak, look out at Portland, hop off Centralia, then from Provo to SLC on Watsatch Frontrunner train with a bit of poetry… then flying by Harbour Air seaplane from Victoria to Vancouver.

No narration or action, just ambient drifting.