Oregon commuters get first ride on historic RDCs

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TMTC 1701 and 1711 begin their first day of revenue service this morning at Wilsonville, Ore.
Alexander Craghead
WILSONVILLE, Ore. — Passengers on the Portland region's only commuter rail line stepped back in time on Monday as TriMet, the region's transit provider, placed two vintage cars into revenue service.

The cars are two self-propelled Rail Diesel Cars built by the Budd Co. in 1953, and numbered TMTC 1702 and 1711. TriMet bought the cars from the Alaska Railroad for $150,000 in 2009. Although the cars had been in passenger service in Alaska as late as 2008, converting them for operation on the agency's Westside Express Service between Beaverton and Wilsonville, Ore., required numerous modifications. These changes included an overhaul to the air brake system, installation of cab signals, event recorder modification, wheelchair access, and cosmetic changes to both the interior and exterior. Counting rebuild-related expenses, the combined costs for equipping the pair of cars totaled $550,000.

The cars will primarily be used as protection power on the commuter line. WES currently employs Diesel Multiple Units built by Colorado Railcar. The DMUs, however, have proven unreliable, and have often been taken out of service in their two years on the line. Prior to refurbishing the two RDCs, the agency hired buses to substitute for out-of-service DMUs, doubling end-to-end commute times and resulting in poor connections with regional transit partners at Wilsonville.
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