In General


In General

Location / Name:
Beaverton OR, xxx County

WIlsonville OR, What's Here:
Westside Express Service

GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 503

Access by train/transit:
Trimet MAX Light Rail Blue Red Lines in Beaverton

The Scoop:

From Wikipedia: Track work began on October 23, 2006, in Wilsonville, and a ceremonial "ground-breaking" was held two days later in Tigard.

TriMet held a naming contest to choose a name for the new line, and in November 2007 it announced WES (Westside Express Service) as the winner.  By December of that year, construction on the rail line was 75 percent complete and included five new bridges and two rehabilitated bridges, and improvements to 14 miles (23 km) of track and 14 road crossings.  A distinctive feature of the line is the gauntlet track sections installed at the Hall-Nimbus, Tigard and Tualatin stations.  The feature allows P&W freight trains to swing clear of the high-level platforms at the stops, so that wider cars do not strike them.

In June 2008, the line was more than 90 percent complete, with all the track in place.  The four Colorado Railcar Diesel multiple unit (DMU) cars ordered for the line then arrived; a total of three powered DMU cars and one non-powered "trailer car" were tested on the route.  A ceremonial inaugural run for dignitaries and journalists took place on January 22, and public preview rides on January 30, ahead of a February 2, 2009, public opening.

WES trains run every 30 minutes between Wilsonville and Beaverton during morning and afternoon rush hours.  The scheduled one-way travel time is 27 minutes.  For its first 3 1/2 years of service, the WES line was located entirely within TriMet fare zone 3, but travel on WES required a TriMet "All-Zone" (three-zone) fare, rather than a one-zone or two-zone fare. However, effective September 2012, TriMet discontinued all use of fare zones, and WES fares consequently became identical to the fares on any other TriMet rail or bus line.  C-Tran all-zone day and monthly passes are also accepted as valid fare on WES.  P&W, which continues to run freight trains on the line, operates the commuter trains, and TriMet maintains them.

From a Trimet/WES PDF: WES COMMUTER RAIL - Background: A unique, historic travel corridor.  During the past 70 years, the north-south route ultimately chosen for the WES (Westside Express Service) Commuter Rail alignment has been used for freight service, but it was once home to two passenger lines.  Oregon Electric Railway ran one set of tracks along the alignment from Portland to Salem in 1908 and later expanded service to Eugene.  By 1914, Oregon Electric had 26 trains entering and departing Portland daily.  The rise of the automobile, however, diminished service and the railway discontinued passenger service by 1933.  In 1918, Southern Pacific Railway also operated “The Red Electric” on the route.  The steel trains were painted bright red and had three round porthole-like windows across the front.  At the height of operations, “The Red Electric” ran 32 trains entering and departing Portland everyday, but service ended in 1929.  Today, Portland & Western Railroad owns the freight line and, in a groundbreaking agreement, provides contract services to the commuter rail project that became WES.

Transportation limits and pressures: Over time, traditional travel patterns shifted in Washington County.  Rather than living in the suburbs and commuting to work in Portland’s downtown core, a significant number of people live and work within the I-5/Hwy 217 corridor.  From 1994 to 2000, the number of households in the corridor grew 34 percent faster than the rest of the Portland region, while the number of jobs rose at a rate 55 percent faster than anywhere else in the region.  Furthermore, corridor employment is expected to increase more than 40 percent by 2025.  At the same time, Washington County also is bound by geographic constraints that restrict transportation options.  Low mountains define the east and west sides of the corridor, and the Tualatin River and Fanno Creek run through the area.

Mar 19, 2009: The Type 4 MAX cars have been testing at night for about two months now.  They each need to have a couple thousand hours of break-in time before they can enter regular service.

The DMUs were build by Colorado Railcar Manufacturing before they went under.  They're powered by two 600hp Detroit Diesel engines, the same that are in Tri-Met buses.  They are direct-drive and don't have traction motors like regular locomotives.  This helps the same Tri-Met maintenance people who work on buses take care of these.

The street trackage is in Lombard Street in Beaverton.  It runs from Farmington Road, a.k.a. CP Farmington and also the junction with Portland & Western to the Beaverton Transit Center, roughly a half mile north.  The rest of the right-of-way is owned by Portland & Western; north of Tigard it uses the Tillamook District and through town and south of the Oregon Electric.  There are two gantlet tracks, one at Hall/Nimbus (which is in the city of Tigard) and one at the Tigard Transit Center on Main Street.  Tigard Transit Center is the only station with two tracks but only one also hosts freight trains so only it has a gantlet track.

As of 2010, this was the scoop: You might be interested to know that Portland, Oregon's TriMet (Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon) transit system acquired Alaska Railroad's RDC's 702 and 711.  The cars were used as backup for the Colorado Railcar-built DMU's of TriMet's 14-mile WES commuter rail line which operates over tracks of the Portland & Western RR between Wilsonville and Beaverton.  The WES schedule requires that all four DMU cars used in the service are needed in service each day.  If one of the DMU's were out of service, it was necessary to substitute buses, resulting in unhappy riders who were late for work.  With Colorado Railcar out of business, it was not possible to acquire a spare car, so TriMet purchased the pair of used RDC-2's.

These RDC's have had a hard life.  After 24 years as an Alaskan life line, they are pretty well worn out, and currently out of service.  TriMet is faced with the task of bringing them back to life at their Wilsonville shop.

Although TriMet claims WES ridership is only about half of expectations, I found that the trains were well filled.  As with many transit agencies, TriMet is dealing with budget problems, and threatening cuts in the WES service, which could result in an extra available DMU, and no need for the Budds.

The service/maintenance facility is at the south end of the line in Wilsonville, across from the station.

Andrew Robb
Bill Cronenberg
Jody Moore
Tom Smith
Stephen De Vight
Jeremiah Cox
Denver Todd

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:



The BUDD RDC cars......



  Way Before WES & Trimet :-)





  The Tualatin station - notice the gauntlet track for the commuter trains

Below we have one of the wayside signals north of the Tualatin station, we can also see the gauntlet track used to get the WES cars close to the platform, and the freight trains further away for extra clearance.


Taken from Boeckman Dr, we can see a WES car in the distance, as well as the signals for the crossovers prior to coming into the station.


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

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Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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last Modified: 29 Jul 2020