The Westside Express (WES) Commuter Rail
is an extremely unique DMU commuter rail that runs 8 round-trips at half-hour intervals each rush hour from Wilsonville (where the yard and maintenance facility is) up to Beaverton. The line accepts regular all-zone TriMet fares including day passes. Three trains or cars are needed for this service and they pass just north of Wilsonville and at Tigard Station. The line is owned by TriMet and operated under contract by the Portland & Western Railroad whose tracks the trains run on with two (or three for the RDC) person crews consisting of an engineer and conductor since the line is a genuine railroad. Unlike every other newly built modern commuter rail line the line uses only Hi-Level platforms to allow level boarding with the DMUs and gauntlet track at the three intermediate stations so freight trains can pass with wider clearances and not sideswipe the platforms.
The railroad line opened in 2009 after severe cost-overruns when Colorado Railcar, whom was manufacturing the railcars, went bankrupt mid-order. TriMet ended up bailing them out in order to have their order of just three Aero DMUs and one non-powered Aero control car delivered. These are the only single-level DMUs and non-powered car with a control unit ever delivered by Colorado Railcar and are FRA compliant. Their front ends have no connecting door, just a full length cab that looks like one on a locomotive. Their A-end controls as well and cars routinely operate as singles. When the system opened all three DMUs had to be in service every weekday (one also pulling/pushing the non-powered control unit) which created major problems for maintenance and when a DMU broke down this resulted in much slower bus service to cover. With no other manufactures of new FRA-compliant DMUs available TriMet turned to the second-hand market and bought an RDC-2 (#1702) and RDC-3 (#1711) from the Alaska Railroad that are wonderful historic art-deco gems. These cars were built for the New Haven Railroad originally in 1952 (#1711) or 1953 (#1702) as #121 and #129. RCD-3 #1711 became Penn Central #82, Amtrak #36 and Connecticut DOT #36 before ending up in Alaska as #711 in 1986. RDC-2 #1702 history is Penn Central #96 and SEPTA 9170. (Train Web Alaska Railroad Roster
) They are both ex Coach-Baggage cars and the former baggage ares have been turned over to bike storage (with straps) and wheelchair space. The finally interesting feature of the RDCs is they are not boarded at the normal doors over the traps and instead the former and wider baggage door on each car (the regular doors can't handle a wheelchair for example) is manually opened at each station stop.