The Pioneer stops in Wyoming on its way west.
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Western United States|
|First service||7 June 1977|
|Last service||10 May 1997|
|Distance travelled||2,662 miles (4,284 km)|
|Service frequency||Three days per week|
|Observation facilities||Sightseer lounge|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Pioneer was a passenger train run by Amtrak from Seattle, Washington to Chicago, Illinois via Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; and other intermediate points.
The Pioneer began service in June 1977, initially operating as a Seattle - Salt Lake City train. The train's establishment restored passenger service to the Pacific Northwest mainline of the Union Pacific Railroad through southern Idaho and eastern Oregon, a route which had lost its two passenger trains in 1971. Service to points east was provided via a connection with Amtrak's California Zephyr. The trains connected at Ogden, Utah until 1983, and at Salt Lake City thereafter. When the Pioneer was equipped with Superliner passenger equipment, the train included through coaches for Chicago, carried on the California Zephyr east of Utah.
The train ran daily until 1995, after which the train ran thrice-weekly, departing Chicago on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and departing Seattle on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The Pioneer and Desert Wind were closely tied to one another, and met the same fate at the same time; both were discontinued in 1997. On 10 May 1997 the last Pioneer left Seattle for the trip to Chicago.
Possible return 
In accordance with the Passenger Rail Improvement Act of 2008 Amtrak evaluated the possibility of restoring service to the Pioneer and other discontinued long-distance routes.[dead link] Amtrak considered four options for a restored Pioneer, all of which would have through service to Chicago via the California Zephyr:
|Endpoints||Route||Estimated ridership||Revenues||Operating costs||Operating loss||Farebox recovery||Capital costs|
|Salt Lake City||Seattle||Rio Grande Route||102,000||$11.6m||$36.6m||$25.0m||31.7%||$373.9m|
|Salt Lake City||Portland||Rio Grande Route||82,000||$7.6m||$35.9m||$28.3m||21.2%||$370.5m|
According to the study the projected farebox recovery ratio was "significantly lower than the average fare box recovery for Amtrak long distance trains in FY2008 (51.8%). Fare box recovery for the two Seattle options (Options 1 and 2) is lower than all but one of Amtrak's 15 existing long distance routes, and the Portland options have a lower fare box recovery than any Amtrak long distance route." Amtrak projected lower ridership than in the mid-1990s owing to the proliferation of low-cost air travel between Seattle and Salt Lake City (particularly Southwest Airlines).
There are a least two caveats-differences--that would have to be made if the train were reinstated. One: Union Pacific has realigned the tracks at East Portland, at the east end of the Steel Bridge, so that there is no longer a direct connection between Union Station and UP's Sullivan's Gulch line, the Graham line along I-84. The train would have to do some extra switching and make a back-up move to access the route. Two: The track east of the Boise, Idaho, depot is out of service. Trains would have to bypass Boise, perhaps stopping at Nampa (for Boise passengers) and continuing on the present freight-only bypass.
- Amtrak National Timetable Spring/Summer 1992, National Railroad Passenger Corporation, 5 Apr 1992
- Amtrak National Timetable Spring/Summer 1996, National Railroad Passenger Corporation, 14 Apr 1996
- "HISTORY of the PIONEER". Retrieved 1 Aug 2010.
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2008, State of Oregon" (PDF). National Railroad Passenger Corporation. Nov 2008. Retrieved 9 Jan 2009.
- Amtrak (16 Oct 2009). "Pioneer Route Passenger Rail Study". Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- Video presents background on the Pioneer and tries to explain continued interest in the route.
- Advocacy website proposes restoration with routing via Cheyenne, Wyoming, Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado.