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Rail Planning

   Workers constructing rail lines in the Pacific Northwest.
Strategic planning positions WSDOT to receive funding for improvements.

Recent Planning Efforts

State Rail Plan
The Washington State Rail Plan serves as a strategic blueprint for future public investment in the state’s freight and passenger rail transportation system. The Plan has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Washington Transportation Secretary.

Washington and Oregon Cascades Rail Corridor Plan
Washington State Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Transportation are working together to jointly manage the Cascades Rail Corridor. It is anticipated that this change will help deliver customer expectations, increase ridership, and develop intercity passenger rail service as a viable transportation choice.

Fleet Management Plan to identify strategies to maximize train equipment
WSDOT is developing the Fleet Management Plan (pdf 1.5mb), in partnership with ODOT, to maximize the optimal longevity of the Amtrak Cascades fleet. Rail equipment is expensive, and procurement takes a relatively long time from concept to service. Strategic planning through the Fleet Management Plan will save time and money by maximizing the performance of existing equipment, and determining the most expeditious way to deliver passenger service described in Washington and Oregon state rail plans. A draft report is anticipated in the fall 2014, and a completed plan by spring 2015. The plan is a federal requirement through the ARRA program.

Amtrak Cascades New Stop Evaluation – Auburn Vicinity
The Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to study the feasibility of an Amtrak Cascades stop at Auburn, and to conduct a market analysis of adding or changing stops on the route. This opportunity comes at a challenging time for the program: while we are implementing $800 million in capital projects that will greatly improve the service, we are also facing increasing operating costs that will strain our budget. It is against this backdrop that the New Stop Evaluation – Auburn study provides an analysis of a potential Auburn stop based on benefits and disadvantages for the service, corridor-wide. This approach is a first step toward establishing a transparent process for evaluating the many proposals for new stops. This technique will empower decision makers to consider how proposed changes to the service will affect the state’s goals to increase ridership and manage costs. The New Stop Evaluation - Auburn Folio highlights the key findings.

The scope of work was a collaborative effort of city of Auburn and WSDOT. The city of Auburn, Sound Transit and Amtrak provided guidance as members of the study technical team. This final report summarizes findings from the technical analyses completed as part of this effort.

Cascades Corridor Station Design Criteria
As part of its ongoing efforts to reduce costs and increase ridership on Amtrak Cascades, WSDOT is considering strategies to minimize station costs which account for a significant portion of total operating costs. Existing station design guidelines have been developed by Amtrak and other entities to fit a wide range of passenger rail services. Consequently, existing design criteria call for facilities that exceed the needs of WSDOT customers and, therefore, result in unnecessary additional costs for Washington taxpayers. The new guidance developed by Jacobs Engineering incorporates a review of industry standards as well as original research to create guidelines that are specific to the needs of Amtrak Cascades customers. This will help WSDOT distinguish between sizing and service elements required by its customers and extras that could be implemented by WSDOT’s partners if they are willing to assume the costs of construction and ongoing maintenance.

The station design guidance was released in December 2012. Following completion of the final Washington State Rail Plan in December 2013, WSDOT will review comments received and will consider updating the design criteria document.


Previous Plans



Want to ride the train? Visit http://www.amtrakcascades.com/ to plan a trip, view schedules, and make a reservation. For fares and reservations, you can also call 1-800-USA-Rail.