2019 Washington State Rail Plan
Serving freight and passengers, the rail system provides efficient transportation critical to maintaining our economy, environment and quality of life. We prepare a State Rail Plan every five years. Its purpose is to provide a framework for future actions that meets federal and state requirements.
Rail is an integral part of the statewide transportation system that keeps people and businesses moving. The 2019 Washington State Rail Plan comes during a time of change for rail transportation in the state, with the rail transportation system facing important near and long-term challenges that include:
- Meeting the increasing demand for passenger and freight rail services in Washington on the private rail network over which passenger and freight trains operate
- Developing more efficient and effective connections between rail and other modes of transportation
- Addressing issues related to the December 2017 Amtrak Cascades derailment at DuPont, WA
- Ensuring the economic sustainability of Washington’s public and private short line railroads that face infrastructure investment needs in order to preserve these important services to communities
Planning documents such as this represent a snapshot in the continuous improvement of the rail system in Washington. For example, the needs of the state’s rail program may change in light of upcoming transportation funding measures, changes in rail demands related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes in marine traffic on the Snake and Columbia rivers. These issues could have significant implications to the state’s rail system and WSDOT may need to perform a technical update as appropriate prior to the next five-year plan update cycle.
Highlights of the 2019 State Rail Plan
- Describes the rail system in Washington
- Highlights system benefits to the state
- Forecasts future freight rail volumes and passenger rail ridership
- Identifies system trends and needs
- Assesses station connectivity needs.
- Suggests strategies for addressing issues and needs
- Identifies potential improvements and investments to maintain and optimize freight and passenger rail
- Lists funding sources available for rail system investments