Amtrak Cascades Service Development Plan
Find details on our Amtrak Cascades Service Development Plan, which will provide paths to improve the Amtrak Cascades service over the next 20 years.
Developing a new plan
Much has changed on the Amtrak Cascades corridor since the last long-range plan was created in 2006. A refreshed plan that accounts for growth, operational, and social changes is needed to guide future improvements. The first phase of an Amtrak Cascades Service Development Plan (SDP) is underway now to create a blueprint for improving Amtrak Cascades service for the next two decades.
The Amtrak Cascades SDP will provide a summary of possible alternatives to improve the Amtrak Cascades service over the next 20 years. It offers a blueprint for future capital improvements and service changes and is at the core of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requirements for improving and expanding passenger rail service on the corridor. Preparing a SDP will improve our ability to compete for federal funds for future infrastructure and service improvements.
Preliminary SDP planning
In partnership with FRA and BNSF, we are starting the SDP process with a Preliminary SDP document that is focused on the portion of the current Amtrak Cascades route through western Washington between Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC. This service is not currently at full service levels because of the pandemic. On March 6, 2023, the number of daily trains returned to the levels in service in 2019, prior to the pandemic. By the end of 2023, two additional daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland will begin, in keeping with plans for added service that was deferred in 2017.
Preliminary SDP includes these tasks
- Intercity passenger travel demand research to identify travel trends likely to affect ridership and develop future scenarios that reflect these trends.
- Preliminary Purpose and Need development to explain the goals of the project and the needs it is intended to address.
- Service option development to define options for changing Amtrak Cascades to address future travel trends and analyze how the current route would need to be modified to accommodate them.
- Alternative development to forecast ridership for the service options under the different scenarios we developed, then use a screening process to determine which ones should be the focus of further SDP analysis.
The two primary end products of the Preliminary SDP will be:
- A Preliminary Purpose and Need statement to guide decision-making as planning work continues.
- A range of alternatives that will be the focus of further SDP analysis.
The Preliminary Purpose and Need statement
The Preliminary Purpose and Need statement is undergoing revisions based on feedback received by interested parties prior to February 24 deadline. An updated version will be posted once the changes are made.
Information in other languages
Work on the Preliminary SDP started in February 2022. Completion is anticipated by December 2023. A more detailed schedule will be provided as the project progresses.
Several partners are directly involved in developing, funding, or operating Amtrak Cascades. They will be closely involved in developing this Preliminary SDP, contributing their expertise to the work.
- Federal Railroad Administration
- Oregon Department of Transportation
- BNSF Railway
- Sound Transit
As development of the Preliminary SDP proceeds, we will seek input and feedback from:
- Current and future riders of Amtrak Cascades.
- Communities along the corridor, particularly those in marginalized communities.
- Elected officials.
- Federal, state, regional and local agencies.
- Advocacy and special interest groups.
We will be providing updates as we undertake the tasks involved in completing the Preliminary SDP. To be notified of these updates by email, sign up for our Amtrak Cascades Future Planning mailing list.