Passenger rail in Washington


August 2020
2019 Washington State Rail Plan

The 2019 Washington State Rail Plan focuses on both freight and passenger rail in Washington state by analyzing existing rail systems, identifying trends, outlining suggested strategies and setting forth an investment plan for infrastructure and equipment.

July 2020
Update on Amtrak Cascades service

WSDOT shares a blog post with information about Amtrak Cascades service, including the effects of reduced ridership as a result of the pandemic, train equipment status, and the latest update on returning to the Point Defiance Bypass.

August 2019 update
WSDOT awarded $37.5 million federal grant for train equipment

WSDOT received notice in August 2019 that it was awarded a $37.5 million Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grant to procure at least three sets of passenger rail cars for the Amtrak Cascades service. The grant is administered by the Federal Railroad Administration and will cover 50 percent of the costs for the new equipment. Insurance proceeds from the 2017 derailment in DuPont and some state funds will be used to fund the remaining 50 percent.

WSDOT plans to procure the new passenger train equipment as part of Amtrak’s 2019-20 national equipment replacement contract. By participating in this national procurement process with other states that sponsor passenger service, WSDOT will be able to leverage the buying power of both Amtrak and other states. The new passenger rail cars are expected to be delivered from the selected manufacturer in the mid-2020s.

In the interim, prior to delivery, Amtrak is working to identify temporary passenger equipment to replace the Talgo 6 train sets currently in service. This is consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board recommendations following its investigation of the 2017 derailment.

The award of this grant will allow for the replacement of the WSDOT-owned Talgo 6 trainsets, including the two currently in service and the one lost in the derailment. The new modern train equipment will help increase ridership and ticket revenue by improving reliability, comfort and capacity on the Amtrak Cascades system that connects 18 cities between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon.

Tacoma passengers should use Puyallup Avenue station

Due to the Dec. 18, 2017,  derailment, neither the new bypass route or new station in Tacoma's Freighthouse Square are being used for the foreseeable future. Travelers in Tacoma can catch Amtrak Cascades trains at the previous station, 1001 Puyallup Ave.


Amtrak Cascades overview

The Rail, Freight, and Ports Division oversees the management of the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service along the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor , one of 11 federally designated rail corridors in the United States.

Amtrak Cascades train service began in 1994. WSDOT is responsible for train operations; budgeting; performance tracking; local, regional, state, and national program coordination; working with the freight rail partners that own the railroad tracks; public outreach; and marketing activities.

The Amtrak Cascades service operates over 4,000 trains annually with daily stops in 18 Pacific Northwest cities. This service includes:

Amtrak Cascades data
Amtrak Cascades has operated over 20 years. More than 800,000 passengers rode Amtrak Cascades in 2018. Farebox recovery, the amount of operations funding provided by ticket revenues, rests at 63 percent. View the statistics .

Amtrak Cascades is funded by ticket sales and sponsorship by WSDOT and ODOT.

Contact Us
Rail, Freight, and Ports Division 
PO Box 47407 
Olympia, WA 98504-7407