How many more freight and passenger trains a day can we
expect in the next two decades?
Will more Amtrak trains make rail more convenient for commuters,
daytrippers and camera-toting tourists?
What does it mean for roadway drivers and pedestrians
when more goods move by train?
Through December 2, 2013, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) wants to hear from the public input about its draft Washington State Rail Plan.
The draft plan — which includes 5- and 20-year strategies for investing in passenger and freight rail — paints a picture of how rail movement is expected to change over time. It also frames issues and opportunities regarding safety, land use, reliable transportation and economic development. This, in turn, helps local and regional planners to prepare for the implications in our back yard.
Our region’s long-range transportation plan considers how to help more commuters travel to work (by road, car, bus, rail, vanpool, and avoid trips through telework), how to keep freight flowing (to our homes, stores, manufacturers and freight hubs), and how to keep the transportation system working efficiently. It’s cyclical: these local and regional issues then flow back into the state rail plan to address a whole range of interests, resulting in more informed policy and projects.
The state rail plan focuses on three types of passenger
rail service in Washington:
- Amtrak’s long-distance service, including the Seattle-Chicago “Empire Builder” line
- Interregional “Amtrak Cascades” service between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene, Ore supplied by WSDOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation
- Sound Transit’s commuter rail service between Everett and Lakewood
According to the plan, WSDOT will use $800 million in federal funding to provide two additional daily Amtrak Cascades round-trips between Seattle and Portland, improve on-time performance and reduce travel times. Sound Transit will also expand Sounder service in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.
Many of the state’s passenger rail stations serve multiple transportation modes and services, so the plan recommends that service providers coordinate schedules and co-locate parking to make passenger transitions as smooth as possible. The Amtrak Centennial Station in southeast Lacey already features a park-and-ride lot and stops for two Intercity Transit bus routes.
Other recommendations of the state rail plan include:
The state should:
Statewide rail stakeholders should:
WSDOT expects to complete the state rail plan in December 2013 and begin implementing in spring 2014. Visit the State Rail Plan for more information or click here to comment on the plan.
For general rail info visit WSOT’s Passenger Rail in Washington page.