Posts Tagged ‘Washington Department of Transportation’

Washington to Study Cross-State Service

May 9, 2019

The transportation budget for Washington State includes an authorization to conduct a study of cross-state rail passenger service.

The proposed service would link Seattle and Spokane, Washington, via Ellensburg and Yakima.

The report is due by June 2020 and will evaluate route options, potential ridership, equipment needs, and operator options.

The study was pushed by All Aboard Washington, which had sought but failed to win authorization of the study last year. The study is expected to cost $250,000.

Neither Ellensburg or Yakima is currently served by Amtrak although they’ve had service in past year from either the Empire Builder or the discontinued North Coast Hiawatha.

Pacific Northwest Eyes Ultra High Speed Rail

January 28, 2019

State and provincial governments in the Pacific Northwest continue to discuss a high-speed intercity rail passenger route between Vancouver and Portland via Seattle.

The states of Washington and Oregon along with the Canadian province of British Columbia are cooperating to study routes, stations, equipment, and costs of a service that could have a top speed of 250 miles per hour.

The study is looking at conventional rail, maglev and hyperloops.

High-speed rail is among the seven long-term transportation goals of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

Legislation recently introduced in the Washington legislature would provide funding of $3.25 million to establish a “new ultra high-speed ground transportation corridor authority with participation from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.”

That is defined as a 250 mph speed for passenger trains.

The authority named in the legislation would conduct outreach and preliminary environmental review, including “a robust community engagement process to refine the alignment for communities and businesses relevant to the ultra high-speed corridor” between Portland and Vancouver.

The Washington Department of Transportation would be mandated to provide a report to the governor and state legislators that includes “an assessment of current laws in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia related to an ultra high-speed ground transportation corridor, [and to] identify any laws, regulations or agreements that need to be modified or passed in order to proceed with developing an ultra high-speed corridor, and summarize the results from the community engagement process.”

Amtrak Wants Cascade Route PTC Turned On ASAP

January 15, 2018

Amtrak has told the departments of transportation in Oregon and Washington that that it wants positive train control tested and implemented on the Seattle-Portland route “as soon as possible.”

During a legislative hearing in Washington state last week, Amtrak Senior Government Affairs Manager Rob Eaton said sensors and radio links trackside, on locomotives and on a central server still need to be integrated.

“The testing and interaction of all three of these elements will take place during the second and third quarters of the year, after which PTC will be placed into operation,” he said.

Many believe that had PTC been in operation that derailment of a southbound Cascades Service train could have been avoided.

Three passengers died in the wreck, which authority had linked to the train going 78 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone near Olympia, Washington.

The train was traveling on the first day of revenue service on the Point Defiance bypass route.

Eaton said implementing PTC is complicated by the fact that three different railroads own sections of the route, including BNSF, Union Pacific and Sound Transit.

During the hearing Amtrak officials said PTC is not in operation on any Amtrak route west of the Mississippi River.

Washington state Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar testified that there was not undue pressure to launch high speed rail service before Amtrak locomotive engineers and crews had become qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass route.

“There was no deadline for initiating service,” Millar said, but did say there had been deadlines for completing construction on track and signal upgrades

Millar said those were not a factor in the December derailment.

WSDOT Adding Cascade Service

October 6, 2017

The Washington Department of Transportation is adding two additional Amtrak Cascades Service round-trips between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, effective Dec. 18.

The increased service bring service in the corridor to 12 trains every day.

“People can get where they’re going sooner, with more schedule choices and better reliability,” said Ron Pate, WSDOT Rail, Freight and Ports Division director.

WSDOT also said the travel time of Cascades service will be cut by 10 minutes to 3 hours and 20 minutes due to the rerouting of trains between Tacoma and Olympia, Washington, and the upgrading of tracks and signal systems.

The new route takes trains on an inland corridor parallel to Interstate 5 through Tacoma, Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and DuPont. It eliminates a major chokepoint for passenger trains near Point Defiance in Tacoma and separates them from freight trains that will continue to use the old – but scenic – waterfront route.

WSDOT said it has invested nearly $800 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to offer these new schedules.

“WSDOT worked closely with many partners over the last six years to prepare for these new schedules. Dec. 18 marks a major milestone for passenger rail service in the Pacific Northwest,” Pate said. “While the scenic beauty of the Point Defiance route can’t be denied, we know passengers will appreciate the ability to make easier, and more reliable, day trips between Seattle and Portland. Spectacular water views are still available for passengers between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.”

The new schedule will see trains, pulled by WSDOT’s new Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives, leaving both Portland and Seattle every two to three hours. The first trains will depart Seattle at 6 a.m. and Portland at 6:20 a.m. The latest trains between the two cities will leave at 7:25 p.m. from Portland and 7:45 p.m. from Seattle. Station stops between the two cities include Tukwila, Tacoma, Olympia/Lacey, Centralia, Kelso, and Vancouver, Washington.

Amtrak Cascades also will continue to run daily trips to Vancouver and Eugene, Oregon, serving 18 cities in the corridor.

December’s schedule changes will find later departures for some trains between Portland to Eugene to better connect with trains coming from Seattle, and to better meet passenger needs in Oregon.