Wednesday, October 04, 2017

WSDOT expands Cascades services

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The Siemens SC-44 Charger that will power some WSDOT/Amtrak Cascades trains. The Siemens SC-44 Charger that will power some WSDOT/Amtrak Cascades trains. Washington State Department of Transportation

Ahead of the year-end holidays, the Washington State Department of Transportation is starting two additional Amtrak Cascades daily round-trips between Seattle and Portland.

Beginning Dec. 18, extra morning and evening trains will run in both directions for a total of 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.

This permanent change to the Amtrak Cascades schedule, the department said, will be cut travel time by 10 minutes to 3 hours and 20 minutes per the rerouting of trains between Tacoma and Olympia 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.

The agency, which operates Cascades services on behalf of Amtrak, said it 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, B.C., and Eugene, Ore., serving a total of 18 cities on 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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