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Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT's) current draft of its Service Development Plan (SDP) for the Amtrak Cascades is a "Service Under-development Plan".

Just when federal support is finally available, WSDOT is derailing decades of work to design a faster, more reliable system. 

We hope you will join us in taking action - submitting a testimonial/comment to WSDOT AND sending a letter to Legislators through Action Network. Please let us know the ways you've contacted policymakers and WSDOT by leaving feedback at the bottom of this page. And please let us know any replies you get!


Our Message to WSDOT & Legislators:

The strategy for making rail competitive with driving is simple: shorten the trip times and provide frequent, reliable service.

  • 2.5 hour trips between Seattle and Portland and 2.7 hour trips between Seattle and Vancouver, BC are the goals that make train travel competitive with driving. 
  • These shorter trip times have been the north star for progress since 1991 and affirmed as recently as the 2019 State Rail Plan.
  • These are only possible with the addition of dedicated passenger track where our new 125mph capable trains can reach speeds of 110mph.  

Instead of updating and implementing the plans to finally deliver on this promise, WSDOT has unilaterally and arbitrarily kneecapped the Amtrak Cascades.
This underhanded move - if allowed - will be the nail in the coffin for a common sense, higher speed intercity passenger rail in Western Washington.
Instead of Acela-like service, Amtrak Cascades trains will remain slow and unreliable, on freight-clogged tracks and never able to compete with driving. 

WSDOT's excuse is that "the Ultra project will take care of this." That's foolish!
Even if you support the UltraHSR project:

  1. At >10x the price, $150 BILLION for new corridor and ~90 miles of tunnel, the Ultra project might never get built.
  2. IF Ultra does get built, it is 2-3 decades away. That does NOTHING to alleviate climate emissions, congestion or i
    mprove mobility when we need it, i.e. ASAP!
  3. The UltraHSR project doesn't have a corridor picked, but we know that trains like these do not stop often. In fact, they are likely to serve as few as 1-5 communities in WA state. 
  4. In contrast, the Long Range Plan charts a path to deliver these shorter trip times and still serves all 14 communities from Vancouver, BC to Portland, OR. (18 altogether Vancouver, BC to Eugene, OR.)

Once WSDOT's Service Development Plan (SDP) is finalized and goes to the Federal Railroad Administration, there's no going back. The SDP will define what improvements the Federal government's Corridor ID program will support for decades to come. 

That's why Solutionary Rail and our allies are seeking hundreds of comments, as well as letters to WA state Legislators. We must demand that WSDOT's plan KEEP the goals and vision that make the Amtrak Cascades a viable option to driving. This "Service UNDER-Development Plan" cannot be allowed to replace the Long Range Plan for the Amtrak Cascades.

This is an Emergency - WSDOT is cutting off public comments on April 18.
Together, let's stand up for and demand the higher speed rail we need and deserve. 

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  • Amy Morrison
    published this page in Take Action 2024-04-02 14:35:22 -0700
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