Draft 2019 State Rail Plan available for public review
Rail is an integral part of the statewide multimodal transportation system that keeps people and businesses moving. Serving freight and passengers, the rail system provides efficient transportation critical to maintaining our economy, environment and quality of life.
Every five years, the Washington State Department of Transportation prepares a State Rail Plan. The draft of the new State Rail Plan (PDF 19 MB) was put out for public comment – that comment period is now closed – and is being reviewed and finalized.
The Washington State Rail Plan comes during a time of change for rail transportation in the state, with the rail transportation system facing important near and long-term challenges that include:
- Addressing issues related to the December 2017 Amtrak Cascades derailment at DuPont, WA
- Meeting the increasing demand for passenger and freight rail services in Washington on the private rail network over which passenger and freight trains operate
- Developing more efficient and effective connections between rail and other modes of transportation
- Ensuring the economic sustainability of Washington’s public and private short line railroads that face infrastructure investment needs in order to preserve these important services to communities
Planning documents such as this represent a snapshot in the continuous improvement of the rail system in Washington. For example, the needs of the state’s rail program may change in light of upcoming transportation funding measures and effects from potential Snake and Columbia river dam breaching are still being assessed as this plan is being written. These issues could have significant implications to the state’s rail system and WSDOT may need to perform a technical update as appropriate prior to the next five-year plan update cycle.
About the State Rail Plan
The purpose of the State Rail Plan is to provide a framework for future actions that meets federal and state requirements.
The State Rail Plan:
- Describes the rail system in Washington
- Highlights system benefits to the state
- Forecasts future freight rail volumes and passenger rail ridership
- Identifies system trends and needs
- Assesses station connectivity needs
- Suggests strategies for addressing issues and needs
- Identifies potential improvements and investments to maintain and optimize freight and passenger rail
- Lists funding sources available for rail system investments
The final State Rail Plan is expected to be published in spring of 2020.