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Draft 2019 State Rail Plan – Rail system issues and needs

Overall, Washington’s rail system provides a safe and efficient transportation option to support the movement of people and goods throughout the state. However, challenges must be addressed for the system to continue to function well as demand for rail transportation grows in the future. Though many of those challenges will be the responsibility of the private-sector rail stakeholders who own or operate over rail infrastructure, the public sector also has an interest in ensuring there is a viable system to support movement of people and goods.

The State Rail Plan outlines strategies for addressing the issues and needs facing today’s rail system. These strategies draw from the analysis of rail system strengths and challenges completed during development of this State Rail Plan, as well as input solicited throughout the effort.

Freight Rail

  • Class I railroads
    • Increasing capacity to meet demand
  • Short line railroads
    • Addressing deferred maintenance and optimizing for economic sustainability
    • River navigation (Columbia River system operations)

Passenger Rail

  • Long distance – Coast Starlight and Empire Builder
    • On-time performance
    • Equipment replacement
  • Intercity – Amtrak Cascades
    • On-time performance
    • Equipment replacement
    • Planning for future demand
  • Commuter – Sounder trains
    • Planning for future demand

Integrated Rail System

  • Rail system capacity
  • Multimodal connectivity for freight rail
    • Land use
    • Washington ports
    • First/last mile connectors
  • Multimodal connectivity for passenger rail
    • Station access
    • Schedule coordination
    • Shared passes
  • The rail system in communities
    • At-grade crossing safety and trespassing
    • Rail crossing conflicts
    • Energy products transportation
    • Corridor preservation
    • Diesel emissions
    • Fish passage
    • Resiliency

More details on these strategies are available in Chapter 6 of the State Rail Plan (PDF 19 MB).

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