February 2, 2020

AAWA Leads Rail Caucus Meeting in Olympia

All Aboard Washington led Wednesday’s Rail Caucus meeting at the request of its co-chairs, who were busy participating in floor debates. Hosted by the Farm Bureau, the meeting featured numerous topics, including WSDOT’s commitment to its grain train program and the challenges of funding new projects like high-speed rail. Kudos to Luis and Lloyd for helping to facilitate another important conversation on rail in Washington!

Representatives Andrew Barkis (R-2) and Bill Jenkin (R-16) took time to step out of their committee meetings and recognize the Rail Caucus for its hard work. Rep. Jenkin in particular was thankful for AAWA’s efforts to promote East-West passenger rail services via the Stampede Pass line, which would serve his constituents in the Tri-Cities.

Regarding Amtrak Cascades, Ron Pate from the WSDOT Rail, Freight, and Ports Division announced that the agency is currently in negotiations for new equipment to allow for service along the Point Defiance Bypass. He emphasized that WSDOT’s first priorities are safety, reliability, and the maintenance of performance outcomes. Expect more details to emerge next month.

AAWA agrees with WSDOT’s priorities and urges all parties involved in the equipment procurement process to make decisions that best benefit the people who rely on Cascades. We believe competitive travel times, frequency, and reliable on-time performance are key to maximizing the value of our investment in Cascades. WSDOT should not accept equipment that delays reopening the Point Defiance Bypass, or which impacts the time savings and on-time reliability of Bypass operations.