Thursday, April 12, 2012

WSDOT, ODOT work toward continuous rail corridor goal

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Washington and Oregon are creating a new partnership and will develop a plan for managing passenger-rail service between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C., Canada, as one continuous rail corridor rather than two separate state operations. Transportation officials for each state signed an agreement as another step toward offering faster, more frequent Amtrak Cascades service. 



Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond and Oregon Director of Transportation Matt Garrett said they will create a corridor management plan to include governance, centralizing fleet management, scheduling, budgeting and capital planning, with a goal of improving passenger-rail performance that benefits riders and economies in both states. 



This summer, Oregon will introduce two new 13-car Talgo trains into the fleet, providing the opportunity for improving schedules during peak demand. WSDOT recently secured nearly $800 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to make improvements on the BNSF rail lines that will result in higher passenger-train speeds and more reliable performance. WSDOT will be purchasing eight high-speed locomotives that will substantially improve overall corridor service by 2017. 



With the ARRA funds, the goal is to add two daily Amtrak Cascades roundtrips between Seattle and Portland, for a total of six each day. The improvements are also intended to reduce travel times, as well as improve average on-time performance from the current 70 percent to 88 percent. 


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