FAST TRACK Amtrak Cascades JANUARY 2024 Update

Cascades Train
Dear climate activists in Washington State,
We're working to get better Amtrak Cascades regional rail transportation this year! We know rail is the lowest emitting mode of transport when people choose it, and we choose it when it's convenient, frequent, reliable, and with shorter trip times.


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Subject: Fast Track Amtrak Cascades Rail Projects
Dear (Senator or Representative, or Governor Inslee),

PLEASE FAST TRACK TWO PROJECTS FOR THE AMTRAK CASCADES by directing WSDOT to apply for Consolidated Rail infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants, and provide state matching funds in the 2024 Transportation Budget for critical improvements to the Amtrak Cascades program.
Fix the Point Defiance Bypass alignment change between Dupont and Nisqually. This is a crucial project that will fix a main bottleneck on the corridor, improving on-time reliability and shortening trip times.
2. Fast track a third track dedicated for passenger trains from Nisqually to Centralia, establishing a higher speed segment to eventually extend to Vancouver WA. This revision will also benefit rail freight movement and leverage the advantages of the eight new train sets expected to arrive in 2025 which should be operating on improved infrastructure and traveling at higher speeds. These projects can't wait. The legislature needs to make this happen in the 2024 session. WSDOT must use the plans from the Long Range Plan for Amtrak Cascades as the basis for grant applications for these projects. It's not necessary to wait for a new service development plan. We already have the service and the plan!

IT IS ALSO ESSENTIAL THAT THE RAIL ALIGNMENT CHANGE AT POINT DEFIANCE BYPASS IS PLANNED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE I-5 NISQUALLY HIGHWAY REVISION. The rail curve revision is essential for resilience, mobility, and emissions reduction. Rail is also vital to national security. We need a service plan from WSDOT that provides hourly service with a minimum of 13 trains per day and reliable, shorter travel times - 2.5 hours between Seattle and Portland and 2.75 hours between Seattle and Vancouver BC. These goals must be realized within the next decade. With the climate crisis upon us, we cannot delay. The service planning process is taking too long and WSDOT has established another 20 years (!) for completion of the Amtrak Cascades program that was supposed to finished in 2018. This timeline unnecessarily delays projects that can help us meet our 2030 climate mandates of reducing vehicle miles traveled and emissions. We need to be able to use federal funding opportunities while they are available. Please fund necessary rail infrastructure in the coming 2024 session.

Effective rail is a key to mitigating the climate crisis and we need to act now. As you know, rail transportation uses only a third or less of any kind of power as compared with cars and trucks, and even when using diesel fuel, rail generates only a third or less of the emissions of comparable highway traffic per passenger mile. Reducing emissions is a crucial part of preventing worst case climate scenarios, and we are already behind schedule.

Please invest in critical infrastructure for the Amtrak Cascades. For questions or discussion, please contact

Thank you for your attention.
      (Your name and legislative district or affiliation)



The timeline for completing the Amtrak Cascades program is way too long. We need reliability and shorter trips and more trains asap. 20 years is too late. We need excellent service asap.

By 2018 we were supposed to be doing 2.5 hours between Seattle and Portland, and 2.75 hours between Seattle and Vancouver BC. I don't want to wait 20 years for this route to be effective transportation.

I understand that WSDOT thinks 6 trains per day on the Amtrak Cascades is enough. It's not nearly enough. To be effective regional transit, we need at least double that number, and they need to be faster and on reliable schedules. We can be going 110 mph on this route and we should. That will require investment and we should be getting federal money to make it happen.

Rail is a climate solution, and we need to do much better on improving our networks for near-term emissions reduction and energy savings.

We need better regional mobility. It's an equity issue too because about 25% of Washingtonians don't drive cars and need options. Our highways are congested and dangerous. Please fund projects on our regional rail service - the Amtrak Cascades north-south corridor.

Encouraging more ridership will be economically and environmentally advantageous, and better utilizing our rail networks will mean a significant return on our investments.

Rail uses only 1/3 of any kind of energy and generates less than 1/3 greenhouse gas, as compared with equivalent highway transportation. Developing rail is a good way to conserve energy and also reduce emissions.

Letter Campaign by
Lael White
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Sponsored by
Mountlake Terrace, WA

Lael White is Co-founder and current President of Climate Rail Alliance, a WA state non-profit group of volunteer rail and climate advocates, and is promoting this content on behalf of the group.