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Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Laura Kingman, marketing, communications manager, state rail and marine, 360-705-7904 (Olympia)
Steve Pierce, communications director, 360-705-7076 (Olympia)
John Sibold named Cascade Corridor director
OLYMPIA – 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., as one continuous rail corridor rather than two separate state operations. Transportation officials for each state signed an agreement today 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.
Hammond and Garrett also announced the selection of John Sibold to fill a new position of Cascade Corridor director. Sibold has been the rail and marine director at the Washington State Department of Transportation since August and will continue to focus on improving the reliability of passenger-rail service and managing the state’s freight lines.
“John will help improve customer service along the corridor and maximize the economic benefits of reliable rail travel that is on-time, fast, safe and affordable,” Hammond said. “More and more people realize that passenger rail is convenient, affordable and a good alternative to automobiles.”
Ridership continues to increase. During the past 10 years, Amtrak Cascades ridership has risen 51 percent to nearly 850,000 passengers in 2011.
“One of John’s immediate tasks over the next six months will be to develop a new plan for managing the rail corridor in full partnership with Oregon and in consultation with British Columbia,” Garrett said. “We anticipate a plan that leads to cost savings, greater efficiency between our states, improved contract management with equipment and service providers, innovative service improvements and coordinated delivery of federal projects.”
Sibold will also be working with U.S. and Canadian border services on the implementation of a new customs pre-clearance program to reduce the delays to passenger trains crossing the border. He will also continue to build partnerships and a shared vision with British Columbia on the rail corridor.
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 (pdf 204 kb) from the current 70 percent to 88 percent.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the passenger-rail business, given that rail ridership is going up and we have federal dollars to make system improvements,” Sibold said. “Our goal in all that we do as partner states, and as we work with Amtrak, BNSF and Talgo, is to meet customer expectations for service.”
Sibold worked for the Port of Bellingham as the director of aviation and marine service, for WSDOT as the director of aviation, and for Alaska Airlines as a customer service manager.
Hyperlinks within the news release:
• Passenger-rail service www.wsdot.wa.gov/rail
• Rail corridor www.wsdot.wa.gov/Rail/Maps.htm
• Amtrak Cascades www.AmtrakCascades.com
• Ridership www.wsdot.wa.gov/Rail/PerformanceReports.htm
• American Recovery and Reinvestment Act www.recovery.gov/About/Pages/The_Act.aspx
• On-time performance (pdf 204 kb)
• System improvements www.wsdot.wa.gov/Rail/highspeedrail.htm
• Steve Pierce email Steve.Pierce@wsdot.wa.gov
• Laura Kingman email Laura.Kingman@wsdot.wa.gov
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