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High-Speed Rail Projects

Logo for the Stay Back from the Tracks railroad safety campaign
Testing of tracks and signals using high-speed trains will begin in mid-January through February. More information is available on the track and signal testing page

Workers building new tracks using concrete ties
Modern railroad tracks are built using concrete ties rather than wood.

One of the projects partners with the City of Seattle to renovate King Street Station
Seattle's King Street Station underwent a nationally honored complete renovation and seismic upgrade. WSDOT and several partners contributed to the project.

WSDOT is delivering critical rail infrastructure improvements to improve passenger rail travel choices, preserve the ability to move freight and foster economic growth across our state. The Cascades High-Speed Rail Program (pdf 2mb) consists of 20 projects that will increase service reliability and add two Amtrak Cascades round trips between Seattle and Portland; for a total of six.

Track our progress

As of February 2017, 14 of the 20 high speed rail projects have been completed. Check out the latest progress report on our project progress poster (pdf, 499kb).

Enhancing rail safety

This set of rail projects will improve track quality, eliminate track defects, and upgrade wayside horns along the corridor to direct audible warnings toward cars and pedestrians at railroad crossings. Electronic upgrades will help prevent signal failures and set the stage for 21st century train control technology.


Relieving rail congestion

The same way highways jam up when there are too many cars, rail lines jam up with too many trains. Larger, slow-moving freight trains usually can pull over onto another track to move out of the way of faster passenger trains, but not always. There are a number of projects in Washington state aimed at relieving congestion by building bypass tracks or passing lanes or by extending siding tracks.

Building American-made locomotives

In order to meet the ever-increasing demand for more rail service and boost the rail manufacturing industry, Washington state is purchasing eight new passenger train locomotives, designed and built in the United States. This "next generation" rail equipment will feature better fuel efficiency, added passenger comfort, travel conveniences and safety upgrades.

Upgrading passenger stations

As the demand for reliable passenger rail travel increases, stations are being expanded and refurbished to serve growing numbers of passengers and to provide them with enhanced security, comfort and timely information.


WSDOT is investing nearly $800 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds to deliver critical rail infrastructure improvements that will expand travel choices and foster economic growth across our state.

Program Outcomes

  • Expand and improve Washington's Amtrak Cascades service between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Two additional daily round trips between Seattle and Portland, for a total of six.
  • Improved on-time performance and schedule reliability.
  • Shorter travel times.
  • Develop the passenger rail corridor for future growth.

Planning for the future

Long-range planning serves as a strategic blueprint for future investment in Washington's freight and passenger rail network.