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High-Speed Rail Projects

Projects Complete

Logo for Stay Back from the Tracks safety campaign
Please visit our Stay Back from the Tracks page for tips on train safety near tracks.

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 has completed delivery of 20 critical rail infrastructure projects 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 was undertaken to increase service reliability;reduce travel times; and add two more Amtrak Cascades round trips between Seattle and Portland; for a total of six. Several of the projects were recognized with national, state and local awards .

Use of new station and bypass route on hold due to Dec. 18 derailment

Construction work on all 20 projects is complete, but use of the new Point Defiance Bypass route and the new Amtrak Cascades Tacoma Dome Station are on hold for the foreseeable future due to the Dec. 18, 2017, derailment on the first day of new service. Amtrak Cascades trains continue to run using the previous route and Tacoma travelers will use the previous Amtrak station, 1001 Puyallup Ave. In addition, the daily train scheduled has returned to four daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland.

Enhancing rail safety

This set of rail projects improved track quality, eliminated track defects, and upgraded 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. A number of the projects in Washington state were designed to relieve 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 purchased eight new passenger train locomotives, designed and built in the United States. This "next generation" rail equipment features 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 invested nearly $800 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds to deliver critical rail infrastructure improvements that will expanded travel choices and fostered 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.