How we manage the trains

Amtrak Cascades

WSDOT’s Rail, Freight, and Ports Division oversees the management of the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service along the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor, one of 11 federally designated rail corridors in the United States. Through the management of  partnerships, budgets, performance goals and customer service needs, WSDOT is able to provide passenger service that meets state requirements and passenger expectations. 


Corridor Management

The corridor is 467 miles long; 300 miles in Washington, 134 miles in Oregon, and 33 miles in British Columbia. Operating Amtrak Cascades trains requires functional partnerships between Washington, Oregon British Columbia Amtrak , four railroads, international customs and border control agencies and a train manufacturer.

  • WSDOT and ODOT administer and pay for the service. Amtrak runs the service via a contract with states.
  • BNSF Railway, Union Pacific and Sound Transit own the various sections of tracks used by Amtrak Cascades trains
  • BNSF dispatches the Amtrak Cascades trains in Washington; Union Pacific dispatches trains in Oregon; Canadian National provides dispatching in British Columbia
  • Trainset manufacturer Talgo and Amtrak maintain the train equipment

Business Model

Under the PRIIA 209 legislation, the states of Washington and Oregon now fully fund the Amtrak Cascades rail service, along with ticket revenue. No federal funding is available. WSDOT has defined four core focus areas for the Amtrak Cascades business model used for investments and future planning:

  • Improve customer service.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Increase revenue.
  • Reduce taxpayer subsidies.

Faster U.S./Canada Border Crossing with Pre-Clearance 

WSDOT is working with Amtrak as well as British Columbia, United States and Canadian agencies to implement pre-clearance at the international border. Pre-clearance allows immigration and customs to happen at a single location prior to boarding the train (similar to how airlines handle Customs) and could shave 10 minutes off travel time in the north corridor. 

Amtrak Cascades Food and Beverage Product Placement

Interested in placing your Pacific Northwest food or beverage on the Amtrak Cascades Bistro car menu? Review our placement process (pdf 615 kb) and then contact rail@wsdot.wa.gov or 360-705-7900 for application information.