WSDOT received notification this week from the Federal Railroad Administration that it was awarded a $37.5 million Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grant to acquire at least three sets of new passenger rail cars for the Amtrak Cascades service.
WSDOT plans to procure the new passenger train equipment as part of Amtrak’s 2019-20 national equipment replacement contract. By participating in this national procurement process with other states that sponsor passenger service, WSDOT will be able to leverage the buying power of both Amtrak and other states. The new passenger rail cars are expected to be delivered from the selected manufacturer in the mid-2020s. The award of this grant will allow for the replacement of the WSDOT-owned Talgo 6 trainsets, including the two currently in service and the one lost in the derailment.
In the interim, prior to delivery of the new equipment, Amtrak is working to identify temporary passenger equipment to replace the Talgo 6 train sets currently in service. This is consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations following its investigation of the 2017 derailment in DuPont.
WSDOT continues to work with Amtrak, Sound Transit, and FRA to address other safety measures identified by NTSB in anticipation of the return of Amtrak Cascades service to the Point Defiance Bypass between Tacoma and Nisqually. A date for that shift to the Point Defiance Bypass has not yet been determined. You will receive notice from Amtrak and WSDOT well in advance of the move to the new route.
The new modern train equipment that will be acquired through this grant will help increase ridership and ticket revenue by improving reliability, comfort and capacity on the Amtrak Cascades system that connects 18 cities between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon.