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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Pacific Northwest corridor improvements under way

Last week, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo toured the Pacific Northwest to see firsthand the work that’s being done between Eugene and Portland, Ore., and Seattle and Vancouver, Wash., using $814 million in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program funds.

Szabo launched the tour March 15 in Seattle, where Washington State Department of Transportation officials kicked off construction at King Street Station. Work includes expanding and modernizing the station. WSDOT also is completing various track upgrades.

On March 16, Szabo visited Portland’s Union Station, where workers are replacing a roof as part of a station improvement program. Oregon also will use HSIPR funds to purchase new trains, which will be capable of operating at speeds up to 110 mph.

Finally, Szabo stopped at the Port of Vancouver, where early construction is under way on a rail connection linking the port to BNSF Railway Co.’s east-west mainline. The project will reduce delays caused by a crossover between freight and Amtrak Cascades trains.

Once all the Pacific Northwest corridor improvements are complete, the states of Oregon and Washington plan to increase the number of daily round trips along the line from four to six, reduce trip times to 2.5 hours, and improve on-time performance, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation press release.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/19/2012