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New corridor director to help Northwest states integrate passenger rail operations
04/19/2012
 
Oregon and Washington are creating a new partnership and will develop a plan for managing passenger-rail service between Eugene and Vancouver, British Columbia as one continuous rail corridor rather than two separate state operations. Transportation officials for each state signed an agreement in April as another step toward offering faster, more frequent Amtrak Cascades service. 

Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond and ODOT Director Matt Garrett said they will create a corridor management plan to include governance, centralizing fleet management, scheduling, budgeting and capital planning, with a goal of improving passenger-rail performance that benefits riders and economies in both states.
 
Hammond and Garrett also announced the selection of John Sibold to fill a new position of Cascade Corridor director. Sibold has been the rail and marine director at the Washington State Department of Transportation since August and will continue to focus on improving the reliability of passenger-rail service and managing the state’s freight lines.
 
 
“One of John’s immediate tasks over the next six months will be to develop a new plan for managing the rail corridor in full partnership with Oregon and in consultation with British Columbia,” Garrett said. “We anticipate a plan that leads to cost savings, greater efficiency between our states, improved contract management with equipment and service providers, innovative service improvements and coordinated delivery of federal projects.”
 
He will also continue to build partnerships and a shared vision with British Columbia on the rail corridor.
 
This year, Oregon will introduce two new 13-car Talgo trains into the fleet, providing the opportunity for improving schedules during peak demand. The US DOT awarded Washington and Oregon $814 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to make improvements that will result in higher passenger-train speeds and more reliable performance between Seattle and Portland. With the ARRA funds, the goal is to add two daily Amtrak Cascades roundtrips between Seattle and Portland, for a total of six each day. The improvements are also intended to reduce travel times, as well as improve average on-time performance from the current 70 percent to 88 percent.
 
Oregon is leading an effort to plan for improved passenger rail service between Portland and Eugene. Governor Kitzhaber has created the Oregon Passenger Rail Leadership Council to advise the Governor and the Oregon Transportation Commission on a preferred alignment for intercity passenger rail improvements as well as service characteristics like travel times and frequency.