Passenger rail is part of the state's intermodal and intercity transportation system. It provides an important transportation option for residents and visitors traveling the congested I-5 Corridor and connecting to Oregon's communities, regional and out of state destinations.
The Oregon Department of Transportation manages the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service along the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor in partnership with Washington State's Department of Transportation. The states pay Amtrak to operate the Amtrak Cascades service from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C.
Offers a safer, productive alternative to driving a car.
Supports the economies of the origin and destination cities, including providing opportunities for tourism.
Offers a more fuel efficient trip on a per passenger mile basis and with less carbon dioxide as compared to air and other passenger vehicles.
Supports system resiliency by providing another travel mode on fixed rail in the I-5 corridor.
Expands mobility and transportation choices for all people, including seniors and people with disabilities.
About Amtrak Cascades operations
The Amtrak Cascades service includes two daily roundtrips between Eugene and Portland, four daily roundtrips between Portland and Seattle, and two daily roundtrips between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. Amtrak Cascades has the nation’s 7th highest ridership of intercity passenger rail services.
Oregon Department of Transportation, or ODOT, and the Washington State Department of Transportation, or WSDOT, work with many partners to develop agreements, policies, and guidance to manage the service using a corridor approach.
The Station Stop Policy and the companion Guidance Document
help the states determine the benefit of proposed station stop changes to the Amtrak Cascades corridor.
ODOT and WSDOT contract with Amtrak to operate the service.
Amtrak Cascades trains run on privately owned rail lines:
- Union Pacific owns the tracks and provides dispatching in Oregon.
- BNSF owns the tracks in Washington and British Columbia, and provides the dispatching in Washington. Canadian National provides dispatching in British Columbia.
There are seven trainsets in the Amtrak Cascades Service:
- Oregon owns the two Series 8 trainsets
- WSDOT owns two Series 6 trainsets and seven Charger locomotives
- Amtrak owns two Series 6 trainsets
Train Equipment Maintenance
- ODOT and WSDOT pay Amtrak and the train-manufacturer, Talgo, to maintain Amtrak Cascades equipment.
- Amtrak Cascades equipment is maintained at the Amtrak Maintenance Facility in Seattle, WA
The Oregon State Rail Plan explores issues affecting the state’s rail freight and passenger system. It assesses both public and private transportation at the state, regional and local level.
The 2015 Oregon Transportation Options Plan is one of several statewide transportation mode and topic plans that further refine and implement the Oregon Transportation Plan's, or OTP, goals, policies, strategies, and key initiatives.
ODOT has begun work to develop a new Oregon Public Transportation Plan, or OPTP. The OPTP is one of several statewide transportation mode and topic plans that refine, apply, and implement the OTP.
Oregon Corridor Investment Plan
ODOT has studied ways to improve the frequency, convenience, speed and reliability of intercity passenger rail service between the Portland urban area and the Eugene-Springfield urban area. Over several years, ODOT worked with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), through a grant under its High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, to analyze and select a route, station locations and service characteristics for these improvements. After extensive analysis and public outreach, FRA selected Alternative 1 for the Oregon Passenger Rail alignment. This alignment follows the existing Amtrak Cascades passenger rail route and will accommodate increased passenger rail services by improving track, signal and communication infrastructure.
FRA’s Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) were signed on April 14, 2021. The FEIS describes the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts of the alternatives studied in the FEIS and describes proposed mitigation plans. The ROD marks the end of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process.
What’s Next for Oregon Passenger Rail?
Moving forward, Oregon is now eligible to compete for significant infrastructure grants to improve passenger rail service between Eugene and Portland. Because the Selected Alternative follows the existing Union Pacific (UPRR) rail line between Eugene and Portland and would be constructed mostly within existing rail right-of-way, infrastructure investments may be separated into relatively small, lower-cost elements so that ODOT could implement the Selected Alternative incrementally as funding becomes available. Additional environmental review and permitting may be required for these individual projects.