East-West Passenger Rail Service

Map showing Washington passenger rail lines

A map of the proposed passenger rail service along the Stampede Pass line, recently studied by the Washington State Joint Transporation Committee.

East-West Passenger Rail: Giving Central and Eastern Washingtonians Their Fair Share

All Aboard Washington supports the restoration of daytime passenger train service between Seattle and Spokane via Stampede Pass. East-West trains serving the Yakima and Kittitas Valleys would improve public transportation access, safety, and convenience for residents and visitors alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read our East-West FAQ.

How You Can Make It Happen

Here's what we need to do in 2021 to help move East-West passenger rail service forward:

  1. Have your city or county sign a resolution of support. You can use this for your own city/county.
  2. Ask your state legislators to support an economic impact analysis of East-West passenger rail service.
  3. Ask your congresspeople to support the creation of a Northwest Rail Commission, like the Southern Rail Commission serving the Southeast US.
  4. Talk with your county officials about creating a new county rail district or applying for state matching funds from an existing one.

Existing East-West Service

  • The Empire Builder: Trains 7 and 8, Seattle - Spokane via Stevens Pass
  • The Empire Builder: Trains 27 and 28, Portland - Vancouver (WA) - Spokane via Columbia River route


  • 2001, WSDOT
  • 2017, Central Washington University
  • 2020, Legislative Joint Transportation Committee/STEER
  • 2020, AAWA Response

Potential Funding Sources

Public Support or Public/Private Partnership

The 2019-20 Feasibility Study identified three potential models for funding:

  • Public Outsourcing
    • Contracts operation to Amtrak
    • Similar to State Supported services across the United States including the Cascades
    • Assets including rolling stock, stations, etc. funded and owned by Washington
  • Private Outsourcing
    • Contracts to a third-party/private operator
    • Alternative procurement approaches available including the possibility of a public-private partnership
  • State Operated
    • State establishes an internal company to design, deliver and operate (significant step-up)
    • Sub-options where WSDOT has more control over certain activities (akin to California)

Regional Rail Commission

Federally-chartered regional rail commissions make it easier for multiple states to work together and become competitive applicants for federal rail project funding. With strong interest in intercity passenger rail services in Oregon and Idaho, Washington would stand to benefit from cooperating with these states in a Northwest Rail Commission. The first step to making this a reality is in creating enabling legislation for a regional rail commission at the state level. Once Washington has expressed its support for joining the Northwest Rail Commission, we can move forward with further steps to start working better together.

County Rail Districts

County Rail Districts (CRDs) allow counties not currently part of a port district to receive state matching funds from sales taxes. Read more about why we need CRDs and what you can do to make them a reality.

Local Support

Communities receive significant benefits from hosting passenger rail service. Many have matched other sources to market the service, and to build and maintain train stations in their communities.

Communities With Locally-Supported Train Stations

These communities serve as great examples of train stations that were funded and created with significant local support:

Central Washington Passenger Rail Summit

Recording from July 11, 2020, event

2020 Train Trek Events