November 8: All Aboard Washington annual membership meeting

All Aboard Washington’s an­nual membership meeting will be on November 8 from 1 p.m.-4:00 p.m. in the community room at the Centra­lia Amtrak Station. We suggest lunch on your own before the meeting at McMenamin’s landmark Olympic Club directly across Railroad Ave from the station or other nearby establishments.

Speakers include Kirk Fredrickson, WSDOT Rail Division and Dan McFarling of the Assoc. of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates.

Our meeting will feature AAWA’s silent auction, returning after skipping 2013. Among the special items offered are several large-scale rail memorabilia, and overnight stay packages from two downtown Centralia establishments: McMenamin’s Olympic Club Hotel, and the newly developed Centralia Square Hotel, the repurposed Centralia Elks building. Both McMenamin’s and Centralia Square, along with Talgo, are sponsors of our meeting. Several donations are pending. We continue to look for additional quality items or services. Please contact Lloyd Flem (LloydFlem@allaboardwashington.org) or Jim Hamre (jimh@allaboardwashington.org) to donate. We will be able to accept credit cards for payment this year. Everyone is encouraged to attend and bid high for distinctive Holiday gifts.

Use our Northwest Corridor trains to and from the meeting.

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AAWA goes to Yakima – Sept 13

All Aboard Washington will be meeting on Sept. 13 in Yakima. The meeting will be noon-3 p.m. at Russillo’s Pizza and Gelato, 32 N Front St. Russillo’s is in the former Northern Pacific Railway Station.

Our speakers include Rep. Norm Johnson (R-Yakima) and former Yakima Mayor Paul George (who is running for a seat in the State House of Representatives). We’ll also hear from Yakima Trolley’s Karl Pasten. Other speakers are pending.

The emphasis for our annual east-of-the-Cascades meeting will continue to be our push for east-west daytime passenger rail service.

After the meeting we’ve chartered the Yakima Trolley. Fare will depend on how many people join us for the ride.

Please join us for our Yakima meeting on Sept. 13.

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All Aboard Washington outreach at Tacoma Rail and Harbor Days

Our two outreach events at the end of August were very successful in bringing the message of intercity passenger trains to hundreds of people.

Tacoma Rail’s Open House (and Centennial Celebration) Saturday August 23 attracted a large crowd, much of which were families with young children. The AAWA table, staffed by George Barner and me 10-12, Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite 12-1:30, offered our AAWA material, and that from NARP, WSDOT, Amtrak, and Talgo. We had a prime location near the entrance. Adults and children readily took the material, which virtually ran out by 1 PM.

AAWA table at the Tacoma Rail open house (Photo by Zack Willhoite)

Nearly all guests had some interest in trains, even if the interest was primarily the train ride in Tacoma Rail’s four passenger cars touring the port, touring their locomotives and caboose, or viewing the N-Scale model railroad. To many who approached our table, we had to explain who we were, in some cases introducing people to the fact Western Washington has intercity passenger trains! We gave information about routes and the advantages of trains. Some expressed interest in joining AAWA, but it seemed many were there mainly for a fun outing with kids and grandkids. Still worthwhile and I recommend we repeat the Tacoma Rail Open House every year.

The three-day Olympia Harbor Days, August 29-31, also attracted large crowds, except for a time Saturday afternoon, when a deluge of rain chased guests and many vendors away. During the times I staffed our table each day, I perceived a surprisingly large number of people who knew about our Amtrak Cascades service, had ridden and liked riding trains, agreed we should have more. A decent number showed interest in joining AAWA. Read More »

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Station developments around the Northwest

Here’s an article from the September/October 2014 All Aboard Washington newsletter.

Tacoma

With the Pt. Defiance Bypass Project – which relocates Amtrak service through Tacoma from the Pt. Defiance line to the line used by Sounder to Lakewood – advancing, the Amtrak station for the city needs to be relocated to Freighthouse Square, where Sounder now stops. WSDOT has been working diligently with Tacoma Dome District stakeholders, Sound Transit, Amtrak, the City of Tacoma and All Aboard Washington (the advocates for the passengers).

Many locations in Freighthouse Square were analyzed and reduced to three options: the east end, the west end and a central location just west of the Sounder station area. Some in the neighborhood favor the east end but this location has many negatives. The major issues with the east end: a quick analysis by WSDOT indicates construction costs would be higher; annual operating costs are about double the other locations (which are estimated at $800,000 to $1 million); and the east end is the least desirable location for passenger convenience and comfort and for Amtrak operations.

WSDOT has selected the central location as the preferred alternate. This option will be forwarded to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) as a compromise that meets the expectations and requirements for an Amtrak station. WSDOT will continue to work with stakeholders during the design phase for the central location. A public meeting will be scheduled to share design concepts and to gather ideas on several design elements. Once approved by the FRA, construction will start in late 2015 or early 2016.

All Aboard Washington will continue to represent the needs and concerns of the rail passengers, which, after all, are the whole reason the trains and stations exists.

Read More »

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Ken Uznanski, Nationally-Respected Passenger Rail Leader, Passes Away

While several individuals deserve credit for Washington state’s successful rail passenger program, none more than Mr. Ken Uznanski, fine husband, father, and manager and guiding light of the WSDOT’s Rail Office (now Rail Division) for many years. From the viewpoint of one who worked very closely with Ken, I knew his managing of Washington State’s rail program was not just a job, it was a calling. He knew all aspects of what the work entailed, worked with uncommon diligence to lead a loyal crew to where Washington was judged throughout our country as having among the very best state-level passenger rail programs.

There is another article on our webpage with a July 7 “Train Orders” tribute for Ken by rail consultant Tom White. Ken’s many tangible rail achievements are there summarized, so they won’t be repeated here.

During Ken’s years as Rail Manager, I had open access to him at all times. My job was to help carry his message to the Legislature, civic and community leaders, and members of Congress. A mutual trust was present and total. Ken understood that an independent rail advocate could often approach elected officials and other influentials in a way public employees or others with narrower corporate or institutional interests could not as easily do.

In addition to family, church and profession, Ken had another passion, his Alma Mater, the University of Notre Dame. Ken’s broadest smiles were following yet another victory for the Fighting Irish.

Severe health issues kept Ken from active professional rail efforts in the past couple of years, but his successes in behalf of intercity passenger train service in our Northwest Corridor is an ongoing legacy of his work in Olympia.

May God bless Ken Uznanski and his family. The rail community in the Northwest and beyond gives thanks for Ken’s work and his friendship.

LHF

 

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Passenger Rail Lost a Leader and Friend on July 7

The passenger rail community in our state and our country lost a tireless advocate and friend yesterday with the passing of Ken Uznanski. Ken led the WSDOT Rail Division during the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century when the intercity passenger rail program bloomed in Washington and the Amtrak Cascades were born. Here is a tribute (posted on Trainorders.com) from Tom White, who worked with Ken during much of that time:

Ken Uznanski worked in the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Rail Office 1991-2010 (if I remember that final date correctly). For most of that time, he was the Transportation Manager of the Public Transportation and Rail Division and led the high speed rail effort in Washington.

Most people here, probably all or almost all, don’t know or have never heard of Ken. His work affected many of you, however.

Ken led a small and dedicated group of state, Amtrak, and BN employees, and consultants in developing passenger and freight rail improvements in the state of Washington.
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    All Aboard Washington is a 501c3 consumer transportation advocacy group, comprised of nearly 500 people who have a goal of preserving and expanding passenger rail service in the state of Washington. We have been around for 30 years and work closely with other local and national groups, along with political leaders, industry leaders, and other sponsors to improve passenger rail service in our state. We need your help to keep Washington on the right track. Please Donate Today!


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    Mailing Address:
    All Aboard Washington
    P.O. Box 70381
    Seattle, WA 98127-0381


    Primary Contacts
    Lloyd Flem, Executive Director
    360-943-8333 or 360-870-6286

    Loren Herringstad, President