Author Archives: All Aboard Washington

The All Aboard Washington Newsletter is here!

We apologize for the delay in sending the February-April 2018 AAWA newsletter to you. This issue is a memorial to our great friends Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite, who were lost in the December 18 tragedy. Jim was the editor of our print newsletter, and Zack maintained AAWA’s membership database. Jim and Zack will both be sorely missed in passenger rail advocacy.

Here is the All Aboard Washington Newsletter for the 1st Quarter of 2018 (February-March-April)

It is available at this link:
AAWA Print Newsletter – 1st Quarter 2018

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Thank you.

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Remembering Jim and Zack

Sometimes, terrible news takes a while to sink in.

Leaving Kelso on Monday morning on train 502. Jim Hamre and Zack Wilhoite had planned to board and meet me in the bistro car. But they didn’t show.

I had already seen the images of 501 hanging off the highway bridge while waiting to board 502 in Portland. It looked bad, but those of us in line figured, well, at least we can detour over the old Point Defiance route.

The news dribbled in all morning. Three fatalities; no, six; no, three…No word from Zack and Jim. But maybe they were injured and in a hospital. Maybe they’d lost their phones.

By 2am Tuesday we’d heard, unofficially, that they were among the fatalities. And by the morning, it was official.

It’s too early to speculate on causes. But let me share some of the wonderful things that have been said about Jim and Zack in the press.

Seattle Times

New York Times





LA Times

Tacoma News-Tribune


Carl Fowler

Everett Herald

Jim Hamre’s obituary

Jim and Zack were board members of organizations that advocate for passenger rail. In their memories, please consider donating to

Rail Passengers Association

All Aboard Washington

Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates

The organization in your area

And our friend Hendrik has proposed an idea I like very much: He suggests that we push to have the new Tacoma station named for Jim and Zack, with an appropriate memorial located there. This would be permanent recognition for the two Pierce County residents. Contact us if you would like to help.

Thank you.


Originally posted on Grow Trains. Reposted with permission.

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Response to Amtrak Cascades Train 501 Incident

December 18, 2017

Lloyd Flem – Executive Director
620 Boundary Street SE
Olympia WA 98501
Office: (360) 943-8333
Mobile: (360) 870-6286

Harvey Bowen – Board President
Mobile: (206) 931-5921

All Aboard Washington is deeply saddened at this morning’s derailment and incident around Amtrak Cascades Train 501 at Mounts Road and Interstate 5. Several of our members may have been on board. Our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish for return to good health of those injured.

This is the first derailment involving fatalities in the history of either the Washington State-sponsored Amtrak Cascades service, or of any Amtrak service in Washington State.

All Aboard Washington remains ready to provide whatever input we can in the aftermath of this incident, and we will be recommitting ourselves to the safety and effectiveness of this state-sponsored train service, and to all passenger train services within Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.

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Stampede Pass Rail Study

It’s been nearly forty years since the last passenger train linked the Tri-Cities and Seattle via Stampede Pass, and almost ever since then communities have been trying to get the trains back. Now with funding from All Aboard Washington, a passenger rail advocacy group, a study is underway to gauge public interest in this idea. We want to find out whether people would take a train on the Stampede Pass corridor, how often they would take the train, and where they would go. If this service is restored, it would link communities like Pasco, Prosser, Toppenish, Yakima, Ellensburg, Cle Elum and Auburn. In Auburn, the line would connect with trains north to Seattle and south to Tacoma and Olympia. In Pasco, the line would connect with the existing Amtrak service between Portland and Chicago. Restoring service won’t be easy or quick. It will require significant investments to make the corridor (which now carries only freight trains), compatible with passenger services. But it might be worth it. What do you think? Let us know by taking the survey available at

Thank you.
John Bowen
Geography Department
Central Washington University Ellensburg

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November 12th Annual Meeting in Lacey

Less than three weeks until All Aboard Washington’s Annual Meeting. The November 12 event will be located in the main dining room at Panorama, {1751 Circle Drive}the upscale  senior community in Lacey, east of Olympia and just a couple miles from Centennial Station. You from out of town are encouraged to travel by Amtrak, where you’ll be met and shuttled to/from  Panorama by Thurston county AAWA members.

Festivities will start at 11:30 AM, with music provided by professional pianist  Jerry Wagner. Swing -era tunes, featuring railroad themes, and songs celebrating the armed services in honor of Veterans Day will be emphasized. And at 11:30 you’ll have the opportunity to (silently) bid on high-quality donated goods and services, the proceeds of which assist AAWA in our advocacy work.

 An excellent buffet lunch ($20)  will start at noon. Chef is Mike Turk, whom I’ve known for nearly 35 years!

Our program, starting at 1 PM, will feature two Oregon men who will honor the 40th Anniversary of the American Freedom Train, which you over-age-fifty folks recall was part of the USA Bi-Centennial Celebration. A second presentation will be by Talgo’s Josh Coran, who will update us on the his firm which manufactures our Amtrak Cascades trains.

We’ll also have my (brief!) summary of  Election 2016, as it will  likely apply to rail issues, and brief reports from  spokespeople for AAWA’s task forces.

All are welcome to our meeting and we look forward to having you there. Please RSVP, if possible, but not required to
See you on the 12th!


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October 8 AAWA meeting in Bellingham

RSVPs are needed for our October 8 Bellingham meeting. The good folks at Western WA University need RSVPs! A very good meal (cost $17) is planned and the people at WWU’s Viking Union need to know how much food to prepare.
Some travel info. For those of you from most of King County and north: Travel to/from Bellingham’s Fairhaven Station by Amtrak works for our meeting. Take northbound Train 510, departing King Street at 7:45 AM. You can return on southbound Train 517, departing Bellingham’s Fairhaven station at 7:37 PM. Good transit bus service can take you to/from Fairhaven Station and the WWU campus. It is possible some locals might be able to carpool you to/from, but we’ll have more complete bus info, maps of WWU campus, etc. in a few days.
For us south of King county, Amtrak schedules only work if one is able to stay two nights. But whether to Bellingham by train, bus, or private vehicle, please RSVP to Lloyd right away!
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