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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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All Aboard Washington Annual Membership Meeting on December 9

All Aboard Washington’s annual membership meeting will be on Saturday December 9, 2017 from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Seventeen51 Restaurant & Bistro at Panorama in Lacey, 1751 Circle Lane SE (off of Sleater-Kinney Rd).

RSVP required by Dec. 4 to ensure you will have a lunch. Lunch cost will be $18, payable at the door (cash or check preferred).

We will again have a silent auction with a number of high quality items (payment by cash, check or credit card). Car shuttles will be provided from the Olympia-Lacey Amtrak Station. Contact Lloyd Flem at for your required RSVP, if you need transportation from the station or you have an auction item donation.

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Expanded Amtrak Cascades service launches December 18!

The Washington State Dept. of Transportation has announce the two additional Amtrak Cascades roundtrips between Seattle and Portland will begin on December 18. There will be earlier trains and later trains departing both Seattle and Portland than what we now have. Running times will be reduced and on time performance will be improved. Here is the press release from WSDOT:

WSDOT adds two daily Amtrak Cascades roundtrips starting Dec.18

 Tuesday, October 3, 2017 – 13:00
 Janet Matkin, communications, 360-705-7966, 360-522-3114 (mobile)

Barbara LaBoe, communications, 360-705-7080

All trains move to new inland route between Tacoma and Olympia

OLYMPIA – Just in time for the holidays, WSDOT is starting two additional Amtrak Cascades daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland. Beginning Monday, Dec. 18, extra morning and evening trains will run in both directions – for a total of 12 trains every day.

“People can get where they’re going sooner, with more schedule choices and better reliability,” said Ron Pate, WSDOT Rail, Freight and Ports Division director.

This permanent change to the Amtrak Cascades schedule means travel time between the two cities will be reduced by 10 minutes to 3 hours and 20 minutes, thanks to the rerouting of trains between Tacoma and Olympia and the upgrading of tracks and signal systems. The new route takes trains on an inland corridor parallel to Interstate 5 through Tacoma, Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and DuPont. It eliminates a major chokepoint for passenger trains near Point Defiance in Tacoma and separates them from freight trains that will continue to use the old waterfront route. The results are shorter travel times and greater on-time reliability.

“WSDOT worked closely with many partners over the last six years to prepare for these new schedules. Dec. 18 marks a major milestone for passenger rail service in the Pacific Northwest,” Pate said. “While the scenic beauty of the Point Defiance route can’t be denied, we know passengers will appreciate the ability to make easier, and more reliable, day trips between Seattle and Portland. Spectacular water views are still available for passengers between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.”

WSDOT invested nearly $800 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to offer these new schedules, recently earning national recognition for the successful completion of this major railroad construction program.

The new schedule will see trains, pulled by WSDOT’s new Charger locomotives, leaving both Portland and Seattle every two to three hours. The first trains will depart Seattle at 6 a.m. and Portland at 6:20 a.m. The latest trains between the two cities will leave at 7:25 p.m. from Portland and 7:45 p.m. from Seattle. Station stops between the two cities include Tukwila, Tacoma, Olympia/Lacey, Centralia, Kelso, and Vancouver, Washington.

Amtrak Cascades also will continue to run daily trips to Vancouver, British Columbia, and Eugene, Oregon – serving a total of 18 cities on the corridor. December’s schedule changes will find later departures for some trains between Portland to Eugene to better connect with trains coming from Seattle, and to better meet passenger needs in Oregon.

Tickets for the newly added trains now are available for sale at Those booking early will receive the best prices, with special discounts available for children, students, seniors and the military.

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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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