Jim Hamre receives Golden Spike Award for rail advocacy

(WASHINGTON, DC, April 17, 2018)–Jim Hamre, the All Aboard Washington and Rail Passengers Association board member who lost his life in the Amtrak 501 accident in December, was honored by RPA for his tireless work toward a better and safer passenger rail system.

In a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, RPA President & CEO Jim Mathews, RPA Board Chairman Peter LeCody, and U.S. Congressperson Denny Heck (WA-10) lauded Hamre for his efforts to improve passenger rail service in Washington state and around the nation.

Jim Mathews said:

Our friend and colleague Jim Hamre devoted 40 years to our work and our cause, including the need for strong implementation of Positive Train Control. As you know, dozens of people have died in the past decade in preventable wrecks.

Jim was a tireless advocate for our work, and the last thing he would have wanted was to see that work threatened by short-sighted moves to curtail the new service in Washington…a service for which, in a real sense, he gave his life.

We honor him tonight in a small way, presenting his family with this year’s Golden Spike.

But we believe an even better way to honor him is to redouble our efforts to ensure that the vision — HIS vision — of a strong transportation ecosystem, with rail as its centerpiece, is realized.

We Rail Passengers have recommitted ourselves to his legacy and work, and will fight that much harder for Positive Train Control…for a robust national network…for strong vibrant urban corridors…for newer, better equipment…for a reliable, frequent and SAFE service that puts every American within 25 miles of the transportation network.

And we will also take up a cause which was especially close to Jim…nurturing the next generation of advocates. We are working with our legal counsel to create and launch a fund that will award fellowships to promising young graduates who hope to focus their careers in transportation, as Jim did, and to work on modern rail projects. We hope to be able to announce the formal launch of a capital campaign by the time we hold our National convention in Miami this Fall.

Tonight, however, we’d like to present our Golden Spike to Jim’s family.

Mathews concluded his remarks by reading the citation: “For a lifetime of dedicated volunteer commitment to improve and expand rail service on behalf of America’s passengers, who are saddened by his sacrifice and grateful for his selfless service, the Rail Passengers Association presents the George Falcon Golden Spike Award to the family of James Hamre.”

Carolyn, Kristi, and Tom Hamre received the award on Jim Hamre’s behalf.

The event was co-sponsored by All Aboard Washington.

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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
Email: LloydFlem@AllAboardWashington.org

Harvey Bowen – Board President
Mobile: (206) 931-5921
Email: HarveyB@AllAboardWashington.org

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 LloydFlem@allaboardwashington.org 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 AmtrakCascades.com. Those booking early will receive the best prices, with special discounts available for children, students, seniors and the military.

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