Politics & Government

State, BNSF sign deal to speed train service

Washington State's Department of Transportation and BNSF Railway have signed an agreement designed to improve the frequency and reliability of passenger train service in the rail corridor that parallels Interstate 5 in Western Washington.

The new agreement announced recently clears the way for the state to spend about $590 million in high speed rail funds it received earlier this year from the federal government.

The money will fund capital improvements along BNSF’s main line track between Portland and the Canadian border. The improvements and the railroad’s agreement will allow Amtrak and the state to add two additional Amtrak Cascades trains daily between Seattle and Portland. Four daily operate now.

The agreement also sets goals for on-time performance. The trains now operate on-time 62 percent of the time. The new goal calls for an 80 percent on-time performance.