Washington State Rail Capacity & System Needs Study

The Legislature provided the Commission with funding and a mandate to conduct a statewide rail capacity and system needs analysis – ESSB 6091, Section 206. The Washington State Transportation Commission oversaw this study of strategic freight and passenger rail system needs, challenges and opportunities. The study reviewed the current powers, authorities, and interests the state has in freight and passenger rail and recommended policies for state participation and ownership of rail infrastructure and service delivery. The study also prepared a plan for managing state owned rail assets.

Commission Rail Study Team

To ensure the Commission is able to focus and remain fully engaged throughout the course of this effort, the Commission appointed four of its members to serve on a team that is responsible for overseeing the detailed implementation of this study.

The Commission Team membership is as follows:

  • Dan O’Neal – Team Lead
  • Ed Barnes
  • Dick Ford
  • Carol Moser

Final Rail Study Report (pdf 1 mb)
This is the final report of the Commission’s Rail Capacity and System Needs study. It was presented to and adopted by the Commission at their December 2006 monthly meeting in Olympia. The report presents recommendations on the whether or not the state should participate in rail, what the state’s role in rail should be, investment approaches, governance, and a state asset management plan.

Background Materials

Interim Report 1 (pdf 2 mb)
This background report summarizes the findings and conclusions of work done early on in the study that assessed the state of the rail system, its critical problems and bottlenecks, and current plans. It describes how the system is working now and how it will likely work in the future in the absence of state action.

Addendum to Interim Report 1 (pdf 2 mb)
This report presents comments received after the issuance of Interim Report 1 and provides responses to those comments.

Interim Report 2 (pdf 351 kb)
This report provides draft policies to govern state action and investments in the rail system. It presents proposed processes for assessing whether actions and investments are consistent with state policies and for evaluating the benefits and impacts of investments on rail user groups and Washington communities.

Technical Memos

The technical memos below provided the base research and information upon which the interim reports and the final report were built upon.

Rail Study Outreach Plan

The purpose of this plan was to ensure that stakeholders throughout the state had varied opportunities for reviewing and providing input to the study as it progressed. The plan has five components: stakeholder interviews, regional listening sessions, web-notices and e-postings to stakeholder list, formation of a technical resource panel, and Commission and Legislative briefings. Details of these are listed below.

  • Stakeholder Interview Summary (pdf 115 kb)
    This document summarizes the comments received from a number of interviews done with various rail stakeholders at the beginning of the study. This input was critical to shaping the direction the study took.
  • Technical Resource Panel Invitation Letter (pdf 63 mb)
    This letter was sent out to approximately 60 key stakeholders inviting them to participate on our technical resource panel. To keep this process dynamic, the panel was not designed with the idea of having regular meetings but rather, was created to provide technical expertise in their individual areas as needed and called upon by the Commission. Members of this panel were utilized in different ways, some of which included: reviewing various draft documents; participating in small meetings and/or conference calls on topics related to their field of expertise; and provided with an open invitation to proactively offer feedback to the Commission at anytime during the study.
  • Regional Listening Session Summary (pdf 2 mb)
    The Commission held five regional listening sessions around the state during the early stages of the study to gather public input from citizens and users of the system. Approximately 300 individuals attended these sessions and provided vital insights and ideas that helped frame the policy discussion of this study. This summary report provides an overview of the sessions and input received.

For more background information about the Study please see the following information:

About the Washington State Rail Capacity and Systems Needs Study (pdf 181 kb) This provides a general overview of the Commissions Rail Study along with a list of planned stakeholder outreach opportunities, and the schedule for the year-long study.

Washington Statewide Rail Capacity and Needs Study: Work Plan (pdf 283 kb) This document identifies details of the 10 key tasks the study will address and identifies the major deliverables for each.

Rail Study Presentation – January 17, 2006 (pdf 3 mb) Cambridge Systematics study kickoff presentation, given to the Commission on January 18, 2006, describing the study work program, schedule, and policy issues to be addressed.