Due to the flooding in Western Washington, Amtrak Cascades, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, and Amtrak’s Empire Builder is suspended due to the severe flooding. This restriction also applies to ALL freight trains. If you have loved ones on the train, they will be returning to their respective stations.

  • #11 arrived PDX
  • #501 arrived PDX 300p
  • #500 arrived SEA 200p
  • #506 is coming back to PDX… Stopped around Ostrander.
  • #507 is turning at Olympia…. going back to Seattle..

BNSF also has a 200′ washout at Martin on the Stampede Subdivision and reportedly, there is a wash out on the Bellingham Subdivision which would make the North end trains suspended as well.

Update: 6:07pm – BNSF has pulled all the switch machines (which throws the railroad switch automatically) between Centralia and Chehalis. Slide at Solo Point near University Place. BNSF is under water at Mt. Vernon with reported extensive damage to main-line. Sumner and Puyallup has been ordered to evacuate from Brock Hansen of Puyallup.

Update: 6:20pm – WSDOT is closing a 20 mile segment of I-5, between exit 88 near the Lewis/Thurston county border south to exit 68, the US 12 interchange connecting with Morton and White Pass. WSDOT is planning to close I-5 between Fife and Tacoma in the next hour or two. Hwy 410, I-90 between North Bend and Easton, US 2 and Hwy 12 all remain closed.

Update: 7:15pm – The BNSF Railway bridge in Sumner is reportedly buckling from the force of the river.

22 Replies to “All PNW Amtrak trains suspended”

  1. This is pathetic!

    I am losing patience with the railroads – both with Amtrak and with BNSF – how can anyone plan to use trains when they go under at a drop of a hat or in this case, water!

    Every day I go to the blog right now, I expect to see something cancelled – this is neither good nor where we need to be going.

    Are we reaching the point, where all rail travel will become seasonal?

    I don’t recall we ever got hung up by stuff like this in England – well maybe the odd train did but then we run so many of them that a few trains breaking down or stopping for floods never really had the impact it clearly does here because there are so few trains to take up the slack of the odd failure.

    My guess would be that BNSF is still running its freight trains and using the situation to piss of Amtrak as it invariably does most of the year anyway.

    What hope is there right now with or without Obama?


    1. Dude – it’s FLOODING. Freight traffic isn’t moving either. They are closing I-5. A whole town was evacuated. I agree with your overall point – we need more backups to take up the slack – but you need to acknowledge the current reality. This is colossal flooding, and that Amtrak decided to cancel service in the face of it is not at all pathetic, but reasonable.

      1. Yes, I know it is flooding – I am not stupid! My point is that we have two days of rain that produces multiple days of chaos because of infrastructural ineptitude and poor advance premptive planning. For example, can’t the BNSF identify areas liable to flood or suffer from mudslides and work during the summer on advance contingences such as shoring up unstable slopes?

        Look, I am just expressing the frustration that people must be feeling if right now, they are waiting on trains to arrive or depart at King Street Station or other Wash. stations. Wouldn’t you be feeling frustrated and pissed off? I thought this was a country that demands solutions, not excuses

        We have to be able to do better than this – I can just picture the blogs in a year’s time getting pissed off because Link has been cancelled because of rain on the tracks.

        At the end of the day, we have all had a bad three or four weeks of mess up here and we are all looking forward to it ending and to not having to see hysterical headlines in all the papers trying to sell tragedy to make profits for themselves.

        On top of this, I am out of work, and I don’t have a lot of hope right now and all of this external stuff just mirrors what I feel about life at present.

      2. We’ve known this stuff needed to be replaced for decades. We haven’t had real infrastructure replacements around here in ages. BNSF looks at this as cost/benefit. If we want passenger quality service, we have to fund it, and we don’t.

      3. I’m not sure even if BNSF was to invest the money how much could really be done. Western railroads as a general rule are built in some fairly challenging terrain, this certainly holds true for the rail mainlines in Washington.

        The 3 routes across the Cascades are all subject to avalanches, mud slides, and rock slides. In the lowlands most of the routes are either in river flood plains or along shorelines. In the former case the rails flood when the river gets high enough, in the latter the steep banks are slide prone. Note that many of our major roads are subject to the same issues (I-5, I-90, US 2, and US 12 are closed as well).

        Even if the money was there to make the BNSF rails less subject to flooding or slides you have to wonder if current environmental regulations would let them. Even then the mitigation might not be enough. You can raise the rails through flood plains but you still have to stop running trains if the ground under the roadbed becomes unstable or if bridges are in danger of washing out.

      4. I come from a part of the country that floods with excrutiating regularity, and things like what’s happening here (oh my god, record flood, everyone panic) happens there all the time, no matter how many millions are spent to stave it off.

        What part of “record flood” is confusing, here?

      5. Unlike most people in the area, I come from Seattle. If you recall, there were some pretty epic floods last year in similar places, and I’m sure whatever funds BNSF allocated towards maintenance were used to fix problems caused by those floods.

    2. Okay, want this to not happen? Fund it. Amtrak has been asking for infrastructure work for thirty years, but it’s never worth it to fund any of it, because people don’t get angry until something falls apart.

      Even BNSF doesn’t spend on infrastructure, because then they have to pay more in property tax on the improvements. We, the US government, built this system to fail.

      1. Property taxes on the railroads is one of the things that nearly killed them post WWII. It still leads to the freight roads doing some penny wise and pound foolish things.

    3. I’ve never seen anyone use England as a model of efficient railway operations! Saying the record flooding that we are currently experiencing is a “drop” of water must be the understatement of the year.

      1. I lived in England for most of my life, and much smaller, more routine events than this caused chaos in a much larger, better-funded and better-used rail network. When I was a rail commuter there, “leaves on the line” and “the wrong kind of snow” were shorthands for just how ineptly the railways were managed.

      2. I come from a part of the country that floods all the time, and rail problems were so commonplace that they never reported on them, even though I could see out my window that a train had flipped in the mud in the yard across from my home.

      3. Yes, sure we had all those, but we run lots and lots of trains and we have a better built in ridership that complains but essentially sticks with the train network. Here all of the problems with the rail network just drive people to other modes of transportation. There was an add on KUOW only this morning with a ‘sale’ from Horizon airlines on flights too numerous to count between SEA and PDX – I rest my case that Amtrak doesn’t have any back-up options if its network gets screwed up. I am not blaming them – it is a societal thing as much as anything else, but it says a lot about the United States that we have to offer people the chance to fly a ridiculously small distance of 140 miles between the two cities! In England, we would have trains running every 30 minutes over those sorts of distances – not a paltry four a day or 5 if you count the Coast Starlight! This means that in England, you don’t have long to wait between trains if one screws up, but here you may have to wait till the next day or longer.

      4. You’ll note the major highway between SEA and PDX is also closed. There aren’t really any alternate routes other than the detour through Eastern WA (which is shut down due to slides in Snoqualmie Pass).

        Rail can also re-route via Eastern WA, but I believe the tracks through both Stampede and Stevens pass are closed for much the same reasons the cross-cascade highways are.

        The simple fact is geography limits surface transport into fairly limited corridors. Any surface route between SEA and PDX on the west side of the mountains would have to cross the Chehalis river which would subject it to the same flooding closing down the BNSF mainline and I-5.

        There are plans to improve flood control in the Chehalis basin, but even with funding from WADOT, and various Federal sources there still isn’t near enough money to even start much less complete the project. Presumably this will also protect the rail line from flooding as well.

        Note that any sort of mitigation to protect surface transportation corridors from mudslides, avalanches, or flooding has its own costs in terms of environmental protection and wildlife habitat.

      5. When I wrote my post, the full extent of the flooding was not clear, but we have a lot of chaos relative to the nature of the problem

  2. Yeah, several impassable mudslides, washed-out track, etc is a very good reason to cancel service.

    This is a very, very, bad flood. My apartment complex just brought in 15 pumps to ensure we stay “dry” here and I’m only near a little creek.

    And traction motors, especially DC traction motors, don’t like water and tend to arch, leaving said DC locomotive useless.

    Snow is one thing, this is a entirely different scale of difficultly and uncontrollable to anyone.

  3. Catostophic weather is part of climate change. Either do something to stop it or get used to it.

  4. Umm, no. This is not your normal run of the mill flood. This is loads of snow, at least 2-4 feet worth on all hills higher than 700 feet melting in a manner of two days coupled with 10-20 inches of rain in the mountains. No agency has a contingency plan for this or could have due to it not happening that often.

    On another point, has anyone noticed that the greater Seattle area is now cut off by road access by all major routes to the south and east. Hwy 2,20,I-90, I-5, Hwy 12, and Hwy 101 at places on the coast are all closed along with numerous county roads used to bypass these routes.

  5. No Sounder service today between Tacoma and Seattle due to flooding.
    Service alert here.

    Hopefully this is just temporary and service can resume as normal when the waters recede.

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