Annual Conference

It’s time to register!

The Pacific Northwest Passenger Rail Summit is being held Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. at the Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave South, Seattle, Washington. This regional conference, sponsored by the Rail Users’ Network, and All Aboard Washington (AAWA) will examine passenger rail and trail transit issues in the Pacific Northwest. The focus will be on recent success stories, projects which are moving forward, and those which need support. We will also highlight the strategies of rail advocates in other parts of the country to promote and expand passenger rail.

The day will begin with opening remarks given by Dr. Richard Rudolph, Chair of the Rail Users’ Network and Lloyd Flem, Executive Director of All Aboard Washington. The first presentations will be by the leadership of Washington State’s Legislative Rail Caucus, a bi-partisan statewide group of legislators concerned with advancing rail issues in Washington. Featured speakers include: Ron Pate, WSDOT, Rail, Freight, and Ports Division Director, who will describe the progress and improvements made resulting from Washington State’s federal APRA passenger rail funding.
Martin Young, Director of Sounder, Sound Transit, who will talk about the current growth and bright future of rail transit in the Central Puget Sound Region.
Rob Eaton, Director of Government Affairs, Amtrak Northwest, will shed light on Amtrak’s efforts to improve and expand service. The morning session will close with a panel discussion focusing on issues regarding operating passenger trains in the Pacific Northwest. Lloyd Flem, Executive Director of AAWA will moderate. Panelists include Andrew Johnsen, Asst. V.P., Community Affairs, BNSF Railway; Herb Krohn, Washington State Legislative Director, Transportation Division of the Sheet Metal, Air, and Rail Transportation Union; Mike Elliott, Legislative Affairs, Brotherhood of Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), and Antonio Perez, CEO/President Talgo USA, or Josh Coran, Director of Operations, Talgo USA.

During lunch, participants will have the opportunity to share information and experiences regarding their efforts to promote and improve passenger rail and rail transit in their local areas. The afternoon session will feature three informative panels:
The first will focus on the status of passenger rail advocacy in the Pacific Northwest and efforts to expand passenger rail, rail transit in Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver, B.C. Harvey Bowen, President, AAWA will moderate. Panelists include an invited ST3 Advocate, Bruce Agnew, Co-Chair of the Transportation Working Group of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, who will describe past and ongoing efforts to expand BC & Canadian investments in the Cascadia Passenger Rail Corridor, and Professor John Bowen, Georgraphy Dept. at Central Washington University, who will speak about the role of university research in expanding intercity rail passenger service.
The second panel features RUN Members who will share their strategies for achieving short and long-term goals to improve and expand passenger rail/rail transit services in the Southwest, Midwest, Middle Atlantic, & New England areas. RUN’s Chair, Dr. Rudolph, who is also a Director of the Maine Rail Group, will moderate. Panelists include David Peter Alan, Esq., Chair, Lackawanna Coalition, J.W. Madison, President, Rails Inc., and Phil Streby, Treasurer, Indiana Rail Passenger Alliance.
The final panel of the day will be moderated by Andrew Albert, Vice-Chair, RUN, and Chair of the NYC Transit Riders Council. This panel will explore how advocates in the Pacific Northwest can work together for more effective rail advocacy. Invited panelists include Karen Keller, former President, AAWA, who will provide examples of AAWA’s outreach to community groups and legislators; Dan McFarling, AORTA Secretary, who will shed light on Portland’s successes and Oregon’s challenges in transit, regional, and intercity passenger rail funding, and Abilgail Doerr, Advocacy Director, Transportation Choices Coalition, who will describe her organization’s work to bring Washingtonians more and better transportation choices.

An optional tour on Friday, May 5, will give Conference participants an opportunity to experience public transportation in the Greater Seattle area, which has one of North America’s most varied transit systems. Sounder commuter rail, Link light rail, modern streetcars, ferries, and even a 1962-vintage monorail. In fact, some of the city’s buses are electric “trolley buses”, which were once ubiquitous, but now only run in a few cities.
Please join us as we ride these rail lines and the monorail, and tour the city’s two great train stations. We will visit Union Station, once used by the Union Pacific Railroad, and now the headquarters of Sound Transit, as well as the newly-restored King Street Station, home to Amtrak and Sounder trains. We will also take a stroll around Pioneer Square, the city’s historic center, and visit other scenic highlights which make Seattle unique. In addition, we will board the Sounder to Tacoma, where we will ride the Tacoma Link Light Rail line, see the art of Dale Chihuly on his famous Bridge of Glass, and take a further peek at downtown Tacoma. If time allows, we will embark on a sunset ferry ride. So plan to arrive Thursday or early Friday morning and come with us as we experience Seattle’s transit prior to the Pacific Northwest Rail Summit on Saturday.

Who should attend:
Civic, business, and non-profit leaders.
Real estate developers, planners, and environmentalists
Rail advocates, and intercity rail and rail transit riders interested in the efforts underway to expand passenger rail & rail transit in the Pacific Northwest, strategies to give riders a greater voice in planning new services, and improving the quality and level of services currently provided.
The registration fee for the Pacific Northwest Rail Summit is $55 before March 31, $60 before May 1, and $65 at the door. Registration includes morning refreshments, lunch, an afternoon refreshment break, and all conference materials/handouts. The optional tour on Friday is free, however participants are responsible for their own rail/transit fares. If you wish to stay in Seattle before or after the conference, we recommend you look at Seattle’s official tourism website
The Columbia City Theater can be reached from downtown Seattle using Sound’s Link Light Rail line. Participants arriving into the King Street Station should walk over to the International District/Chinatown station stop and take a southbound train to Columbia Station. The theater is in walking distance of the station – a short four blocks away.

Please join us at what promises to be a very informative and inspiring event. You can register on RUN’s website,, or via regular mail. Checks should be sent to RUN, Box 8015, Portland, ME 04104. Check back here for additional details.