A new Amtrak station opened at the Tacoma Dome on Friday to offer travelers two more daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland.
Amtrak Cascades trains begin running from the new station at 6:45 a.m. Monday, Dec. 18. The trains will be the first to operate on the new Point Defiance Bypass route.
The route includes about 14 miles of new upgraded track and five reconstructed railroad crossings.
Lloyd Flem, a railroad advocate for All Aboard Washington, was aboard for a preview of the New Amtrak Cascades route hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The new route looks different than it used to. The train used to go around Point Defiance, what some considered one of the most scenic routes.
"We traded the beauty of Puget Sound and the Narrows Bridge and part of the Olympics for the backside of buildings,” said Flem.
Flem said he liked the beauty of the old route, but is looking forward to the efficiency of the new route, which is shorter by 10 minutes and allows WSDOT to put two additional trains in service. The trains will go along Interstate 5 by Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"I love the Sound, but my kids are eight and 12. What eight and 12-year-old wants to look at the water? They want to see tanks. They're boys you know," said Robert Richards, who was also on the train Friday.
But it's not just about the scene. The state hopes it'll encourage more drivers to try a faster choice.
"For commuters to see the train go by at 79 mph, oh maybe I have options," said Washington state Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar.
The station and launch of the bypass service are the culmination of the nearly $800 million in federally funded passenger train improvements by the Washington State Department of Transportation.