The City of Tacoma’s Tacoma Rail Mountain Division signed a 10-month pilot agreement with the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train yesterday that saves the state icon from derailment and brings excursion passenger railway service to the city.
The train’s original route travels from Renton along the shores of Lake Washington and over the historic Wilburton Trestle, but was slated to end due to the expansion of Interstate 405.
The Spirit of Washington Dinner Train will make a last run on its original route July 31. The train will begin its trial route in Tacoma Aug. 3, and will run through May 31, 2008. The train’s new route starts just south of the Freighthouse Square Station Platform in downtown Tacoma where passengers will board and begin their three-and-half-hour roundtrip. The train will travel south and stop at Lake Kapowsin in Eatonville before heading back to Tacoma.
“The past year has been quite tumultuous as we weighed options for relocation of the Dinner Train,” said Eric Temple, owner of the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train. “We are extremely appreciative of Tacoma’s willingness to act quickly and save this community gem.”
Spirit of Washington service will run only when rail lines are clear. Excursion service should not interfere with any other Sound Transit, Amtrak or Tacoma Rail services. Although Tacoma Rail will provide storage for Spirit of Washington locomotives and equipment, there is no further cost to the city under the agreement. If the test period is successful, the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train and Tacoma Rail Mountain Division plan to continue their partnership. A subsequent negotiable contract would make Tacoma a permanent home for the train for no less than 20 years.
“This is a tremendous opportunity and we are ecstatic to be a part of bringing the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train to this region,” said Paula Henry, Tacoma Rail superintendent. “This pilot effort will not only create jobs and bring huge economic benefits to our community. It also gets us one step closer to exploring the possibility of excursion trains to Mt. Rainier. This is a time in Tacomas history to celebrate.”
Since its inception in 1992, the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train has served 1.4 million guests, including more than 600,000 out-of-state visitors. The train was a major player in the rejuvenation of downtown Renton, bringing $140 million into local and state economies, supplying 80 full-time jobs to King County residents, making more than $1 million in charitable contributions and investing $1.5 million into property enhancements.
Tickets to ride the 52-mile Tacoma route are on sale now and cost between $53.99 and $83.99 per person depending upon the ride time and seating location. Fare includes a three-course gourmet meal. For more information and reservations, call 1-800-876-7245 or visit http://www.spiritofwashingtondinnertrain.com .