Williston, ND, photo by C. Hamilton
Williston, ND, photo by C. Hamilton

About the Project

Train Treks are a series of meetings held in local communities, as an efficient and effective way to meet local stakeholders, gain valuable information, make the proper connections, and build the coalitions needed to realize visionary, large-scale, infrastructure projects.

These Train Treks are stakeholder outreach and engagement meetings and presentations. We are requesting funding/sponsorship of a Train Trek in order to further the call for a robust multi-modal transportation network.

Each Train Trek is a specially-focused effort. This can be focused along a specific corridor (for a specific route/system proposal), to a specific audience (elderly, College students, etc.), a specific type of development (Transit Oriented Development, local industrial economic development,) or scope of service and benefit (rural communities with few other options).

We have a list of valuable Train Trek proposals that will further the goals of seamless transportation in the Greater Northwest Region; robust infrastructure investment. Alternatively, a sponsor can fund a specific Train Trek that aligns with their specific goals, on-going projects (i.e. a specific route/service, town or region, persons of benefits: elderly, college students, native americans, economic development, travel and tourism, etc.).

Need

Personal Connections

Even in the 21st Century, showing up matters. You gain far more insights and local respect being there on the ground in person; meeting with people, not just talking at them.

Regional Focus

A state focused too isolated, siloed, and small-scaled to recognize and correct larger systemic problems; the national level has too large a girth to lift at once. A greater regional level is the correct scale to organize and address these problems; especially well-suited is our Greater Northwest region. We need to collaborate over state lines if we hope to succeed where previous efforts have fallen short.

Purposes

The purposes of Train Treks are to:

Goals

  1. Educate the public about a route, issue, or scope of focus.
  2. Receive support (probably predominantly vocal - non financial).
  3. Fulfill an “action call” (support for a specific proposal, vision, project, legislation)
  4. Research and information about a local, that we can convey to the right persons/interest groups/ elected leaders.
  5. Implement long-term economically-viable, user-friendly, non-automobile transportation services through the region on a core passenger rail system: Seamless transportation.

History

Despite the uncertainties caused by the pandemic, the first set of Train Treks covered many areas of Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana in the summer of 2021.

These meetings were conducted in-person and, where possible, broadcast electronically via Zoom.

2021 East-West Train Trek

Between August 12th and 21st, 2021, Patrick Carnahan and Charlie Hamilton led a number of meetings across Washington and Idaho.

Patrick and Charlie conducted Train Trek meetings in the communities of Edmonds, Everett, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Yakima, Toppenish, Richland, and Walla Walla, Washington; and Lewiston, Idaho.

After the PNWER Summit, Patrick and Charlie returned to Washington for further Train Trek meetings in Spokane, Cheney, Ritzville, and Ellensburg before wrapping up the trip with All Aboard Washington’s annual picnic in South Cle Elum.

2021 Colorado-Wyoming-Montana Train Trek

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Image: Example of a “Train Trek” route taken by founder Dan Bilka in August, 2021.

Between August 12th and 21st, 2021, Dan Bilka conducted a number of meetings across Wyoming, on his own time and dime, to meet with communities.

Dan conducted Train Trek meetings in the communities of Cheyenne, Wheatland, Douglas, Thermopolis, and Greybull Wyoming with stop-overs and information requests with Worland Wyoming.

After the PNWER Summit, Dan returned to Colorado with further Train Trek meetings in Evanston, Rawlins, and Laramie, Wyoming.

2021 South Dakota Train Trek

Between June 28th -July 8th, 2021, Dan Bilka conducted community outreach across South Dakota, on his own time and dime, to meet with communities.

Dan conducted Train Trek outreach in the communities of Salem, Mitchell, Plankinton, Chamberlain, Kennebec, Presho, Murdo, Kadoka, and Hot Springs South Dakota.

2021 Wyoming-South Dakota Train Trek

Between August 26th and 30th, 2021, Dan Bilka conducted in-person outreach across Wyoming & South Dakota, on his own time and dime, to meet with communities.

Dan conducted Train Trek meetings in the communities of Sheridan, Gillette, Moorcroft, Sundance and Lusk, Wyoming and Spearfish & Sturgis, South Dakota.

Regional Events

As the centerpiece of the 2021 Train Treks, Dan, Patrick and Charlie participated in the 30th Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit in Big Sky, Montana.

Charlie moderated PNWER’s first-ever Rail Forum; Patrick gave two presentations during the Forum alongside colleagues Dan Bilka, Elaine Clegg, David Strohmaier, Anna Zivarts, and Abe Zumwalt; and AAWA Government Affairs Director Luis Moscoso led a closing discussion with state representative Andrew Barkis of Washington and state senator Chris Gorsek of Oregon.

Successes

In general, the Train Trek meetings were successful in attracting attendees (both via Zoom and in-person) who were actively or formerly involved in rail advocacy, who were unfamiliar with our work, or who wished to join a coalition in support of rail.

Improved Engagement with Local and Regional Coalition Partners

We worked together with partners like the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority, the Rail Passengers Association, and Disability Rights Washington to spread the word about the opportunities that exist for advancing our cause. Thanks to everyone who responded to our request to participate in the Northwest Rail Forum.

Shared Work, Mission, and Vision

We succeeded in sharing our work, mission, and vision with local leaders in the communities we visited. We have significantly increased our visibility and contacts in central and eastern Washington, and have made several important connections with officials at the 2021 PNWER Summit. We have already received invitations to continue spreading our message in other locations during the months to come.

Identified New Potential Collaborators/Allies

We have a number of new local, state, regional, and international contacts who are interested in working with us to improve rail service across the Northwest.

Clarified Potential Legislative Priorities

Through discussions with state and local leaders during the Train Trek events, we have clarified how AANW can advance its mission, vision, and objectives during the 2022 legislative session and beyond.

Improved Visibility

The Train Trek and PNWER events, together with our other activities over the past two years, have significantly raised AANW’s visibility with elected leaders, local community leaders, the press and the public. While we would like to have had more participation in some of these events, on the whole, they successfully furthered AANW’s goals.

Plans for 2022

The All Aboard Northwest team is developing plans for 2022 Train Treks throughout the region. Please reach out if you'd like to learn more about these meetings or sponsor a Trek.