Dinner train builds support

SNOHOMISH – Business people and city officials in Snohomish are drumming up support for bringing the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train with its annual 100,000 passengers to the city’s downtown from Woodinville.

“The exposure of Snohomish in a positive light is an incredible opportunity,” Colleen Hill, president of the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday.

Stakeholders from Snohomish and Woodinville are meeting next week in Snohomish to figure out how they can relocate the train to run between their cities.

“It’s the best thing that could happen for tourism in both of the cities,” said John Erdman, executive director of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce.

The 10-car train now takes about 410 trips between Renton and Woodinville and carries about 100,000 people each year, said Eric Temple, the train’s owner.

The train, which has run since May 1992, is set to grind to a halt in July when Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway shuts down the Renton-to-Woodinville track.

Temple said he wants to relocate the train to the Woodinville-to-Snohomish route. Passengers on the train would enjoy the quaint, nostalgic Snohomish downtown and enjoy a winery in Woodinville, he said.

“Dinner train is all about food, wine and nostalgia,” Temple said.

Relocating the train route depends on the outcome of a complicated proposal among the railway, the Port of Seattle and King County.

The Port of Seattle is planning to buy from the railway the 42-mile rail corridor between Snohomish and Renton. Then the port intends to trade the rail corridor to King County in exchange for Boeing Field, the commercial airport that King County operates.

It will probably take several months for all the parties to seal the deal, said Sandeep Kaushik, spokesman for King County Executive Ron Sims.

King County plans to build a trail along the rail corridor; it also wants to keep the rails in place between Snohomish and Woodinville, Kaushik said. King County wants to see the dinner train relocate to the Snohomish-to-Woodinville route, he said.

“Obviously, the dinner train is something that has an amenity,” he said.

Snohomish has to sort out several issues to bring the train to its downtown, Snohomish city manager Larry Bauman said.

One issue is whether the train should cross the Snohomish River and stop in the city, he said.

The city would probably want the train to stop outside town because the 900-foot-long train takes space and would require the city to install safety equipment at crossings, he said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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