Way is clear for Snohomish-Woodinville tourist train

SNOHOMISH — An excursion train could bring tourists to the historic downtown within six months, now that the Port of Seattle has paid $81 million to buy an old rail corridor between Snohomish and Woodinville.

One or two trains could begin service on weekends this summer, taking people from Woodinville’s wineries to the antique shops, restaurants and bars that make up the city’s most cherished neighborhood.

The excursion train will be operated by GNP Railway of Tacoma.

“We see no major issues,” City Manager Larry Bauman said. “But we still have far to go to make this happen.”

The sale finishes nearly two years of negotiations among local governments to convert 42 miles of land along the old Burlington Northern Santa Fe track right-of-way between Snohomish and Renton into other uses.

With the purchase complete, Snohomish’s 8,800 residents can start debating the merits of the GNP’s proposed excursion train.

Supporters believe it could boost the downtown area’s retail sales. Others worry it could turn the quaint city into a stop on a freight line.

So far, local officials haven’t been deterred from bringing the train to town. The City Council met with a Dallas attorney in closed sessions this fall to gain insight on their rights regarding railway law.

The city may meet with GNP Railway soon to discuss where a station might be placed and what it could look like, Bauman said. The station may be complete by the summer.

“They believe they can do it,” he said, “and we’re eager to work with them to make that happen.”

Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, arathbun@heraldnet.com.

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