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Pacific Northwest High-Speed Rail Corridor Amtrak Cascades Passenger Service. Katy Taylor Assistant Secretary of Administration. Lynn Peterson Secretary. Ron Pate Rail Director. SCORT – Maximizing revenues on state corridors September 24, 2013.

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Pacific Northwest High-Speed Rail Corridor

Amtrak Cascades Passenger Service

Katy Taylor

Assistant Secretary

of Administration

Lynn Peterson


Ron Pate

Rail Director

SCORT – Maximizing revenues on state corridors

September 24, 2013


Pacific Northwest High-Speed Rail Corridor

Passenger Rail – Amtrak Cascades

  • 467-mile corridor
    • 300 miles in WA
    • 134 miles in OR
    • 33 miles in B.C.
  • BNSF and UP own the tracks

Amtrak operates the service

  • WSDOT pays Amtrak via contract

Talgo and Amtrak maintain equipment

  • Washington pays Talgo via contract
    • Five trainsets:
      • Washington owns three
      • Amtrak owns two
      • Oregon will add two in 2013

Maximizing Revenue Starts with Knowing Your Target Audiences

  • Do research – qualitative and quantitative.
  • Gather strong data on who your target audiences are and use that information to maximize media spending and promotions.
  • Then use your existing resources strategically:
  • Speak to the people who already like you.
    • Work with Amtrak to develop an Amtrak Guest Rewards program tailored to your route. Our recent AGR promotion reached 170,000 members at NO COST to us.
    • We increased the reach by posting to and our social media channels.
  • AAA promotion including online advertising at their expense and coverage in the Journey Magazine.
    • AAA membership makes them acaptive audience (we like that!).
    • Weekly emails to 230,000 members
    • Featured in Journeys magazine.
    • Book online at AAA website.

Maximizing Revenue Starts with Knowing Your Target Audiences and Finding Matches

  • Sounders FC is our local, very-popular, professional soccer team.
  • Sounders FC and Amtrak Cascades have a very strong demographic match.
  • Our partnership yields:
    • Online ads on the Sounders FC site for 13 weeks.
      • Sounders FC home page ad in weeks 12 and 13.
    • Six Matchday Magazine insertions.
    • Email inclusions and an exclusive email to all registered Sounders FC fans.
    • Social media Tweets from spokes-person Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans while he is on the train.

Bistro display advertising builds on existing partnership: “What are you a fan of? Amtrak Cascades takes you there.”


Maximizing Revenue

  • Use revenue-protected sales:
    • Sales can incentivize potential customers to try your service.
    • Using paid media to advertise sales keeps your service name in front of past, current and potential customers.
    • People searching for your sale price will often buy tickets at other times at a cost greater than the sale price.
    • Amtrak Pricing and Revenue Management can help you determine which types of sales may be right for you.
  • Keep an electronic mailing list:
    • Our Amtrak Cascades list has over 20,000 email addresses.
    • We use this list for quarterly eNewslettersand other specials.

Cost Savings = Reduced Need for Revenue

  • Use in-house photographers:
    • Often photos are just as high-quality.
    • Easier to schedule.
    • No royalty fees.
    • No staff time spent tracking royalty rights.
    • Removes risk of any royalty infringement.
  • Use in-house recording for radio.
  • Use in-house graphics.
  • Radio promotions = free advertising.
  • Take advantage of Amtrak promotionsfor distressed inventory – both offersare random so buyers cannot detect a pattern:
    • Rail Sale – offers last-minuteunsold inventory.
    • Cheap Escapes – offers inventoryunlikely to sell, at a reduced price.

Photo credit: Bruce Ikenberry, WSDOT, Amtrak Cascades in the Puyallup Valley with Mt. Rainier in the distance


Maximize Revenue via Online Bookings

  • 60-75 percent of all travel bookings are now completed online:
  • Make your site user-friendly.
  • Code your site using responsive design:
    • Seamless functionality between smartphones, iPhones, tablets and PCs.
  • Improve your search results (search engines change their algorithms constantly to avoid scammers - we have to change our metadata, page structure and page information to stay ahead of the curve).
  • Ecommerce support isavailable from Amtrakso you can add the fare finder and other widgets to your website.

More Revenue-inducing programs

  • 2:1 cards incentivize new customers to try Amtrak Cascades.
  • Social Media – in addition to using social media to boost the marketing programs discussed previously, new social media programs are being developed to further maximize revenue.
  • Legislatively designated pilot program to partner with businesses (like Victoria Clipper and others) to explore new marketing ventures. The proviso supports the use of a graduate student intern to explore and evaluate new marketing programs.
  • Schools on Trains – great program to get kids on trains. Benefit is two-fold:
    • Generates ridership and revenue midweek.
    • Kids get to experience the train and have a great experience with their peers, which creates young ambassadors for our service.


Ron Pate


Rail Division

(360) 705-6903

Web links:

  • Rail Division -
  • Amtrak Cascades -
  • AASHTO Standing Committee on Rail Transportation -