Vancouver, WA, to Tacoma

The route is divided into the following BNSF subdivisions:

·        Seattle subdivision from Vancouver, WA to Seattle
(mileposts from Tacoma)

The SP&S line along the north bank of the Columbia to Pasco and Spokane leaves to the east at the Vancouver depot (MP 136.5), which is sited within the wye junction, with platforms on the east side of the north line and the north side of the east line, north of which is the Vancouver Yard, with connections on the west side of the line to industrial tracks along the north bank of the Columbia River to the west. There is a north to east leg of the wye junction that passes on the northeast side of the Vancouver, WA, depot, with a grade crossing for access to the station parking lot. The 7-8 track Vancouver Yard runs along the east side of the tracks heading north, with eight extra tracks on the west side of the line. The line is Two Main Tracks, CTC, as far as Tacoma. The speed limit at the junction in Vancouver is 35 mph, rising to 50 mph for passenger trains and remaining at 35 mph for freights, just north of the junction. There is a road bridge overhead, just at the north apex of the wye and the south end of the yard, another road bridge overhead, the north end of the yard and the extra tracks on the west side, a grade crossing, a rail-served lumber company on the west side, and a track trailing in from the southwest. At Rye Junction (MP 133.0), the former Northern Pacific branch from Chelatchie, now operated by the Lewis and Clark Railway, trails in from the southeast, the line turns north-northwest, and the speed limit rises to 70-60. There is a road alongside to the west, a road bridge overhead, crossovers at Vancouver Junction North (MP 132.5), where the speed limit rises to 79-60, and at Felida (MP 130.7), a bridge over a side stream, a bridge over a street, and a waterway alongside to the west that is not the Columbia River.. The line turns north at Knapp.

The line then runs within sight of the Columbia, past a dirt road grade crossing, a dirt track grade crossing, a curving road grade crossing, a grade crossing, crossovers at Ridgefield South (MP 123.6), a 4,700 ft. siding on the west side off track 2 at Ridgefield (MP 122.0), where there are signals and a road bridge overhead, and the speed limit drops to 70-60, a through truss bridge over a side river, crossovers at Woodland (MP 118.3), where the speed limit returns to 79-60, and two grade crossings.

The line curves northwest, past a line heading away to grain silos on the west side, a grade crossing, extra track on the west side, a grade crossing, the southbound lanes of I-5 bridging overhead, the northbound lanes of I-5 alongside to the east and the southbound lanes alongside to the west,  detectors at MP 113.5, Martin's Bluff, a road bridge overhead, and crossovers at MP 111 (MP 110.9), and turns north right along the river at the major silos on the west side at Harvest States Grain Growers (MP 109.0), where there are additional tracks heading away on the west side south of the plant, past a one-time nuclear power station on the river bank, extra track serving industry on the river, on the west side, a road alongside to the west, on the river bank, a pedestrian bridge overhead, a lumber yard on the west side, a road bridge overhead, extra track heading away on the west side, the crossovers at Kalama (MP 107.5), former location of an NP ferry across the river to Goble on the Astoria branch, many extra tracks trailing in on the west side from industry on the river, a through truss bridge over a side river, a road bridge overhead, extra track on the west side serving a steel coil plant, Carrolls, I-5 alongside to the east, the Columbia swings away to the west, and crossovers and signal bridges at Longview Junction South (MP 102.6), with a bridge over a stream in the middle of the crossovers, where the line angles north-northwest, to the Kelso-Longview area.

Kelso is on one side (the east) of the Cowlitz River leading down from Mount Saint Helens, and Longview on the other (the west). There is a bridge over a dirt track below, and two extra tracks on the west side. At Longview (MP 101.5), trackage leading to the Port of Longview, across the Cowlitz River, heads northwest, with 4-5 extra tracks on the west side and a wye connector further north at Longview Junction (MP 101.1), where there is a 9,392 ft. siding off track 1, and the speed limit falls to 70-50. There is a grade crossing just north of Longview Junction, dual highway bridges overhead, a through truss bridge over a side river, a golf course on the west side, and crossovers at Kelso South (MP 98.9), and the line turns north again, along the east bank of the Cowlitz River, past a grade crossing at MP 98, a grade crossing, the Amtrak station at Kelso (MP 97.3), where there is a 5,100 ft. passenger siding off track 1 (on the east side of the line) and the depot and platform are on the east side of the line, with extra track on the west side.

There is a river on the west side of the line, and two road bridges overhead. On the west side of the track, a large railroad trestle belonging to the Columbia & Cowlitz (CLC) crosses the river from the west and turns north alongside the main line, past many lumberyards. There are Intermediate Singals at MP 96.3, and the CLC trestle descends on the west side to interchange with the BNSF line at Rocky Point (MP 95.8), where there is a BNSF tower on the west side, the speed limit is 45-40, and the CLC then heads away north on a similar trestle to that further south, before turning east, as the main line angles slightly to the east of north, to pass under the CLC at the north mouth of 1,165 ft. Ostrander Tunnel (MP 95.2), with a road bridge overhead just to the north of the railroad bridge

Curving back and forth along the east side of the Cowlitz River, the line passes a bridge over a road, crossovers at Ostrander (MP 93.4), where the speed limit is 70-60 and rises thereafter to 79-60, a bridge over a dirt road, a bridge over a road below, a grade crossing, detectors at MP 97.4, a road bridge overhead, extra track on the west side, Castle Rock (MP 87.3), a grade crossing, a road bridge overhead, crossovers at MP 85 (MP 85.0), as the line angles north-northwest, crosses over the Cowlitz River on a through truss bridge, past a grade crossing, MP 83, a grade crossing, Intermediate Signals, Olequa, MP 82, a grade crossing, MP 81, a road alongside to the west, a narrow road grade crossing, a road bridge overhead, a bridge over a stream and a grade crossing, and turns north again at the crossovers at Vader (MP 77.0), where there is a 4,900 ft. siding off track 2 and a road briefly alongside to the west.

The line continues north, past MP 75, a grade crossing, a foot crossing, MP 62, Intermediate Signals, a road alongside to the west, Winlock (MP 71.3), a grade crossing, extra track on the west side, a bridge over a stream, Intermediate Signals, a dirt road grade crossing, a short jog northwest, a road alongside to the west, a grade crossing, MP 67, Evaline, crossovers at Napavine South (MP 66.2), a grade crossing, one and then two extra tracks on the west side, trailing in, a grade crossing, and Napavine (MP 65.0), where the line turns northwest and a branch from Alpha used to trail in from the southeast.

The line curves slowly north again, past a road bridge overhead, a grade crossing, Intermediate Signals, and a bridge over a stream, to Chehalis Junction (MP 58.7), where the former NP branch to Willapa once headed west, and in 2004 there is a wye with a short remaining stub of the line on the west side of the tracks, with a road bridge overhead. A connector heads northwest to the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad Association's ex-Milwaukee line running west of the BNSF line, and one to the east to 11th Street on a line once served by the Cowlitz, Columbia & Cascade. There are detectors on both tracks at MP 57.9, rail-served grain silos on the west side, Chehalis (MP 57.7), five grade crossings in town, extra tracks on the west side, the line angles north-northeast, past a road bridge overhead and a bridge over a river, and there are crossovers at Centralia South (MP 55.8), where the speed limit falls to 40 mph, crossovers, two grade crossings, a road bridge overhead, two grade crossings, and the passenger station, with platform and depot on the west side at Centralia (MP 54.0), where there is a grade crossing just north of the depot, a wye connection with the Puget Sound & Pacific (former NP) line headed west and then northwest, and the Centralia Eastern Railroad once headed east, a road bridge overhead, an eight-track yard on the west side, a junction where a UP branch once headed west at a wye, Centralia North (MP 52.5), where the speed limit is 65-50 and soon rises to 79-50, a line to the Centralia Steam Plant heads northeast (from MP 51.9),a bridge over a stream, and the line turns northeast at a grade crossing, with a road alongside to the west, through the crossovers at Wabash (MP 49.5).

There is a grade crossing, MP 49, a dirt road grade rossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 47.5, a through truss bridge over a stream, a road alongside to the west, and a grade crossing. The line turns north at Bucoda (MP 46.7), where a Mutual Lumber Company logging railroad once headed east, and passes Intermediate Signals at Tenino (Junction, MP 43.5), where an alternate Tacoma line through Rainer direct to Lakeview once headed east, a road alongside to the west, a bridge over a road well below, a bridge over a road, Intermediate Signals at MP 41.2, a grade crossing, and a bridge over a road below, crosses over the former Milwaukee line to Aberdeen, now operated by Tacoma Eastern (formerly Chehalis Western) on a bridge near Mud Lake, passes a bridge over an angled road below,  the crossovers at Plumb (MP 37.5), and a dirt road grade crossing, and turns northeast past a bridge over a stream, East Olympia (MP 34.9), where there is extra track on the west side and a shortline to Tumwater and Olympia (the former UP Olympia Industrial Lead) trails in from the north-northwest, a bridge over a road, a street alongside to the west, and a road bridge overhead.

The Amtrak station for the Olympia area ("Olympia-Lacey"), with platform and depot on the east side, is at Centennial (MP 32.2), there is a bridge over a stream, a lake on the north side, two grade crossings, detectors at MP 30.0, a grade crossing, a former NP branch from Olympia that now runs only from a Georgia-Pacific mill (the Lacey Industrial Spur) trailing in from the west at Saint Clair (MP 28.2), and the line turns north-northeast on a somewhat curvy route past a road briefly alongside to the east, a grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at MP 27.2/3, a road bridge overhead, a dirt road grade crossing, and a bridge over a river to Nisqually (MP 24.5), where the speed limit falls to 55-50, there are crossovers, and another alternate Tacoma line through Lakeview heads east-northeast as the main line turns north-northeast, past a road bridge overhead, separate road bridges over the northbound and southbound lanes of I-5, and a wooden pedestrian bridge overhead, and reaches the east shore of Puget Sound, just north of MP 23,, which it then follows past Intermediate Signals at MP 19.6, detectors at MP 18.5, where the speed limit is 50 mph, a dirt road grade crossing to a boat ramp, Ketron (MP 17.7), a footbridge overhead to a small boat pier, a grade crossing to the Pierce Landing car ferry pier, Steilacoom (MP 15.6), a grade crossing to a waterfront park, through truss Drawbridge 14 at West Tacoma (MP 14.4), a gravel spur on the east side at MP 13.6, crossovers at Pioneer (MP 13.5), where the speed limit is 60-50, a pedestrian crossing to a pier, and Intermediate Signals.

The speed limit falls to 60-35, as the line continues along the base of the bluffs with Puget Sound to the west, past a spindly road bridge overhead, a grade crossing, Intermediate Signals, detectors at MP 10.1, Titlow (MP 10.0), a grade crossing, MP 9, and then, at MP 8, under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a suspension bridge across this arm of Puget Sound. (In July, 2006, a second bridge is under construction.) The line then passes Nelson Bennett (MP 6.7), where the line reduces to single-track, CTC, the speed limit rises to 60-50 and the line turns east, under a road bridge overhead, to pass around and under a major promontory, through 4,391 ft. Nelson Bennett Tunnel 2 (MP 5.5), past a park on the north side, through 321 ft. Ruston Tunnel 1 (MP 5.2), and past Ruston (MP 5.1), where there is a road alongside to the northeast, the line is running southeast alongside  the arm of Puget Sound leading to Tacoma Harbor, the speed limit drops to 50 mph, and the line expands to Two Main Tracks, Automatic Block Signals (ABS), Occupancy Control System (OCS—similar to Track Warrant Control but specific to former BN lines).

The line continues southeast, past northwest-facing signals at "Harbor", with extra track and a street alongside on the northeast side, a grade crossing, a road bridge overhead, and two extra tracks on the northeast side, until it curves south at Half Moon Yard into Tacoma, passing spurs on the east side into a Texaco facility, a major grain silo on the harbor on the east side, 11th Street (MP 0.5), where the speed limit is 30 mph, 15th Street, where the line south to Lakeview diverges to the southwest, a road bridge overhead, a major road bridge overhead, a road bridge overhead, the former Tacoma Union Station on the west side (which is now a museum and performing arts center), where there are three tracks and a footbridge overhead, crossovers [which seem to be disabled, in July 2006] at 21st Street (MP 0.0/40.1x), where the speed limit drops to 10 mph as the line turns the sharp corner east past a road bridge overhead leading to a cable-stayed bridge over the harbor, and a grade crossing to a street on the east/north side, to D Street (MP 39.6x), where there is a major harbor and associated yard (at least ten tracks) on the north side, the speed limit rises to 30 mph, there is a street alongside to the east/north, and a grade crossing, and there is a spur, on the south side of the "Two Main Tracks", serving the Amtrak platform and prefab. on the south side at Tacoma (MP 39.3x), which also serves as the southern terminus for the Sounder commuter trains.

Tacoma to Auburn

The route is divided into the following BNSF subdivisions:

·        Seattle subdivision from Vancouver, WA to Seattle
(mileposts from Seattle)

In Tacoma, there is a major harbor and associated yard, and an Amtrak prefab. at MP 39.3x, which also serves as the southern terminus for the Sounder commuter trains, on a spur on the south side of the "Two Main Tracks" around the corner from the former Tacoma Union station (which is now a museum and performing arts center). From Tacoma, the line heads east, past the crossovers at the east end of the 10-12 track yard at River Street (MP 39.0x), where tracks also head northeast into another part of Tacoma harbor, a spur track on the north side under a street bridge overhead, another street bridge overhead, and two pairs of tracks on the north side, turning east-southeast, under a Tacoma Eastern (former Milwaukee) line that passes overhead, to the crossovers at Reservation (MP 38.4x), where there are dual highway bridges overhead, a connector from "TR Junction" heads east across the Puyallup River to the UP (ex-Milwaukee) line, which will follow along the east side of the BNSF line as far as Tukwila, and then along the east side into Seattle), and the now Two Main Tracks, CTC, BNSF line turns curvily southeast, past "Clear Creek', two grade crossings, a narrow pedestrian crossing, a bridge over a stream, Prescott, where the speed limit rises to 79-50, a grade crossing, a narrow road grade crossing, a grade crossing, a street alongside to the east, and a grade crossing.  

There are crossovers at Stewart (MP 34.0x), where the line turns east-southeast, a passenger station for Sounder trains, with two side platforms, at Puyallup (MP 31.9x), where the speed limit is 40 mph, three grade crossings, dual road bridges overhead, and a wye junction at Meeker (MP 30.6x), where the speed limit is 65-50, where the Meeker Southern (a former NP line) heads straight ahead, and the main line turns northeast, past a spur to silos on the northwest side, a grade crossing, a spur on the northwest side, a grade crossing, extra track on the northwest side, and a spur on the northwest side, and across the Puyallup River on a through truss bridge, past signals to the Sounder station with two side platforms at Sumner (MP 29.0x), where the speed limit has risen to 79-50.

The line turns due north, past two grade crossings, a spur on the west side, Intermediate Signals at MP 27.3, a narrow road grade crossing, a bridge over a stream, detectors at MP 26.4 ("Auburn"), Intermediate Signals at Dieninger, a road bridge overhead, crossovers at Pacific (MP 24.0x), a bridge over a divded road below, a through truss bridge over a river, a 9,240 ft. siding at Ellingson (MP 23.8x), Auburn Yard (MP 21.8x) on the west side of the line, a bridge over Willingden Road, Rainier (MP 21.6x), where the south to east leg of a wye heads northeast, the Sounder station at Auburn (MP21.5x), where there are crossovers, two road bridges overhead, a grade crossing, an oil tank farm on the west side, and Auburn North (MP 21.0x), where there are more crossovers and the ex-NP line over Stampede Pass comes in from the east on the east-to-north leg of that wye.

Auburn to Seattle

The route is divided into the following BNSF subdivisions:

·        Seattle subdivision from Vancouver, WA to Seattle
(mileposts from Seattle)

There is a Sounder station at Auburn (MP 21.5x), where there are crossovers, two road bridges overhead, a grade crossing, an oil tank farm on the west side, and the ex-NP line over Stampede Pass comes in from the east on the east-to-north leg of a wye at Auburn North (MP 21.0x), where there are more crossovers.

The line is Double Track, Track Warrant Control (TWC), ABS, and continues north, with a street alongside to the west, past Christopher, a road bridge overhead, two grade crossings, a signal bridge for Intermediate Signals at  Thomas (MP 18.5x, track 1 only), a road bridge overhead, a through truss bridge over a river, a bridge over a road, a grade crossing, "Willis", three grade crossings, crossovers and a Sounder station with two side platforms at Kent (MP 16.3x), where the speed limit is 40 mph before reverting to 79-50 to the north, a grade crossing, a signal bridge (Intermediate Signals), a road bridge overhead, the Kent Industrial Lead on the west side (MP 14.1x), a grade crossing, a spur on the west side, a grade crossing, a signal bridge (Intermediate Signals), O' Briens, a street alongside to the east, a road bridge overhead, crossovers at Grillia (MP 12.2x), a line on the west side, a bridge over a road, MP 12x, Glacier Park (MP11.2x), an erstwhile wye with a former NP line east to Renton, and an Amtrak-Sounder station (east side platform only?) at Tukwila (MP 10.8x).

The speed limit falls to 55-45, and the line expands to Three Main Tracks (of which tracks 1 and 2 are ABS, OCS and track 3 is CTC), at Tukwila, where there are crossovers, dual road bridges overhead, and the UP (ex-Milwaukee) line which has been running along the west side of the BNSF line crosses over to the east side to its Black River location and both lines turn north-northwest. At Renton Junction (MP 9.5x, track 3 only) there is a south-to-east leg of a wye with the former Milwaukee line headed east, now owned and operated by BNSF as far as Renton, to replace that former NP line to Renton, which ran just further south. The north leg of that wye trails in from the southeast at BNSF's Black River (MP 9.1x), where there is a bridge over Black River, crossovers and signal bridges, and a yard entrance on the west side of the line, and the speed limit rises to 75-50.

From Black River northward to South Seattle, there are two extra tracks on the west side and two more further away, and then BNSF's  8-track (or so) South Seattle Yard is on the west side of the tracks, with dual highway bridges overhead, and a road bridge overhead. At South Seattle (MP 7.9x), the north end of the yard, there are two extra tracks on the west side, followed by crossovers. The line passes Rhodes (MP 6.9x), a 9,157 ft. siding off track 3 at Van Asselt (MP 6.4x), where there are crossovers, a detectors at MP 5.2x, Boeing Field on the west side, a signal bridge for the flat crossing with the  (three tracks) connectors from the UP line on the east side to its Argo yard on the west side at Argo (MP 3.3x), where there are crossovers, the line reduces to two Main Tracks, CTC, and the speed limit falls to 40-30.

At Coach Wye (MP 2.5x), the BNSF line into the Seattle Harbor continues ahead, with a very tight wye connection  to the main line, while the now Three Main Tracks, CTC, main line turns north, with the Amtrak Coach Yard on its east side past four road bridges overhead, the last for the eponymous  Spokane Street (MP 2.1x), where CTC ends and the line continues as DT OCS, past a spur trailing in on the west side, an adjacent road bridge overhead and grade crossing on its north side, a signal bridge overhead, a grade crossing, a freight depot on the west side, a grade crossing (Lander Street), extra tracks on the west side, a grade crossing, Safeco Field, the Seattle baseball stadium, on the west side, a grade crossing, Qwest Field, the Seattle football stadium, on the west side, and the passenger station at Seattle (King Street) (MP 0.0x), where the speed limit is 20 mph.

The latter has an island platform, a main platform, serving three through tracks, with two through freight tracks on the east side, on the west side, where the brick-built multi-storey depot with its signature clock tower is located, and two south-facing stub-end platforms, serving four terminal tracks in total, on the south side of the depot. A large pedestrian bridge over the tracks, connecting with the road above the retaining wall on the east side of the line, was built in 2004 for the onset of the new Sounder commuter train service.