The route is divided into the following BNSF subdivisions:
Scenic subdivision from (Seattle and) Everett to Wenatchee
(mileposts from Duluth?)
At PA Junction (MP 1782.7), where there is a 7,159 ft. siding, the ex-GN line to Vancouver, BC, turns away east with a very sharp curve taking it to the north, where the Everett Yard is located, while the line to Cascade Tunnel and Wenatchee heads due south at this point. The line is single track, CTC, with speed limit rising from 25 mph at PA Junction to 40 mph at Lowell (MP 1781.2), where a connector south from Everett Yard trails in on the east side, and a Milwaukee Road line once crossed on the flat. At this point, the line is running along the west side of the Snohomish River. The speed limit rises to 79 mph for passenger trains, 50 mph for freights, as the line turns south-southeast and then east-southeast, along the river, mostly through agricultural land, passing detectors at MP 1778.6 and 1776.2, the latter at Snohomish Junction West, where the westerly leg of the wye with the BNSF Woodinville subdivision, going south to Black River on the south side of Seattle, goes off to the southeast. The east leg of that same wye trails in at Snohomish Junction East (MP 1775.2), where the speed limit is 60-45 through the junction before resuming 79-50.
A spur north from that same ex-NP line (that used to continue north) crosses overhead on a bridge as the roadbed of the ex-Milwaukee Road line comes alongside to the north. The main line crosses the Snohomish River, continuing east-southeast past a detector at MP 1771.1 near Fryelands to the 11,988 ft. siding at Monroe, where the speed limit is 45 mph, the line turns due east, and the former Milwaukee Road line once crossed on the flat and headed south. The ex-GN main line continues east, with the Snohomish River alongside to the south, past a detector at MP 1762.0, where the speed limit is 50 mph and logging railroads once headed south, Sultan, where logging railroads once headed north, and Startup (at the bottom of the grade), turning southeast past the 10,244 ft. siding at Gold Bar (MP 1755.7), where the speed limit is 70-50, crossing the river again and turning east at a detector at MP 1751.9.
The line now enters on a period of running directly alongside the Snohomish River, where the speed limit is 50-45, turning southeast and crossing the river again, past the Manufacturer's Mineral Company Spur on the north side, looping away from the river to the east through Index, where a branch to Galena once headed east, and turning sharply, clockwise, back west to the river, then turning east to cross the river twice in quick succession at Sunset Falls Bridge (which has the eponymous waterfall right below it, and then southeast past a detector at MP 1740.5 (Halford), the 10,099 ft. siding at Baring (MP 1739.5), Grotto, a detector at MP 1735.0, where the speed limit is 45 mph, the line crosses the river again, past a spur to a ballast pit on the south side, to the 8,949 ft. siding at Skykomish (MP 1732.3), where the line turns east and the speed limit falls to 30-25 for the rest of the way across Stevens Pass.
After passing a detector at MP 1730.7, the line takes a diversion up a side canyon to the south, making a counter-clockwise horseshoe into Tonga and then turning east along the south side of the river again past a detector at MP 1725.5, Alpine, across a side stream on the Deception Creek Bridge, past a detector at MP 1721.2 and West Scenic to the 9,259 ft. siding at Scenic (MP 1709.5), all of it through lush forest. Cascade Tunnel, one of the wonders of the railroading world in North America, is the third crossing of the Cascades at this location, following an original switchback route over Stevens Pass itself and an earlier Cascade Tunnel at a much higher elevation. Originally electrified to avoid problems with smoke in the tunnel, Cascade Tunnel is now operated in a similar manner to Moffat Tunnel in Colorado, with a big steel door at one end and massive air blowers for blowing diesel exhaust out of the other end. These latter facilities result in a practical minimum spacing of 30 minutes between trains passing through the tunnel, even if they are going in the same direction.
At Scenic, the original line once curved away southeast and then looped around crossing above the present line and over the river (Tye Creek), and then curving back west again on the north side of the river, climbing the north wall of the valley through tunnels and snowsheds and reversing its direction at a clockwise horseshoe. The present line passes Scenic in an east-southeasterly direction, and then turns east-northeast, across Tye Creek, through East Scenic and into the 41,152 ft. Cascade Tunnel 15, whose east end is at MP 1700.3, just before reaching the 12,323 ft. siding at Berne (MP 1698.5), where the original line trails in from the northwest.
In the arid landscape east of the tunnel, the line turns southeast to pick up the original line alignment in the deep valley of Nason Creek and then east-northeast and east at East Berne, past a detector at MP 1697.3, through 675 ft. Gaynor Tunnel 14.5 (MP 1696.7) and a detector at MP 1695.2, northeast and then east-southeast to the 6,759 ft. siding at Merritt (MP 1692.4), where the speed limit rises to 50-45. The line then passes a detector at MP 1690.0, and turns east at Nason Creek, and then south to the 10,978 ft. siding at Winton (MP 1686.9), where the original line continued south and the current one turns southeast through 4,059 ft. Winton Tunnel 14 (MP 1684.0) and 788 ft. Swede Tunnel 13.5 (MP 1682.2), east across a valley, bridging a stream below, then southeast through 2,601 ft. Chumstick Tunnel 13 (MP 1680.1), and then south, with the speed limit now 79-50.
The line passes through Chumstick and turns southeast at the 7,905 ft. siding at Leavenworth (MP 1672.2), along the east wall of the river valley with the older alignment alongside the river below. At Peshastin (MP1669.2), where the speed limit drops to 40-35, the old and new alignments come together on the east bank of the river and pass a detector at MP1668.2, cross the river to Dryden (MP 1686.1), cross the river twice more and turns east-southeast past a detector at MP 1661.5, where the speed limit is now 40 mph, and the 8,049 ft. siding at Cashmere (MP 1661.2). The line continues down the west side of the river and narrow valley, with the speed limit now 50-45, past Monitor, and a detector at MP 1654.7 to Olds Junction, where a branch running north alongside the Columbia River goes off across the side river northeastward, the main line becomes 2MT, ABS, and comes alongside the Columbia River heading south-southeast, with a speed limit of 35 mph, into Wenatchee (MP 1650.2), where there is a passenger station. The freight yard is just south of the station at Appleyard, aptly named, because this is the heart of Washington State apple country, famous around the world.
The route is divided into the following BNSF subdivisions:
Columbia River subdivision from Wenatchee to Latah
(mileposts from Duluth?)
At Wenatchee (MP 1650.2), where there is a passenger station. The freight yard is just south of the station at Appleyard (MP 1646.7), aptly named, because this is the heart of Washington State apple country, famous around the world. The single track ABS line, with speed limit 45 mph for passenger trains and 50 mph for freights, turns east-southeast, following the Columbia River, in the middle of Appleyard yard. CTC begins at the east end of the yard, where the speed limit rises to 65-50. The line passes the 5,000 ft. siding at Malaga (MP 1643.3), turns north, where a spur continues ahead at Alcoa Spur (MP 1641.3) to an Alco facility on the west bank, and crosses the river on a multi-span through truss bridge to Rock Island (MP 1640.1), where the speed limit becomes 60-50 and the line turns east-southeast along the east bank of the Columbia. River and line then curve slowly around to the south, passing a detector at MP 1638.1, and Voltage (MP 1537.6), as it runs downstream past Rock Island Dam, continuing south past the 8,154 ft. siding at Columbia River (MP 1635.0), where a GN branch line once climbed the bluffs to the east, a detector at MP 1633.6, and Vulcan, where river and line turns east, leaving the Columbia at Trinidad (MP 1626.6), where there is a 7,856 ft. siding, the speed limit drops to 50-45, and the line turns northeast as the river turns south again.
Then, it ascends on the north wall of a side valley, past a detector at MP 1624.2, through a clockwise horseshoe curve to the south wall of the side valley, heading southwest past a detector at MP 1622.2, turning southeast through 953 ft. tunnel 11.1 (MP 1621.4) and past Crater, to reach the escarpment above the Columbia River valley, and turning east to the 10,398 ft. siding at Quincy (MP 1615.5), where the speed limit is 60 mph before rising to 79 mph for passenger trains, and remaining 60 mph for freights, immediately east of there. The line heads across the Palouse, open upland agricultural country, thick with grain fields and grain elevators beside the tracks, passing Winchester (MP 1608.9), a detector at MP 1607.9), the 10,350 ft, siding at Naylor (MP 1603.8), where the line turns north-northeast, and an Amtrak stop at Ephrata (MP 1599.3), where the speed limit is 65-60.
The line turns northeast, past Air base (MP 1597.1), where an industrial track heads south, and Soap Lake, and turns east to the 10,794 ft. siding at Adrian (MP 1588.6), where the speed limit is 55-50 and the line turns northeast, passing above the former route of a Northern Pacific branch serving the agricultural area, and then east, as the speed limit rises to 70-60, to Stratford (MP 1584.8), a detector at MP 1580.2, where the line jogs southeast and then east again, the 8,794 ft. siding at Wilson Creek (MP 1577.0), where the speed limit is 55-50 before returning to 70-60, another jog southeast and then east again, Marlin (MP 1570.4), where the line turns southeast, the 9,552 ft. siding at Gibson (MP 1565.6), Irby (MP 1562.1), a turn to the northeast at Seward and then southeast again to a detector at MP 1555.8, where the speed limit is 50-45, and a turn east to the 9,232 ft. siding at Odessa (MP 1553.2), where the speed limit has risen to 65-60.
The line continues generally eastward, but curving gently back and forth, passing through Nemo (MP 1584.0), a detector at MP 1543.2, where the speed limit is 79-60 again, and Lamona (MP 1542.9), where CTC ends and Double Track (DT) ABS begins, and the speed limit falls to 60-50, The line then turns northeast, past Downs (MP 1538.2), Mohler (MP 1534.4), and crossovers at Harrington (MP 1527.7), where the speed limit is briefly 50-45 and then 50 mph, turning east-southeast to Bluestem (MP 1520.2), where single track CTC resumes and the speed limit rises to 55-50 past a detector at MP1519.3, and Canby (MP 1514.5), where the line turns east. There is a 7,532 ft. siding at Enwall (MP 1510.8), where the speed limit is 65-60 before rising to 79-60 as the line turns northeast through Waukon (MP 1500.1).
There is a 6,930 ft. siding at Espanola (MP 1499.3), the line crosses above the former NP branch serving this area, now operated by Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad, there is a detector at MP 1495.9, where the speed limit drops to 65-60, Fairchild (MP 1495.2), where lines to Fairchild AFB once ran on the southeast side of the line, and a 7,442 ft. siding at Lyons (MP 1489.8), where the speed limit drops to 40-35. The line now starts to drop into the Spokane River valley, turning east and then southeast where an old line through Highland once headed north, east-northeast, southeast parallel to, but above, that old GN alignment, south where the old alignment once turned east across the river at Fort Wright Junction, and southeast to Latah Junction, where the line from Wenatchee and Seattle, on the one hand, and the southbound line to Pasco and Portland, on the other, come together and turn east-northeast on the spectacular Latah Creek Bridge, built as part of a line relocation project when Spokane held its World’s Fair in 1974 (that also replaced the former GN alignment described above). On the east side of the creek, the line continues past Sunset Junction (MP 1480.8/1.1), where there are crossovers, the northbound line trails in from the south, the line becomes Double Track (DT), ABS, Occupancy Control System (OCS), and turns east on the elevated line into Spokane (MP 0.0), where there are crossovers and the passenger station is on the north side of the track with the depot at street level below the elevated platforms.
The major BNSF yard in the Spokane area is at Yardley, 3.4 miles east of Spokane.