Blog Cascadia Continues Support for Second Train to Vancouver


Photo Source: Amtrak Cascades

There has been a setback to the prospects of a permanent second daily Amtrak Cascades service to Vancouver, B.C. The Canadian federal government has made the decision not to waive permanently a border fee for the second train, requiring the Washington State Department of Transportation to pay almost $550,000 annually for border clearance services. Helping convince the Canadian federal government to waive the border fee — not just temporarily first through the Vancouver Winter Olympics and then until this fall — has been an important issue for Cascadia Center for several years. As a part of the coalition that has pushed for this expanded
service, Cascadia is disappointed with the decision.

We echo the sentiment that WSDOT and
our region’s other leaders expressed in WSDOT’s press release on the issue:

“British Columbia and Washington are so disappointed…. The
economic benefits for Vancouver and Washington are clear as travelers
shop, eat and stay in local hotels. The second train has brought an
estimated $11.8 million in economic benefits to British Columbia during
the year it has been allowed to operate…. We proved that the
ridership demand was there, during the Olympics and after…. We have
no money to cover this added cost and we will not ask Washington
travelers to pay more for their tickets, when customers traveling into
Washington don’t have to pay a U.S. customs fee.” Washington Secretary
of State Paula Hammond

“I am very disappointed to hear about this lack of commitment from
the Canadian federal government…. Washington has made investing in
passenger rail service a top priority, but we need support from our
neighbors to continue this valuable transportation option that connects
our two countries….” Washington State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen,
chair of the Senate Transportation Committee

Media outlets on both sides of the border are covering this
development, which we hope will help keep focus on what we believe is a
short-sighted decision. Articles in The Province, the Vancouver Sun and
Crosscut offer a good recap of where things stand today.

Cascadia Center and other proponents of the second Amtrak Cascades
service and increased high-speed passenger rail service in the
Northwest are working together to find a way to resolve this setback.