The federal government’s willingness to get rid of passenger rail extends beyond eliminating actual trains. Even symbolic references to passenger rail are disappearing. Passport Canada’s latest “Tips” brochure shows no rail pictogram on its cover.
The federal bureaucrats responsible for approving the brochure have forgotten that Canadians actually can cross the US border by rail from Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal. An unintentional lapse, perhaps, but it indicates how far passenger rail is from the consciousness of the federal government.
Fortunately, many groups are defending passenger rail transport as a viable and sustainable transportation option. Transport Action Canada and its regional affiliates, the National Dream Renewed Project, the Island Corridor Foundation on Vancouver Island and other local and national organisations are campaigning for more investment to improve and expand Canada’s passenger rail network.
Your support for these organisations is crucial in the fight for Canada’s passenger rail service. Please consider signing up.
The second daily Amtrak train between Seattle and Vancouver will continue. Canadian Border Services has agreed to not charge Amtrak for customs and border inspection services. Unlike past announcements, this one seems to be permanent.
Crosscut has a good summary of the news:
Canada relents on cash demands for late Amtrak run from Seattle
Amtrak Cascades sign at Pacific Central
Yet again the Amtrak Cascades service between Vancouver and Seattle has been canceled due to a landslide along the track. This is the twentieth time this season! See below the picture for more information about this story.
Sign at Pacific Central says no trains.
The April issue of Trains magazine has a special 48 page report on fast trains. It describes new high-speed trains in China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Europe, relative speed, why some Americans can’t seem to embrace high-speed rail, a map showing the highest speed portions of tracks in the USA (70 mph (112 km/h) is considered high-speed for Amtrak) and many other articles.
A special article on Amtrak Cascades describes how Washington state has grown their system slowly and steadily over the past 10 years by focusing on small incremental improvements to increase the average speed over time, instead of trying to focus on top speeds. It is frequency, reliability and comfort that will bring people back to the train, not absolute top speed. This article especially should be required reading for folks at the BC Ministry of Transportation who are overly focused on roads.
Another reason to take the train in the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland corridor is the introduction of free wireless Internet on the trains. This is a good enhancement for business people, students and anyone who wants to stay in touch and be productive while travelling.
Visit the Amtrak Cascades website for more information.
Cab control car for Amtrak Cascades train at King St station in Seattle. Photo by M. Buchanan
At the last minute, a deal was made to continue the Amtrak train for another year. Canadian Border Services (CBSA) wanted to charge Amtrak $1500 per day ($550,000 per year) for border inspections. Amtrak refused to pay and was going to cancel the second daily Vancouver-Seattle train at the end of October if a deal wasn’t going to be made by October 15th. Transport Action has learned that the CBSA has agreed to a one year extension,
Thanks to everyone who spoke out on this issue including Transport Action members who contacted politicians, publicised the story on blogs, and talked to friends and colleagues. A special thanks go to Ian Burkheimer at PNWER who organised a group of tourism officials, government people, and public transport advocates. Ian brought together everyone with conference calls and emails to try to get the government to listen to common sense.
This issue isn’t dead yet, only delayed for another year. The fact that the CBSA made another extension instead of dropping the idea of cost recovery means that we haven’t heard the end of this story. At least it will give Amtrak Cascades another year to grow and improve the service over the next year.
Regarding the proposed cancellation of the second daily Amtrak train due to Canadian Border Services.
You can make a difference by sending a brief email or letter to one of the following people to make it known that the CBSA should back down on their proposed charge of $500,000 on Amtrak.
You may want to mention:
- The economic benefits of the second train service.
- The importance of this train to US federal government decisions to invest additional rail infrastructure right up to the border. ”This isn’t just about a hundred people riding the train a day, but potential investment of 100′s of millions of dollars”
- The pilot project was a success with more than the CBSA benchmark of 60 riders per day on the train
You can contact the following people:
Get your MP’s email and contact info here:
Send a regular letter:
Please send your letter for free (no postage necessary), to any MP to the following address (NO POSTAGE NEEDED):
House of Commons
There are rumours that Canadian Border Services Agency may be getting ready to impose the $1,500 fee and kill the second train. …
In related news….
Amtrak Cascades reports highest second-quarter ridership since 1994
Edit. Aug 25th.
The Province Newspaper reports that “Daily trains from Seattle to Vancouver to Double”