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Second daily Amtrak train to Vancouver, B.C., made permanent

By: Susan Gilmore
The Seattle Times
August 17, 2011


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The second train between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., which was scheduled to end in October, has been given a reprieve and has been made permanent.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews made the announcement this week at a media briefing with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"Despite some significant financial constraints, the Canada Border Services Agency has decided that it will continue to provide publicly funded border-clearance service to Amtrak's second daily train," Toews said.

Because the train arrives in Vancouver at 10:50 p.m., Canadian officials had balked at paying the extra costs of clearing the late train. It wasn't immediately clear how that issue was resolved.

The second train began running in August 2009 as a pilot project. Amtrak was ready to begin the second train a year earlier, but Canada's insistence that the railway cover daily costs for customs staff in Vancouver derailed it. That fee was initially waived after pressure from train supporters and government officials on both sides of the border.

The second train leaves Portland at 2:50 p.m. and arrives in Seattle at 6:20 p.m., then leaves Seattle at 6:50 p.m. for Vancouver.

Amtrak's first train leaves Seattle at 7:40 a.m. and gets into Vancouver at 11:40 a.m.

Washington state contributes $1.6 million a year to help Amtrak operate the second train, said Laura Kingman, marketing manager for the state Department of Transportation rail office.

Between July 2010 and June 30, 2011, the second train carried 233,325 passengers, of which 28,129 crossed the border into Canada, said Kingman. During last year's Olympics, she said, the second train carried 1,872 passengers during the two-week event, and 16 trains were sold out.

Politicians on both sides of the border had worked to make the second train a permanent one. "This was an issue that was raised in British Columbia and by Washington state and ... a matter of very great importance to the business and other travelers there," Toews said.

Kingman said between September 2009 and August 2010, the second train brought in $8.6 million to British Columbia.







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