The city council of Surrey, B.C., has thrown its support behind a train stop in Blaine as a Seattle-based transportation advocacy group continues work studying the feasibility of such a project.
Surrey city councilor Marvin Hunt said he and his colleagues voted unanimously to support a train stop in Blaine at their February 20 meeting. He said discussion was minimal on the particular item because all city councilors were in agreement that such a station could serve hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
“We don’t often spend a lot of time talking about great ideas,” Hunt said.
Canadian support for a train stop in Blaine has increased since support for the idea reignited over the last year. Hunt said a train stop in Blaine could serve the approximately 750,000 Canadians who live in Surrey, Delta, Langley and Abbotsford. Almost all of these residents would much rather cross the border into Blaine to take a train south than double back and take a train from Vancouver, he said.
“It just makes such simple sense,” Hunt said.
At a recent Blaine City Council meeting, council member Ken Oplinger echoed Hunt’s sentiment. Oplinger said it will be important for both British Columbia and Washington state governments to have a hand in funding such a station.
“Now we’re not just talking about a community of 5,400 people wanting a train station,” Oplinger said, “but a community of 750,000 people wanting a train station.”
To inform the public about the possibility of a train station, Bruce Agnew, the director of the Seattle-based transportation advocacy group Cascadia Center for Regional Development, will give a presentation on the work the Cascadia Center has been doing at the Monday, March 12, Blaine City Council meeting, Monday, March 26, Blaine City Council meeting. The presentation will outline trends in ridership of the Amtrak Cascades line that runs from Portland to Vancouver and detail the issues that must be considered for a train stop in Blaine to become a reality.
Cascades Amtrak ridership has steadily increased since its inception in 1994, according to Agnew. Amtrak Cascades revenue has also increased from $12 million in 2006 to $25 million in 2011.
Considerations that must be made for a Blaine train stop include its impact on existing passenger and freight rail speeds and schedules. Agnew’s presentation suggests that investment in freight rail infrastructure, such as the proposed siding rail additions at the border, will aid improvements in passenger rail down the line.