Train Travel
10:54 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Late train from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., to stay on track

The late train from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, will no longer be coming to a stop.

The nightly service was scheduled to end on October 31, when Canadian officials said they expected Amtrak to start paying for the extra border staff it requires. The Canada Border Services Agency wanted $1500 a day to compensate for keeping patrol agents around later into the evening, according to Railway Age Magazine:

Neither Amtrak, nor the Washington State Department of Transportation, was willing to fund such a cost; CBSA responded by considering the second Cascades frequency a “temporary” service.  

This week, they switched gears and announced Canada will absorb the costs. In a media briefing, Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters it would make the service permanent:

"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.

The reason for the change of heart wasn't immediately clear, according to the Seattle Times. It could have to do with public pressure or tourism dollars. Laura Kingman, marketing manager for the state Department of Transportation rail office, told reporter Susan Gilmore the second train:

  • carried 28,129 passengers into Canada between July 2010 and June 30, 2011.
  • brought in $8.6 million to British Columbia between September 2009 and August 2010.
  • During the two-weeks surrounding the Olympics, it carried 1,872 passengers and 16 trains were sold out.

Amtrak started offering the service as a pilot project in 2009 as an alternative to the only other train departure early in the morning. 

The late train comes from Portland and leaves Seattle just at 6:50 p.m., pulling into Vancouver, B.C. at 10:50 p.m. The earlier train leaves Seattle at 7:40 a.m. and gets into Vancouver at 11:40 a.m.