British Columbia Sun

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Amtrak service restart between Seattle and Vancouver was delayed again


Key takeaways: 

  • The cross-border Cascades train was revoked in March 2020 after the first substantial outbreak of COVID-19.
  • The company says that Amtrak service between Seattle and Vancouver is not ready to restart for most of this year due to a labor shortage.

Amtrak will delay fixing its Cascades passenger-train service between Seattle, Wash., and Vancouver till maybe December because of a shortage of personnel.

Amtrak, the U.S. government-owned railway, revoked all of its Canadian services in March 2020 as COVID-19 pressed governments on both flanks of the border to restrict travel to prevent the spread of the lethal virus.

Since then, no passenger trains have run across the Washington stateā€“B.C. border, despite a restart being in the cards in 2022.

Land and air journey are lawfully permitted between the two jurisdictions with few rules.

Also read: Gas prices continue to skyrocket, with high of $2.34/liter anticipated in Vancouver

Amtrak will delay fixing its Cascades passenger-train service between Seattle, Wash., and Vancouver

The Amtrak pause occurred despite the Biden administration’s much-hyped $66 billion allocated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to catch up on care and spread Amtrak’s national railway service to new cities, including Las Vegas Phoenix, Columbus, and Nashville; the Seattle Times reported.

Janet Matkin, the rail representative for the Washington State Department of Transportation, states transportation officials in Washington state expected the trains would move again by summer or even late spring.

Amtrak doesn’t have sufficient conductors, mechanics, and onboard service staff to use the trains. However, new classes of conductors are in training, according to a note to Washington and Oregon rail directors from Ray Lang, an Amtrak vice-president.

Roughly 159,000 people per year rode between Seattle and Vancouver before the outbreak, or 290,000 when including stations between the big cities, Matkin stated. Passenger fares traditionally cover nearly two-thirds of operation prices, while states cover the remainder.

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