Resumption of Amtrak service to Canada (2022)

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Joined
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I was surprised about 1.35 pm this afternoon (Sat 5 Feb 2022) to be held up momentarily on Rupert Street in East Van as an Amtrak Cascades consist sped eastwards from Pacific Central Station.

Five cars top-and-tailed by usual Cascades power/diesel were not Talgo stock.

Amtrak Cascades' schedule doesn't admit to any resumption of cross-border operation, so a test/training run?
 

zephyr17

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I was surprised about 1.35 pm this afternoon (Sat 5 Feb 2022) to be held up momentarily on Rupert Street in East Van as an Amtrak Cascades consist sped eastwards from Pacific Central Station.

Five cars top-and-tailed by usual Cascades power/diesel were not Talgo stock.

Amtrak Cascades' schedule doesn't admit to any resumption of cross-border operation, so a test/training run?
Well, at least they are keeping crews qualified.
 
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And that isn't just for the existing single Thruway bus departure?

If yesterday's movement was training/testing, they sure used a lot of equipment which had me wondering about some sort of special... but with border restrictions, I doubt that.

But thanks for your response.
 

amtrakpass

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No, there are actual train tickets available for purchase after June 3rd 2022 if you check the app or website. It looks like trains 516 and 518 towards Vancouver BC and trains 517 and 519 toward Seattle and further stops. Before that date it is only the connecting bus service that shows up. Of course they could change that at a later date but the trains are in the reservation system for the time being.
 

zephyr17

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No, there are actual train tickets available for purchase after June 3rd 2022 if you check the app or website. It looks like trains 516 and 518 towards Vancouver BC and trains 517 and 519 toward Seattle and further stops. Before that date it is only the connecting bus service that shows up. Of course they could change that at a later date but the trains are in the reservation system for the time being.
Doesn't mean much. Both trains had been back in the reservation system as of mid-January. Bought ticket for March 26th.

Amtrak cancelled it.

At this point, I would treat it as an artifact of the reservation system, not a commitment to actually running trains. Washington DOT will make a big, public fuss about resuming service, they want badly want to resume the service. Don't count on any thing until a public announcement is made.
 

GoAmtrak

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Wow the Canadian goverment is very generous :rolleyes:.

In Europe, border-crossing trains are back to normal for a relatively long time. They have been restored mostly in mid-summer 2020.

In contrast, the Canadian government waits two more years to re-establish them, or even more. Does this show how little relevance this government gives to passenger railway and how paranoid they are of Corona? Or are there other reasons for waiting such a long time?

Nonetheless, better news than nothing, although quite late.
 
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Canada allowed Americans back in a few months before USA allowed Canadians back in. From the article: "Last year Canada reopened its borders to Americans in August, and America reopened its borders to Canadians in November."
 
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Canada allowed Americans back in a few months before USA allowed Canadians back in. From the article: "Last year Canada reopened its borders to Americans in August, and America reopened its borders to Canadians in November."

And I don't think the economics of running the service would have been (and possibly will still be) particularly attractive. Support funding comes from the state of Washington and Oregon. Neither the Province of British Columbia nor the Canadian federal government are involved, apart from Ottawa having to foot the bill for border-clearing staff at Pacific Central Station.

Even currently, Cascades' service is way below pre-COVID levels:

"Amtrak Cascades trains connect cities along the I-5 corridor including Seattle, Portland, and Eugene, Oregon. Skip traffic. Take the train.

Daily round trip train service includes:



  • Three daily round trips between Portland and Seattle
  • Two daily round trips between Eugene and Portland
  • One bus between Seattle and Bellingham."
There is no "rail" service to Bellingham either, and several scheduled services south from Portland are bustituted. One of the daily round trips between Seattle and Eugene is the Coast Starlight, and thus strictly speaking not a Cascades service.
 
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And I don't think the economics of running the service would have been (and possibly will still be) particularly attractive. Support funding comes from the state of Washington and Oregon. Neither the Province of British Columbia nor the Canadian federal government are involved, apart from Ottawa having to foot the bill for border-clearing staff at Pacific Central Station.

Even currently, Cascades' service is way below pre-COVID levels:

"Amtrak Cascades trains connect cities along the I-5 corridor including Seattle, Portland, and Eugene, Oregon. Skip traffic. Take the train.

Daily round trip train service includes:



  • Three daily round trips between Portland and Seattle
  • Two daily round trips between Eugene and Portland
  • One bus between Seattle and Bellingham."
There is no "rail" service to Bellingham either, and several scheduled services south from Portland are bustituted. One of the daily round trips between Seattle and Eugene is the Coast Starlight, and thus strictly speaking not a Cascades service.
Yes, this is the current situation, but I believe the article says that rail service will be resumed later this year.
 

zephyr17

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This article has no attribution of the Amtrak official who made the announcement. Neither does it state its Amtrak source wishes to remain anonymous.

Neither the Seattle Times nor the Vancouver Sun have run articles on an Amtrak announcement of service resumption to Vancouver.

I put very little faith in this article in light of the lack of attribution and the fact that major local media outlets have not published this "announcement".
 

Willbridge

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And I don't think the economics of running the service would have been (and possibly will still be) particularly attractive. Support funding comes from the state of Washington and Oregon. Neither the Province of British Columbia nor the Canadian federal government are involved, apart from Ottawa having to foot the bill for border-clearing staff at Pacific Central Station.

Even currently, Cascades' service is way below pre-COVID levels:

"Amtrak Cascades trains connect cities along the I-5 corridor including Seattle, Portland, and Eugene, Oregon. Skip traffic. Take the train.

Daily round trip train service includes:



  • Three daily round trips between Portland and Seattle
  • Two daily round trips between Eugene and Portland
  • One bus between Seattle and Bellingham."
There is no "rail" service to Bellingham either, and several scheduled services south from Portland are bustituted. One of the daily round trips between Seattle and Eugene is the Coast Starlight, and thus strictly speaking not a Cascades service.
South of Portland there are only two Cascades and the Coast Starlight trains. The buses are additional, not bustituted. Oregon instigated the bus trips to cover additional train connections such as to Train 28 and to protect against erratic performance by Train 14. Oregon is one of the states that permits non-rail travel on Amtrak Thruway buses, so there are other bus routes connecting with these buses.

Here's EUG>PDX for President's Day, which is not a big deal in Oregon.

1645067775717.png
 
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This article has no attribution of the Amtrak official who made the announcement. Neither does it state its Amtrak source wishes to remain anonymous.

Neither the Seattle Times nor the Vancouver Sun have run articles on an Amtrak announcement of service resumption to Vancouver.

I put very little faith in this article in light of the lack of attribution and the fact that major local media outlets have not published this "announcement".
The two other "rail" articles referenced at the bottom of the one linked sound a little dubious too.
 

Chris I

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I would really hope they get things running again by June. Covid cases are plummeting fast in our region, and tourism traffic is surely going to bounce back this summer. They need to have service in place by the time schools get out in June.
 

JWM

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Rumors as well for Toronto and Montreal service, too. What is needed is for the Canadian and U.S. governments to "sign on" to an agreement to "clear" passengers at the Vancouver and Montreal stations. Toronto is a bit more involved as the "Maple Leaf" had stops in Canada before Toronto. Customs clearance in Canada would speed up the service and make it more attractive. Still cooking on a back burner is extending the "Vermonter" from St. Albans to Montreal which makes sense as well.
 

jis

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Actually even the Adirondack has a stop in Canada - St. Lambert, which is going to be discontinued when C&I inspection moves to Montreal Central.

Adirondack is an Amtrak train on its entire route. The Maple Leaf is not. It is a VIA train in Canada.
 

zephyr17

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Rumors as well for Toronto and Montreal service, too. What is needed is for the Canadian and U.S. governments to "sign on" to an agreement to "clear" passengers at the Vancouver and Montreal stations. Toronto is a bit more involved as the "Maple Leaf" had stops in Canada before Toronto. Customs clearance in Canada would speed up the service and make it more attractive. Still cooking on a back burner is extending the "Vermonter" from St. Albans to Montreal which makes sense as well.
The Preclearance agreement revised to include rail is already in place between the two governments. It was finalized shortly before COVID hit.

The issue now is not having the legal ability to do it, but getting facilities built in Montreal so Preclearance can take place there and expanded in Vancouver so US Customs can take place there along with US Immigration (which has always been done in Vancouver in sort of a "Preclearance lite") so the southbound US Customs stop at Blaine can be eliminated.

It will not happen at Toronto. VIA operates the Maple Leaf in Canada and it will continue to make intermediate stops (eliminating the St. Lambert stop on the Adirondack should not be a big deal). However, the relatively new Niagara Falls, NY station was designed to support Canadian, as well as US, clearance. The new agreement is bilateral, both sides can set up Preclearance on the other's territory if they desire. The facilities in the new(ish) station on the NY side are much better than at the old VIA station on the Ontario side.

Word is the Vermonter will not be considered for extension to Montreal until full US and Canadian port of entry facilities are available in Montreal's Gare Central. Apparently, neither CBSA nor CBP will support adding any more onboard inspection trains.
 
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JWM

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Yes, and the St.Lambert stop is right opposite Montreal on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. Yes, the "Maple Leaf" is a Via Rail train once it crosses into Ontario, but it is a through train so the equipment is Amtrak. As a point of just how rail gets short shrift. U.S. Customs and Immigration pre-clearance has been in operation at major Canadian airports for what seems like forever. I lived in Vermont for 16 years and extending the "Vermonter" northward comes up in the legislature every year. Central Station in Montreal is getting more crowded with commuter and the new line for the north side of the island of Montreal using the old CN tunnel. Still, this should be accomplished and quickly.
 

zephyr17

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I hear they have designated a track for a "train jail" at Montreal like they have at Vancouver and at least some other preliminary design work for port of entry facilities has been done. But it is not moving fast from what I hear.
 
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