Resumption of Amtrak service to Canada (2022)

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Devil's Advocate

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The only train being resumed is the 516/519 SEA-VAC/VAC-SEA pair. It leaves Seattle too early to have any connections from Portland or any points south of Seattle.
According to my memory the lack of practical connections meant I had to spend the night, ride a disgusting bus, or wait for a train so late the scenery would be in darkness. I tried choosing the disgusting bus, mainly because the other options were less practical, but I won't be doing that again. I'm also curious how people avoid forfeiting an expensive trip if a test comes back positive or you are denied entry on some border clerk's whim, assuming that's even possible.
 

MccfamschoolMom

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For Canadian entry requirements, still 10 days after final dose of initial vaccine series (1 or 2 dose). No boosters required.
I had heard from a Canadian YouTuber that his country's government was considering a more flexible definition of "fully vaccinated," to include however many boosters their version of the CDC thinks are required (a number which could change).
 

zephyr17

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According to my memory the lack of practical connections meant I had to spend the night, ride a disgusting bus, or wait for a train so late the scenery would be in darkness. I tried choosing the disgusting bus, mainly because the other options were less practical, but I won't be doing that again. I'm also curious how people avoid forfeiting an expensive trip if a test comes back positive or you are denied entry on some border clerk's whim, assuming that's even possible.
For Starlight connections, it will still be the bus and that will continue even once 517/518 resume. That train never connected to the Starlight. The Starlight connection was always a bus and is likely to remain so.

The random arrival testing is a problem. If you test positive, you have to go into a 10 day quarantine, and they do check. It has the potential of enormous disruptions to travel plans. It is also remarkably stupid. You don't have to stop your travel to wait for results, so you will have been wandering around Canada for 3-5 days potentially shedding virus before getting results and getting slapped into quarantine. It does little or nothing to protect the Canadian public.

I would have much preferred they kept the pre-arrival testing requirement and dropped the random. It would have done more to protect Canadians and at least allowed one to cancel plans and remain at home if positive. Bad, but better than a 10 day quarantine in another country.

The only way around it is by a "Golden Ticket" positive PCR test. Proof of a positive PCR test administered 11-180 days prior to entry. For my November trip, I am planning to take a PCR test two weeks prior to departure, in hopes it actually comes back positive. If it doesn't, I will largely quarantine myself and be careful about masking for those two weeks and take a home antigen test just before I leave.

The selection is by computer based on your ArriveCan application, BTW, not by the CBSA agent.
 
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I had heard from a Canadian YouTuber that his country's government was considering a more flexible definition of "fully vaccinated," to include however many boosters their version of the CDC thinks are required (a number which could change).
They keep talking about this but so far no action. As someone with all 4 current shots I don't care, however the government will face tremendous backlash from the majority who stopped at two. They are also trying to walk a fine line between encouraging Americans to travel here while discouraging Canadians from traveling at all.
 

zephyr17

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They keep talking about this but so far no action. As someone with all 4 current shots I don't care, however the government will face tremendous backlash from the majority who stopped at two. They are also trying to walk a fine line between encouraging Americans to travel here while discouraging Canadians from traveling at all.
If they want to encourage Americans, they need to get rid of that random arrivals test. It is a huge disincentive and a real problem for travelers, while doing little or nothing to protect Canadians.

To actually protect Canadians, they should reinstate the pre-arrival test requirement if they feel any testing at all is needed, and drop that stupidly implemented random arrival test.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I would have much preferred they kept the pre-arrival testing requirement and dropped the random. It would have done more to protect Canadians and at least allowed one to cancel plans and remain at home if positive. Bad, but better than a 10 day quarantine in another country.
Most countries I've checked let vaxxed people simply go about their business or they require a 72-hour pre-departure test that gives you time to cancel or reschedule major expenses as necessary. I am not entirely sure what they're thinking but Canada seems increasingly out of step on this one.

The selection is by computer based on your ArriveCan application, BTW, not by the CBSA agent.
If it is truly random then it should work just like secondary screening in Mexico. Truly random events do not require (and are undermined by) personal details, unique logins, and telemetry apps.
 

zephyr17

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Most countries I've checked let vaxxed people simply go about their business or they require a 72-hour pre-departure test that gives you time to cancel or reschedule major expenses as necessary. I am not entirely sure what they're thinking but Canada seems increasingly out of step on this one.


If it is truly random then it should work just like secondary screening in Mexico. Truly random events do not require (and are undermined by) personal details, unique logins, and telemetry apps.
Canada used to require a 72 hour pre-arrival PCR test until March, the a 24 hour medically collected antigen or a PCR within 72 hours through April, then they dropped pre-arrival test requirements. The still did the random test in addition to the pre-arrival. They dropped the pre-arrival but kept the random🙄

If it is truly random then it should work just like secondary screening in Mexico. Truly random events do not require (and are undermined by) personal details, unique logins, and telemetry apps.
It is apparently pretty random. At least at airport arrivals now, the CBSA agent has nothing to do with it. They notifiy you at your contact info from ArriveCan about 15 minutes after you clear inspection.
 

Willbridge

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For Starlight connections, it will still be the bus and that will continue even once 517/518 resume. That train never connected to the Starlight. The Starlight connection was always a bus and is likely to remain so.

To clarify, sometimes people recall that the former Amtrak Pacific International did connect with the Coast Starlight from July 17, 1972, till 1975. In 1975 when the U.S. went on Daylight Savings in winter, Canada did not and that would have resulted in a 5:30 a.m. departure from Vancouver, BC. Amtrak began experimenting with other schedules. Given the connection difficulties, border hassles, slow runtimes (including a wye movement upon the late evening arrival in Van.), and looming cutbacks in VIA Rail, nothing worked well enough to save the service and it was discontinued in September 1981. Numerous lessons from the Pacific International experience influence the Cascades Canada service design.

In 1977 my family and I enjoyed a melted ice cream dessert in SP&S Diner 'Columbia' rolling along the Sound shoreline. Departure from Seattle was late due to Train 14 running late. Refrigeration had failed. In the rain-drenched night, CN Police shooed passengers out and locked up the station. They weren't kidding -- I managed to grab this shot as they hustled us out.

1977 115.jpg
 

zephyr17

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Canada may drop random arrival testing, vaccine requirements and ArriveCan entirely as of September 30th.


More good news to go along with the resumption of Cascades service to Vancouver on September 26th!

Means I might not have to worry about the 🤬 random testing for my trip starting 10/29!
 

zephyr17

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And Canadian sources:


Not official, but all changes to Canada's COVID border policies have been preceded by such leaks before official pronouncements.
 
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Hoping this means they restore the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Bus - don’t see any more excuses to delay (save for perhaps hiring drivers to run it - hope that doesn’t delay it too much). With the increase in Detroit-Ann Arbor bus service, restoring that means I could get all the way to Canada (and the VIA Rail station in Windsor) on transit. Now if only we could have a through Chicago-Detroit-Toronto train…
 
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zephyr17

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Hoping this means they restore the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Bus - don’t see any more excuses to delay (safe for perhaps hiring drivers to run it - hope that doesn’t delay it too much). With the increase in Detroit-Ann Arbor bus service, restoring that means I could get all the way to Canada (and the VIA Rail station in Windsor) on transit. Now if only we could have a through Chicago-Detroit-Toronto train…
Hope so, too, but have to give you kudos on your ingenious solution to its absence.
 

NYP2NFL01

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I recently rode the Maple Leaf from NYP to Niagara Falls, Ontario (NFS). When I presented proof of my COVID-19 vaccination status at the border crossing, the Canadian border officials said "we don't need to see that"! So, I can see why they are planning to do away with most if not all COVID-19 protocols.
 

StanJazz

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I recently rode the Maple Leaf from NYP to Niagara Falls, Ontario (NFS). When I presented proof of my COVID-19 vaccination status at the border crossing, the Canadian border officials said "we don't need to see that"! So, I can see why they are planning to do away with most if not all COVID-19 protocols.
When you do the required ArriveCan app you upload the proof of vaccination, so they already have it.
 

NYP2NFL01

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True, the ArriveCan app had my COVID-19 vaccination documentation for sure. Amtrak stressed over and over again the importance of having your ArriveCan Receipt AND COVID-19 vaccination record ready for presentation. Amtrak also stressed the importance of wearing masks once the train crossed the border into Canada and at the border control in Niagara Falls, ON. Interestingly half the border control staff were not wearing masks!
 

zephyr17

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True, the ArriveCan app had my COVID-19 vaccination documentation for sure. Amtrak stressed over and over again the importance of having your ArriveCan Receipt AND COVID-19 vaccination record ready for presentation. Amtrak also stressed the importance of wearing masks once the train crossed the border into Canada and at the border control in Niagara Falls, ON. Interestingly half the border control staff were not wearing masks!
My experience having crossed three times since the border reopened, once on the "Can't Rail" bus, twice in my own vehicle:
CBSA never looks at the ArriveCan receipt. The ArriveCan info comes up when they run your id. They're linked.

CBSA does not ask to see proof of vaccination as long as your ArriveCan receipt code is "I" (immunized). That means your uploaded proof of vaccination was good enough. If it's "V" (vaccinated) that means they weren't completely happy with the upload and need to look at it.

I always had an "I" so I was never asked for it, but I had it, just in case. The first time I had a printout of the ArriveCan receipt and they waved it away, saying "we don't need that, we already have it".

Masking on VIA's Canadian was generally enforced, but nicely.
 
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