Amtrak Cascades train from Vancouver to the US to return in September

Jul 2 2022, 9:39 pm

A popular rail route connecting Vancouver, BC, to US destinations like Seattle and Portland is set to return after a long hiatus this September.

On Friday, July 1, Amtrak Cascades announced that it would once again connect to Canada.

“WSDOT & ODOT are pleased to share that train service to all cities north of Seattle including Vancouver, BC, now resumes in September 2022,” they announced in a Tweet.

“Earlier plans called for a December return to Canada, but Amtrak was able to advance the schedule,” they wrote.

Earlier this year, Amtrak stated it was conducting re-qualification train runs necessary to resume service north of Seattle, with the aim of restarting scheduled passenger trains to Vancouver this spring.

Then, Amtrak said that it would not be able to run train service north of Seattle until “late 2022 due to Amtrak staffing shortages”. The company said it needed to hire for several positions including conductors, mechanics, and on-board service staff and complete their training to open up the full route again.

Until train service is restored, daily bus service between Vancouver and Seattle will continue to be offered through Amtrak’s ticketing system.

For more information on using the Amtrak Cascades route to cross the border, you can check out their Rider’s Guide

amtrak cascades train

The entire Amtrak Cascades corridor from Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, Oregon. (Amtrak)

The full Cascades train corridor runs a distance of 752 km (467 miles) from Pacific Central Station and ends at Eugene, Oregon, with a total of 18 stops, including Bellingham, downtown Seattle, and downtown Portland.

The entire train journey from Vancouver to Eugene is about 10 hours and 30 minutes.

Each one-way trip between Vancouver and Seattle is just over three hours in optimal conditions, with this segment of the route running twice daily Cascades trains prior to the pandemic. The train service usually takes longer than driving due to its slow speeds at long sections, indirect route, and prioritization for freight trains. Fares were roughly US$40 each way from Vancouver to Seattle.

Based on statistics from WSDOT, ridership on the entire Cascades route from Vancouver to Eugene steadily increased in recent years, with total annual ridership reaching 672,000 in 2015 to 753,000 in 2019.

pacific central station vancouver

Pacific Central Station in downtown Vancouver. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

To attract more ridership through an improved passenger experience, Amtrak is planning to replace the existing fleet of three-decade-old Cascades passenger cars with a new fleet of 48 passenger cars with a modern design and ample creature-comfort amenities. The new trains are expected to go into service between 2025 and 2026.

Over the longer term, the governments of British Columbia, Washington state, and Oregon are proposing to build a high-speed passenger rail service linking Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and other communities in between. In March 2022, Washington state’s legislature approved spending US$150 million to proceed with advanced planning work for the high-speed rail project, and this could potentially be paired with US$700 million in matching funds from US President Joe Biden’s administration’s national infrastructure plan.

With files from Kenneth Chan.

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