After a period of intense lobbying and pressure from a variety of interest groups and stakeholders, Canada’s federal government announced Thursday that the second daily Amtrak Cascades trip to Vancouver will continue to run for another year, at least until October 2011. Last month, we reported that the Canadian government would start charging WSDOT an annual fee of $550,000 to cover border security fees; that stipulation would have led to the cancellation of the second train by the end of this month. To absorb the costs, Amtrak would need to add $20 to each passenger fare.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson pressed the [Canadian] federal government to extend support for the train, put in place to accommodate a surge in tourist traffic during the Olympics. The reprieve means that Amtrak and its supporters will have a year to demonstrate that the economic benefits – estimated at $11-million for Canada – justify the added inspection costs borne by the federal government.
The news is very welcome for those of us who’ve pushed for more Cascades service. While the CBSA extension allows the trip to run for another year between Portland and Vancouver, the current schedules still require lengthy layovers that don’t make the most out of the Cascades fleet. Zach last opined that interlining service could allow for more efficient use of the Talgo fleet, leading to a comment thread that yielded some fairly thoughtful suggestions.