Amtrak trains roll through White Rock daily without stopping. Advocates are pushing for a station just across the border in Blaine to provide an alternative boarding point for Vancouver-Seattle trains.

No Blaine stop for Amtrak trains on horizon

Cash-strapped Washington state has no plans to even study the idea, even with a Surrey/Fraser Valley market of up to 750,000 people.

The dream of a new Amtrak Cascades passenger train stop in Blaine to whisk South of Fraser residents to Seattle and beyond appears to be derailed, likely for years.

The idea of a Blaine station for southbound B.C. travelers has no shortage of supporters on both sides of the border.

They see an untapped market of up to 750,000 residents from Surrey to the Fraser Valley who might ride the rail but can’t reasonably go to Vancouver’s train station to board Amtrak.

But officials at Washington State’s Department of Transportation say no detailed feasibility study has been conducted into the proposed Blaine stop to assess the potential ridership and no money is available for one.

Kerri Woehler, rail planning and strategic assessment manager, said the department is instead focused on completing $800 million worth of upgrades to cut Amtrak travel times, improve reliability and add trips on the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor.

“We don’t anticipate seeing any service changes until after 2017, when that program is completed,” she said.

Nor is Blaine the only town agitating for a new Amtrak station.

Woehler said there’s been “a lot of interest” and the State legislature has ordered a study of a potential stop in Auburn.

But each new stop adds to overall trip times.

Amtrak trains crossing the border from B.C. already stop briefly in Blaine for customs, after rolling straight through White Rock, but Woehler said the aim is to pre-clear those trains so they don’t stop, saving up to 10 minutes.

The bigger challenge facing further Amtrak expansion is money.

The U.S. federal government is cutting off its roughly 20 per cent subsidy for Amtrak Cascades this fall and the states of Washington and Oregon must pick up the difference.

Representatives from White Rock and other B.C. cities were briefed on the status of the state’s rail plans at a May 30 workshop in Blaine.

White Rock Coun. Larry Robinson said he’s not optimistic anything will happen soon.

“There’s no money,” he said. “Washington State does not appear to understand the size of the Greater Vancouver market or the rate at which it’s growing or the potential.”

Robinson maintains a Blaine station is a “super concept” that makes plenty of sense.

A mothballed heritage station in Blaine is just a short stroll past the Peace Arch and could be restored and opened.

It would then be possible for many Metro Vancouver or Fraser Valley residents to take Amtrak to the heart of Seattle for a baseball or football game, he said.

By driving across the border and parking in Blaine – or walking across at the Peace Arch – Canadians would self-clear U.S. customs and wouldn’t require further delay to be processed at the train station.

Significant pay parking fees paid by Canadians might be generated at the Blaine station that officials in the U.S. appear to have not yet considered, he added.

“Unfortunately, they don’t have their ducks in a row.”

Although there’s been talk before of a new or relocated Amtrak station in north Surrey near SkyTrain, Robinson said it doesn’t make sense and would be fiercely opposed by Vancouver.

A Blaine station has been endorsed by Blaine, White Rock, Surrey and Delta  councils as well as the Surrey Board of Trade.

Photo above: Historic Blaine train station.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sources receives $70K from SurreyCares

Funds will help with warehouse space for food programs in Surrey, White Rock, Langley

Rooftop hatchlings ‘a nice addition’ to White Rock RCMP operations

Pair of seagull chicks hatched in ‘fenced playground’ on July 2

‘Justice for Mona’ rally planned for Surrey

Security camera footage shows Mona Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

COVID-19: ‘Contactless’ donation drive in Surrey to help women in need

Items needed for women in shelters, transition houses in the Lower Mainland

Wanted Burnaby man arrested in White Rock

34-year-old facing 15 charges, including sexual assault

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Police nab three impaired drivers in one night in Maple Ridge

Ridge Meadows RCMP served 80 impaired driving infractions in June

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read

l -->