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.

Just Posted

Out with a roar: Dinosaurs take over forest at Surrey school on last week of class

Six colourful creatures painted by Grade 3 students led youngsters on an expedition in the outdoor classroom

Surrey city council cost taxpayers nearly $1M in 2018

That includes more than $151,372 in expenses from the former council

Animal advocates yowl after Delta cat severely injured in trap

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Judge adjusts Charter award in RCMP assault case in Surrey

Former Surrey hotel manager was awarded $65,000 in damages after RCMP assaulted him

‘Epic’ Surrey Pride party to celebrate 20th anniversary at Central City Plaza

Planners of family-friendly event don’t welcome nudity

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Tsilhqot’in Nation urges Taseko Mines to stop drilling plans before conflict grows

Nation said Teztan Biny area is of ‘profound cultural and spiritual importance’

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Plane veers off runway, into ditch at Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police are on scene

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Man arrested after pimping investigation in Whistler

A 44-year-old man has been charged with procuring and benefiting from sexual services

Most Read

l -->