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West coast rail link aims to reduce border congestion

Posted: August 1, 2014

VANCOUVER — An extension of the second Amtrak Cascades train service between Vancouver and Seattle is being touted as one of the measures to reduce wait times at border crossings.

B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond and Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond made the announcement following the first meeting of the B.C.-Washington State joint Transportation Executive Council.

“By extending the second daily Amtrak train service, visitors will not only have another travel option during the upcoming summer tourist season, but it is also an essential first step in developing and advancing a shared, long-term vision of high-speed rail connecting Vancouver and Seattle,” says Bond. “This will provide more information when considering the viability of making the second train permanent, as well as gauging demand for future high-speed rail.”

The second daily Amtrak Cascades train began service on Aug. 19, 2009 as a pilot project, running through the end of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Canada Border Services Agency has since agreed to extend the provision of border clearance services for the second Amtrak train through the end of September 2010.

Investments to more efficiently move people and goods through the border crossings were also discussed during the meeting, including $7 million in U.S. federal Coordinated Border Infrastructure funding for Washington State to upgrade the Advanced Traveller Information System (ATIS) for Interstate 5 between Bellingham and the border in Blaine.

The ATIS provides real-time information on wait times at border crossings, allowing motorists the option to select an alternate crossing.

B.C. will explore partnering opportunities to expand the ATIS in the province to include the Aldergrove/Lynden (Hwy 13) and Huntingdon/Sumas (Hwy 11) border crossings. In B.C., the ATIS is currently in place at the Peace Arch (Hwy 99) and Pacific (Hwy 15) border crossings only. All four crossings in Washington State are served by ATIS.

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