Ottawa quietly makes second Amtrak Cascades train permanent

The annual crisis over continuation of Amtrak’s second train on the Cascades route from Vancouver to Seattle was quietly cancelled this year by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announcement in Winnipeg that he’s found permanent funding for Canadian border clearance of train passengers.

It was the cost of  border clearance — a charge Ottawa thought Amtrak should pay because of the special shift required — that had put the second train in doubt after the 2010 Games and again last year. Mayor Gregor Robertson lobbied hard with local businesses, US rail supporters and fellow mayors in Washington and Oregon to keep the service and twice won extensions of the 2010 pilot program.

Now Toews has solved the problem, good news for both Vancouver’s tourism industry and the future of sustainable transportation, perhaps even higher speed trains, along the Pacific seaboard. The second train is the equivalent of several cruise landings in positive economic impact.