Amtrak is now offering its first direct, round-trip train service between Portland and Vancouver, B.C., in preparation for the 2010 winter Olympics. The new route stops in Vancouver as part of the Cascades service line. It also means a second daily train runs between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.
The train service, which started Wednesday, is a pilot project that will run until after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics winter games take place Feb. 12 to 28 and March 12 to 21 in Canada. After the games, the Washington State Department of Transportation will decide if the route is popular enough to continue the service.
The Vancouver games are expected to temporarily boost tourism and travel throughout the Pacific Northwest, including passenger rail traffic. But transportation officials also hope the new service will encourage more leisure and business travel in general on the state’s passenger rail system over the long term.
“If there’s sufficient interest in the train, it may well continue,” said Andrew Wood, deputy director for the department’s rail and marine division. “It’s important that as we start offering people more travel options that the rail mode of transport becomes more popular.”
Wood said the Canadian government has agreed to waive the $1,500 per day fee the new train would incur to cross the border until after the 2010 games. Without the additional fee, the new train costs the department roughly $3,000 per round trip to operate, or up to $100,000 per month. The Oregon Department of Transportation covers the cost of train operations in Oregon.
The agency will need to fill at least 100 seats each one-way trip to keep operating costs in the black, Wood said.
BY LIBBY TUCKER, Columbian.com >>> Read full story
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