News & Reviews News Wire Amtrak Cascades service to Canada pushed back to December

Amtrak Cascades service to Canada pushed back to December

By Trains Staff | May 16, 2022

| Last updated on March 1, 2024

Transportation officials in Washington, Oregon, protest move, ask for ‘partial service’

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Train approaching bridge
An Amtrak Cascades train approaches the Chambers Bay bridge in Steilacoom, Wash., on June 26, 2018. Citing staff shortages, Amtrak says it will not resume Cascades service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, until December. David Lassen

SEATTLE — Transportation officials in Washington state and Oregon are protesting an announcement by Amtrak that it does not plan to restart Amtrak Cascades service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, before December 2022.

The Associated Press reports Ray Lang, Amtrak vice president of state-supported services, informed the rail directors in both states that the passenger railroad does not have enough conductors, onboard service staff, and mechanics to operate the trains.

A joint response from Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Roger Millar and Oregon Department of Transportation Director Kris Stricker said Amtrak’s “lack of support for the Amtrak Cascades service cannot continue and Amtrak’s plans to delay the re-start of Canadian service for seven months or more is not acceptable to WSDOT and ODOT.” They suggested at least partial service in the interim.

Amtrak had begun qualifying runs for train crews on the Seattle-Vancouver route in February, with a post to the Cascades Facebook page that it would “re-establish train service later this spring.” The service halted in May 2020 when the Canadian border was closed to non-essential travel.

That same Facebook page announced Friday that the service would not return until “late 2022.”

13 thoughts on “Amtrak Cascades service to Canada pushed back to December

  1. As was pointed out, the airlines have a pilot shortage and it will continue as the pipeline is dry. Remember, to be an airline pilot you need a Federal Air Transport Pilot certificate and that requires 1500 flight hours among other things. Military pilots get paid to accumulate those hours although it’s a bit of a comedown to go from a big, intercontinental C-17 to a 737.

  2. No matter how much in funds Congress throws at Amtrak, money is no substitute for no experience and lack of competence.

    As a state operating enterprise (SOE), Amtrak was allowed to create an insular culture, devoid of senior railroaders in leadership, as well as missing oversight and stewardship of experienced Board members.

    This resulted in the establishment of a self-serving bonus performance model for corporate management emphasizing cost cutting by rewarding them through the elimination of experienced, skilled staff; not surprising to anybody all to the detriment of Amtrak.

    Continuing to dig their inescapable hole deeper, corporate management seized upon the pandemic to aggressively cut employees, despite how they would be needed when the trains were re-established.

    The end result to such a fiasco decision-making has been the inevitable destruction of revenue opportunities in established markets, such as Seattle-Vancouver.

    Such pathetic failure to acceptably and consistently perform simply cannot be just by accident…

  3. 2328 miles WASH – Seatle. Out of sight out of mind. No one on the board west of the Mississippi river.

  4. Maybe OR & WA should consider contracting the service with the same company that operates the Sounder Commuter service, assuming BNSF approves?

    And yes, PRIIA209 was an extension of Amtrak’s corrupt and secret accounting system allowing them to extort more money from the various states to subsidize their sacred, money losing NEC.

    1. BNSF is the operator for Sounder. I kind of doubt they want to operate the Cascades, particularly since it operates over UP south of Portland.

  5. Gotta wonder if Mr. Gardner & Co are having T&E crew and Mechanical Department personnel shortages that are standing in the way of adding back trains on The Sacred Way (NEC). Since Messers. Coscia and Gardner have refused to post online train schedules I cannot measure how today’s service levels compares to those in pre-pandemic years.
    Do any on this forum know how PRIIA209 works for when Amtrak, presumably with state approval, reduces service. In IL for example, pre-pandemic services were two round trips CHI-CDL. Now one of them is cut off. Does IL pay proportionally less than what was originally agreed upon?

  6. Too many people got used to feeding off the government teat, and do not want to work for their money anymore. Also too many businesses have been putting their employees in the liability column, instead of the asset column of the balance sheet where they used to be, and chopping away at them and treating them poorly. Now it coming back to haunt them.

  7. Clearly there appears to be a “disconnect” between Amtrak and its state-sponsors of the Cascades Corridor in the Pacific NW.

    And yes, Alaska Airlines is presently in “Meltdown” mode. They claim that they will have a handle on their staffing needs (pilots, FAs, etc.) by June and their cancellations will abate then. We’ll see ……

    The wonderful ‘Biden’ economy …!

    1. Between 2019 and now, did half the eligible workforce die, retire, win the lottery, or otherwise vacate the country?

    1. Well, the main airline out of SeaTac, Alaska Airlines, is currently having to cancel flights due to a pilot shortage. So it still might take a while.

    2. Mr. Landy needs a reality check. Multiple US airlines are canceling routes due to staffing shortages. Just about every industry in the US is suffering labor shortages. There are two Chili’s restaurants in Chicago’s southwest suburbs I like to patronize. Both have closed half their dining rooms, i.e., operating at 50% capacity, due to lack of employees.

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