Amtrak will postpone the restoration of its Cascades passenger train service between Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver until December due to staffing shortages.
Amtrak, the US government-owned railroad, canceled all of its Canadian services in March 2020 as COVID-19 prompted governments on both sides of the border to limit travel to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
No passenger trains have crossed the Washington state-British Columbia border since then, despite a scheduled restart in 2022. Land and air travel is legally permitted between the two jurisdictions with few restrictions.
Amtrak’s delay came despite the Biden administration’s high-profile $66 billion allocated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to catch up on maintenance and expand Amtrak’s national rail service. to new cities including Las Vegas, Phoenix, Columbus and Nashville, the Seattle Times reported.
Janet Matkin, rail spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said Washington state transportation officials hope trains will be running again by summer or even the end of the week. spring.
Amtrak does not yet have enough conductors, mechanics and service personnel on board to operate the trains, although new classes of conductors are being trained, according to a letter to rail managers in Washington and Oregon. by Ray Lang, a vice president of Amtrak.
About 159,000 people a year rode between Seattle and Vancouver before the pandemic, or 290,000 including train stations between major cities, Matkin said. Passenger fares traditionally cover about two-thirds of operating costs, while states cover the rest.
“Amtrak’s lack of support for the Amtrak Cascades service cannot continue and Amtrak’s plans to delay the restart of Canadian service for seven months or more are not acceptable to WSDOT and ODOT,” said a Response co-signed by WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar and Oregon Department of Transportation Director Kris Strickler suggesting at least partial service in the interim.
Amtrak currently offers 18 jobs in Seattle, such as coach cleaners, chefs and electricians, among nearly 450 open positions nationwide.
Washington state lawmakers this year approved $150 million to study and plan a high-speed train between British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, possibly replacing Amtrak one day. But it’s estimated to take at least $42 billion and decades to build.
orignal news from, CBC | British Columbia News