SEATTLE — For the first time since 2020, an Amtrak train left Seattle en route to Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday morning, reestablishing a connection between the two cities that was lost due to the pandemic.
There will be one daily round trip to start, leaving Seattle at 7:45 a.m. and arriving in Vancouver at 11:45 a.m., with five stops in between. The return trip will leave Vancouver at 5:45 p.m. and arrive in Seattle at 10:10 p.m.
Amtrak hopes to add a second trip in the future as “staffing and equipment allow.”
The restoration of the scenic northern Amtrak Cascades trip along water and past mountains was greeted warmly by passengers and elected officials frustrated at its slow return. Amtrak spokesperson Olivia Irvin said Monday’s departure was about 70 percent full and that the train company is “seeing a lot of interest” in the route.
“I hear from a lot of folks, when is this going to start again? When is this going to start again?” U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, said while celebrating the reopening Monday. During the line’s closure, Amtrak ran bus shuttle services to the north, which Larsen said showed that “the foundation of ridership never went away for Amtrak Cascades.”
The northbound line went quiet in the early days of the pandemic, as the border between the U.S. and Canada was shuttered. But the line did not resume even after travel between the two countries once again became possible.
Amtrak has blamed staffing for lingering service disruptions. In a recent hearing of the U.S. Senate Transportation Committee, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell rejected staffing issues as an excuse for lagging travel.
“Everybody in America has workforce issues,” she told nominees for director of the Amtrak board of directors. “But what I didn’t hear enough of is, what does Amtrak believe they need to do about that, to get the services reestablished that we need in America?”
Amtrak is set to receive $66 billion as part of the federal infrastructure bill signed into law last year by President Joe Biden.
While both Seattle and Vancouver have thriving food scenes, riders who get hungry on the way will find a fully functional dining car.