Canadian border fees endangers 2nd Amtrak train

An Amtrak train travels through White Rock on its Seattle to Vancouver route.

It looks like the Canada Border Service Agency insists on additional fees for this great rail service between Vancouver and the rest of Cascadia – including Seattle and Portland.

A $1,500 daily inspection fee by Canada’s border services agency may kill one of two daily trains between Vancouver and Seattle on Nov. 1, despite a healthy growth in ridership on the popular Amtrak Cascades route.

The CBSA fee is to pay for staff to process the train that enters Canada at night.

That actually amounts to over half a million in fees in one year.  That’s a huge amount if you are trying to run a business.  Fair enough. The CBSA and its employees need to make a living, but they don’t charge the same fee for new cross-border air routes, do they?  So why is there a fee applied to a new rail service.  It essentially kills the economic viability of an important piece of transportation infrastructure.

B.C. Transportation Minister Shirley Bond told The Vancouver Sun that the provincial government is looking at all options to continue the service, including paying for the inspections.

“The return on investment is significant,” Bond said. “Our focus will be to continue to have dialogue with the federal government to find a win here.”

At least our provincial government understands the importance of such a connection.  Let’s think of another cross-border international train route like the Eurostar between London and Paris.  This route has 19-20 daily trips from Paris to London alone.  Could you imagine either the UK or France charging per train for border services.  I think the route would be economically unviable.  So why does the Canadian government insist on thrusting this fee on such an important service?
Okay, we may not be the major metropoli of London and Paris, but a Vancouver-Seattle-Portland rail link does a lot to create a connection between these Cascadian cities and encourage a sort of synergy in the Pacific Northwest economically and culturally.

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