A passenger rail advocacy group intends to bring officials together from both sides of the border to discuss the possibility of an Amtrak Cascades stop in Blaine, Wash.
All Aboard Washington government affairs director Luis Moscoso, who is a former Washington State Legislature representative, contacted Peace Arch News this week to raise awareness of the public meeting and presentation, which is to be held at Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, July 13 at 1:15 p.m.
The discussion will be focused on how Amtrak Cascades could better serve Blaine, Whatcom County, White Rock and Surrey.
While British Columbia has contributed a total of $600,000 for a Vancouver-Seattle-Portland ultra-highspeed rail service study since 2018, Moscoso says that more can be done – in the meantime – with the Cascadia corridor.
“We’re already running a train system that’s woefully underachieving because of the failure it took to look at what more it should do.
“Even when our studies said it could do these things, we never asked it to, we never funded it.”
Moscoso said he’s heard from Canadians that an Amtrak stop in Blaine would be more convenient for Surrey and White Rock residents, as the nearest Amtrak stops are currently in Bellingham and Vancouver.
The meeting is to include the mayor and city manager of Blaine, staff for U.S. congresswoman Suzan Delbene, Washington State representative Luanne Van Werven, the director of the Western Washington University border policy research institute, the principal planner at Whatcom Council of Governments and a representative from the Cascadia Institute and Pacific Northwest Economic Region.
Moscoso said that officials from White Rock, Surrey and local MLAs have been invited to the meeting, but have yet to confirm their attendance.
“Rail plans on our side of the border, which I have read at the legislature, have talked for decades about how this service could be so great and how someday we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that,” Moscoso said.
“Well, when is that ‘someday’ going to come? After 20 years now of Amtrak Cascades operating, why haven’t there been more improvements?”
“If it’s just money? Can we find money to do that? And where would it come from?”
Moscoso says as the population increases – he specifically noted that Surrey’s population is to surpass Vancouver’s within the next decade – the problem with transportation only gets worse.
“I can’t say that this meeting on the 13th will have all of the answers, but it’s a reset to tell people: You’re the ones, you’re the people living around here who have to somehow raise the visibility on this growing problem,” Moscoso said.
“The effect is on you, how are you going to insist that your local and federal governments address this problem, because it’s just getting worse.”
The campaign for a passenger rail stop in Blaine has been ongoing for several years, and gained a little steam in 2012, when councillors from Surrey and White Rock crossed the border to back a plan that would revive the Blaine station as a stop on the Vancouver-to-Seattle Amtrak service.