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Passenger train connecting Vancouver to Seattle, Portland returning in September

The northbound Amtrak Cascades train rolls across the Interstate 5 overpass in DuPont, Wash., on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. The overpass was the site of the fatal train derailment in December 2018. (Tony Overman /The News Tribune via AP) The northbound Amtrak Cascades train rolls across the Interstate 5 overpass in DuPont, Wash., on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. The overpass was the site of the fatal train derailment in December 2018. (Tony Overman /The News Tribune via AP)
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The Amtrak Cascades passenger train is expected to resume operations between Vancouver and Seattle in September, for the first since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak previously said the trains wouldn't return to Vancouver until the end of the year, citing ongoing staffing shortages.

"Earlier plans called for a December return to Canada, but Amtrak was able to advance the schedule," the company wrote on Twitter.

Cascades connects 18 cities down the west coast of Canada and the U.S., reaching as far south as Portland, but service into British Columbia has been suspended since March 2020, when the border was closed to non-essential travel.

Vancouver passengers were eventually given the option of boarding a bus and connecting onto the Cascades in Seattle. It's unclear whether people who have purchased bus tickets for this fall will be given an opportunity to take the train instead.

The service boasts "spectacular" views of forests and ocean, along with a bar car, hot food and free onboard Wi-Fi.

"Rail travel frees your eyes from the road, providing more opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest scenery," reads the Washington State Department of Transportation website.

Prior to the pandemic, about 159,000 people rode the Cascades between Vancouver and Seattle annually.

Earlier this year, Washington state officials approved US$150 million in spending to study the possibility of building a high-speed rail service from B.C. to Oregon – a project that could eventually replace the Cascades, but is expected to take decades to build and estimated to cost at least $42 billion.

A previous business case analysis on the possible rail line, released in 2019, estimated it could zip people between Vancouver and Seattle in under 60 minutes.

With files from The Associated Press

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