- IT'S TIME TO TALK about the trains - The Northern Light, Wed, May 15, 2013 by Brandy Kiger Shreve. Read the ARTICLE.
"On Thursday, May 30, a public workshop that will allow participants the opportunity to discuss passenger rail transportation and development of the state rail plan will be held in Blaine. While an RSVP is not required, those planning to attend are strongly encouraged to fill out a short RSVP form to help organizers ensure they have adequate space and materials for all participants. Specific concerns about the rail plan can be added to the RSVP form to help organizers plan for possible smaller-group discussions. RSVPs can be made at surveymonkey.com/s/WSRP_Blaine30MayRSVPs. "
- WASHINGTON STATE RAIL PLAN REGIONAL WORKSHOP: Thursday, May 30, Blaine, Washington .
The public is invited to discuss passenger rail transportation and help develop the next statewide rail plan at a public workshop on May 30 in Blaine. Workshop participants will receive an update on ongoing technical analysis and discuss priority needs and opportunities for the state rail system with a focus on long-term plans for Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail. When complete, the Washington State Rail Plan will serve as the strategy for future public investment in the state's rail transportation system. will provide an integrated plan for freight and passenger rail, including 5- and 20-year funding strategies. The Plan will also guide Washington as the state works with Oregon and British Columbia to plan for future improvements to Amtrak Cascades. WSDOT will release the final State Rail Plan by the end of 2013. Groups unable to attend the workshop are encouraged to use the contact information below to request a briefing or visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Rail/staterailplan.htm to view project materials and submit comments.
- RADIO REAL ESTATE: The KGMI 79AM interview on Saturday 30th with Mike Kent and Bruce Agnew, Executive Director of Cascadia Center, may be heard HERE. Topics covered: $800m WA State recieved for HS Rail - Oregon to Vancouver BC, $161m earmarked for track improvements (decreasing travel time), vision of 6 train stops in Blaine in the future, attraction for international travelers to the corridor, Rockymountaineer pilot project, depot as the catalist for economic development & tourism, the need for public input, and much more.
- WSDOT and the BCDOT need to know that there is substantial public support for a rail stop at Blaine, hence the on-line petition. The goal is to present 5000 signatures.
Please sign the PETITION and encourage all your friends to sign as well. Comments help, as they will be forwarded to the relevant authorities.
- GREAT ARTICLE in THE NORTHERN LIGHT March 20th
- COMMENTS FROM THE PETITION:
1 - I live in South Surrey. I am a travel agent and believe an Amtrak stop in Blaine would benefit travel and tourism to the entire region.
2 - Regular passenger on Vancouver-Seattle train stop in Blaine would be more convenient for me.
3 - A new stop in Blaine would allow me to use the train.
4 - Presently, if I wish to take the train south, I have to go to Vancouver (one hour) and then spend another hour to get where I started-2 extra hours of travel time and not very convenient.
Elaine, White Rock
5 - My family would use this service.
6 - Bringing business to Blaine, and convenience for going to both Vancouver and Seattle.
7 - I travel there all the time - 2x per week!
8 - I travel across the border regulary. (I have a cottage near Blaine)
9 - It would help revitalize our downtown and bring people to our beautiful town!!
10 - Tired of the option of having to go to Vancouver and having NO parking near the station at all. If Blaine became a stop then I could be there in 15-20 mins time.
11 - It makes a lot of sense for Blaine and provides a better green option than driving into downtown Vancouver to catch a train that returns to the area from where we have just driven.
12 - Blaine is a wonderful town that more people need to experience!
13 - Don't tear down the depot -- restore it please!
Dottie, Maple Valley
14 - I live in Blaine and would utilize the train to get back and forth to Seattle as well as Vancouver
15 - I live in Blaine...would love to be able to take train from here..would open up tourism here as well
16 - I enjoy taking the train, this is a needed stop
17 - This is my hometown and I would use Amtrack services should they become available in the area again.
18 - Economics and close proximity to use the Amtrak Service
19 - (Reason) Economic development in Blaine, and accomodating our neighbors to the North.
20 - (Reason) Need rail transportation both North and South.
21 - I will be moving to the WR area within the next 6 months, and I am a supporter and user of Amtrak.
22 - We travel on the train several times a year and would love the convenience of a Blaine stop.
23 - We'd use it since its so close to us
24 - I love that old station building and if remodeled with care, would add an attraction to our downtown area.
25 - I love history! I'd hate to see that old building be torn down.
26 - Help with an influx of visitors to the sleepy town that is struggling despite having almost 2 million residents due North.
27 - Convenient station location for south-of-Fraser B.C. residents
28 - Character to my town AND I would use it :- )
29 - We would love to be able to catch the train in Blaine. It is crazy to drive to Fairhaven to board Amtrak if we want to go to Vancouver and pass our house on the way. And if we want to go to Seattle, we may as well drive since we would be part of the way there already by driving to Fairhaven.
30 - I live nearby and would appreciate the train transportation to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland
31 - An access port in Blaine to transportation hubs farther south makes wonderful sense and we NEED to encourage more public transportion to reduce road congestion, since our roads are already full of cars!
32 - Convenience to go either direction. To Vancouver, or to Seattle/Portland and beyond... Get er done....
33 - South of Fraser resident, frequenting Amtrak Cascades. A station in Blaine would be a HUGE time saver for me, living in Delta. The South of Fraser region is one of the fastest growing areas in Canada, so the time has come to make this station a reality.
Make the commute to work easier
34 - I and many I know would take the train to Vancouver, Portland , and Seattle if we had the opporunity. The drives going south are so long that we simply choose not to go on numerous occasions.
35 - I grew up in Washington and think Blaine is a very important stop to add.
36 - I think this station has potential, especially from Lower BC mainland (White Rock, Surrey, etc)
37 - I visit the Blaine area regularly, and would love to see a restored depot representing the cultural heritage of the area. Our history can be an important part of our future -- but not if we demolish the unique features that were part of our story!
Susan, Cheney, WA
38 - It just wouldn't make any sense to go all the way to Vancouver to take a train to Seattle when I can drive there in less than 2 hours. Taking a train from White Rock or Blaine makes a lot of sense and would make for a really enjoyable trip.
39 - The station and location would be a boon to Blaine and people who would catch the train south.
40 - We moor our boat in Blaine and support the Blaine economy!
This destination is very essential in providing access for family members, friends that come to visit us in Blaine and also Canadian friends who express strong desire to use Blaine as a departure and return destination for travel on AMTRAK in the USA. It is definitely a depot that would be productive in increasing visitor access to our N.W. location in Blaine and service both US and Canadian citizens.
41 - Improved public transportation, ease to visit places without having to drive
42 - It would be so nice not to travel to Vancouver.
43 - Too far to travel from Langley to D/T Vancouver. Great for tourism for both countries, and I love riding the train.
44 - To get to where I want to go in the Vancouver in the opposite direction
45 - Transportation other than cars is so important to the future.
46 - Blaine and BC south of the Fraser River need this! It is simple and totally feasible. I want to get off in Blaine when visiting friends in the Surrey area. Thanks!
47 - I live in South Surrey and recently drove to Fairhaven to take the train to Portland. We had a fantastic trip. There are so many residents that live right on the border in new developments who would utilize the Blaine Station
going to Vancouver is time consuming and traveling to Fairhaven increases the vehicle traffic through the border. With the Blaine Station open, it would encourage a lot of pedestrian traffic. I am sure the station would be extremely successful.
48 - Want to use the train to Seattle and Portland but driving into Vancouver is unacceptable
49 - What a wonderful way to preserve history yet have the current convenience of a close Amtrack stop
50 - Amtrak is an attractive alternative to driving to Seattle. We live close to the border and don't care to drive the fair distance to downtown Vancouver to get train.
51 - I would like to see Blaine develop into a destination and support any effort to help my local community grow in positive directions. I feel that a stop in Blaine would help boost the community business
52 - Faster than car and better for environment to get from BC to Seattle. Less traffic too.
53 - For the revitlization of Blaine!
54 - It increases the efficiency of travel greatly!
Andy, Birch Bay
55 - As a tourist and train freak, I'd travel to Seattle and beyond much more often. Now if they could just also stop at the old White Rock Station, that would be the cat's ass.
56 - I am planning a day trip by train to Seattle, our plan is to drive to Bellingham to get the train as it will be more convenient than driving to Vancouver and then paying exorbitant parking rates. Having a stop in Blaine would be wonderful. Good luck.
57 - We frequent south of the border for various short getaways and would love to have the option to ride the train and leave the car at home.
58 - To have closer access to Amtrak rather than traveling to downtown Vancouver
59 - More options for travel.
60 - It would be nice to have a train station in Blaine.
61- I think that drawing people in to the town of Blaine is a great idea. I also love the idea of an accessible Amtrack here in town.
62- Very important to serve the North Whatcom and South BC communities!
63- It would help Blaine with tourism exposure. My family would make use of the service.
64- Increases in activity or services available in a city help the community thrive.
65- Passenger rail is fun!
66- A passenger rail stop at the to be restored historic 1908 Blaine Depot will kick-start downtown redevelopment and encourage the City of White Rock to expand their Esplanade to a cross-border pedestrian connection at historic Peace Arch Park.
67- The train is important for traveling to other cities when important travel is warranted. Most people in these small towns need an option to travel, especially when they can't afford a vehicle. I think it would be one of the best things to come to Blaine in a very long time!!
68- It is a much needed service and will aid in getting cars off the roads. BESIDES it is a beautiful ride down the coast!
69- I have Canadian friends that have visted me and this would make it convenient to pick them up in Blaine instead of Fairhaven.
70- Would travel to Seattle for concerts and cultural events
71- I believe this to be a great asset to be preserved & used
72- Easy access to and from my home.
73- I would like to be able to attend more events in Blaine and I think the revitalized station would attract them.
74- It makes sense! Save the historic building, help the city of Blaine grow, and give more people access to the train. I love riding the Amtrak train and would use it so much more if it stopped in Blaine.
75- I have relatives in Blaine who must come to Belllingham to pick me up when I ride Amtrak. This stop would be so beneficial to me and to others.
Kathleen, Eagle Creek, OR
76- I'd use that stop if it were there!! I would love to see the depot in use too.
77- Will increase Cascades train service utilization.
Robert, Mill Creek, WA
78- Adding this station will increase patronage and help assure retention/expansion of service.
79- There is momentum in the city of Blaine for the project, and it would create demand in the Southern area of BC. This means that the stop would effectively tap new markets, without the customs complications of adding a second stop in Canada.
80- Am strong advocate for a balanced transportation system including RAIL!
Bill, Santa Ana, CA
81- At any point in current day-to-day America, any transportation option that would allow people to not use their cars for basic transportation needs is a welcome accomplishment. Travel to Blaine, WA by rail will enhance that idea.
Carl, Auburn, WA
82- Going to Seattle and Vancouver in the future, may just stop in Blaine.
Hendrick, Oude Wetering, Netherlands
83- This landmark will be useful in the future. Let's restore it!
Robert, Pasco, WA
84- It would be a fantastic station for those in the lower Vancouver BC region to take the Amtrak Cascades. I would love to personally take the train to Blaine. It is a fantastic town with a rich background.
Brian, Auburn, WA
85- It is always good to protect,reuse things from our past
86- It would get more cars off the I5
87- My travel plans include trains wherever possible. I leave home for visiting somewhere/one at least six times a year. Since I now live in Blaine it means I can always start and/or end every trip aboard a train.
88- I have friends in Blaine who I would visit more regularly if I could take a train rather than risk what the border lineup might be on any given day if I were to drive.
89- This would help me get to B'ham and/or Vancouver much more easily; save on gas and parking as I could leave my car at home. Much easier than going downtown to get a train.
90- I would love the ability to catch the train in Blaine and head south from there. A lot better than having to drive into Vancouver or Bellingham... thanks
91- Having the Amtrak stop in Blaine would help by bringing visitors, grow the economy. My family an I have been residents of Blaine for over 40 years, this would give me the confidence I need to open my business here in Blaine, I would love to see an be a part of bringing back a healthy community here in Blaine.
92- I would love to be able to disembark in Blaine from Vancouver
93- Easier transit to Seattle downtown and SEA TAC
94- The better our public transportation system is the better our economy will be. This is just a small but important step.
Jim, Kirkland, WA
95- We must plan for alternative public transportation.
96- Perhaps this will help relieve line-ups at the boarder. I have taken the train from Vancouver to Portland and it was a highly enjoyable experience. Moving people by train helps the environment and restoring it will contribute to employment. All those cars idling at the border cannot be helping global warming.
97- I'd love to take the train to Seattle without having to drive to Vacouver just to get on.
98- It would be great to save gas and all the headache of traffic to spend a weekend in Seattle. But driving 2 hours to Vancouver would defeat that.
99- I would use the Blaine station for Amtrak travel. This would be much more convenient for me than going to Bellingham or to Vancouver, BC in order to catch the train.
Mark, Point Roberts
100- The Blaine station is a Historical landmark. I would ride the train from Seattle to Blaine 50 years ago. My parents would meet me at the train and we would go to our summer home in Birch Bay. What a wonderful, scenic, safe, affordable way to travel. We need to be able to travel safely and be environmentally sound.
Jon, Birch Bay
101-Blaine makes such perfect sense for all Amtrak Cascades riders and is a financial win win for the border.
Joan, Fort Worth
102- Because we need to increase the options of transportation and support travel by rail!
103- It would bring a bit of business to Blaine. More importantly it would allow me to debark in my hometown and visit my family.
104- I would use the service if it were to be restored.
105- I have enjoyed taking Amtrac from Bellingham to Vancouver and feel that two stops would be very beneficial to both cities: Blaine, WA and Whiterock, BC. I would certainly use the train more often and feel this would benefit both cities and enhance the tourism and exchange of the region.
106- I live here and would frequent this stop for business and personal use to Seattle
107- More mobilitiy
108- We need more rail passenger service both in inter-city and inter-urban, commuter and other rail passenger services.
Eugene, Manheim, PA
109- A boarding point in Blaine would increase the ridership to Seattle and south immensely . Like others have already pointed out boarding in Vancouver, B.C., is a huge stumbling block both time and accessibility. I believe there is an untapped ""tourist"" dollar to.be realized here. Look at the success of the of the Whistler 'day' train, - or - one way by train, spend the day in Seattle, (or overnight), and back by bus or vice-a-versa. By reopening the Blaine location Amtrac could realize a huge increase in the Canadian market. Hmmm !!! - "" real food for thought"" - Amtrac."
Sharon, North Vancouver
110- I would love to be able to catch Amtrak at Blaine rather than driving into Vancouver.
111- For the convenience of my visitors
Jo Anne, Blaine
112- High-speed commuter train in this Cascade Corridor is an essential part of our future.
113- I can use it for weekly logistics to Bellingham and Seattle.
- PROPOSED BLAINE AMTRAK STOP GETS BACKING FROM B.C. CITIES
- TRAIN DEPOT MAKES STATE ENDANGERED PROPERTIES LIST.
The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has selected the Blaine train depot as one of eight historic sites across the state to be included in the trust’s 2012 list of most endangered historical properties. Article: The Northern Light Peace Arch News
- BLAINE CITY COUNCIL MEETING MARCH 26th: Bruce Agnew, director of Cascadia Center, a Seattle-based transportation policy body, presented a powerful case for the viability of the train station. Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt and White Rock Coun. Grant Meyer talked about the huge customer base from their cities, in addition to neighbouring Delta and Langley. Articles in The Northern Light, Surrey Now, Peace Arch News
- SURREY CITY COUNCIL SUPPORTS BLAINE TRAIN STOP The city council of Surrey, B.C., has thrown its support behind a train stop in Blaine as a Seattle-based transportation advocacy group continues work studying the feasibility of such a project. The Northern Light
- AMTRAK FINDS IT HARD TO TAKE CITIZEN'S HELP, even when they build a station.
A community effort built Olympia's train station and, in the nearly 20 years since, volunteers have met every single train to help passengers. Amtrak is not enitrely impressed: its literature tells travelers that the station is unstaffed. Read more.......
- FEBRUARY 20th, Surrey Council passed a motion of support for an Amtrak stop in Blaine and for the preservation of the old rail station in Blaine.
FEBRUARY 15th MEETING - Border Transportation and Tourism
A meeting was hosted by Cascadia Center for Regional Development, catered by Jack Niemus at the Black Forest Steakhouse. The focus in the first 1.5 hours was the Blaine depot restoration, while the luncheon portion in the 2nd half focused on the train stop. The facilitator for the event was Bruce Agnew, director of Cascadia Center.
- Grant Meyer, White Rock City Councilor
- Marvin Hunt, Surrey City Councilor
- Ray Hudson, Surrey Board of Trade
- Loni Rahm, Director, Bellingham/Whatcom Tourism Bureau
- David Davidson, Program Director, Border Policy Research Institute, WWU
- Dodd Snodgrass, Director of Economic Development, Port of Bellingham
- Bill Becht, organizer, motivator, instigator
- Bob Boule, President, Blaine Chamber of Commerce
- Len Saunders, Immigration Law Firm
- Gordon Rogers, Deputy Director, Whatcom Council of Governments
- Hugh Conroy, IMTC Project Manager, Whatcom Council of Governments
- Melissa Miller, IMTC Project coordinator, Whatcom Council of Governments
- Jack Lowes, Whatcom County Executive
- Gary Tomsic, City Manager, City of Blaine
- Bill Bullock, Director of Public Works, City of Blaine
- Michael Jones, Community Development Director, City of Blaine
- Debbie Harger, Tourism & Community Events, City of Blaine
- Ken Oplinger, City Councilor, City of Blaine
- Bonnie Onyon, Mayor, City of Blaine
- Jack Niemann, Black Forest Steakhouse
- Tony Dolk, Website developer
The Blaine City Manager Gary Tomsic opened the meeting, since the mayor Bonnie Onyon, who had organized the meeting, was unable to be heard beyond a whisper due to a touch of laryngitis.
Bruce Agnew outlined the process that would need to be followed, involving various departments, organizations, agencies and groups. He stated that Blaine Station makes sense for various reasons, and that the chances of a successful outcome is favorable. Both commuter rail and Amtrak service was covered, with the likely hood that Amtrak (too & from Vancouver) would precede the commuter service. The 3 to 5 minute delay stopping at Blaine could be mitigated by rail improvements on either side of the border. Among other topics he discussed were:
- Our unique marine geography and historic Tribal and First Nation heritage, as well as new economic opportunities of enhanced Amtrak Cascades service, growing inter-city coach operations and expanded flight destinations from Bellingham International Airport, i.e. "Gateway Semiahmoo"
- Binational cooperation, both WA State & BC governments and residents
- Funding options - available grants, public private partnerships to leverage federal & state funds
- Weekend rail promotions (cruise ships, casinos, cycling clubs)
- Extension of the Blaine siding - free up main line while CGSA conducts inspection of Northbound train
- Relocating the VACIS (Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System)
- DMU's (Diesel Mechanical Units) - cheaper to operate than conventional, carry 24 bicycles, bistro, wi-fi
- Rail improvements, infrastructure & operational costs
- Staffing of trains, labor unions, costs
- Customs & border crossing issues
- Parking, waterfront access, covered boardwalk from customs to station
- Translink service to the border
Loren Herringstad ( All Aboard Washington) discussed the need to form an action group, and offered ideas from his experience with a similar project with the Olympia-Lacey station. Together with grants, donations of cash and materials, and donated labor, they made it happen. Today the station is served by 10 daily trains.
He emphasized the requirement to get the community on both sides of the border behind this, and suggested the community endeavor to own the station as well as run it, as was done at Olympia-Lacey.
Larry Johnson offered ideas on the restoration of the building, and hurdles to overcome.
The meeting was then opened for discussion. The BC representatives emphasized the advantages to 750,000 residents south of the Fraser river. Now that the White Rock station is no longer an option, they threw in their full support for the project. Questions were asked and answered, and the meeting closed on an optimistic note.
There is a lot of work to be done, and the success depends to a large degree on the support from residents north and south of the border. And that the politicians get to know of the support.
- Response from lower BC has been superb. See "Letters" on Home Page.
- Cloverdale Reporter: B.C. allies back Blaine Amtrak station Article
- Vancouver Sun: Amtrak stop for Blaine stirs interest on both sides of the border Article
- News 1130: Potential Amtrak stop in Blaine touted Article
- Michele Brunoro of CTV interviews City Manager Gary Tomsic at the Blaine station on December 21st. Link
Interview with Gordon Anthony
From 1949 to 1968, Gordon Anthony worked at the Blaine Depot, starting as a clerk at the "Railway Express" office on the north side of the building. Gordon celebrated his 81st birthday in June this year, and recalls with clarity how parcels and packages arriving by train from Canada would need to be inspected. He was responsible, among other duties, to open the packages for inspection by customs officials. Regular shipments were turkeys, not frozen, but on ice, destined for California.
The shipping agent was Carl Liebert, father of former council member John Liebert. Carl later broke away to start CF Liebert in Blaine. Also in the office was a bookkeeper.
The telegraph office was in the center of the depot and Border Brokerage was at the south end. During the first few years, the telegraph officer was still using morse to communicate. In those days Great Northern had three stops at Blaine per day, both ways. As Gordon recalls, only a handful of passengers would embark/disembark each time.
In 1951 Gordon was drafted in the Army and sent to Korea where he served with the Chemical Core in Pohang during the war. It was George Sanders that took over the duties during Gordon's 2 year absence. George's son, Steve started Sanders Brokerage Services in 2003.
After 1968 Gordon worked as a Stevedore in Bellingham and later as contractor/cost engineer at the refinery. In 1990 he retired and now enjoys a quiet life in Blaine, occasionally taking a bike ride to downtown. He would love to see the station operating again and take the familiar trip to Bow, WA, which he used to do once a week as part of his job with Railway Express.
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