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Travel to and from Canada on Amtrak. Transportation Border Working Group. Winnipeg – October 28, 2009. Overview of Amtrak. Began operations May 1, 1971 Took over the deficit passenger businesses of more than (then) 20 private railroad companies 21,000 mile nationwide route system

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travel to and from canada on amtrak

Travel to and from Canada on Amtrak

Transportation Border Working Group

Winnipeg – October 28, 2009

overview of amtrak
Overview of Amtrak
  • Began operations May 1, 1971
  • Took over the deficit passenger businesses of more than (then) 20 private railroad companies
  • 21,000 mile nationwide route system
  • 28.7 million passengers carried in 2008
  • 27.2 million passengers carried in 2009
  • More than 300 intercity trains per day
    • Northeast Corridor (High-Speed)
    • State Corridors (Include all services to Canada)
    • Long Distance System
amtrak services to canada
Current:

Portland – Seattle – Vancouver “Amtrak Cascades” and Thruway buses

New York – Toronto “Maple Leaf” (A VIA Rail Canada train when in Canada)

New York – Montreal “Adirondack”

Discontinued

Chicago – Toronto “International”

Washington – Montreal “Montrealer”

New York – Detroit “Niagara Rainbow”

Amtrak Services to Canada
amtrak ridership to and from canada
Amtrak Ridership to and from Canada
  • “Amtrak Cascades” - Vancouver
    • FY 2007 – 66,175
    • FY 2008 – 67,179
    • FY 2009 – 74,566
  • “Maple Leaf” - Toronto
    • FY 2007 – 59,459
    • FY 2008 – 66,275
    • FY 2009 – 46,575
  • “Adirondack” – Montreal
    • FY 2007 – 63,229
    • FY 2008 – 71,599
    • FY 2009 – 66,008
customs and immigration processes amtrak cascades
Customs and Immigration Processes – “Amtrak Cascades”
  • Current northbound
    • All customs and immigration done entirely in Pacific Central Station
  • Current southbound
    • Immigration pre-clearance - Pacific Central Station
    • Customs – On board trains stopped at Blaine WA
  • Amtrak recommendation in PRIIA Section 406 report to Congress
    • All customs and immigration in both directions to be done entirely at Pacific Central Station with closed door train operations in Canada
    • TSA, USCBP, CBSA plus local and Amtrak police participated in developing these recommendations
customs and immigration processes maple leaf
Customs and Immigration Processes - “Maple Leaf”
  • Current Northbound
    • CBSA screens passengers on board in Niagara Falls ON station. The “Maple Leaf” becomes a VIA Rail Canada train at the border.
    • “Persons of interest” receive secondary screening off board
    • USCBP may do an outbound screening for a person of interest leaving the U.S.
  • Current Southbound
    • USCBP screens passengers on board in Niagara Falls NY Station. The “Maple Leaf” becomes an Amtrak train at the border.
    • “Persons of interest” receive secondary screening off board in station including all third country nationals receiving biometrics evaluation
  • Pending possibility – All passengers disembark with luggage for processing off-board in new consolidated customs and immigration facilities on both sides of the border and then re-board trains
  • Requested – Continue current process or, preferably, develop a way to process passengers enroute with the train underway
customs and immigration processes adirondack
Customs and Immigration Processes – “Adirondack”
  • Current northbound
    • Passengers screened on board with train stopped at Lacolle QC
    • Persons of interest taken to nearby highway border crossing for secondary screening
  • Current southbound
    • Passengers screened on board with train stopped at Rouses Point NY
    • Persons of interest taken to nearby highway border crossing for secondary screening
  • Pending possibility – All passengers disembark with luggage for processing off-board in new consolidated customs and immigration facilities on both sides of the border and then to re-board trains
  • Recommendation – Replicate Vancouver proposal with all customs and immigration in both directions done entirely at Montreal with closed door train operations in Canada, discontinuing the current stop at St. Lambert QC
possible future border crossings
Possible Future Border Crossings
  • All three current locations between:
    • “Amtrak Cascades” between White Rock BC / Blaine WA
    • “Maple Leaf” between Niagara Falls ON / NY
    • “Adirondack” between Lacolle QC / Rouses Point NY
  • Plus possibly:
    • Boston – Montreal High Speed Corridor
    • Chicago – Michigan – Ontario – Quebec
  • Very remote chance of reviving any discontinued crossings
objectives and issues
Objectives and Issues
  • Objectives from an Amtrak perspective
    • Increase cross border ridership
    • Link seamlessly with VIA Rail Canada
    • Maintain and improve passenger-friendly processes with minimal personal disruption
    • Achieve progressively faster trip times rather than border formalities routinely taking up to an hour … or more
  • Issues
    • Conflict between the legitimate objectives of border security and higher speed rail service
    • Potential offloading of passengers with baggage for screening enroute would likely result in a two hour delay to trains for unloading, processing and reloading – particularly risky during inclement weather and / or among elderly passengers
    • Funding to achieve agreed objectives
amtrak preferences
Amtrak Preferences
  • Where there are no stops in Canada – End point customs and immigration processing by CBSA and USCBP in Canada in both directions with closed door operation in Canada (as now northbound into Vancouver)
  • Where end point processing is not practical due to intermediate stops in Canada – Continue current on-board screening at the border while evaluating requirements for processing passengers with the train underway