PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Amtrak plans to increase the number of daily trains between Portland and Seattle from four to six in the fall of 2023, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell announced on Jan. 13.

The federally owned private agency said that it will also add a second round-trip train to Vancouver, B.C. beginning March 7, restoring its Cascades line to pre-pandemic levels. Prior to the pandemic, more than 75,000 passengers used the Vancouver, B.C. route annually. However, the service was suspended in May of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m thankful that Amtrak is finally on the path to fully restore service in the Pacific Northwest,” Cantwell said. “I-5 corridor in the State of Washington is one of the most congested corridors in the nation and the Cascades service provides a convenient alternative to travelers.”

Amtrak previously put one round-trip journey to Vancouver, B.C. back into service in September of 2022. The planned, complete restoration of service, Cantwell said, was made possible through the Investment and Jobs Act — a bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021. The legislation provided a record $66 billion to rail companies, including $22 billion that will gradually be invested into Amtrak during the next five years.

“We had a pandemic and we had disruption of services in key areas across the West,” Cantwell said. “We cannot simply say [that] we don’t have enough conductors; we don’t have enough baggage handlers. We’re not messing around here. We’re not messing around here when it comes to the reestablishing of these services.” 

Additional rail service improvements may be coming to the Pacific Northwest. The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently accepting applications for the Federal-State Partnership Passenger Rail grant program. The grant money could be used to improve services on the Cascades line or build a new rail route in Washington state.