The idea of a passenger rail stop in White Rock may have ground to a halt years ago – but the concept is still alive and kicking just across the border for the City of Blaine, Wash.
Blaine, which began pursuing the idea in earnest again last year, is receiving help from economics students at Western Washington University to conduct a feasibility study for an Amtrak stop on the BNSF line through the city.
Participants, led by student Shannon Peterson, have compiled a short online survey to help determine potential ridership – both North and South of the border – that would be attracted by a passenger stop in Blaine.
And Canadians are being encouraged to participate by logging onto the survey at this link, or on the city website, www.cityofblaine.com/849/A-New-Train-Station-in-Blaine).
The sooner potential riders can respond the better, longtime train-stop booster, Bill Becht, owner of Blaine’s Horseshoe Coins & Antiques told Peace Arch News.
He confirmed that Peterson and other students who put together the survey, together with Professor Thomas Roehl, chair of the Department of International Business at WWU, have been invited to speak at a major conference of the National Association of Railroad Passengers in Tukwila, Wash. on Saturday.
Preliminary information from the study is going to be submitted to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) at the meeting, Becht said.
“All the department heads for passenger rail in the northwest will be in attendance,” he added.
Becht said the feasibility study itself “will go a long way in helping our city get this most important passenger rail stop.
“It’s a really good sign – this is great news.”
Supporters of the project have theorized there could be more than a million riders in Canada’s Fraser Valley alone, seeing the ability for this market to easily access the Amtrak system as a huge potential boost for the Blaine economy.
“We consider the Lower Mainland are south of the river as a primary market for a Blaine station,” said Lloyd Flem, executive director of the rail advocacy non-profit All Aboard Washington.
He said the WWU study is very welcome “and will definitely provide some hard information.
“WSDOT can be very cautious about making any changes or doing anything new. We’re pushing them on this. They’re hesitant to add new stations – it’s a matter of proving a Blaine station can pay its own way.”