Amtrak restores service on West Coast routes following COVID cutbacks
In another hopeful sign that the travel industry is bouncing back in Washington after pandemic-induced lows last year, Amtrak says it will restore daily service on 12 long-distance routes across the country, including two that run through Seattle.
Starting Monday, both the Empire Builder (Chicago to Seattle/Portland) and Coast Starlight (Seattle to Los Angeles) routes will resume daily service. The routes had previously only been operating three times a week due to low ridership during the pandemic.
The Amtrak Cascades route will also add a second round trip between Seattle and Eugene starting Monday and a third round trip on the Seattle to Portland segment will also be added.
Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell applauded the restoration of service. In a statement, Cantwell said the long-distance lines in Washington are crucial for rural and underserved communities, many of which lack easy access to intercity transportation.
Service to stations north of Seattle — Everett, Mount Vernon, and Bellingham — remains suspended. Trips to British Columbia on the Cascade line have also not been restored due to the ongoing border closure. Following COVID-19 health protocols set by the state as part of its reopening plan, capacity for train cars has been set to 50%.
The service restoration will also bring back 1,200 furloughed employees.
KNKX's Rebekah Way contributed to this report.