• Bellingham, WA

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by theseaandalifesaver
What's the deal with the old Amtrak station in Bellingham? Why was it closed and moved? Is the set of tracks right outside the old station the current day BNSF Bellingham yard?
  by westernfalls
The deal was 20-some years ago when the port authority built an intermodal transportation center in the Fairhaven part of town; buses and trains with ferries across the street. The GN station is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and the BNSF uses it as a yard office.
  by bdawe
Which is most unfortunate, since as a Vancouverite, while Fairhaven has a few places to drink, a great many of Bellingham's breweries are nearer the old station (amongst other attractions)
  by theseaandalifesaver
Yeah, the old station is way closer to downtown. I checked out the museum while I was in Bellingham which wasn't super impressive but had a lot of great pictures.
  by NorthWest
Amtrak operated Seattle- Vancouver service 1972-1981 as the Pacific International and then dropped it.
Service didn't return until the Cascades trains returned in 1995.
In the mean time BN converted the station to offices, as trains were not expected to return. The new one was built in Fairhaven (railroad: South Bellingham) due to the proximity of the ferry terminal.

The BRM is small, but I enjoy it (as my hometown museum).
  by AgentSkelly
Wern't they also thinking of building the newer station in Ferndale too?
  by NorthWest
I think that there was a proposal for an additional station in Ferndale, but not the one meant to serve Bellingham. It is far enough that it doesn't make sense compared to the locations on the waterfront.
  by AgentSkelly
Ah ok....I just remember around that time there was lots of talk about what stations would be back online for the restoration of the International runs.
  by Tadman
The Bellingham station is quite convenient to ferry passengers. Last summer I got off a ferry and 30 minutes later boarded a train to Seattle. This is all fine and dandy until you realize the connection is not guaranteed and the ferry can be massively late. The next train is in like 5+ hours. If they want to have a truly good ferry-train connection, there should be a 3x/week Sounder as a boat train that meets the ferry and then stops in Seattle and Seatac. The ferry doesn't come that often, perhaps 3x/week, so it wouldn't be a monumental undertaking and it would leave the Cascade for through passengers. I would assume most passengers from the ferry are going to Seattle or Seatac (but would love to see that data).
  by AgentSkelly
Alaska Marine Highway from what I was told by a friend who takes the service recommends that as a foot passenger, you spend the night in Bellingham and then take the 513 out the next morning to ensure you make the train. And right now, Bellingham gets a ship once a week on Fridays; it will change of course in the spring to 2x.
  by wigwagfan
Tadman wrote:there should be a 3x/week Sounder as a boat train that meets the ferry and then stops in Seattle and Seatac.
For so many reasons that isn't going to happen; most importantly the fact that Bellingham is not in the Sound Transit District, and voters just approved a huge 30+ year capital project schedule for projects within the district. Build in Bellingham and you'll piss off four million people pretty quickly.

That, and Sea-Tac doesn't even have a railroad track much less a station, so that'd be a several billion dollar project tearing down a lot of homes. When there is already a light rail line (Central Link) from Union Station (just across the street from King Street) to the Sea-Tac parking garage, why duplicate what is already there? Surely the riders won't be that inconvenienced, having already transferred from a ferry to a train and they will ultimately have to transfer from a train to a plane... (Seriously, if they were in a rush, the LAST thing they would do is take a ferry and a train, when there is plenty of sea-plane service that can fly them directly to one of four airports with commercial air service - Vancouver, Victoria, Bellingham and Sea-Tac).

If there is so much ridership in Bellingham, the question becomes why not take off one of the poorly performing Portland-Eugene runs and move it north, possibly as a second Portland-Vancouver train?
  by Tadman
I was referring to the Tukwila station, not an in-airport station. Given the river, interstates, and significant grades, I don't know that you could get from BNSF to Seatac. Sorry for the confusion.

This does bring up another point. It's frustrating catching a $10 uber when they should have a shuttle from the Tukwila station to Seatac. It's a few miles. But that's for another thread.
  by theseaandalifesaver
Are the tracks right outside the old Bellingham depot the Bellingham BNSF yard? Are there any other yards in Bellingham? It looked pretty empty last time I was up there.
  by NorthWest
Yes, that is the one and only Bellingham yard. It is primarily used for hosting the Bellingham/Cherry Point Sub local that serves industries in the area. It is also where Bellingham's trash trains are loaded and the cars staged. A power set of two Geeps is often by the yard office.

There are a few tracks about a mile south that were formerly part of the Milwaukee's Bellingham yard, though most of that has been ripped out and is only used for occasional MOW storage.
  by AgentSkelly
You know, GN did that a lot...put a depot right at the yard...look at Vancouver, WA and even New Westminster, BC.