Train travel from Vancouver to Seattle with the Amtrak Cascades is a great and economic way to avoid border traffic, relax and enjoy the spectacular coastal views.
With daily scheduled departures, the Train from Vancouver to Seattle is an easy and fun way to travel for families with children. With the recent bridge collapse and temporary fix along a main route between Vancouver and Seattle, the normal mid-heavy traffic has gotten even worse. Its time to take another look at leaving the car behind and enjoy a train ride from downtown Vancouver to downtown Seattle.
Arrive 40 minutes before departure! Doors open at 5:30 am. Bring your passport.
The Amtrak Cascades runs twice daily from Vancouver to Seattle with an 6:30 am early morning departure from Vancouver to Seattle (arriving around 10:55 am), which continues on to Portland arriving there at 3:00 pm. And an evening Vancouver departure at 5:35 pm just to Seattle arriving there at 10:00 pm. Northbound returns from Portland (at 2:50 pm), and Seattle (at 6:50pm), and arrives back in Vancouver late in the day at 10:50 pm. Or stay the night in Seattle and take the early morning return departing Seattle at 7:45 am, and arriving in Vancouver at 11:45 am. If you wanted, you could even visit Seattle for the day, you can catch an early morning train from Vancouver to Seattle, and return in the evening on the same day.
The train ride takes about 4 hours long, that’s only a little longer than driving from Vancouver to Seattle under ideal conditions, it drops you off downtown and offers you whopping savings by avoiding Seattle hotel parking fees.
Note: You must arrive 40 minutes before departure, at least! I know they ‘suggest’ it, but if you do not, you will not be allowed on the train. Because we are crossing borders, customs happens on the station before departure, and it takes a while for all the passengers to be processed, but the train departs at 6:40am! Last minute arrivals after 6:10am, even with a ticket, are not accepted. Not pretty, but there are many a sad traveler who’ve missed their train because of this (me included!)
Tickets and Seating
Seating is assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis when you line up for a boarding pass at the station (even if you have an e-ticket). Prices alter a little bit, based in demand, but in general, the earlier you book the cheaper the ticket will be. A one-way coach fare from Vancouver to Seattle ranges from $45 to $75. From Vancouver to Portland, a one-way fare ranges from $65 to $120. Children aged 2 to 15 go for half price. Business class seats cost from $20-25 more each way.
Tip: Arrive at the station very early and ask for a seat on the west side of the train, so you get the coast views. That’s the right side going south, and the left side going north.
Free Wireless is available in all Coach and Business Class cars, and throughout the train. The standard wireless opt-in webform should pop-up on your device. An instruction card for connecting to the wi-fi should be located in the seat-back in front of your seat. There are also power outlets located near your feet along the wall. And if you’re the type of person to make loud and lengthy phone calls, please move to the vestibules between cars and talk there. I want to enjoy the ride and I don’t need to know your business.
Enjoy the Scenery
When you get tired of using the free wireless, there are seemingly endless views along the coast that pass in a almost cinematic way along your journey. Enjoy the view!
The beauty of train travel is you can get out of your seat and enjoy a stroll along the trip. Visit the Bistro Car, between cars 2 & 3. If you’re hungry you can get hot coffee (no espresso), sandwiches and snacks. And seriously, getting up at 5 am and scrambling to Pacific Central Station before 6 am, I could use another coffee, and who had time to eat? The Lounge Car is located next to the Bistro Car, and offers table seating, a nice alternative if you want some space, need to work, or want a better seat.
Baggage & Bikes
Carry-on baggage is limited to two pieces per passenger (with few exceptions). Checked baggage service is available only at certain train stations. Trains are equipped with a limited number of bike racks for traveling with bicycles, sometimes as few as 6 spots. Reservation required so book early; a service charge of $5 applies. Passengers should bring their bicycle to and picks it up from the baggage car. Consult agent. If spots are all taken, you’ll need to check your bike as baggage and box it.
King Street Station Seattle, Gorgeous!
Seattle’s King Street Station has just undergone a major renovation, and this beautiful public space is a real treasure! Over 40 percent of commuters arrive in Seattle using public transportation these days. King Street Station is part of the largest transit hub (bus tunnel, Metro, Sounder, Amtrak, the new First Hill streetcar) west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. And the recent renovation of this beautiful station is even more incentive to take the train.
Back on track: Seattle’s renovated King Street Station in 2013.
The Amtrak Cascades Website
Photos by Clairefromyvr.