Pacific International

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Pacific International
Pacific International at Bellingham, July 28, 1973.jpg
The Pacific International at Bellingham in 1973
First serviceJuly 17, 1972 (1972-07-17)
Last serviceSeptember 30, 1981 (1981-09-30)
Former operator(s)Amtrak
StartVancouver, B.C., Canada
EndSeattle, Washington, U.S.
Distance travelled156 miles (251 km)
Average journey time4 hours, 30 minutes
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)793/794
On-board services
Catering facilitiesCafe car

The Pacific International was a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. It was Amtrak's first international train service, operating from 1972 until 1981. After its discontinuance Vancouver service did not return until the inauguration of the Mount Baker International in 1995. As of 2014, the Amtrak Cascades links the two cities.


The departure board at King Street Station (Seattle) in 1981, listing the Pacific International

Amtrak did not retain any cross-border services when it assumed control of most intercity passenger trains in the United States on May 1, 1971. As part of its 1972 appropriation for Amtrak the United States Congress directed that $2 million be used for the establishment of service to Vancouver, Montreal (the Montrealer), and Nuevo Laredo (the Inter-American).[1] The Burlington Northern Railroad's International had served the Seattle–Vancouver route up until the creation of Amtrak, and resuming service posed no significant challenges.[2][3] The first Pacific International, Amtrak's first international train, ran on July 17, 1972.[4][5] The train was scheduled to connect with the Los Angeles–Seattle Coast Starlight in both directions.[3] Between October 1979 and April 1980 the southbound Pacific International began departing from Vancouver in the middle of the day and terminated in Portland, Oregon.[6]

The Pacific International struggled to attract riders throughout its history. In 1975 the United States Department of Transportation said it was the worst performer in the system, with a deficit of 47 cents per passenger mile. Critics of the train noted the influence of Senator Warren Magnuson (D-Washington) in establishing the service.[7] When in early 1979 Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams proposed eliminating 43% of Amtrak's route network, the Pacific International was on the chopping block.[8] In the end Congress agreed to fewer, though still significant, cuts, and the Pacific International survived for another two years.[9] Amtrak discontinued the Pacific International on September 30, 1981, as part of another restructuring.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Amtrak gets $227 million". Kingsport News. June 24, 1972. p. 1. Retrieved October 4, 2014 – via open access
  2. ^ "Passenger trains operating on the eve of Amtrak". Classic Trains. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Vancouver-to-Seattle Run By Amtrak to Start July 18". Nashua Telegraph. July 1, 1972. p. 6. Retrieved October 4, 2014 – via open access
  4. ^ Glischinski, Steve (October 27, 2015). "Amtrak 'Cascades' celebrate 20 years in service". Trains News Wire.
  5. ^ Thoms, William E. (1973). "Amtrak Revisited: The 1972 Amendments to the Rail Passenger Service Act" (PDF). Transportation Law Journal. 5: 143.
  6. ^ Goldberg 1981, p. 17
  7. ^ Rood, Mick (September 24, 1976). "What Is the Future of Amtrak 'Experimentals'?". Garden City Telegram. p. 11. Retrieved October 4, 2014 – via open access
  8. ^ "Congress Sympathetic To Cuts In Amtrak Service". Santa Cruz Sentinel. February 1, 1979. p. 36. Retrieved October 4, 2014 – via open access
  9. ^ "Huntingdon Passenger Service To Continue". The Daily News. Huntington, Pennsylvania. October 1, 1979. p. 2. Retrieved October 4, 2014 – via open access
  10. ^ "Not All Changes In Effect; Some Start With New Year". Pharos-Tribune. Logansport, Indiana. October 1, 1981. p. 1. Retrieved October 4, 2014 – via open access
  11. ^ Solomon 2004, p. 52


  • Goldberg, Bruce (1981). Amtrak--the first decade. Silver Spring, MD: Alan Books. OCLC 7925036.
  • Solomon, Brian (2004). Amtrak. Saint Paul, Minnesota: MBI. ISBN 978-0-7603-1765-5.