A long-awaited second daily Amtrak train to Vancouver begins service next week and includes a direct round-trip to Portland.

The pilot project begins Wednesday and will run until after the Paralympics.

Stephen Pearce, Tourism Vancouver’s vice-president of leisure travel, said the second Amtrak Cascades will give the local economy a boost at a time when tourism is struggling.

Plans to expand the service last summer came to a halt when the Canadian Border Services Agency determined that a daily cost-recovery fee of $1,500 was a requirement for border services.

Canada will evaluate the pilot project after the Games and will decide whether traffic is high enough to warrant the extra costs.

“It gives us an opportunity to demonstrate what this means to our local economy and to our province,” said Pearce, who welcomed the evaluation.

“I think we’ll find that the tax implications and revenue will certainly outweigh the concerns about additional costs.

“I’m hoping that post-Olympics this will become a fixture in our city.”

Vickie Sheehan, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Transportation, expected that the second Amtrak Cascades would increase annual ridership by about 50,000 passengers.

The current Seattle-to-Vancouver trip annually handles 60,000 people.

In the past, Sheehan said, rail passengers from Portland had to layover in Seattle before catching a train north.

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