The US government has built a sophisticated customs facility on its side of the US-Canada border to serve rail passengers. But so far Canadian officials have not allowed travellers to clear customs at the crossing before proceeding north of the border, WKBW reports.
US Senator Charles Schumer, who helped establish the Niagara Falls International Railway Station in 2016, has called on Canada to utilise the facility in order to ease cross-border travel.
The Canadian government passed legislation in 2017 that would allow preclearance at the upstate New York station, but currently Canada-bound passengers must still clear customs on the Canadian side of the border, in an open-air facility described as both time-consuming and uncomfortable.
“From its earliest stages of development, the Niagara Falls International Railway Station was designed to contain a state-of-the-art preclearance facility, allowing Western New Yorkers and all Americans to travel to and from Canada’s Toronto Metro Area with ease, boosting commerce between our regions and both of our economies,” said Schumer.
“Today, even though we were successful in our years-long effort to transform the Niagara Falls Customhouse into a vibrant, multi-modal transportation hub, that pre-clearance facility remains under-utilised for no good reason whatsoever.
“With legislation passed by both the American and Canadian governments in preparation for preclearance, and the official preclearance expansion agreement signed last year, it’s high time to get this economy-jolting system up-and-running.”
Canada’s Border Services Agency issued a noncommittal response, saying: “Canada does not currently have any pre-clearance operations in the United States.
“However, Canada is exploring the potential for Canadian pre-clearance operations in both the traveller and commercial streams.
“Unfortunately, we cannot speak to the specific timelines or locations at this time.”