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San Francisco to Vancouver overland

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Hi all, after a bit of advice please for my son who will commencing a summer job in BC in late March. He is thinking about flying in to San Francisco (from OZ) and then making his way by land to Vancouver so as to see some of the countryside on the way. He prefers train travel to bus but it seems the Coast Starlight (perhaps as the name suggests!)runs overnight. Are there daily (daylight) options - it didn't look like it on Amtrak website? If not, what would people suggest and would Portland be a good option to stop on the way for example? Also, any recommendations/comments for youth hostels in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle please? He is also considering Seattle to Vancouver Island at the end.
Thanks.

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