Proposed high-speed train between B.C., Washington and Oregon part of $8B investment into U.S. rail

Proposed high-speed train between B.C., Washington and Oregon part of $8B investment into U.S. rail
A high-speed train is pictured in this file photo.

A proposed high-speed rail line connecting B.C. with Washington and Oregon took another step forward on Friday.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the Cascadia High-Speed Rail project is part of the federal government’s $8.2 billion USD ($11.1 billion) investment into rail infrastructure across the country.

A potential high-speed rail line between Vancouver, Seattle and Portland has been discussed by the province and states’ respective governments for years.

In 2016, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed an agreement with then B.C. premier Christy Clark to explore a high-speed transportation system.

Feasibility studies and other research continued in the years since then, and in September 2022 former B.C. premier John Horgan promised another $300,000 to explore the next phase of the feasibility study for the high-speed rail line.

Half a million dollar grant

While Biden promised $8.2 billion USD for rail projects across the country on Friday, the Cascadia High-Speed Rail project will only be getting a thin slice of that pie.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Cascadia High-Speed Rail project received a $500,000 USD grant for further research into the rail line.

The goal of the proposed rail corridor is to take passengers from Vancouver to Seattle in just 60 minutes, as well as from Seattle to Portland in the same amount of time.

The high-speed trains could travel as fast as 400 kilometres per hour and remove up to six million tonnes of greenhouse gas in their first 40 years of operation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government also promised to invest $500,000 into the existing Amtrak Cascades rail line to expand its operations, which already includes two daily round trips between Seattle and Vancouver.

“WSDOT is very pleased to receive federal support for both important passenger rail programs,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Roger Millar in a statement Friday.

“These two complementary systems would connect with one another to transport people efficiently, reliably and in environmentally friendly ways,” he said. “We’re planning improvements for current rail passengers, as well as envisioning an even more robust system in the future.”

In September 2022, the B.C. government said the cost of the new line was an estimated $42 billion, based on the preliminary feasibility study data.


Adam ChanAdam Chan

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