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New interest group aims for advanced NW high speed rail

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

A new coalition of transit interest groups are joining forces to form Cascadia Rail with the goal of building high-speed rail lines throughout Washington, Oregon, and parts of British Columbia.

According to its Facebook page, Cascadia Rail formed in 2018. Its website doesn’t elaborate on who exactly comprises the group, though it does state that its board includes: Jonathan Hopkins with Commute Seattle; Ben Broesamle; Paige Malott; Anthony Gill; and Jon Cracolici. It does not detail which organizations these board members represent.

What is stated on its recent announcement is that it aims to follow in the footsteps of ST3.

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A guest article written by the group itself in the Seattle Transit Blog details why the collection of interest groups between Vancouver BC and Oregon are banding together — bring advanced rail to the region for “high-speed intercity transport.” As the group puts it:

Because our entire region is popular and globally competitive, more is needed to support the growing population across the Cascadia region (combined metro populations of 13.5 million in 2040, up from 10 million today). Every time a mom or a dad spends ninety minutes on a 35 mile commute between Tacoma & Seattle, or 5 hours just to get to Portland, we know something is wrong. WE. DESERVE. FASTER. Our quality of life, and of our children’s lives, depends on it.

 

Cascadia Rail

The end goal for Cascadia Rail is to connect Vancouver BC to Seattle, and Seattle to Portland in less than 90 minutes. The group also wants to connect Spokane to Seattle with a similar line. It echoes a study recently released by the Washington State Transportation Department that looks into “ultra high-speed ground transportation.” The $300,000 feasibility study identified conceptual corridors for the new high-speed rail line.

The study considers high-speed rail, maglev technology, and even a hyperloop. Though King 5 points out that the study considers trains moving at 90 mph; not as “ultra high-speed” as one might expect.

Cascadia Rail cites another recent effort for new transportation options as an example of what it aims for — Sound Transit 3. Despite passing with voter approval, ST3 has become a controversial initiative raising questions around how it planned to be funded.

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