Gov. Inslee: High-speed rail ‘could help us rebuild our economy’ post-COVID

Dec 10, 2020, 11:41 AM
high speed rail...
A high-speed train running between Munich and Berlin on December 8, 2017 in Berlin. (Photo by Steffens - Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steffens - Pool/Getty Images)

A recently released study lays out a potential roadmap for eventually building a high-speed rail line connecting Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Portland to Seattle in an hour for a Washington bullet train?

The study was commissioned by a collection of Pacific Northwest government entities, pulling input from leaders in Portland, Seattle, British Columbia, and the Washington State Department of Transportation, among others, as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

A pair of previous reports “confirmed the viability and demand for the project,” as well as exploring the “benefits of the project, including economic growth potential in excess of $355 billion.”

This new study sought to “lay out a path forward” and determine the exact steps needed to make a Cascadia high-speed rail line a reality, “with the critical next steps for decision-makers to advance the project in the areas of governance, strategic engagement, and funding and financing.”

Among its findings was a recommendation that British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon should form a single, formalized “coordinating entity” to advance the project forward, and oversee preliminary environmental analysis, conceptual engineering, and scenario planning.

A high-speed rail line would produce a train with a maximum testing speed of at least 250 miles an hour, which could theoretically shorten the travel time between Seattle and Portland to one hour.

Northwest is closer to getting ultra high speed rail

No such trains currently operate in the United States. The fastest existing train in use, Amtrak’s Acela Express, hits maximum speeds of 154 miles per hour, but averages about half that speed on its route between Washington D.C., and Boston.

With the COVID crisis decimating local budgets and economies, proponents see the high-speed rail line as a potential boon both in the near and long term for the region.

“We are living in unprecedented times that call on us to envision our future in new ways,” Gov. Inslee said in the new report. “Transformative infrastructure projects like this one could help us rebuild our economy in the short term and provide us with a strong competitive advantage in the future. It could transform the Pacific Northwest.”

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Gov. Inslee: High-speed rail ‘could help us rebuild our economy’ post-COVID