Study: High speed Cascadia rail line could attract 1.8 million riders in a few years

By: Graham Johnson

Updated:

Consultants studying a high-speed train linking Seattle with both Portland and Vancouver, B.C., say it could attract 1.8 million riders in just a few years, according to the state official overseeing the study.

The concept is for a train that could travel between Seattle and Vancouver in less than an hour, compared to the four hours it currently takes on Amtrak Cascades.

Consultants are looking at trains with test speeds of at least 250 miles per hour.

Charles Knutson, Governor Jay Inslee's executive policy advisor, said the full report from consultants is due in December. The report will present ranges for what a train system might cost.

The price will depend on factors like the type of technology used, where it runs, and how many stops it makes.

"I think we know already that transportation projects cost money," Knutson said. "But there's also a cost to doing nothing and sitting in traffic. And we're finding that there are economic benefits that can come from doing a system like this and there's even an opportunity for the private sector to pitch in and pay for some of the components of this system."

Knutson pointed to a privately financed bullet train being developed in Texas, which will run between Dallas and Houston on Japanese-style bullet trains in 90 minutes, as a possible model for the Cascade corridor.

"You've got some very senior tech executives who are interested in putting their time and energy and even some dollars into this," Knutson said.

Inslee budgeted $350,000 to study potential alignment, ridership, technology, costs and economic benefits of a high-speed rail line. 


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