British Columbia Will Fund Next Phase of Cascadia High Speed Rail

British Columbia will Fund Next Phase of Cascadia High Speed Rail

Quick Facts:

— A Cascadia high-speed rail corridor has been under discussion for over a decade. It would run between Vancouver, B.C., Seattle and Portland, as far as Eugene, and take less than one hour between each. There would be roughly 17 stops on the path.

— High speed rail can travel at more than 400km an hour, and is faster than short range commercial flights.

— Horgan and Inslee signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2018 to jointly grow the region’s innovation economy, combat climate change and improve transportation connectivity.

— Washington is creating a Cascadia High Speed Rail Authority to begin preliminary preparations.

— So far, more than US$1.5 million has been put toward the current study, including a contribution of $300,000 by B.C., US$750,000 by Washington state, US$200,000 by Oregon and US$300,000 by Microsoft.

— Washington state released an economic analysis in 2018 that estimated a high-speed corridor link could create up to 200,000 jobs for people in B.C. and the U.S. and generate billions of dollars in economic benefits for the Cascadia region.

British Columbia will contribute $300,000 for the next phase of a study exploring the potential of ultra-high-speed Cascadia corridor transportation service linking British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.

The move follows Washington State proposing the creation of a Cascadia High Speed Rail Authority. The bill would provide $3.25 million dollars, with an additional $250,000 also available if private parties (e.g., Local governments, Microsoft or Amazon) provide additional funding, in biennial appropriations through 2021 to establish an authority in partnership with the State of Oregon and Province of British Columbia, making the vision of a one hour train ride from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, British Columbia closer to a reality.

John Horgan, the British Columbian premiere joined Washington governor Jay Inslee in Washington State to make the announcement on Thursday, as part of a two day trip to continue to strengthen Cascadian ties between the two areas.

The move comes on top of $300,000 contributed as part of an initial business case analysis last March that explored many specific details of the project, such as ridership, stops, costs, fares, and financing. The next phase in funding will be put towards researching the best models for what a regional rail authority structure would look like, as it is split between two states, one province, crossing an international border. It would also begin community outreach and start the process of an environmental review.

“Gov. Inslee and I recognize the enormous potential for growth in our region to deliver strong, sustainable economic development, create good jobs and a better future for people on both sides of the border,” said Horgan. “Improving transportation connectivity is a critically important part of the path forward, and we’re going to keep working together to seize opportunities and strengthen the relationship between Washington state and B.C.”

He said he envisions high-speed rail that would connect to Surrey and with other Vancouver public transportation infrastructure that would connect with downtown and the airport.

“Our Cascadia region has the critical mass of a growing population, the muscle mass of a strong economy and the traffic problems to justify ultra-high-speed connections, and this investment will help move the project to the next level. It’s based on an optimistic vision of the growth that we’re going to have in British Columbia and Washington. We are a world-class community across that border.”

This news builds on earlier reports from the Washington DOT, released in 2018, and a business case study, which is currently in development, and ensure that whatever high-speed rail technology is ultimately chosen will be capable of reaching at least 250 miles per hour at top speed. The move comes upon large victories for high speed rail in 2017 and 2018, when the state legislature committed $1.2 million–of which was $750,000 in direct state grants–to a business case study for high-speed rail from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland.

The 76 page study released in December of 2017, commisioned by the Washington Department of Transportation – examined three different types of technology, including high speed rail – which tops out at 365km/hr (226mph), maglev 430-600km/hr (267-330mph) and hyperloop (unknown??), and looked at potential routes, costs, stations locations, costs, ridership and how to collaborate across an international border. Since then, the consultant for the state has been earnestly working on the study, which is due for completion by the of June.

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