A group of high-speed rail enthusiasts in Washington state has opened a chapter north of the border, hoping Canadians and Americans working together to lobby governments can make their dream a reality.

Cascadia Rail would like to see high-speed trains connecting Vancouver all the way to Portland. The northern leg of such a line could transport people between Vancouver and Seattle in just 50 minutes.

"What alternatives do we have when our region is expected to grow 30 per cent in the coming years? What ways can we help people get around that are more green?" said Paige Malott, who made the trip from Seattle to spread the word about the group’s efforts.

A recent study in Washington pegged the cost of the mega-project at close to $42 billion USD and anticipated more than two million annual riders by 2035 and up to three million by 2055.

"There's so much in common and there's so much untapped opportunity that it's an exciting thing to be looking potentially forward to,” said Hank Horkoff, a Vancouver resident who signed up at Cascadia Rail’s initial Vancouver event.

Governments on both sides of the border support the idea in theory, but now Cascadia Rail plans to lobby them to put up more money for feasibility studies that could bring the dream closer to reality.

"Creatives, folks who can write blog posts, people who love to do research on the technical details of high-speed rail,” said Malott about the kind of members they are seeking. “Basically, if you're interested in it, and you have a skill, we can find a role for you."

A project like this could take decades to actually get on the rails but these train enthusiasts say it has to begin with forward-thinking politicians today.

"They already have these trains in Shanghai and throughout China and you find that hubs get built around them in the city,” said Horkoff, who spent 15 years living in Asia. “It completely transforms the city as a whole."