High-speed train linking Vancouver, Seattle and Portland could cost $54 billion
A new report on a potential high-speed train linking Vancouver to cities in the U.S. Pacific Northwest illuminates potential routes, stops and technology, but who will pay for it remains a mystery.
The report, commissioned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, was released online Friday. It pegs the cost of the project as anywhere between $24 billion to $42 billion U.S. ($31 billion to $54 billion CAD).
"Indeed, there will be costs to developing such a system. However, there are perhaps even greater costs to rising congestion and a do-nothing approach," Washington Governor Jay Inslee wrote in the report.
Inslee thinks a high speed rail system connecting Cascadia will encourage development and enhancing business opportunities.
"I'm bullish about completing this corridor between British Columbia and the state of Washington," he said in a pitch for the project in Victoria last month.
Demand by residents of the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver region is apparent too, the report says. Ridership is estimated to hit two million passengers annually by 2035 and increase to 3 million annually by 2055.
Five different routes were presented, with ideas for Vancouver stops at either YVR, Pacific Central station or in Surrey.
The right technology for the job
The proposed rail line promises to whisk travelers from Vancouver to Seattle in just under an hour and get to Portland in two hours.
The report considered three types of high-speed rail for the project. High-speed rail with steel wheels has a maximum speed of 354 kilometres per hour. It's used in several countries around the world.
Maglev technology, short for magnetic levitation, is much faster at 435 kilometres per hour. It reduces friction by having the car levitate over the tracks and glide on a cushion of air. Lines are in operation in China, South Korea and Japan.
Hyperloop was a third technology considered that's still in development. It uses magnetic propulsion to carry pods through evacuated tubes. A lack of air resistance means the pods can travel at high speeds.
Challenges with cross-border connections
B.C. Premier John Horgan has said he supports the analysis work that the state of Washington has done, and that border logisitcs also need to be addressed.
"If we're going to have high-speed rail, we're going to need to have border checks and customs activity along the way. Because if we stop for a long time at the border, we're defeating the purpose," he said on Nov. 21 in Victoria.
B.C. and Washington state recently agreed to work together to develop what they call the Cascadia Innovation Corridor.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDonald