Vancouver mayor pushes for high-speed rail
If travelling to the United States by car doesn't suit you, how about a comfy seat on a high speed train? That's the vision being pitched by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
"We're way behind the rest of the world frankly, we're last in North America to actually adopt high-speed rail,'' he said.
Japan, for example, has the Shinkansen a network of railways on which trains reach speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour.
So Vancouver's mayor is in Oregon, trying to get the wheels moving faster on a vision that would see a high-speed train running from Vancouver to Seattle and on to Portland.
"All of these cities on the west-coast have to be loud and clear that we want more rail investment,'' he said.
Amtrack already offers service to Seattle. But it's hardly speedy, and it leaves once a day, in the evening.
"So you can't go to Seattle for the day, you have to leave here at night, stay over night, said Matthew Buchanan of Transport 2000 BC
Transportation advocates like Buchanan say before you get speedy, why not add another Amtrack departure first, one that would leave in the morning and avoid border lineups
"I think you'd much rather be in a dining car having a beer," Buchanan said.
Tourism Vancouver figures another departure would add $16-$30 million to the local economy.
"Well I think anything we can use to increase our capacity to get people here is really important for us,'' said Stephen Pearce of Tourism Vancouver.
Amtrack is all for the morning train, but refuses to give in to the Canadian Border Services Agency.
It wants to charge the rail company $1,500 per day to cover costs associated with another trip.
"The federal government should pay for that as part of its stimulus package,'' said Darcy Rezac of the Vancouver Board of Trade.
"Look Mr. Jim Flaherty [the Federal Financial Minister] announced today his deficit is going to be $50 billion,'' Rezac said, adding that in his view "1,500 is nothing. It's not even a rounding error."
As for the high-speed dream, the Vancouver Board of Trade says it's too soon.
Secure that morning train first, it says.
"We will have to have the population base and we have to have the ridership, build the ridership,'' he said.
Amtrack's morning service could begin as early as next month
As for the mayor's vision, it remains a high speed dream.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's St. John Alexander