Washington

Seattle to Vancouver in an hour? Here’s what a study said about an ultra-high-speed rail line

One of Japan’s bullet trains passes by Japan’s Mt. Fuji. Japan began operating its high-speed rail network in 1964. Washington state last week completed a feasibility study on building a high-speed rail line from Vancouver to Seattle.
One of Japan’s bullet trains passes by Japan’s Mt. Fuji. Japan began operating its high-speed rail network in 1964. Washington state last week completed a feasibility study on building a high-speed rail line from Vancouver to Seattle. McClatchy

Just days before an Amtrak train derailment near Dupont killed at least three people, injured dozens more and snarled traffic on Interstate 5, Gov. Jay Inslee spoke about the possibility of an ultra-high-speed rail line from Vancouver, B.C., to Seattle and Portland.

The Vancouver Sun reported that a feasibility study by Washington state found such a line would cost between $24 billion and $42 billion to build but could attract approximately 1.8 million riders per year.

“I’m excited about the prospect of a train that can reduce the travel time from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., from three hours to less than one,” Inslee said in speech in November, according to the Sun. “We are good enough to do this. It is time for us to start serious efforts in doing this not just for the economic reasons but for some day having essentially a subway series between NHL franchises.”

According to the Sun, the study examined technology, routes, station locations, ridership forecasts, costs, funding sources and the challenges of crossing an international border, among other topics.

While none of the three primary corridors suggested by the study include a stop in Bellingham, chances are any ultra-high-speed line would travel through Whatcom County as it passes through the Interstate 5 corridor.

The full report can be found here.

Not everybody is optimistic about the chances something actually gets done. Braden Klassen of runnermag.ca wrote Saturday that such a route is not a certainty, especially with so many potential challenges surrounding the border crossing.

Tom Banse of kuow.org also wrote that the cost of a ultra-high-speed line could prevent it from happening.

Global News broke down the proposal in this video:

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