British Columbia

High-speed rail sought for B.C. to U.S. run

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire promise to get moving on a high-speed train that could transport passengers far down the U.S. west coast.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire promise to get moving on a high-speed train that could transport passengers far down the U.S. west coast.

"We hope it will go not just from Vancouver to Portland, but on to California," Gregoire said in a joint news conference in Vancouver Wednesday.

Washington state has already won a $600 million grant from the U.S. government to amp up their rail line from Oregon through Seattle, and that also includes money for the track to Vancouver, she said.

But Campbell said he still has to convince the federal government to help out with the "significant investment" required north of the border.

"We have not had the same kind of aggressive approach in Canada as they have in the United States with regard to high-speed rail," he said, adding that he's working to get Asia-Pacific Gateway Minister Stockwell Day on board.

Best friends

Campbell said he's behind the proposal to improve the quality of B.C.'s track and rail because it will get cars off the road and save commuters from waiting in long border lineups.

"When I'm talking about high-speed rail, I'm talking about high-speed rail. I'm not talking about a train, I'm talking about a train that gets us from one place to another quickly, so that we don't have to use our cars," he said.

The train would travel upwards of 175 km/h and is part of President Barack Obama's national agenda, according to a Washington state official.

The announcement comes a week after the federal government said $800,000 had been reallocated to cover the costs of keeping a second Amtrak train running between Portland and Vancouver for at least one more year.

That train, which was put in temporarily to facilitate traffic for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, had been scheduled to stop running at the end of the month because of a fee dispute.

Gregoire told reporters Wednesday that B.C. and Washington are "best friends" who work through difficult problems together.

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