British Columbia

Seattle high-speed rail advocacy group chugs into Vancouver to court support

The line, which would connect Vancouver to Portland through Seattle, would reduce wait times but costs billions.

Line would connect Vancouver to Portland through Seattle, but costs billions

CascadiaRail, an advocacy group calling for a high-speed rail line between Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, says the rail line would be good for businesses, tourism and quality of life in the region. (CascadiaRail)

An U.S. advocacy group that wants a high-speed rail line between Vancouver and Portland is in B.C. for the first time to encourage support for the project.

The group known as Cascadia Rail, will hold an informal Vancouver launch on Saturday in a bid to build momentum for the project, which has gathered interest, and funding, from legislators on both sides of border.

Cascadia Rail co-founder Jonathan Hopkins said the project could transform the region.

"Our goal is to work with everybody to make sure that a good idea doesn't get put on a book shelf to gather dust," Hopkins said from Seattle.

"To make transformative changes, we don't do that by a bunch of people being in isolation," said Cascadia Rail co-found Jonathan Hopkins about the group's Vancouver launch. (Cascadia Rail)

B.C. will contribute $300,000 to a Washington state business case study into the feasibility of the high-speed rail line, which could cut travel time between Vancouver and Seattle to one hour.

In March,the Washington Legislature committed $1.2 million US to the analysis. The results are expected in June 2019.

Get in on it

When B.C. announced it would be part of the study, Premier John Horgan said it was an opportunity the province should not let pass by.

The study will look at the costs and benefits of ultra high-speed ground transportation between Vancouver and Portland, Ore. with stations in Bellingham, Everett, Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Tacoma, Olympia, Vancouver, Wash. and  Portland.

Advocates have said the trains would be capable of speeds up to 400 kilometres per hour along the Cascadia coast, reducing travel times and congestion.

Others have said it would help businesses operating on both sides of the border.

'Transformational impact'

"Everybody benefits from not having to spend two, three, four hours on the road," said Hopkins.

"So that's the transformational impact we're hoping to have. It's good for our economy, it's good for our quality of life."

Critics say that high-speed rail lines can easily go over budget and become a burden for taxpayers.

In 2017, a study found that the line could cost as much as $42 billion, and that it could take decades to recover the cost.

Hopkins says Saturday's meeting in Vancouver is open to everyone.



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