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B.C. pledges funding for Cascadia high-speed rail study

JOC News Service
B.C. pledges funding for Cascadia high-speed rail study
CASCADIA RAIL — A graphic shows possible routes for a high-speed rail system connecting Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. A new study evaluating the project funded by Washington State, Oregon and B.C. is expected to be released this summer.

VANCOUVER — The Province of B.C. is doubling down on research into a Pacific Northwest high speed rail that would link Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, with Premier John Horgan also championing Surrey as B.C.’s possible terminus station.

“We envision a high-speed rail from Seattle to the Lower Mainland with a terminus in Surrey,” said Horgan during a joint press conference with Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee in Seattle this month.

The province will add another $300,000 in funding for a multi-jurisdictional analysis, bringing its total contribution to $600,000. The findings of the study are expected to be released this summer. 

Horgan added Surrey is the fastest growing city in the Lower Mainland and a Surrey terminus station would connect the system to the SkyTrain.

“Governor Jay Inslee and I recognize the enormous potential for growth in our region to deliver strong, sustainable economic development, create good jobs and a better future for people on both sides of the border,” said Horgan in a statement. “Improving transportation connectivity is a critically important part of the path forward, and we’re going to keep working together to seize opportunities and strengthen the relationship between Washington State and B.C.”

Washington State has already completed some work on evaluating the project, conducting a feasibility study in 2017.

The study identified five conceptual north-south corridors (Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and potential station locations in-between), one east-west connecting corridor (from Seattle to Spokane following the Stampede Pass Line), and a conceptual connecting ultra high-speed rail corridor from Portland to Sacramento to evaluate. The study looked into three possible technologies: high-speed (steel wheel) rail, maglev and hyperloop.

The study included a plan to use Surrey as one of three stations outside city cores, however, it determined while the plan had the lowest capital costs it also had the potential for the lowest ridership. The study estimated the project could cost approximately $24 to $42 billion if construction begins in 2025 for completion by 2035, depending on the route and technology used.

The study recommended a corridor planning/business case study was needed. It also noted that further evaluation of ridership was also needed.

Recently, Washington State announced it would put US$3.25 million towards a multi-jurisdictional project office for the project.

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