Cascadia High Speed Rail (CHSR)

The Department of Bioregion supports Cascadia High Speed Rail to connect Vancouver, British Columbia, with Seattle, Washington, through Portland, all the way to Eugene, Oregon. A Cascadia region where Vancouver to Seattle and Seattle to Portland are connected in less than 90 minutes, and where transport is faster, and less expensive than driving or flying, based on energy from renewable resources.

Costs, depending on type - would range from $25-$40 billion, and be split by the three different states and province. Travel times, aside from linking more than 17 communities along the Cascadia megaregion and I-5 corridor, would take less than 90 minutes, and have an initial ridership of millions. This project can utilize existing public lands, as well as generate power needed through renewable resources, for a carbon negative impact - as it pulls millions of car and airplane trips each year.

High speed rail has the true potential to help create positive, sustainable forms of transportation that could truly bring the Pacific Northwest together, from North of the Border, to east of the Cascades, and down to Eugene, Oregon. To help steward this vision, Cascadia Rail is a new coalition of advocates spanning from Vancouver, Bellingham, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Portland who support multi-state efforts to connect the Cascadia region through high-speed intercity transport.

The idea is gaining traction on both sides of the border, and a recent report from February 9th by the Vancouver Sun found that “An ultra-high-speed rail line between Vancouver and Portland would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic benefits for the Vancouver-Seattle corridor, according to an economic analysis.”

The analysis assumes the use of maglev technology, which uses magnets to lift a train off its tracks and move it along a guideway at more than 400 km/h (250 miles per hour), reducing the time it takes to get from Vancouver to Seattle to under an hour.

Along the way from Vancouver would be stops at Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, Centralia, Portland, Salem and Eugene, eventually to extend eastward all the way to Spokane. The time from Seattle to Everett or Tacoma? 13 minute and change, while the whole trip would range about one and a half hours. Driving the I-5 corridor length (684km / 425 miles) takes around 8 hours currently. Would take around High speed rail remains the only alternative form of mass transit both faster and more cost competitive then flying or driving.

It pegs the project cost at around $40 billion which would be split between the two states and province, with additional support from federal grants, and private business investment from companies already committed to the idea such as Microsoft. While this sounds like quite a price tag – highway and road projects are some of the most expensive in the country, ranging nationally from $1.9 million per lane mile for simple widening projects without interchanges and large structures all the way up to $375 million per lane mile (for each lane paved) for the 2 mile long deep bore Seattle Alaska Way Viaduct project. In comparison, $40 billion split between three states or provinces spread over.

Other groups have long been proponents of the idea, such as Cascadia High Speed Rail and at some point will hopefully join forces to support the idea.

Some nice recent articles featuring high speed rail: 

Cascadia High Speed Rail has long captured the imaginations of Cascadians, from the cover of Ecotopia in the 1970’s to this beautiful envisioning of what a comprehensive northwest rail system could look like.

Why we believe in Cascadia High Speed Rail:

  • It’s good for workers and quality of life. Short commutes are more than a luxury; they’re critical for reduction in income inequality. High-speed rail can reduce a 1½-2 hour commute to 15 -30 minutes. That’s extra time each day you can spend with your family or on your favorite activity.

  • It’s good for business. The world economy is driven by global cities. Home to thirteen Fortune 500 companies, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor is expanding in-demand jobs, which can be made accessible by reducing the effective distance between our cities.

  • It’s good for tourism.  Seattle’s 39 millionVancouver, BC’s 9 million, and Portland’s 9 million annual metro-area visitors spend $4 to $7 billion per metropolitan area and generates an abundance of local tax revenue. Fast, easy connections help more people see more places including wine countrySpokane, and all the iconic small towns in between.

  • It’s good for economic development. Disproportionate economic growth is occurring in our largest cities. By making fast, convenient, and reliable connections between more places, all of our cities become increasingly attractive for commercial and residential urban growth.

  • It keeps our great places great. Cascadia is an amazing place. We should experience more of it while spoiling it less with long car trips and congested roads.

You can the full reports on high speed rail here:

Some earlier cool reports here: