Van to Seat­tle in an hour?

Wash­ing­ton con­sid­ers high-speed rail line

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - VANCOUVER - wanyee Li

Hop on a train and you could be in Seat­tle in less than an hour — that’s the dream Wash­ing­ton state’s gov­er­nor is try­ing to make a re­al­ity by com­mis­sion­ing a fea­si­bil­ity study for a high-speed rail line be­tween Van­cou­ver, Seat­tle and Port­land.

The one-year, $1-mil­lion study would de­ter­mine the po­ten­tial routes, rid­er­ship num­bers and costs of the project, ac­cord­ing to the 2017-19 Trans­porta­tion Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Bill. A one-way trip to Seat­tle from Van­cou­ver on the cur­rent line, Am­trak Cas­cades, takes three hours.

Giv­ing the re­gion a bul­let train is an idea that has been around for decades but all the chips have to fall into place for an in­ter­na­tional rail line like the one pro­posed to ma­te­ri­al­ize, said Wash­ing­ton State Trans­porta­tion Cen­tre’s di­rec­tor, Mark Hal­len­beck.

“It’s a very tough task,” he said, cit­ing lack of po­lit­i­cal will, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, and NIMBY-ism as just a few ex­am­ples of what could stand in the way.

But the Pa­cific North­west is the per­fect place to build a bul­let-train line, he ar­gued.

“Peo­ple in the cities al­ready share an aw­ful lot of in­ter­ac­tion in terms of their busi­ness mar­kets as well as their tourism mar­kets,” he said.

B.C.’s min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion, Todd Stone, told re­porters Tues­day the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment sup­ports the idea of a high­speed rail line be­tween Van­cou­ver and Seat­tle, but added it was too early to say whether B.C. would pay for part of the pro­posed project.

But fi­nan­cial sup­port or not, build­ing a rail line is rarely a smooth ride, said Hal­len­beck. He cited one ma­jor obstacle for the Seat­tle-Van­cou­ver route — find­ing the po­lit­i­cal will to build a high-speed rail line that goes into an al­ready crowded city.

“The kicker is how do you get into Van­cou­ver from the bor­der.”

PETER HA­LEY/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

An Am­trak Cas­cades train in Wash­ing­ton state. Wash­ing­ton’s gov­er­nor is com­mis­sion­ing a one-year, $1-mil­lion study of a rail link to Van­cou­ver.

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