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British Columbia To Contribute To Portland-Seattle-Vancouver Bullet Train Study

Alex Needham -
File photo of a maglev train coming out of the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China. Maglev is one of the technology options under consideration for a high-speed rail line between Portland and Vancouver, BC.

The province of British Columbia will support and has agreed to contribute money for further study of bullet train service from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan spoke approvingly of the possible high speed train at a joint appearance with visiting Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Friday. 

"It's our view that this is an opportunity that we shouldn't let pass by,” Horgan said. “It's a physical link between our two jurisdictions and one that will get cars off of the road and will move people and goods in a fast and effective way."

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told her colleagues earlier in the day in Vancouver that she is on board too, according to Inslee's staff. 

The upcoming "business case analysis" costing up to $1.2 million would build on a feasibility study completed by consultants for Washington state in December. Neither the states nor the province are committed to actually building a high speed train.

Horgan acknowledged California provides a cautionary example. There a high speed rail link under construction is way over budget and behind schedule. 

"Any mistake they’ve made, we’re going to put in the bank and learn from it," added Inslee.

In its just-completed 2018 session, the Washington Legislature approved $750,000 for further examination of "ultra-high speed" rail in Cascadia. The second stage study budget total of up to $1.2 million assumes partner contributions such as Friday's announcement by Horgan that B.C. will kick in $300,000 Canadian (US $230,800).

The Democrat-controlled Legislature gave the Washington State Department of Transportation a June 2019 deadline to deliver the business case analysis report. 

That first study assumed the railway or tube to enable travel speeds in excess of 250 miles per hour would require a substantial amount of tunneling. Depending how much tunneling took place, the study authors estimated a ballpark cost to acquire right-of-way and build a system at between $24 billion to $42 billion. 

A statement from Horgan's office on Friday envisioned a travel time of about 60 minutes between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, down from the current three hours by automobile. 

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.