Ultra-high-speed study

Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study

Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study

Imagine traveling between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon in just a few hours. WSDOT is studying how ultra-high-speed ground transportation (250 mph and greater) could make this idea a reality.

Why is WSDOT studying ultra-high-speed ground transportation?
The Governor’s Office and state Legislature asked WSDOT to study ultra-high-speed ground transportation from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, Oregon. Regional business and government leaders believe better connecting the Cascadia Mega Region is key to the region’s future. During a 2016 conference of these leaders, Governor Inslee and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau signed an agreement saying they wanted to work together to create a new technology corridor that would include a high-speed transportation system (pdf 1 mb). The Governor then asked that this study be conducted to help lawmakers decide if this type of transportation system makes sense and identify next steps they could take to move it forward.

Study overview
The study will examine at a high level:

  • Types of ultra-high-speed technology
  • Routes
  • Number/location of stations
  • Ridership forecasts
  • Costs
  • Funding sources
  • International border crossing laws

Consultants will study five north-south “conceptual corridors” for ultra-high-speed travel. They also will look at potential routes that could connect Seattle and Spokane.

Several types of transportation systems will be reviewed, including high-speed rail and magnetic levitation (maglev) trains. Hyperloop technology also will be reviewed, but it currently lacks complete data needed for a full comparison.

The study also will use data from previous studies, including a  1992 WSDOT High Speed Ground Transportation study (pdf 1.4 mb)  (If needed in an alternative format, request a copy from rail@wsdot.wa.gov).

Budget
The study is paid for with $300,000 from the state Legislature. The business community also has contributed some funds. The study assumes public agencies and the private sector would share future planning, construction and operation costs. A public-private advisory group is assisting in the study.

Timeline
A report is due to the state Legislature by Dec. 15, 2017.

Amtrak Cascades service
Ultra-high-speed ground transportation would not replace the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail system run by WSDOT and ODOT; it would be an additional travel option. Because of shared tracks with freight trains, it is not possible to offer ultra-high-speed service on most of the current Amtrak Cascades route. Amtrak Cascades trains travel at 79 mph and serve 18 cities in Canada, Washington and Oregon – more than an ultra-high-speed option would serve.

Contacts

Jason Beloso BelosoJ@wsdot.wa.gov
Strategic Planning Manager
WSDOT Rail, Freight, and Ports Division

Janet Matkin  MatkinJ@wsdot.wa.gov 
Communications Manager
WSDOT Rail, Freight, and Ports Division 

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