Ultra-high-speed study

Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study

Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study

The Ultra-High Speed Ground Transportation study (pdf 4mb) was submitted to the state Legislature on Dec. 14, 2017; an economic impacts addendum was added to the final report document on Feb. 1, 2018.

 Highlights from the December report (pdf 665 kb) were presented to the Joint Transportation Committee at that time.

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 Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark 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 examined at a high level:

  • Types of ultra-high-speed technology
  • Routes
  • Number/location of stations
  • Ridership forecasts
  • Costs
  • Funding sources
  • International border crossing laws
  • Estimate of economic impacts (included in addendum added to document Feb. 1, 2018)

Consultants studied five north-south "conceptual corridors" for ultra-high-speed travel. They also looked at potential routes that could connect Seattle and Spokane.

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

The study also used 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).

The study was paid for with $300,000 from the state Legislature. The business community also 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 assisted in the study. The Feb. 1 Economic Impacts Analysis (an addendum to the study) was funded with $50,000 from Microsoft and $10,000 from trade unions.

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.


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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