by Goat Staff

The Cascadia high speed rail system could hook into existing and proposed high speed rail across the U.S. / COURTESY US HIGH SPEED RAIL ASSOCIATION

British Columbia is commiting $300,000 towards the next phase of a study to develop ultra-high-speed rail service linking B.C., Washington state and Oregon.

Premier John Horgan made the announcement last week during a two-day trade mission to Washington.

Washington state released an economic analysis in 2018 estimating a high-speed corridor link could create up to 200,000 jobs for people in B.C. and the U.S. and generate billions of dollars in economic benefits for the Cascadia corridor (B.C., Washington and Oregon). The existing Canada-Washington goods trade is valued at approximately $26.4 billion.

The analysis also estimated that within a few years of operation, ridership could reach 1.8 million annually. High-speed rail (up to 400km/h) could shrink travel time between Vancouver and Seattle to about one hour from three, according to a government release.

Last year, B.C. contributed $300,000 for a business case to explore ridership levels, project delivery, cost and financing. The full results of this analysis are expected in summer 2019. The next phase of the project would explore models for a multi-jurisdictional authority to lead a community engagement process and preliminary environmental review, a press release says.

“Gov. Inslee and I recognize the enormous potential for growth in our region to deliver strong, sustainable economic development, create good jobs and a better future for people on both sides of the border,” said Premier Horgan.

On Dec. 10, 2018, Gov. Inslee announced USD$3.25 million for the development of a new authority to manage a ultra-high-speed corridor for Washington, British Columbia and Oregon. It is part of his broader clean energy strategy.

Funding partners have contributed a total of USD$1.5 million toward the current study: Washington state ($750,000), British Columbia (CDN $300,000), Oregon ($200,000) and Microsoft ($300,000).

The BC premier’s trip includes speaking engagements and meetings with government and business leaders in Seattle and Olympia, including Microsoft and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and a formal address to the Washington state legislature Fri. Feb. 8.