Washington Governor Jay Inslee and B.C. Premier John Horgan. (B.C. government)

B.C. pitches in for Vancouver-Seattle high-speed rail study

John Horgan contributes $300,000 for business case analysis

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Governor Jay Inslee have announced their next step in an ambitious plan to build high-speed rail running from Vancouver to Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

B.C. will contribute $300,000 toward a business case study for the line, looking at various technologies to deliver high-speed rail, Horgan announced Friday in Vancouver. Inslee said his state’s earlier studies show big potential for ridership, fed by a hockey rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and the prospective NHL franchise, the Seattle Totems.

“When you build a high-speed rail line, you are building a monument to optimism,” Inslee said. “Washington began a feasibility study, and it came back with nothing but optimism.”

Asked if cost overruns and delays in other projects are a concern, Horgan said the purpose of the business case study is to answer the questions about benefits and risks.

Inslee’s visit to B.C. follows approval in the Washington state legislature this week of a more detailed look at the proposal, including possible routes, expected ridership and economic benefits.

An earlier study commissioned by Washington’s Department of Transportation was released in December, looking at conventional high-speed rail as used extensively in Asia, and “maglev” that allows trains to float on magnetic fields without actually touching the track.

That study estimated the cost at between $24 and $42 billion, with details to come on the exact route and station locations.

Conventional high-speed trains can travel up to 350 km/h, with maglev technology already in use in Japan and China capable of more than 400 km/h. Travel from Vancouver to Seattle could take less than an hour.

In addition to the I-5 freeway, B.C. and Washington are already linked by Amtrak rail, airports and fast ferry service from Victoria.

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