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High-level transportation officials from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia governments are in the process of discussing what a so-called ultra-high-speed rail line connecting the cities of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver would look like.
The rail discussion is in its infancy, but the governments hope to work with private companies to set the groundwork for bullet trains in the Cascadia megaregion.
No ultra high-speed trains currently operate in the U.S. The fastest train, Amtrak's Acela Express, hits maximum speeds of 154 miles per hour but averages about half that speed on its route between Washington D.C. and Boston. Amtrak's Cascades route already connects Portland and Vancouver via the passenger rail network, but it runs only four times each day between Portland and Seattle, and infrequently to Canada.
According to an initial report from the Washington Department of Transportation released in February, the Cascadia route could cost $25 billion to more than $40 billion to build. Who would pay for the mega project remains unclear, but it could be a public-private partnership. The three governments are hoping to turn the vision of the ultra-high-speed rail line into reality by 2035.
With the population in the three cities expected to hit a collective 11.2 million by 2040, the governments believe a high-speed rail connection would bridge an economic gulf in the megaregion. The rail project, a long-standing dream for transit leaders, re-emerged two years ago as a talking point of ways to boost regional economic partnerships.
This article first appeared on www.roadsbridges.com
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