This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Our people are meeting with their people, McClatchy says:

Scott Witt, director of the Washington state Department of Transportation’s rail and marine program, said that though he and others are focused on the “here and now,” high-speed trains running nearly the length of the West Coast aren’t just a fantasy.

“They would go like a son of a gun,” he said.

Witt envisions trains like the Shinkansen, the bullet trains in Japan, or France’s TGV trains that regularly travel at near 190 mph. The bullet trains, in tests, have traveled at 277 mph, and the TGV trains have been tested at 320 mph. Both countries and others are working on Maglev or electromagnetic propulsion trains that could cruise at speeds approaching 400 mph.

Constructing a truly high-speed West Coast rail corridor wouldn’t be easy. It would require entirely new rails and a new corridor that smoothed out grades and corners. Picking a route and deciding where the trains would stop would be politically bruising. And the cost could be astronomical.

The 1,500-mile line, by some estimates, could cost between $10 million and $45 million per mile to build.

Witt said he has been talking with his counterpart in California for about three weeks.

“It’s very, very preliminary,” Witt said. “But it makes a lot of sense.”


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