How Much Would High Speed Rail Actually Cost?

TGV Valenciennes

Earlier this year, Seattle Transit Blog covered possible routes for high-speed rail (HSR) to Vancouver. Zach Shaner wrote the first two parts, and I wrote the last two. In December, Washington State DOT (WSDOT) released a study about the possibility of HSR in the Pacific Northwest. The study is bearish on HSR, with high cost estimates and unusually low operating performance—but the numbers themselves are suspect, suggesting a unit conversion error. WSDOT says that the numbers in the study are right—but there is cause for skepticism. If the numbers are wrong, the entire study must be redone, and would point to a more positive conclusion about the prospects of HSR.

Continue reading “How Much Would High Speed Rail Actually Cost?”

Seattle-Vancouver High Speed Rail Part 4: Terminals

  1. Train/Bus station

Last week, I covered part 3 in the series about Seattle-Vancouver high-speed rail, covering the Bellingham-Vancouver segment; the first two parts, by Zach Shaner, covered Seattle-Everett and Everett-Bellingham. This piece, the last part, covers the possibilities for suburban stations. Is it better to build stations in Downtown Vancouver and Seattle, or in less constrained suburban locations? Are there in-between compromise options, urban but less central? The answer to the last question turns out to be yes in the intermediate cities, but in Seattle and Vancouver the answer is no: downtown stations are required.

Continue reading “Seattle-Vancouver High Speed Rail Part 4: Terminals”

Seattle-Vancouver High Speed Rail Part 3: Bellingham to Vancouver

Racing Amtrak Cascades

[Readers have been asking about our 4-part series on Seattle-Vancouver high speed rail.  With Zach moving on to new adventures, we’ve asked Alon Levy of the excellent blog Pedestrian Observations to finish out the series.  Enjoy part 3 below. – Ed.]

Seattle Transit Blog has looked at special challenges involved in high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest, between Seattle and Vancouver. I briefly explained the problem a few years ago, and earlier this year, Zach Shaner here began a series examining the Seattle-Vancouver corridor segment by segment. Part 1 dealt with the Seattle-Everett slog, and part 2 with Everett-Bellingham, an easier but already less slow segment. In this post, I will look at Bellingham-Vancouver.

The Bellingham-Vancouver segment has four important decisions:

  1. How to go around Bellingham?
  2. How to get between Bellingham and the built-up area of Vancouver, roughly around Surrey?
  3. How to complete the last 20-25 miles into Vancouver?
  4. Where should the Vancouver terminal be?

Decision #4 is the subject of part 4. In this post I’d like to examine the first three decisions.


Continue reading “Seattle-Vancouver High Speed Rail Part 3: Bellingham to Vancouver”