High-Speed Rail in 21st Century America

High-Speed Rail in 21st Century America

“Amtrak Joe” Wants to Bring High-Speed Rail to America

It’s no secret that President Biden’s support of bringing high-speed rail to America is born partially of his own commuting experience. During his time as a senator, President Biden commuted daily from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, DC. His experience using the train to commute to work has given him an understanding unlike any previous president about the functionality and practicality of rail. Even as vice president, he was a huge proponent of high-speed rail in the US. Now, he has more opportunity than ever to highlight the potential that high-speed rail brings.

High-Speed Rail Could Bring US Transportation into the Current Century

While there are some detractors, high-speed railway advocates remain hopeful for the future of high-speed rail in America. During the May 6th hearing before the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, Subcommittee Chair Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.) expressed his enthusiasm for the potential of American high-speed railways. “Thanks to the bold vision of President Biden, we stand at the crossroads of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the nation’s passenger-rail network and bring it into the 21st century.”

High-Speed Rail Could Play a Significant Role in Reducing Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is a major problem in many areas of the US. In fact, in the Portland Metro area alone, congestion has increased 252% since 1993. While the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a decrease in traffic congestion, it will likely return to pre-pandemic heights as people return to working in-office and in-school learning. The promise of decreased traffic congestion alone is enough to spur Portland area locals to encourage the government to invest more in Portland high-speed railways.

High-Speed Rail Could Benefit Both the Environment and Traveler Safety

By providing an alternative to driving, high-speed rail can play a significant role in reducing transportation emissions. Additionally, it’s arguable that high-speed rail is a safer option than driving. Japan’s high-speed rail network, the world’s first, has carried passengers for over 50 years without a single fatality. As many as 40,000 Americans die in auto accidents every year.

High-Speed Rail Could Connect Pacific Northwest Like Never Before

A high-speed railway could easily connect Portland to Seattle and Seattle to Vancouver like never before. Imagine traveling on a high-speed rail from Portland to Seattle in less than an hour! High-speed rail in the US would truly offer more freedom to the American people in both their professional and personal lives. Traveling to see family or for fun would be much easier, as would commuting to far-off places for work.

Join Our List to Support Cascadia High Speed Rail

Imagine a safe and environmentally responsible high-speed rail system reaching speeds of 250 mph. Vancouver, BC to Seattle in 47 minutes, Seattle to Portland in 58 minutes, and Portland to Eugene in 45 minutes. If you want to learn more about Cascadia High Speed Rail or have any questions, use our contact form.

High-Speed Rail: Bringing America Together

High-Speed Rail Projects Have Supporters in All Parts of the Country

Since the May 6th meeting with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, high-speed railway advocates from across the country have become more passionate about the future of high-speed rail in the United States. Officials on both the national and state levels are pushing for high-speed rail projects to advance. The United States’ Northeast section, central Texas, California, and the Pacific Northwest are just a few areas with plans in place to implement high-speed rail systems.

Connecting the Pacific Northwest with High-Speed Rail

If our neighbors in California succeed in reviving their high-speed rail projects, it would certainly make the future of high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest seem all the more favorable. Cascadia High Speed Rail is dedicated to bringing high-speed rail to Portland and the surrounding areas. High-speed rail could connect Portland to Seattle and Seattle to Vancouver in an unprecedented way.

Join Our List to Support Cascadia High Speed Rail

Imagine a safe and environmentally responsible high-speed rail system reaching speeds of 250 mph. Vancouver, BC to Seattle in 47 minutes, Seattle to Portland in 58 minutes, and Portland to Eugene in 45 minutes. If you want to learn more about Cascadia High Speed Rail or have any questions, use our contact form.

The Future of High-Speed Rail in the US

Biden Administration Hopeful for Future of High-Speed Rail in the US

The Biden Administration has big plans in store for high-speed rail in America. Biden’s American Jobs Plan $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, which includes a budget of $80 billion to revive the dilapidated US. railway systems, could be what brings high-speed rail to Portland and indeed the whole country. High-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest has great potential to reduce congestion and lead to more job opportunities and economic revitalization for our communities.

Playing Catch-up with the Rest of the World

While current U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has expressed his hopes to see the United States “leading the world when it comes to access to high-speed rail,” the U.S. has some catching up to do before that vision can become a reality. It’s possible, however, that catching up could happen quicker than you might think.

After all, at the beginning of the 21st century, even China had no high-speed railways. Contrast that fact with the size of China’s network of high-speed railways today – by far the world’s largest. This incredible high-speed railway network spans no less than 37,900 kilometers (about 23,500 miles) across the cast country, completely transforming intercity travel for its citizens.

Railway History and Railway Future

While one might argue that railway history is repeating itself, it is undeniable that the landscape of railway development has changed drastically since the railway boom of the 19th and 20th centuries. The interest in high-speed rail today is undoubtedly sparked by similar reasons that encouraged the building of railways in the 19th and 20th centuries. Railways connect communities and make everyday life and travel more convenient. The building of those railways took decades, however, while China has accomplished building incredible high-speed railways in just a few years. With the right planning and dedication, there should be no reason that America cannot accomplish this same task.

The Biden Administration’s Proposal Could Impact Regional High-Speed Rail Projects

The developments that occur due to the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan could have a major impact on local and regional projects who are already dedicated to connecting communities across the Pacific Northwest, from Portland to Vancouver, BC, and beyond. However, as Rep. Marie Newman, (D-Ill)., said, “…we have to start coming together and thinking about how we get this done, and not why it should or shouldn’t be done. It’s clear it needs to be done.”

Join Our List to Support Cascadia High Speed Rail

Imagine a safe and environmentally responsible high-speed rail system reaching speeds of 250 mph. Vancouver, BC to Seattle in 47 minutes, Seattle to Portland in 58 minutes, and Portland to Eugene in 45 minutes. If you want to learn more about Cascadia High Speed Rail or have any questions, use our contact form.

What We Have Learned from High-Speed Rail

Cascadia high speed rail train

High-Speed Rail Has Clear Economic Benefits

While the environmental benefits of high-speed rail are clear and measurable, the economic benefits have also been well-documented. The data comes from high-speed rail initiatives around the world. China has economically benefited from high-speed rail for over a decade. China has put into operation over 20,000 miles of dedicated high-speed railways since 2008 and is currently working on 21,000 more miles to be in service by 2030. China’s high-speed railway projects, instituted with a pragmatic and long-term approach, have reaped the obvious environmental advantages – reduced greenhouse emissions and less congestion – but the economic impact has also been significant.

“China has built the largest high-speed rail network in the world. The impacts go well beyond the railway sector and include changed patterns of urban development, increases in tourism, and promotion of regional economic growth. Large numbers of people are now able to travel more easily and reliably than ever before, and the network has laid the groundwork for future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank Country Director for China.

The benefits are numerous: reduced greenhouse gas emission and related environmental benefits, national and regional economic advantages, as well as empowerment of transportation infrastructure that reduces congestion, accidents, and operating costs, while increasing regional travel. Japan has had the Shinkansen High-Speed Rail system (aka the bullet train) for the past 57 years without a single fatality, while the US has an average of 40,000 fatalities per year due to vehicle collisions.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is attempting to emulate China’s clear and obvious success instituting a high-speed rail system. With their scaled-back proof-of-concept project from Merced to Bakersfield, the CHSRA is attempting to draw enough investment to finish Phase I construction from San Francisco to Anaheim.

High-Speed Rail is Competitive with Road and Air Transport

In China, high-speed rail service is competitive with road and air transport for distances of up to about 1200 km. Fares are competitive with bus and airfares and are about one-fourth of the base fares in other countries. This has allowed the high-speed rail to attract more than 1.7 billion passengers a year from all income groups.

One big advantage of high-speed rail over air travel is that stations are in the city center, rather than airports out on the periphery. Making trips by high-speed rail results in much lower carbon emissions than driving cars or flying. But another great thing about rail is that it integrates well with local transit systems to eliminate car trips once you’ve reached your destination city.

Private Investors See Economic Benefit of High-Speed Rail

The titans of Wall Street are sending a sure signal of the validity of high-speed rail as an economic investment. Andy Kunz, president of the US High Speed Rail Association, said investors used to roll their eyes at him when he started speaking at conferences in 2010. Now he’s watching Wall Street invest in high-speed rail.

Global Infrastructure Partners, a New York fund, bought an Italian high-speed rail operator in 2018. Fortress Investment Group, a New York firm, funds Brightline, which believes there are close to a dozen other potential projects in the US that fit its model, according to a spokesman.

Kunz said that he recently heard for the first time from Goldman Sachs about speaking in a Webinar on high-speed rail. “This is not fantasy or someone’s dream,” Kunz said. “This is a proven technology and a reality in 20 nations all over the world.”

The Future is High-Speed Rail

“In the Northwest, the future is NOW for Cascadia High Speed Rail,” Says Brad Perkins, President/CEO of Cascadia High Speed Rail, LLC (CHSR). “Building a new multi-modal bridge across the Columbia River for vehicles, bullet and freight trains with a new 250 mph electrified high-speed rail corridor between Vancouver, BC and Eugene, OR is the climate justice answer for communities, long-distance travelers, and parcel freight movement. The CHSR corridor design guarantees 58 minute travel times between Portland and Seattle, 47 minutes between Seattle and Vancouver, BC and 45 minutes between Portland and Eugene.  

Connect with CHSR

Our next webinar for the CHSR EIS study is June 10, 2021 at 10:30 am Pacific Time. Click here to sign up or use our contact form to learn more.

What is the Next Step for High-Speed Rail on the West Coast?

Support for High-Speed Rail Increases

­­High-speed rail connecting Portland, Vancouver, BC and Seattle aka Cascadia High Speed Rail gains support as the new wave of transportation.  High-speed rail advocates from around the Northwest, the United States, and the world testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous on Thursday, May 6. Testimony focused on how high-speed rail could translate to reduced congestion, new job opportunities, and economic revitalization for communities. While detractors pointed to a lack of any room in the current budget, as well as the specter of the troubled California High-Speed Rail Project, most advocates remained hopeful. Many of their hopes hinged on the Biden Administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, that has earmarked some $80 billion to revive the dilapidated rail system in the US and ‘Amtrak Joe’s’ love of America’s rails.

Developments for High-Speed Rail

These developments have a huge bearing on ambitious regional projects connecting the rural and urban communities across the great Northwest, from Portland to Vancouver, BC and beyond. 

One proponent of such a regional project is Rachel Smith, President of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She called for a “Cascadia Ultra High Speed Corridor” to connect the cities in the Northwest, referring to “the transformative power of rail,” and said: “fast, frequent and reliable rail is an economic competitiveness tool for any region. Providing people with alternatives to sitting in traffic, mobility to move seamlessly from work to home to recreational activities and building community around modern transit technology helps attract talent and adds to the vibrancy of a community. It also frees up the precious highway and road space for the efficient movement of goods from our farms and manufacturing centers to the hearts of our cities and towns.”

Some Roadblocks to High-Speed Rail

Many roadblocks remain. For one we need to get grassroots support and champion the environmental and economic benefits of high-speed rail. Then we need to convince the politicians.

US House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said investing in rail would mean a change in thinking for state transportation departments, many of which he said are still “stuck in the Eisenhower era” and focused only on widening roads.

We also need to catch up to industrialized nations across the globe. “It’s embarrassing, really, when you think about it. We’re supposed to be the richest country in the world and a superpower, and we’ve got a 1930s falling-apart rail system,” said Andy Kunz, president and CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group U.S. High Speed Rail Association. America lags far behind Europe and Asia in high-speed rail development – only 33.9 miles (54.6km) of the current US passenger rail network is capable of supporting train speeds over 150mph.

Optimism for High-Speed Rail

Phil Washington, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), struck a particularly optimistic note to end the day’s testimony: “The final point I would like to make is this—if high-speed rail is done right, I believe this Congress can smartly use Hamiltonian means to achieve Jeffersonian ends. That is, we can use the power of the federal government to adequately finance these great public works projects, while allowing local, county, and statewide officials to ensure these projects and the manner in which they are built serve the greatest public good.”

The Future is High-Speed Rail

“In the Northwest, the future is NOW for Cascadia High Speed Rail,” Says Brad Perkins, President/CEO of Cascadia High Speed Rail, LLC (CHSR). “Building a new multi-modal bridge across the Columbia River for vehicles, bullet and freight trains with a new 250 mph electrified high-speed rail corridor between Vancouver, BC and Eugene, OR is the climate justice answer for communities, long-distance travelers, and parcel freight movement. The CHSR corridor design guarantees 58 minute travel times between Portland and Seattle, 47 minutes between Seattle and Vancouver, BC and 45 minutes between Portland and Eugene.  

Connect with CHSR

Our next webinars for the CHSR EIS study are May 27 and June 10, 2021 at 10:30 am Pacific Time. Click here to sign up or use our contact form to learn more.

Biden Administration Focused on High-Speed Rail

New Administration focused on High-Speed Rail

Supporters of high-speed rail are keeping tabs on Joe Biden’s campaign promise to invest in infrastructure—and more specifically high-speed rail. High-speed rail advocates from the Pacific Northwest, the United States and around the world testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on Thursday, May 6. Testimony focused on how high-speed rail could translate to reduced congestion, new job opportunities and economic revitalization for communities. While detractors in congress pointed to a lack of any room in the current budget, as well as the specter of the troubled California High-Speed Rail Authority project, most advocates remain hopeful.

US Behind in International High-Speed Rail

Many countries around the world have embraced bullet trains to knit together their rural communities and reduce congestion in their metropolitan areas. While some in Congress are debating whether we should or shouldn’t start building high-speed rail lines in the United States, others are debating how much of a head start we continue to give other industrialized countries in high-speed rail.   

Transportation Secretary Has a Vision for High-Speed Rail

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently shared his vision to see the United States “leading the world when it comes to access to high-speed rail.” Given the current state of passenger rail service in America, achieving that vision will be a Herculean task. America lags far behind Europe and Asia in high-speed rail development – only 33.9 miles (54.6 km) of the current US passenger rail network is capable of supporting train speeds over 150 mph.

Secretary Buttigieg is not the first American official to advocate for investment in high-speed passenger rail service. As far back as 1998, the US Transportation Secretary at the time, Rodney Slater, presented a high-speed rail plan and allocated more than $30 million to support state-sponsored high-speed rail projects. In 2009, then-Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood issued a policy paper calling for the construction of a high-speed rail network connecting major US cities, and Congress appropriated more than $8 billion for that purpose. Two years later, the Obama Administration announced an ambitious plan to make high-speed rail service available to 80 percent of Americans within 25 years.

An Opportunity for High-Speed Rail

Andy Kunz, president and CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group U.S. High Speed Rail Association, sees a real opportunity with the current administration to correct those failings. “Biden was, as vice president, a big rail supporter,” he said. “And so now that he’s back in the helm, we have a new opportunity to really push this big.”

President Biden Knows Trains

Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, has earmarked some $80 billion to revive the dilapidated rail system in the US. The president has proposed corporate tax hikes to fund the massive project. President Joe Biden campaigned on sparking “the second great railroad revolution” in a car-centric nation where rail infrastructure has languished for decades. The president famously commuted daily from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, DC, during his time as a senator, logging millions of miles riding the rails and earning the nickname “Amtrak Joe.”

“He’s the first president in decades who’s routinely ridden trains and he understands just how functional they are,” Robert Yaro, the former president of New York’s Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit civic planning organization, and a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, told ABC News. And that leaves many supporters of high-speed rail in America pinning their hopes on Amtrak Joe.

The Future is High-Speed Rail

“In the Northwest, the future is NOW for Cascadia High Speed Rail,” Says Brad Perkins, President/CEO of Cascadia High Speed Rail, LLC (CHSR). “Building a new multi-modal bridge across the Columbia River for vehicles, bullet and freight trains with a new 250 mph electrified high-speed rail corridor between Vancouver, BC and Eugene, OR is the climate justice answer for communities, long-distance travelers, and parcel freight movement. The CHSR corridor design guarantees 58 minute travel times between Portland and Seattle, 47 minutes between Seattle and Vancouver, BC and 45 minutes between Portland and Eugene.

Connect with CHSR

Our next webinars for the CHSR Environmental Impact Statement study are May 27 and June 10, 2021 at 10:30 am Pacific Time. Click here to sign up or use our contact form to learn more.

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