Originally Posted by deasine
Cascadia high-speed rail: It's time
by Brad Perkins, guest opinion, The Oregonian
Thursday February 26, 2009, 12:00 PM
It's time to take steps to implement Cascadia high-speed rail between Eugene and Vancouver, B.C. High-speed rail would be faster and more comfortable than automobile or short-distance air travel. This new electrically powered, double-track rail line would move people and freight at least 110 miles per hour and avoid all grade and river traffic interruptions.
The extra benefit to high-speed rail in Portland is the addition of a new east-bank high-tech passenger rail station on Paul Allen's and the city's property along the Willamette River across from Memorial Coliseum. The new Rose Garden Transit/Tourism Station's main pedestrian entrance would be central to the MAX light-rail center, planned bicycle paths and future streetcar stops. This new activity hub would spur economic growth to help justify financing a new outdoor entertainment center, a Veterans Memorial Baseball Stadium, hotels and restaurants.
Vancouver, Wash., citizens would greatly benefit because the new multi-track high-speed rail could act as a commuter alternative as well. From a new park-and-ride stop from Vancouver's Northwest 39th near the I-5 exit to the new Rose Garden Transit Station by high-speed rail would take seven minutes. From Portland to Eugene, it would take 75 minutes.
Federal investment in high-speed rail would benefit both freight operation and passenger service. Freight rail companies see the advantages in cooperation. The new interstate rail freeway for freight and passengers would have double tracks, concrete tie base and new high-grade steel rails. Existing rail right of way would be used where practical. Tunnels, elevated tracks, bridges and earth cuts would avoid unreasonable curves, elevations, roads and waterways.
On a national level, American citizens think that developing high-speed rail corridors would create thousands of jobs, reduce road congestion and pollution, and improve freight capacity, business productivity and energy conservation. In the Nov. 30, 2008, issue of Parade magazine, people were asked if they preferred cash rebates to repairing our nation's infrastructure. Sixty-seven percent of Americans preferred focusing on infrastructure improvements that develop faster and better trains.
The $787 billion economic recovery bill signed by President Barack Obama on Feb. 17 dedicates $8 billion to high-speed rail. Obama wants to make high-speed rail a signature achievement of his presidency. He said, "The time is right for us to start thinking about high-speed rail as an alternative to air transportation connecting all these cities. Think about what a great project that would be in terms of rebuilding America."
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is working with the White House to jump-start high-speed rail nationally. The Eugene to Vancouver, B.C., corridor is one of 11 corridors designated for possible high-speed rail development. There is much to be done regionally before LaHood assigns priority funding for the engineering and development of the Cascadia high-speed rail line.
Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Ron Wyden have been most helpful in emphasizing the need for the Cascadia line. State Rep. Chip Shields and I have worked together on a bill to be introduced in the Oregon House to form a High-Speed Railway Task Force. It would coordinate with high-speed rail efforts in Washington and British Columbia to determine potential corridor route, economic impact, investment opportunities, freight and passenger capacity, etc.
Let the Northwest lead America toward a greener 21st century.
Source: Brad Perkins, Oregon Live
This new electrically powered, double-track rail line would move people and freight at least 110 miles per hour and avoid all grade and river traffic interruptions.
The existing Cascades trains are capable of 110 mph if the tracks and signals support it. While Oregon lawmakers/politicians would like new trains on new ROW, what's so wrong with the existing ROW that can be fixed cheaper.
WSDOT already has a long range to increase speeds of the Cascades trains that will only cost $6.5 Billion in 2006 dollars by 2023. I'm sure with Obama in the White House that this schedule could be quicken considerably.
Portland to Seattle.....3:55..3:30..2:30
Seattle to Vancouver...N/A..3:55..2:37
Vancouver to Portland..N/A..N/A..5:22
It's 187 rail miles between Seattle and Portland. In 1994, the trains averaged 47.7 mph. In 2003, 53.4 mph. In 2023, 74.8 mph. WSDOT plan consists of eliminating most slow order sections of tracks.
Improvements identified by WSDOT and cooperating agencies and organizations include:
* Upgrading grade crossings to ensure safe passage of trains, vehicles and pedestrians;
* Increasing speeds to improve corridor capacity and travel times;
* Enhancing train control signals to improve corridor capacity, increase train speeds, and enhance safety;
* Purchasing new passenger train equipment to operate along the corridor to increase frequencies and decrease travel time;
* Improving stations and their ability to serve neighboring communities and to provide connections to other modes of travel; and
* Upgrading tracks and facilities to relieve congestion, improve ride quality and safety, increase train speeds, and improve corridor capacity. In addition to these improvements, WSDOT intends to continue to actively market the program to the public, and work closely with Amtrak to ensure that day-to-day operations meet customer expectations.
It is important to note that no long-term financial commitments have yet been made by any of the various funding entities that are described in this plan. However, this long-range plan assumes that the major capital construction projects that are needed to support expanded Amtrak Cascades service in the Pacific Northwest will be funded in the following manner:
* Projects necessary to provide faster, more frequent Amtrak Cascades service between downtown Portland, OR and the Columbia River will be funded by the State of Oregon, with potential funding coming from the federal government and Amtrak.
* Projects necessary to increase the level of Sounder commuter rail service in the central Puget Sound region will be funded by Sound Transit and the federal government.
* Projects necessary to provide faster, more frequent Amtrak Cascades service between the Columbia River and the Canadian border will be funded by the State of Washington, with potential funding coming from the federal government and Amtrak.
* Projects necessary to improve Amtrak Cascades service in British Columbia will be funded by the province of British Columbia, the Canadian federal government, and regional transportation agencies.
* Train sets and locomotives will be funded by the States of Oregon and Washington, with additional funds provided by Amtrak and the federal government.
* The Seattle Maintenance Facility will be funded by Amtrak, the federal government, the State of Washington, and Sound Transit.
* Station improvements will be funded jointly by local jurisdictions, regional, state and provincial governments, and the federal governments of the U.S. and Canada.
* The new rail bridge across the Columbia River will be funded by the railroads, the States of Washington and Oregon, and the federal government.
* Projects that provide a direct benefit to the BNSF Railway Company will be funded by the railroad.
Revised Cost Comparison Associated with High-Speed Ground Transportation
Technology Type of Corridor Estimated Cost*
Tilt and Conventional Trains (90 to 110 mph)Existing Rail Right-of-Way $1 to $5 million/mile
Tilt and Conventional Trains (up to 125 mph) Existing Rail Right-of-Way $3 to $7.5 million/mile
Tilt and Conventional Trains New Corridor $10 to $45 million/mile
Maglev New Corridor $20 to $50 million/mile
*In 1997 dollars (Note Pacific NW construction costs are significantly higher than the National average)
74.8 mph average speeds is as good as Amtrak's Acela trains running on the NE Corridor. Between Boston and New York City, where Acela reaches its highest speeds of 150 mph, it averages only 62.85 mph.
Assumptions: Boston to New York City is 220 rail miles. Amtrak's schedule reads 3 hours and 30 minutes.
I believe WSDOT has a good plan worth implementing at significantly lower costs.