The mission of Cascadia High Speed Rail Company™ is to design, secure funding, and develop an economically feasible high-speed intercity, commuter and freight parcel rail corridor in the Pacific Northwest. The goal for the 413-mile, electrified, double track Cascadia High Speed Rail (CHSR) corridor, between Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, BC, will be the ultimate transportation system for on-time delivery. CHSR will deliver passengers and parcels in a fraction of the time compared to other ground transportation modes. CHSR will not only be a new, innovative, and disruptive transportation system, but will be developed to the highest safety standards set by the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). CHSR will provide an unmatched catalyst for the development of new environmentally-focused, livable town centers at the mixed-use station hubs. These hubs will be connected to other corridors for light rail, streetcar, buses, autos, water taxis, bikeways and pedestrians. For business, commuters, and leisure passengers, CHSR will offer the ultimate customer experience and safety. The intended result is to provide society a choice to live in a progressive community with a well-connected variety of transportation options that induces job growth via construction and use of new residences, retail businesses, offices and entertainment centers. The future is now to build a more equitable environment.
The Pacific Northwest, also known as Cascadia, has been recognized as a potential high-speed rail corridor since 1992 when the USDOT Federal Railroad Administration identified it as one of the original ten best high-speed rail corridors for development. The US High-Speed Rail Association (USHSR) recommends to President Biden’s infrastructure funding proposal that CHSR be #4 for funding. Most recently, US Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, has recommended that CHSR be #3 for funding.
CHSR Company is uniquely positioned to continue the design and development of the corridor due to the completion of the following six studies:
- 2006-2022, Technical Expert, Rudy Niederer, studied and designed CHSR corridor and station location options with assistance by Brad Perkins.
- August 2016 Transportation Economics & Management Systems, Inc. (TEMS) completed the Fix America Surface Transportation (FAST) Study that was registered with the Federal Railroad Administration.
- September 2018 TEMS completed the CHSR Economic Feasibility Study and determined that private investors (Amazon, FedEx, UPS, etc.) could help finance 50 to 70 percent of the capital costs of the corridor.
- April 2018 Ankrom Moison Architects completed four CHSR Station Area Development Scenarios for the Portland Rose Quarter, Vancouver WA Waterfront, Tacoma Dome and Seattle Central I-5 Link Commuter Train location.
- January 2022 TEMS completed the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement Study between Portland and Seattle, which has been submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). CHSR Company is now prepared to secure private/public partnership funding to complete the Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement Study.
- April 2023 TEMS completed the update to the CHSR Economic Feasibility Study or Business Prospectus to stimulate investment by Amazon and/or FedEx, UPS, who will then lease the CHSR corridor.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Portland based, Cascadia High Speed Rail Company™, plans to use the most advanced technology and methods to design, finance, and build the first truly high-speed rail corridors in the United States. Since 2006, CHSR Company is developing a transportation system capable of moving trains at speeds over 250 mph. The CHSR system will be the model that can be replicated throughout the USA. Through detailed studies of topography, land use planning, and economic feasibility during the CHSR corridor design phase, we are now prepared for technical and public critique on our recommendations. These recommendations include where to build the CHSR corridor on the ground, flyovers, in tunnels, and locate station/hub town centers to connect towns between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, BC. It will be financed with public and private funds for capital construction to transport passengers and parcel freight. New state-of-the-art boring machines will be used for tunnel construction and modern gantry systems will be used to build flyovers, which will save a tremendous amount of time and money due to efficiencies in construction methods.
CHSR Company’s and TEMS’s advanced studies in CHSR corridor design, finance and construction methods have helped us determine the current construction cost of the corridor between Eugene, OR and Seattle, WA to be $31.7 billion. To make the project affordable, it is important for the public sector to collaborate in partnership with the private sector who recommend cost-saving construction methods and innovative funding plans. The State of California’s 100 percent “public trough” funding plan is paying over 50 percent for the California HSR corridor and the other 50 percent of the currently estimated $128 billion construction cost, California hopes will be funded by the Federal government.
The recent bipartisan approved Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) provides a strong platform for HSR investment. A part of the Act is the TIFIA funding program, which requires that infrastructure projects costing more than $750 million to include the study of a private sector alternative if it reduces costs, which our program clearly will. FHWA has also created multimodal “Mega” and “Infra” funding programs for alternatives such as high-speed rail that can complement the I-5, Columbia River Crossing project by satisfying significant environmental problems and equity issues. These funding programs and the National Environmental Protection Act require that major transportation projects must meet important CO2 reduction and equity goals. It is our intent to make full use of these programs so that the efficiencies and technical expertise of a private sector led project can be utilized rather than a much more expensive and slower (learn as you go) public sector approach to develop a new HSR transportation corridor and station/hub system.
The CHSR Company is seeking $30 million from the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act and/or private investors and $2 million each from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia for the next Tier 2 EIS Study between Eugene, Portland, Seattle and British Columbia. We are asking for your support in moving forward to develop an innovative and cost saving plan for the Cascadia High Speed Rail corridor in the great Pacific Northwest as the first true high-speed rail system that acts as community building catalyst in America.
The aim of the Cascadia High Speed Rail Company™ project is to provide a new highly attractive intercity and commuter travel mode for the Pacific Northwest. The Cascadia HSR system would offer all the amenities of intercity high-speed rail, including modern stations with parking and fast comfortable trains. The trains provide a much more comfortable travel experience than in airplanes, buses and automobiles. Trains will have larger seating capacity with room to stretch, walk around, and have access to onboard food service, the bar/restaurant car, larger video screens, entertainment and Wi-fi. Passenger luggage will have much more storage space and will be easier to load compared to narrow aisles and doorways in airplanes.
The CHSR system will be built to meet the highest safety and seismic standards set by federal and state governments. These standards are much higher than existing freight rail standards and ensure much greater level of safety. For example, the Japanese high-speed rail corridors have used these standards without an accident since the introduction of the world’s first HSR system in 1964. These standards will include advanced designs for track, tunnels, bridges, train sets, signal and train control systems. CHSR will have the latest technology to ensure the highest performance and safety standards. The right-of-way will be a “sealed corridor” with no vehicle, pedestrian or wildlife crossing that are typical of the existing freight rail network and are the cause of many train accidents.
The Pacific Northwest travel corridor is a highly constrained corridor running between two mountain ranges, which are environmentally sensitive. At the same time, the growth of intercity transport for passengers and freight requires that transport facilities be expanded by over 50 percent for personal travel, over 100 percent for all freight and 300 percent for express freight by 2050. The infrastructure needs for this expansion of the markets is not in place today, and simply cannot be provided through the existing modes of highway, and air without significant environmental damage to the urban context and rural landscape associated with I-5 widening projects or extra airport runways. The Cascadia High Speed Rail system offers the solution to these difficult problems.
CHSR can absorb a significant share of both the personal travel market and the express market growth. It can do this by:
- using a narrow 50 ft right-of-way compared to the 200-500 ft right-of-way needed for highways,
- sharing existing rights-of-way in both the I-5 highway corridor and freight rail rights-of-way (not tracks), thus avoiding many environmental issues, and increasing transport capacity not just by the provision of the new HSR rail system, but by reducing travel volume congestion for both highways and airports,
- tunneling and constructing flyovers to avoid surface constraints, particularly in urban areas, will provide fast access to city centers and reduce highway congestion,
- offering a very effective train service that is efficient, frequent and affordable compared to airplane, bus and auto/truck modes,
- connecting to the center and transportation hubs of major towns and cities ensures a high level of mobility for of all travel modes that access local communities. Over 90 percent of the corridor’s population will be within one hour of the corridor stations and transport hubs,
- providing property development in and around the stations along the route.
PURPOSE AND NEED
Cascadia High Speed Rail systems will provide an effective alternative for the Pacific Northwest that will significantly enhance transport capacity of the corridors highways and airports. The system will provide an efficient travel option for:
- First, personal mobility that is not just faster, but is more comfortable with room to relax, work, walk about, and have an effective onboard service of food and drink. Fares would be set at rates similar to Amtrak in the Northeast corridor from Washington DC to New York, and would include a full range of discount tickets for students, senior citizens, families as well as peak and off-peak pricing.
- Second, increasing the efficiency of express parcel and light cargo service by providing faster and more rapid movement of express cargo along the corridor will generate more service options like Same Day Delivery. This business would be similar to the Red Star Parcel service operated profitably by British Rail.
- Third, creating a significant property development program at stations along the corridor, will revitalize and produce significant economic growth surrounding each station stop that can help reduce urban sprawl. These developments in the large cities may well encompass 40-60 blocks near the stations and produce billions of dollars of development such as those already developed in Europe and Asia.
The aim is to establish a private/public partnership that will get the service developed and built within a ten-year time frame once the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study is completed. The EIS study is needed to secure federal and state infrastructure funding to cover capital costs with a portion shared by the private sector. The EIS study for the three segments will cost only $36 million due to the corridor design and detailed studies that have been completed to date. This would be $10 million for Eugene to Portland, $12 million for Portland to Seattle and $14 million for Seattle to Vancouver, BC. Each segment will be completed sequentially beginning with Portland to Seattle.
In terms of funding the initiative would look to the private and public sectors to do the following things:
- Provide as part of the private/public partnership funding for the Tier 2 EIS, some $18 million (50 percent match) to complete the planning process for three segments.
- Provide 51-60 percent of the capital required to build the system with a return on equity of more than 20 percent.
- Provide $18 million to fund the EIS for the three segments of the CHSR corridor. This will generate a Record of Decision (ROD) that will allow state, federal and private funds and land acquisition and corridor/station construction to be completed for each phase.
- Provide a capital investment to cover 40-49 percent of the capital cost of the project.
The Cascadia High Speed Rail (CHSR) corridor is a unique and compelling offering due to the following factors:
- Increasing train speeds up to 250 mph makes train times competitive not just with auto, bus and truck transportation, but also air service under 500 miles. HSR trains are also more comfortable, environmentally progressive and capable of providing a wide range of increased services such as Wi-Fi, food, drink and video services.
- The rail industry has modernized trains so that train systems are modularized, which ensures that if a component breaks down, it can be taken out and a new module installed to replace the broken module. This has significantly reduced “repair” times and ensures a far more reliable fleet of train service.
- Auto and truck modes are suffering from high gas prices and increasing congestion. This has reduced their reliability and competitiveness by nearly 50 percent between 1970 and 2020. Dependable time schedules is a major factor in determining cost and profit. Guaranteeing delivery time sells, especially in the express parcel business.
The market for passenger rail, and express parcel is expanding dramatically in the last twenty years. Amtrak, whose services have not really changed or improved much in the last twenty years, saw its market (riders) increase by 50 percent for their system and its intercity corridors typically increased by over 100 to 200 percent. Cascadia High Speed Rail will be faster and have more frequent service than Amtrak, and will attract large amounts of auto/truck traffic, air passengers and cargo due to the worsening of fossil fuel prices and highway congestion.
The Cascadia High Speed Rail corridor has a tremendous amount of capacity and speed so that it can facilitate the movement of three types of paying customers:
- Commuters will pay fares for Cascadia Commuter Express (C-CE), who will travel between Portland Rose Quarter (RQ) and the Vancouver WA Waterfront in six minutes.
- Long-distance travelers will pay fares for Cascadia Intercity City Express (C-ICE), and travel at 250 mph during the day between Portland RQ and Seattle Central Hub in 58 minutes.
- Parcel freight companies will lease segments of the corridor and travel at top speeds during off-peak passenger travel hours.
Cascadia High Speed Rail is not associated with the following:
- Cascadia Rail: cascadiarail.org
- Ultra-High-Speed Rail Ground Transportation Study: Washington State – DOT, wsdot.wa.gov
- High Speed Rail Alliance: The Cascadia Ultra-High-Speed Rail Ground Transportation Project - www.hsrail.org