Accepting The Challenge: Cascadia High Speed Rail

At some point in our recent history, we got complacent. Our society stopped its foresighted quest of reaching higher. This year marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the pinnacle of American ambition and ingenuity, a time when big ideas were met with unity driven towards monumental achievements.

There were undeniable challenges, yet they were overcome with togetherness, detection, and unparalleled vision. But at some point, we got complacent.

We now live in a world where we expect improvements, but undertake so little to move past our many “what-ifs”. Imagine stepping back to the mindset proclaimed by John F. Kennedy in 1961; to accept a challenge. Imagine readopting the unified vigor to take on a project that alters our daily lives. Imagine connecting our region, the Pacific Northwest, through high-speed rail, a feat that has yet to be achieved within the United States.

Cascadia Rail's vision for high-speed rail. (Oran Viriyincy)
Cascadia Rail’s vision for high-speed rail. (Oran Viriyincy)

Constructing a high-speed rail network in the Pacific Northwest is a daunting proposal. It is the kind of project where you do not know where to start. But the benefits that would come through a fast, reliable connection of Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver are beyond our comprehension. Thousands of new green jobs during construction and operation. Capitalizing on the economic potential of the Pacific Northwest, connecting our thriving businesses while encouraging new innovations. And above all, providing our people with a convenient, comfortable, and sustainable way to travel without hassles or delays. There are alternatives to high-speed rail in this desire for connectivity, but none that offer the chance for such shattering transformations.

Our region has an opportunity, and the time to act is upon us. Yes, it is a strenuous and laborious task. And yes, it will undoubtedly be costly. But what is holding us back from attempting to achieve our highest possible quality of life? Are we not going to accept our challenges head-on? We need to address our issues of mobility, sustainability, and stability, and protect our prospects to grow as a region.

High-speed rail would not only transform the way we move around the Pacific Northwest but change the dynamic of our region altogether. Air Quality. That much cleaner. Business trips. That much shorter. Friends and Family. That much closer. We love the Pacific Northwest for what it is, but we have yet to scratch the surface of what it may become. Take the first step towards a better quality of life. Accept the challenge.

About the Author:
Brandon Geiger is graduate student at University of Oregon in Portland studying historic preservation. He works with Oregon Department of Transportation in the Rail and Public Transit Division in Salem.

Press Release 03.12.18

Cascadia Rail celebrates high speed rail progress in legislature

Region one step closer to fast intercity transit, benefiting economy and quality of life

Cascadia Rail congratulates the Washington Legislature and the governor for funding further study of true high-speed rail connecting the Pacific Northwest. In the final day of the 2018 session, the legislature appropriated $750,000 (summing to $1.2 million if potential local matching funds are included) for further analysis of ridership, possible alignments and economic benefits of the alignment.

“Cascadia Rail applauds the efforts of Washington State Representatives Judy Clibborn, Gael Tarleton, Jake Fey and Senators Steve Hobbs and Marko Liias for their successful, visionary efforts to advance high speed rail in our region” said Cascadia Rail Board Vice President Paige Malott. “Whisking between Portland/Seattle and Seattle/Vancouver in 40-50 minutes is an achievable dream, and every incremental step matters.”

“With airports near capacity and highways increasingly unreliable, we need a revolution in intercity travel,” said Anthony Gill of the Spokane Chapter. “High-speed rail hits the sweet spot, giving us the door-to-door speed of air travel, the clean energy of mass transit, and a better traveler experience all in one. With the legislature’s continued support and continued rapid population growth on the horizon, the time is now to make this happen.”

“We commend the Washington Legislature for stepping up,” said Michael Zirkle, leader of the Tacoma Chapter of Cascadia Rail. “Tacoma to Seattle in 10 minutes and Tacoma to Portland in half an hour is transformational. The regional value is clear.”

This new funding brings the dream of fast, effortless regional travel one step closer to reality, though additional funding partners may be needed to complete a study that is truly investment grade.

“We are ready for this,” said Matt Glaziewski of the Portland Chapter. “We support a strong partnership to fully fund the due diligence necessary to bring this to our region.”

The enabling legislation requires the study to be completed by June 2019.

Cascadia Rail is a grassroots, Seattle-based organization with a vision for fast, effortless regional travel between Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and Spokane. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, visit