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Ultra high-speed rail could travel from Seattle to Portland in 1 hour

Lawmakers want to cut down on travel times and congestion, taking commuters across the Pacific Northwest at 220 miles per hour.

SEATTLE, Washington — An ultra-high-speed ground transportation system could take commuters from Seattle to Portland or Vancouver, BC in just an hour, according to a feasibility study conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

A study for an Ultra-High-Speed Ground Travel (UHSGT) was submitted to the Washington State Legislature in July 2019.

This method of transportation could "alleviate traffic and transit congestion while encouraging greater regional collaboration in research, economic development, and business innovation," WSDOT said. 

According to the study, the UHSGT would travel about 220 miles per hour and would allow for less than one-hour trips between each city -- Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. 

The UHSGT also has the potential to carry 32,000 people an hour (up to 3 million annually) to each stop, according to the study. 

The report submitted this month focused on: 

  • Corridor options, including possible station areas, connections to other travel modes (such as transit), and costs.
  • Potential ridership and revenue based on some express service trips stopping at only a few locations, interspersed with other trips that stop at more locations.
  • Governing structures to administer such a project across state and international borders.
  • Funding and finance alternatives.
  • Key benefits related to better travel connections, economic development, housing, environment, and safety.

The study was paid for with $750,000 from the Washington state Legislature and an additional $650,000 from the Province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Microsoft Corp. 

A public-private advisory group representing both public and private sectors from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, provided input during the year-long analysis.

There was no definite timeline for construction or completion, but the report states the project could be initiated within three years. More time will be needed after that period for land acquisition, designs, development and construction.  

The report recommends lawmakers dedicate more funding to the project in the upcoming years.  

You can read the full findings here. 

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