Vancouver, B.C., is about six hours by car from Portland, Oregon. Early studies are examining how high-speed rail could reduce the travel time to around two hours, including a stop in Seattle. Infrastructure projects are complex, to be sure. But cities and regions can function at a higher level when they’re connected. In the so-called Cascadia Innovation Corridor, investing in a shared transportation solution could spur economic growth and advance affordability and livability for the communities living in the region.
Here are seven places around the world where high-speed rail projects are having an impact.
Japan, an early adopter of electrified high-speed rail, built its first “bullet train” in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Today, Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail network includes nine lines that cover much of the country.
Zipping across mainland Europe
Spain, France and Germany are among the countries in Europe with large high-speed rail networks. Spain’s AVE trains, which started running in 1992, connect Madrid to Seville, Valencia, Malaga and other areas of the country, enabling quicker rail service between these areas.
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Linking areas of China
China has a long history of higher-speed rails, but its first foray into the current high-speed rail line began operation in 2011, linking the more than 800 miles between Beijing and Shanghai. Today, China has more than 15,000 miles of high-speed rail in operation.
A route connecting Jeddah with Mecca and Medina
In September 2018, Saudi Arabia inaugurated the Haramain high-speed railway, connecting Mecca and Medina with Jeddah. This rail line is expected to carry tens of millions of passengers a year, including those on the pilgrimage to the Islamic holy sites.
Connecting Tangier with Casablanca
Morocco opened a Tangier-to-Casablanca, high-speed rail line in November 2018 connecting industrial and commercial hubs. The new network will include trains that can travel close to 200 mph.
Northern England and London
The U.K. is planning a high-speed train to connect Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with London. With the first phase slated to begin operation in 2026, the so-called “HS2” would operate at speeds of up to 250 mph.
Linking the Cascadia region
Microsoft supports additional state funding to establish a framework for future high-speed rail service connecting Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle; and Portland, Oregon. It could help foster more cross-border collaboration between the United States and Canada.