Thursday, March 21, 2019

High speed rail might be better as commuter rail than intercity rail in Pacific Northwest

There's some thought about doing building high speed rail from Portland, Oregon to Seattle and then to Vancouver, BC.

I just got to thinking that a better idea, given the state of our society, is to build the high speed rail from Seattle to Cle Elum, Washington. Make it a commuter rail, rather than an intercity rail.

I might be kind of a cynic, but this is what our society has come to. Housing is becoming so expensive, in Seattle area, that people often have to commute from way out. Cle Elum is on the east, sunny side of the Cascade Mountains. I hear that quite a few folks move there and still commute all the way to Seattle for at least the last years of their employment. They must be thinking of retiring in sunnier Cle Elum.

Could Cle Elum and Ellensburg become the new "East Side suburbs of Seattle? High speed rail could bring folks to Seattle in short order.

Meanwhile the idea of going from Seattle to Vancouver, BC or to Portland, for that matter, runs into the fear of existing property owners along the potential routes not wanting the rail line to bisect their neighborhoods. Going east, less people live in the Cascade Mountains. We would probably have to give up the Iron Horse Bicycle Trail, however. That would be the most likely route. The Iron Horse Trail is the old Milwaukee Road rail line. It even has it's own tunnel. I love the Iron Horse Trail, but I only get there once every few years.

Maybe the folks in Cle Elum / Ellensburg area wouldn't want to become a suburb of Seattle, however. It's kind of sick, in a way that it might come to that. Or maybe not. We, as humans, are sure capable of a lot of things. Cross the Cascades in less than 40 minutes? Earthworms can't do that. We have bigger brains to figure this stuff out.

As for speed, it does still look like the jet plane is still the preferred system for intercity long distance travel. High speed rail can't compete, so that's why I'm thinking commuter rail instead.

One advantage of rail, however, is getting around the increasing problem of airspace congestion at our airports. Seattle area may have pushed back that problem by opening up a new airport for commercial travel. Paine Field near Everett. Paine Field is now the an auxiliary airport for Seattle Metro. Bellingham is kind of an auxiliary airport for Vancouver, BC.

What about jet fuel and climate change, you ask? Maybe we need a carbon tax.

Meanwhile society keeps going sky high in more ways than one. Air travel and sky high property values around our major cities.