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North America: Railway plans crossing borders

por Patricia
ruta ferroviaria cascades

With almost 9,000 kilometers, the border shared by the Unites States and Canada is the largest of the world. The railway connections have the same track gauge 1.435 mm (4 feet 81⁄2).

The connections between the North and the South Canada, up to the routes of its neighboring country, have been increased after having signed the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and subsequently, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

With the intercity freight road traffic growth in the 70’s, the railway companies operating in both countries had to develop a long distance intermodal transport, mainly intended for raw materials in bulk and in large quantities. Therefore, it has gained an important role in terms of mobility. Among the most important, the one which starts from the Northeast Canada, from Prince Rupert and which crosses the central axis, by passing through Winnipeg and up to the Gulf’s coastline. The international passenger connections of both coastlines are linked to them, as the well-known Pacific corridors (The Pacific Northwest Corridor) and also those belonging to the Atlantic.


The APGCI consists of a series of transport infrastructure projects, which include improvements in the main railway connections and highways starting from the West Canada and up to the Southern United States, the main border crossings and the largest harbors of Canada. This is an initiative where the private public co-operation is essential.

So far, the Federal Government of Canada has invested 1,400 million Canadian dollars (991 M€) in this initiative. It involves a consortium of transport administrations of provinces, municipalities and the private sector that seeks to improve the international trade via an efficient multimodal system with joint terminals and resource improvement. The total investments are in the amount of 3,500 million Canadian dollars (2,477 M€)


The Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor (PNWRC) is one of the eleven high-speed projects that the Federal Government of the Unites States aim to improve. It involves a line of 466 miles (750 kilometers) running from Eugene, in the United States to Vancouver, in Canada.

This line includes the famous “Amtrak Cascades” service. This is considered as one of the most successful long distance railway transport revival in the North America. For 20 years now, the Company has been able to make the most of this route, taking into consideration that this is one of the most exceptional routes due to its landscapes and the Spanish technology commitment.

Talgo trains

Within an infrastructure that has barely been renewed since its inception, during the last decades of the XIX century, there was a decision to incorporate tilting trains for a mountainous route and a modern, comfortable, efficient rolling stock with the best guarantees pronounced, where necessary. The Talgo technology was the winning option. During the 90’s, Amtrack procured five 6 series train sets, which are being prepared to reach the speed of 200 km/h. In 2009, a new demand added to this route a 8 series rolling stock.

At present, work is constantly being done in the route’s improvement. For this, the Transport Department of the Unites States co-operates with BNSF Railway and Sound Transit. Within the two-year period 2015-2017, ten projects are expected. One of the most outstanding, a third track to the City of Kelso, the procurement of new locomotives, superstructure works for the installation of new rails near the Seattle station, the bypass in Point Defiance and an internal route between Tacoma and Nisquall. In 2023, the improvement works will make the trains run at a maximum speed of 110 miles per hours (180 km/h).Thus, the route between Portland and Seattle will be covered in 2 hours and a half. The route from Seattle to Vancouver will last for two hours and 37 minutes.


The railway link between Alaska and Canada has been analyzed for various years. Since it involves a route that is very close to natural protected areas, the feasibility studies are focused on the most recommended route. In 2016, the Van Horne Institute (Alberta) proposed an alternative that would start from Fort McMurraya Delta Junction, in Alaska. A route particularly intended for oil derivatives transport.

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