The Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal are reporting that the Joint Canada-Alberta Caucus meeting being held in Calgary today will discuss the Alberta report on a high-speed rail link between Edmonton and Calgary.
This is great news. I am a big proponent of HSR for the Edmonton-Calgary Corridor for environmental, economic and social reasons. I was involved in the concept way back when I met with Jan Reimer and Al Duerr as the Mayor's of Edmonton and Calgary on the idea. In those days Japan was interested in participating in the project but it never got traction with the province. Now there are a number of potential options for a high speed rail link in the Alberta Corridor. This is an idea whose time has come and I know Premier Stelmach is a strong supporter of the idea as well and has been all the way back to his days as Minister of Transportation.
Alberta is trying to leverage is green image with the $2B commitment to carbon capture and storage and for a place of 3.5 m people that is an impressive investment. There is lots of good stuff to do in CCS but it is not as sexy as HSR would be as a global attention getter about Alberta getting green. Public Relations is not a justification for such a big policy decision but given how badly beat up the Alberta image is internationally, some positive environmentally PR that also enhances the economy at the same time would not hurt.
With 10m passanger trips between Edmonton and Calgary in 2006 and projections for that to grow significantly over the coming years means the need now is also partly political as a green initiative of the province. HSR is also an enormous economic generator as well as a providing societal benefit for the relationship of the closer integration and differentiation of the two cities. HSR has the potential to control growth in the corridor and ensure we don't succumb to sprawl as growth in the corridor expands.
Here is a link to the Market Assessement report recently done for the Alberta government. I will have to find some time to read it carefully. I recommend Albertans do the same.
It is audacious and bold but what better time to proceed on such an undertaking for Alberta than now? Build that train Mr. Premier.