Monday, August 17, 2009

High Speed Rail is Catching on - Will Alberta Lead or Follow?

I am a big fan of high speed rail for the Edmonton-Calgary Corridor. It has many advantages and yes it is a fiscal stretch in times of recession. So in the meantime we should at least be assembling the right-of-way so when the economic times are better we can start building the project.

There is lots of HSR activity happening around the world. Alberta has a small population but we have a strong likelihood of Alberta continuing to grow - dramatically. We should be anticipating the future and designing infrastructure to meet the needs, including reducing car travel with high gasoline prices. We could also help reverse the unfortunate image around the world of Alberta as a dirty oil dynasty with this very green HSR project that will garner international attention.

This is a very complex project but no longer cutting edge. Many other countries are seriously into HSR, including China, big time. We Albertans have studied the concept for decades and the time to do is is just about tight now.


  1. Not a PC5:43 pm

    I thought the Premier made a good decision when he called upon regions to get their act together and develop regional transportation plans first, before any kind of rail system. It seems like Alberta has a lot of successful small communities that try to exist as entities onto themselves. I sometimes wonder if such a grand project like this would unite Alberta ? Thoughts anyone ?

  2. Ken,

    I'm with you. The Calgary - Edmonton corridor needs an efficient rail connection. I read the study commissioned last year which suggests the building and running of HSR in the corridor would be an economic boom unto itself.

    What I did not like about the study is that it only put stations in Edmonton, around Leduc, Red Deer, Calgary outskirts and Calgary Centre.

    The train should also serve both Wetaskiwin and Airdrie. Granted the populations in both places are not that big at the moment, but stations in these locations will allow for business and communities to bloom through the whole corridor. The Japanese experience points to this.

    Now the question is what train to construct: 150kmh... 200kmh... 250kmh or 300kmn (maglev)... I believe the TGV (250kph) is the best option along a ground level electrified route... with no level crossings.

    At some point in the future electrification of rail in Canada is going to have to be addressed. Building that infrastructure now is the way to go.

    One of the real sad aspects of this current discussion is CN's sale of the entire railway lands when we had a station already to serve. Still, with the closing of the airport, an opportunity opens.

    We need to be bold. And we need our system to link to an efficient rail system across the country. With moderate improvements to right of way along CN (the right of way is wide enough for three sets of rails across the country since we no longer need the telegraph lines).

    With vision and courage, we could rebuild an effective passenger rail system.

    Thanks for raising the issue.