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Rural groups want high-speed rail study
Concerns linger about track's effect on countryside
reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Matthew Gauk) March 24, 2010
Rural municipal officials in Central Alberta stand on both sides of the tracks when it comes to a high-speed rail line in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor.

Worries over how such a line would affect life in the countryside have prompted the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties to commission a study on the subject, president Don Johnson said Tuesday.

The association -- made up of municipal districts and counties and four specialized municipalities -- isn't necessarily against high-speed rail, he said.

"We've had concern expressed by membership in the central corridor about the potential impact. Most people don't think it will (happen), but if it does happen, and we don't have any information on it . . . we'd be remiss," said Johnson.

The exact nature of the study will be firmed up at a meeting next month. It's expected to take about six months to complete.

"First off, a high-speed rail is just going to be another trail through Mountain View County that is going to split our county rural environment in half. We have Highway 2, we have Highway 2A, and we have the power lines," Al Kemmere, reeve of Mountain View County, said Tuesday.

"Another concern is high-speed rail is primarily for the three cities. It's for Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton, and it's to serve their needs."

He's concerned it will take away from traffic stopping in rural communities, thus affecting economic development.

"It's just going to blow them right straight through. So we get all the impacts, and none of the benefits."

Everett Page, a Mountain View County councillor, said he's concerned because with limited stops likely, people in his area would probably have to drive to Calgary to get to Edmonton on such a train. Plus, he added, the line would inevitably run through "some of the best quality farmland in Alberta."

Lacombe County councillor Cliff Soper says he's "always been supportive" of a high-speed rail line, but that it's just a question of whether it would be economically feasible. While the population flow might not warrant such a system now, he's confident it will in the future.

It would be a huge benefit for anyone in Central Alberta who needs to fly out of Calgary or Edmonton or who has a business meeting in the cities, he added.

Red Deer County Mayor Earl Kinsella said he understands that the rail line could be "a pain in the neck" for farmers who would likely need to drive out of the way to access possible crossings. But he argued against the idea that the line would somehow take away from the economic development of towns along the highway, saying vehicle traffic will always increase.

Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, calls the route from Calgary to Edmonton "the perfect corridor". A high-speed rail line wouldn't stop at every spot, but would "do nothing but help" rural municipalities in Central Alberta, he said.

The government's next step with bullet trains is to do a railway corridor study when financing for such a project becomes available, Ouellette said.

News articles related to high speed rail
(Forth Junction supports the concept of a future rapid passenger rail service connecting major destinations as efficient and enviro-friendly but is not directly advocating for any specific high speed rail proposal):

       News article: Talk of high-speed rail line picking up steam?
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2013)
       News article: City touting high-speed rail stop at downtown station
(Red Deer Advocate Jan.2013)
       News article: Fast-tracking bullet train a ticket to nowhere
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2011)
       Commentary: Steam good alternative for high-speed rail link
(Red Deer Advocate Apr.2011)
       News article: Business officials laud rail proposals
(Red Deer Advocate Apr.2011)
       News article: Chamber pressing high-speed rail plan
(Red Deer Advocate Jan.2011)
       Editorial: Train's future needs path
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)
       News article: Project creates issues for rural residents
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)
       Editorial: High speed rail back on
(Red Deer Advocate July 2010)
       News article: Rail plan returns
(Red Deer Advocate July 2010)
       News article: Get moving on high-speed rail link: expert
(Red Deer Advocate June 2010)
       News article: Political will lags behind train debate
(Red Deer Advocate Oct.2009)
       News article: Province offers update on high speed rail (Red Deer Express July 2009)
       News article: Company pushes for high speed rail (Red Deer Express April 2008)
         News article: Rail group projects service in five years (Red Deer Advocate April 2008)

Rise and Fall of Passenger Rail in the C&E Corridor

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