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Rail group projects service in five years
 
reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Brenda Kossowan) April 1, 2008

Local passengers could be riding North America's first bullet train in as little as five years, says an engineer from Alberta High-Speed Rail Inc.

All it would take is for the province to give the green light, Ralph Garrett, vice-president, infrastructure for the Calgary firm told Kiwanis members in Red Deer on Monday night.

"Alberta's ready for high-speed rail. Everything's coming together. The stars are in alignment."

Garrett said that, to the best of his knowledge, his company is the only one currently attempting to put a bullet train in motion along the province's Hwy 2 corridor, between Edmonton and Calgary.

However, he assumes that others will step forward if and when Premier Ed Stelmach and his government put out tenders for the system.

Garett's group, funded by investors from throughout Western Canada, proposes that the province buy the land and build the tracks. Alberta High-Speed Rail would then provide the trains, paying a toll to the province for each trip made.

He estimated that taxpayers would have to invest $1.8 billion to cover the costs of buying the land and building a double sets of tracks, with those costs returned through the toll charged against the trains.

Financed over 40 years, that would cost taxpayers about $120 million a year, which Garrett said is the price of three overpasses.

Ultimately, Red Deer becomes the big winner, he said. The train trip would cut travelling time to either of the cities to 42 minutes, with trips running every hour in each direction, from 6:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.

"Red Deer, this is where it's going to be. I'll tell you. With the two and a half million people living in the corridor today, and with the huge influx of population, just about everybody ends up living in the corridor someplace.

The average fare from Calgary to Edmonton would run at a maximum of $65, depending on discounts. That's about $5 more than it costs to make the same trip by bus, said Garrett.

The biggest savings will be in the amount of time people can spend doing something other than looking through the windows of a motor vehicle, he said.

A 2003 study by the Van Horn Institute determined there were about six million trips between Calgary and Edmonton every year at that time.

"We think we can capture about a third of those. Take two million people and put them on a train, and every time they ride that train, they save an hour and a half. You put three million hours back into society, that's 1,500 person years. It's found resources for the province."

An exact alignment of the route has not been finalized, said Garrett. However, it has been assumed that the route would follow a line running west of Hwy 2, avoiding small towns. About 19 per cent of the route would be located on the CP Rail right-of-way, next to the freight line.

It would be completely fenced and level crossings would be eliminated through the use of underpasses and overpasses.

A couple of locations have been considered for a station in Red Deer, he said. One site is across the road from the Alberta Springs Golf Course, and the company is also considering the potential for placing the station at the Red Deer Regional Airport.

One of the biggest challenges, in Alberta's harsh climate, will be to prevent frost heaves from damaging the rail bed.

Even that challenge can be met, possibly by insulating the rail bed to avoid the abrupt temperature changes, said Garrett.

His company's pitch can be viewed online, at www.albertahighspeedrail.com
 


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: Rural groups want high-speed rail study
(Red Deer Advocate March 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)

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

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