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Province offers update on high speed rail
reprinted from Red Deer Express (Mark Weber) July 8, 2009
There's been a wave of positive response to a market assessment study of high-speed rail service for the Calgary-Edmonton corridor.

Released by the province this week, the reports says travelers could get from city to city within one hour, and that by 2021 as many as six million riders will have used the service. There would be a stop-off in Red Deer as well.

Mike Axworthy, president of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, said it's important for both the province and interested stakeholders to take a long-term look at it.

"I can see where 20 years down the road we'd think what a great idea that we did it," he said.

And although it could be a tough sell in a time of overall constraints and cutting back, Axworthy said the province could do its part by obtaining the right of way for a proposed route and holding onto that land.

He also believes that the public would support the initiative, and all the more so if gas prices took a significant jump down the road and the public in general took on more of an environmentally-friendly stance.

About 10 million trips took place along the corridor in 2006, of which 91% were by automobile.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he's very supportive of the idea.

"It puts us in closer proximity with Calgary and Edmonton," he said, adding that there would likely be more and more people working and studying in the bigger centres while still calling Red Deer home. He thinks more and more people will opt for the service as the QEII will only get busier over the coming years.

Flewwelling would like to see the train's Red Deer stop located in the new Riverlands area off downtown, or just north of CrossRoads Church.

Urban transport in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer has to be beefed up in the meantime so those arriving on high speed rail can get to their destinations more conveniently, he said. A bolstered transit system linking Central Alberta communities is also important, as many from around Red Deer would likely take advantage of the service as well.

"It's absolutely imperative that the infrastructure is in place at both ends and in the middle of the route."

The report also says that given the projected growth of the overall travel market along the corridor, it's estimated that high-speed rail ridership would jump by about 35% from 2021 to 2031 and by about 43% from 2031 to 2051.

Meanwhile, Bill Cruikshanks, CEO of Alberta High Speed Rail Inc. said the best option is the $3.5 billion 300-km/h electric overhead train. The company's corporate aim is to be the operator of the high-speed passenger rail service.

According to the Alberta High Speed Rail Inc. web site, a potential route for the rail system has even been mapped out just west of the QE II Hwy. Bridges would be used to separate the roads from the railway and the entire route would be fenced for safety.

Next up, the province will pass on the data to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for its final report.

The committee starts up again in September.

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: 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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