Banff station

CANADA: The government of Alberta has allocated C$9m for the development of a Passenger Rail Master Plan as a foundation for the development of commuter and regional services to meet the needs of the growing population.

‘World class’ consultants are to be appointed to produce the master plan by summer 2025.

Proposals include commuter services in the Calgary and Edmonton areas including links to the airports; regional lines from Calgary and Edmonton to the Rocky Mountain parks; a regional line between Calgary and Edmonton with a local transit hub in Red Deer; and rail hubs that would provide links between commuter, regional and local mass transit services in the major cities.

It is envisaged that a province-owned entity similar to Ontario’s Metrolinx would develop the infrastructure and oversee operations, fare collection, maintenance.

Edmonton Valley Line Southeast (Photo City of Edmonton)

Edmonton Valley Line Southeast

The only passenger services in the province at present are tourism-focused trains operated by VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer, plus light rail services in the cities of Calgary and Edmonton which are home to around half of the province’s 4·8 million people.

‘A large and efficient passenger rail network stretching across the province has incredible potential’, said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith on April 29. ‘There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m confident that we will build the network Albertans need to improve daily life and work, boost the economy and take away the stress of long-distance travel.’

Marc Brazeau, President & CEO of the Railway Association of Canada, said ’Canada’s railways appreciate the Alberta government’s efforts to conduct a fact-based study on the potential for passenger rail service that recognises the essential need to protect current and future freight rail capacity’.