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Provincial Government To Develop Passenger Rail Master Plan

Alberta’s government is moving forward with a passenger rail master plan.

Premier Danielle Smith was on hand for the announcement on Monday, April 29th at Heritage Park in Calgary.

She says just looking at commuter rail within the province’s two biggest cities is too small a vision for them. Smith notes they want to connect more than just neighbourhoods. According to Smith, they have a bigger, bolder vision. She points out that they want to build stronger connections along Alberta’s busiest corridor, and to Alberta’s top tourist destinations. Smith says “Another opportunity which should not be cast aside, is that of a high speed passenger rail line connecting Edmonton and Calgary with a stop over in the mid-point in Red Deer. Passenger rail between these three cities offers more opportunity, not just for visitors to our province and those looking to visit family and friends, it is an opportunity for business people who want the convenience of a quick trip, the ability to get work done on the way, and the possibility of avoiding lengthy airport security processes – not to mention, I’ve already challenged Red Deer to look at becoming our next million person city. So a great new way for us to grow out the affordable housing in central Alberta.”

Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, says the province’s passenger rail master plan includes six parts. He says “There is obviously the commuter rail from Edmonton’s downtown to their airport and their surrounding communities. Also commuter rail from Calgary’s downtown to their airport, as well as surrounding communities. A high speed rail from Edmonton to Calgary with a stop in Red Deer. To review regional rail from Banff and Jasper. A regional rail from Fort McMurray to Grande Prairie, as well as to southern Alberta communities. Plus essentially a rail hub which will connect the existing LRTs that are in Edmonton and Calgary, and every single aspect to this entire network.”

So, he says the vision includes a province led agency with a mandate to develop the infrastructure and oversee the daily operations, fair collection, booking system, maintenance, and planning for future expansion.

Dreeshen adds, Alberta’s passenger rail master plan will also include a 15 year delivery plan which will provide clear options to government to lay out the next steps to turn this vision into a reality. The MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake says the best case scenario for construction would be in 2027.

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