Report expected on high-speed rail link between Edmonton and Calgary
Published Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:46PM MST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:59PM MST
The provincial committee tasked with looking at the possibility of connecting Alberta’s two largest cities with a high-speed rail link said a new report on the possible project will be released in the coming months.
The Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future met Tuesday morning, and the committee’s Chair said interest in constructing a high-speed train line between Edmonton and Calgary had brought the project back into the spotlight.
In 2009, a report from the province estimated a high-speed rail link would cost between $3 billion and $20 billion.
“I don’t think it would be government money,” Committee Chair Moe Amery said. “There are a lot of possible ways of financing such a project.”
A few years later, the Van Horne Institute at the University of Calgary estimated the project would cost between $2.4 billion and $5 billion.
Amery said they will talk with stakeholders and experts about the concept, and design, and consult the public.
Opposition Finance critic Rob Anderson called the train a make-work project, and said a lack of commuter traffic makes the prospect unrealistic.
“Frankly, it’s just not a fiscally responsible thing to do right now,” Anderson said. “We have a large ongoing deficit that’s occurring; we’ve got $17 billion in debt on the books by 2016.”
Edmonton’s mayor took to Twitter to weigh in: “What we need are complete LRT systems at both ends.” Iveson tagged Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in his message.
Meanwhile, a local developer admitted the concept could have its appeal, but said he believes there aren’t enough people in Alberta to make it a profitable venture.
“In terms of paying for it, and actually having it used, to the point where there’s enough trains and enough traffic to provide the ridership, it’s very very difficult,” Ken Cantor, VP of Development for Qualico, said.
The report on the project is expected May 25, 2014.
With files from Veronica Jubinville