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Alta. hyperloop project awaiting government meeting, committing to stop in Red Deer


The company behind an Edmonton-Calgary high-speed hyperloop has a lengthy to-do list if it wants to start construction at Edmonton's airport by the end of this year, as it planned to do.

Since announcing US$550 million in initial funding in early 2022, TransPod has built and began testing a prototype of the vehicle it says will be able to transport 54 people between Alberta's largest cities in 45 minutes, co-founder and CEO Sebastian Gendron told CTV News Edmonton in a Tuesday interview.

And to unlock the investment, TransPod has been finessing major details: the project's $20-billion price tag, the loop's alignment, permits, and land acquisition – starting near Edmonton's airport.

But the last item is stalled until infrastructure like TransPod's loop is recognized under Alberta's Railway Act, which would give TransPod the right to secure a corridor between Edmonton and Calgary.

Little progress has been made on that front, Gendron said.

He told CTV News Edmonton he's unsure when he'll be able to secure a meeting with the transportation minister.

"I hope that things will accelerate either before the election or after the election," the CEO commented.

"For now, I would say we have enough work on our side before we – I wouldn't say push – but insist, I would say," he said, chuckling.

The transportation minister's press secretary confirmed "no decisions have been made regarding changes to the Railway Act or regulations, and no timelines have been set," but Jesse Furber called the government supportive of TransPod's work. 

The goal had been to start construction at the airport by the end of 2023, but not only is TransPod waiting on the government, it has been advised by locals to start building after the winter.

"So between end of this year and spring 2024," Gendron said.

In February, TransPod will present its initial alignment for the Edmonton stop to city council and YEG Edmonton International Airport.

Public consultation will also start in 2023 and more funding is scheduled to be announced in the spring, according to the CEO.

Meanwhile, Transpod is working to bring in experts from Europe to help get the project certified, hiring more aerospace workers to develop its prototype, and discussing a future full-scale test bench for two or three tube segments with the help of Building Trades of Alberta, Gendron said.

"2023 looks pretty good."


Another major development is TransPod's commitment to include a Red Deer stop on the loop, which would have otherwise bypassed the city of 100,000.

An early business case found a Red Deer terminal would not be profitable.

But the stop was one of two stipulations made by the Alberta government, the other being ticket price controls.

TransPod is promising to include the stop and eat the $1-billion cost itself, although its ability to do that remains contingent on it maintaining majority control over the project as other stakeholders come on, Gendron said.

"We'll try to keep the control of the project. And if we have the control of the project, we will invest those $1 billion ourselves. On that, there's no doubt. This is the plan we have to do to allow Red Deer to continue to grow," he told CTV News Edmonton.

He acknowledged the benefit Red Deer stands to gain from having a stop, from potentially increased business activity to a more active real estate market.

"It would provide a huge boost, economically speaking, to the city because the real estate will be cheaper than in Calgary or Edmonton, so it may interest some people to live in Red Deer... It may boost, as well, the airport, in terms of traffic to be connected to the Edmonton airport or the Calgary airport. And even some companies. Some companies may decide to have their main office in Red Deer to be more cost effective, for example."

The $1-billion addition will delay TransPod's return on investment by one year, over two decades, Gendron said.

Construction in Red Deer wouldn't start before 2027, he added. 


Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston believes the addition of a stop in his city would be "transformational" for all of central Alberta.

The pandemic changed people's views on work and quality of life, and with the inflation squeeze, many have begun moving to smaller centres, Johnston said. A TransPod link with Red Deer would only make the city a more attractive place to call home.

"To be able to tie someone in to say a job, if you will, in a highrise in Calgary and be 30 minutes from home, arguably that's even shorter than the distance in Calgary to get to the highrise," he told CTV News Edmonton.

He's also excited about the prospect high-speed rail would create for tourism and economic development.

"Dare to dream that you are in Edmonton, for example, let's go down to Calgary, and we are going to be down there in an hour, or half an hour to Red Deer to enjoy our river valley and trails," Johnston said.

"It will open central Alberta to those folks that haven't really discovered [it]," he added. "Even when you think of it from a professional sports perspective, to be able to get to a Stampeders or Elks game in half an hour, to get to an Oilers game in half an hour."

"It's extraordinary when you think of the impact that high-speed transportation can bring to Alberta."

While TransPod has yet to reach out to the City of Red Deer, Johnston says the project is welcome and that city council would gladly begin preliminary discussions.

"My message to TransPod today would be, please come down to Red Deer. City Hall is open," Red Deer's mayor said.

"We would welcome at this point in time those kinds of conversations that are high level because at least it enables us as a city to be able to say potentially what zoning would like, how much land acquisition is involved," he added. "To enable us to do some preliminary planning so that we are prepared when they are ready to go." Top Stories

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