Comments – Proposed High-Speed Train from Edmonton to Calgary
It is time for this high-speed train to be built now, not later. The selection of alternatives should be for the $5 billion, new corridor scheme. Time is important and a 90-minute, comfortable ride with minimum bounce will appeal to a larger market segment of potential ridership. A train designed to conveniently handle what people want to bring with them on a journey, including bicycles and luggage, will increase the market size of potential passengers.
My comments are based on being a frequent user of high-speed trains for the last 20 years primarily in Europe and also in Taiwan. At 300 kph, a day trip from Calgary can be to Red Deer and to Edmonton, not to Brag Creek. Replaced is a 3-hour plus journey by bus.
Besides reducing short flights between the two cities and its associated pollution, the train will create new business and tourism opportunities. The local economies will be positively impacted. Short plane trips will be declining in the future with dwindling availability of petroleum products and rising prices.
There is a difference of attracting passengers and expanding the market size with a 300-kph train and a 200-kph speed. Yes, time is an attractor and the most successful speed is the fastest one.
As for a new exclusive corridor, the corridor should be designed for use by commuter trains in both of the cities, include Red Deer on the route; have room for utilities, including oil, gas, telecommuting lines, electrical power lines; and very importantly a high-quality bicycle trail connected to local communities along the way. CycloTourism would take off with a quality bike trail along the corridor.
With such a corridor, high-speed local commuting rail could be incorporated on the tracks. The corridor could be developed wide enough to include tracks for local rail commuting at 90 to 150 kph, using the corridor as a feeder system and then branching off.
What is critical is that the line is reserved for passenger service and freight rail is not permitted on the tracks, considering the damage and rough ride that freight trains produce for shared tracks.
So, the time is right for such an investment, now not 10-years form now. Some road investments within the province could be scrapped, turned over to private partners with tolls, or funded through congestion pricing on these roads.