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View Full Version : Should there be a High Speed Rail link from Calgary to Edmonton?



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Edmonchuck
Aug 22, 2007, 7:01 PM
As I read this the song "House of the Rising Sun" was playing, it made me sad.

Nah, I'm ok folks!

However your points do carry some weight, very interesting to consider.


Consider this as well my friend...several private firms with solid business plans on other "helpful" technologies are also soliciting the provincial government saying, "*ahem*, you give this questionable business plan one dime in capital funding, and we will demand the same. Oh, and as for that campaign support..."

So, do you build this toy and piss off the other infrastructure and transportation companies all over a toy with no ROI, or do you give the toy boys the lip service? Who do you string along?

Edmonchuck
Aug 22, 2007, 7:06 PM
2.2 billion? At that price it sounds like they are pussying out and going for the Bombardier jet thing on conventional track.




This is only one of the several SWAG's on the cost of HSR that are out there. But really, some of these are lowballed to the extreme. We cannot even get a provincial museum underway without the costs doubling/tripling in an amazingly short timeframe, so you know these costs will skyrocket as soon as there is any committment to the project - especially since it major capital funder is the public trough.

It is one of the many reasons why the deafening silence of HSR is so prevelant in North America.

youngregina
Aug 22, 2007, 8:32 PM
Has anyone even taken a look at the poll. It shows that there iindeed is the need for this. Even if it is just 215 people it still shows that 73 percent of the people voted for the top two choices. And those choices were for HSR not against it.

Bigtime
Aug 22, 2007, 9:22 PM
Has anyone even taken a look at the poll. It shows that there iindeed is the need for this. Even if it is just 215 people it still shows that 73 percent of the people voted for the top two choices. And those choices were for HSR not against it.

Well I'm pretty sure there are people on here that can take your point and absolutely destroy it with their knowledge of polls/statistics and the such.

I take it from your name and signature that you are quite young, hey it's great to dream but really it takes more than that. Just because a bunch of us on here like the idea and voted for it doesn't make it economically feasible.

Good points have been made for both the for and against groups, so to simply state that it makes sense because of our silly little poll is a bit of a big stretch.

Rock on.

Edmonchuck
Aug 23, 2007, 5:26 PM
Good points have been made for both the for and against groups, so to simply state that it makes sense because of our silly little poll is a bit of a big stretch.

Rock on.

Correct. This is a poll from a constituency that is mainly based of youngish individuals with a desire to see aesthetic and technology changes, and some have little to no eye to budgets and economic reality. Just because you wish for a tall tower, it does not mean it happens like some here want. Just because you're cheap does not mean that people flock to your city - and that goes for businesses too. Just because HSR would be fast, cute, and special does not mean the overall economic and social equation makes sense. Yet here, I've read over the past 5+ years desires for some to put up pretty towers on a "build it and they will come" daddy warbucks has lotsa money spec. I lost count on the number of posts around the 2000-2002 realm where people said "Wow, Edmonton is so cheap for office space, why aren't companies moving here?" I could go on.

So, while I know there are very knowledgeable people here, and also very knowledgeable people on the HSR issue, there are simply too many dreamers to take any poll here, or on many other forums, to any more valid level than "here is what this constituency MIGHT think".

Plus, let's look at the structure of the poll itself, including the rather limited options. 2 yes, 1 no. OK, a bit of an imbalance there. Both YES votes say build HSR, but for FUNDAMENTALLY different agendas. A staple in the HSR debate is truly government funding, and basically free capital with a promise that taxation and some other payback scheme may or may not sometime produce soft ROI, or even some that don't care about ROI and want to just "field of dreams" this thing - again a split in governmetn funding amounts and priority. You may even see opposition to HSR dissipate dramatically if government subsidies of the capital costs (aka the big big big big big big big money item) was not on the table. Then the debate would be on the merits of the system itself. So, by the very virtue of the poll, one could extrapolate that HSR is doomed more than it will succeed, because the inherent political opposition could stop the development should the issue of government funding still be on the table. If government funding is off the table, or reduced significantly, the 50.94% (as of Aug 23, 11:28 MST) "majority" would become extremely suspect - moreso than it already is given the limited choices in this poll's structure.

All this poll represents is a small portion of the overall forum that even comes here to read, and picking from the choices offered by one individual creating a poll that he/she could readily slant either way. No random sampling. No demographic analysis. This poll would be akin to the Edmonton Airport debate, and taking a poll of the people who are pro-Muni, or have business interests close to YXD, and asking them if we should damn the torpedoes and re-open the facility. Of course, you know the answer...

Edmonchuck
Aug 23, 2007, 5:41 PM
Oh, and I forgot. Add the fact that most people here are completely anonymous and you have no basis to see if even the majority of the respondants have any political, or geographic tie to the issue at hand, that further reduces the relevancy of this poll. I could go on and vote HELL YES, and be living in a place where this has no effect on my overall blanace of trade.

FASTBALL
Aug 23, 2007, 8:47 PM
Infrastructure decisions are difficult to make. The criteria used to determine timetables for building and upgrading roads, bridges, sewers and buildings changes with the government of the day and with the public's perception of need.

I bet the province could convince a majority of the population that bridge upgrades are a priority because of the high profile bridge collapses lately. The same goes for twinning the oil highway (Highway 63 for those of you working in fastfood)...was it required? There isn't a single transportation engineer that would agree that the volumes on HWY 63 warrant twinning that highway.

But it gets done. And so will HSR between Calgary and Edmonton...in less than 10 years. Because it is a trophy project. Something that will look green in CO2 rich Alberta.

And its sustainability has nothing to do with population, it is about buy-in from the business community and the two cities.

Think of how many Calgarians would come to watch a successful hockey franchise in Edmonton, or the festivals. Local tourism will flourish.

Red Deer becomes a suburb to both cities, opening up "low income" housing.
Trust me it will hapen soon.

MichaelS
Aug 23, 2007, 10:20 PM
Think of how many Calgarians would come to watch a successful hockey franchise in Edmonton

I think you have your cities backwards there. And this is coming from an Oilers fan (the truth stings me, but lately there is no denying it)

Edmonchuck
Aug 24, 2007, 1:51 PM
Infrastructure decisions are difficult to make. The criteria used to determine timetables for building and upgrading roads, bridges, sewers and buildings changes with the government of the day and with the public's perception of need.

I bet the province could convince a majority of the population that bridge upgrades are a priority because of the high profile bridge collapses lately. The same goes for twinning the oil highway (Highway 63 for those of you working in fastfood)...was it required? There isn't a single transportation engineer that would agree that the volumes on HWY 63 warrant twinning that highway.

But it gets done. And so will HSR between Calgary and Edmonton...in less than 10 years. Because it is a trophy project. Something that will look green in CO2 rich Alberta.

And its sustainability has nothing to do with population, it is about buy-in from the business community and the two cities.

Think of how many Calgarians would come to watch a successful hockey franchise in Edmonton, or the festivals. Local tourism will flourish.

Red Deer becomes a suburb to both cities, opening up "low income" housing.
Trust me it will hapen soon.

Calgarians already have 3 options to visit Edmonton and vice versa.

They can fly.

Red Arrow/Greyhound.

They can drive.

Eskimo fans at McMahon are testiment to the bus concept. Flames Fans bussing to Rexall (or the Pill Box, whatever) already happens. You don't need HSR.

Local tourism is ALREADY flourishing. We don't need HSR for that. Funny,

The point on Red Deer becoming a suburb and "low income" housing is just a HUUUUUGE stretch, and drives right into the heart of my point on why a poll in a forum littered with dreamers with little to no economic reality is why this "poll" is a joke. Seriously now. I am going to go to Red Deer because I can's afford to live in Calgary, yet shell out a crapload of commuting bucks to go to Calgary. Huh???? Why wouldn't I go to a more affordable area of Calgary and take the C-Train? 50 bucks each way vs what $5 -6 if I pay the fare, or less for a transit pass than what it would cost me in 2 days with HSR? Wow. :shrug:

What's next, Panoka and Lacombe become "low income" suburbs to Edmonton, and Innisfail and Bowden to Calgary? So, we need an HSR stop there too. Great. Now let's add one in Hobeema and Wetaskiwin and Crossfield and Olds and Acme and....well, now your bullet train is more akin to a beach ball...thanks for adding time to the run so that this thing will not get up to high speed for any amount of time.

So, with an equation like this, "trust me it will happen soon" carries about as much weight as "drink this snake oil, it'll cure what ails ya."

As for this freaking "trophy project" stuff, come on. A bullet train is a trophy project, when there are a gaggle of other "trophy projects" that we could do in many cities and still have change left over for a couple MRI machines? Why not call LRT a "trophy project"? Bridges too can be "trophy" projects. How about a museum? An Art Gallery? A stadium?

As for "buy in" from the two cities, well, you DON'T have buy in from the 2 cities and the business community. That has been made very very clear at meetings with landowners of potential stations, as well as on Edmonton's city council. Add Bronco's inflamatory statement, and HSR died. "trust me, it will happen soon" = what are you reading?

You want the "green" in CO2 rich Alberta - get rid of the major parts of traffic WITHIN the cities. Hello C-Train. Hello LRT.

Bridge collapses....hmm....funny that the bridges here in Alberta are nowhere NEAR to collapsing. Could it be the maintenance that my brother-in-law and others do? Nah.

youngregina
Aug 24, 2007, 7:51 PM
You want the "green" in CO2 rich Alberta - get rid of the major parts of traffic WITHIN the cities. Hello C-Train. Hello LRT.

Um, if I am not mistaken, one small plane the size of a jazz CRJ uses as much oil as car uses for one year. Although I do agree with getting rid of pollution within the cities first, dont use planes as an example for no HSR. 65 dollars on HSR(subject to change I know) is still cheaper than 200 dollars on way on a plane. Not only that. If you want a better environment, you would find a way to lessen the amount of air travel.

Bigtime
Aug 24, 2007, 8:03 PM
Um, if I am not mistaken, one small plane the size of a jazz CRJ uses as much oil as car uses for one year.

Which type, the -100,-200, -705? And over what time frame does it use the same amount of oil as a car uses in one year? How many CRJ's are there versus cars in the world? Look past the oil, how about fuel burn per passenger versus people travelling in cars and factor in the distances covered as well.

What about the new aircraft coming on line such as the A380 and 787? 2 of the most fuel efficient aircraft ever built.

How is a world that continues to get smaller and smaller supposed to lessen the amount of air travel? And if the increase there can be offset by more fuel efficient aircraft what's the point? Yet cars seem to be taking a much longer time to adapt to fuel efficiency than the aircraft manufacturers are.

I'm sure Edmonchuck will throw some more in here as well. I'm just a simple pilot in my spare time and these were thoughts that came to mind.

youngregina
Aug 25, 2007, 1:00 AM
Which type, the -100,-200, -705? And over what time frame does it use the same amount of oil as a car uses in one year?

During Takeoff

evolv
Aug 26, 2007, 4:22 AM
Red Deer becoming a suburb to Calgary and Edmonton is starting to become a reality. I know two people who already live in Red Deer and drive in every morning to Calgary for work. It is definitly not a huge stretch to say that Red Deer will become a so called suburb of Calgary and Edmonton

e909
Aug 26, 2007, 6:35 AM
Red Deer becoming a suburb to Calgary and Edmonton is starting to become a reality. I know two people who already live in Red Deer and drive in every morning to Calgary for work. It is definitly not a huge stretch to say that Red Deer will become a so called suburb of Calgary and Edmonton
Red Deer really isn't much cheaper to live in than the cities..

However, I do know some people that commute to Red Deer daily. It's not a stretch at all.

The Geographer
Aug 26, 2007, 10:32 PM
Red Deer really isn't much cheaper to live in than the cities..

However, I do know some people that commute to Red Deer daily. It's not a stretch at all.

When it is a 35 minute commute to downtown Calgary from Red Deer via HSR, it might make more sense than living in Mahogany.

zooropa
Aug 27, 2007, 2:51 AM
When it is a 35 minute commute to downtown Calgary from Red Deer via HSR, it might make more sense than living in Mahogany.

makes a little less sense when you factor in the $65 each way from Red Deer compared to the $2 from whatever LRT station ends up being close to Mahogony one day.

KrisYYC
Aug 27, 2007, 2:58 AM
I think there would have to be some kind of reduced monthly commuter pass for the HSR. The question is, how much would it have to be? And would it make up for the difference in costs of living between Red Deer and Calgary or Red Deer and Edmonton?

e909
Aug 27, 2007, 3:17 AM
I think there would have to be some kind of reduced monthly commuter pass for the HSR. The question is, how much would it have to be? And would it make up for the difference in costs of living between Red Deer and Calgary or Red Deer and Edmonton?
There is no major cost difference for living in Red Deer and Calgary-Edmonton, at least for renting anyway.

I'd imagine a commuter pass would cost $400-600 a month.

I did the commute for a period of time, and it cost around $400 a week. So $600 a month for a rail pass isn't unreasonable.

The Geographer
Aug 27, 2007, 2:30 PM
makes a little less sense when you factor in the $65 each way from Red Deer compared to the $2 from whatever LRT station ends up being close to Mahogony one day.

I am sure you could get a frequent commuter reduction, and if there is a time savings of 20 minutes for the day, that is another 10 dollars from a 30 dollar per hour wage. Housing should still be cheaper in Red Deer too, so that offsets the savings.

Actually, the biggest advantage for Red Deer would be business that is located in Red Deer but that has significant Calgary/Edmonton connections. If a person worked 4 days a week in Red Deer but had to go into Calgary for business once one week, and into Edmonton once the next week, this setup makes a lot of sense. It gives Red Deer a very strategic location.

canucklehead2
Aug 27, 2007, 6:44 PM
Does anyone know the possible monthly operating cost for such a system might be? If it is low enough, I could see the service being paid for exclusively by provincial taxes, thus making the service "free" for users, which would help take cars off the road and give the service a sustainable base market of regular commuters.

Of course naturally the private sector i.e. Greyhound would scream bloody murder about unfair competition, however if such a service was offered, it might actually help increase their business since people would then have more money in their pockets to ride their buses to other areas...

murman
Aug 27, 2007, 8:34 PM
Does anyone know the possible monthly operating cost for such a system might be? If it is low enough, I could see the service being paid for exclusively by provincial taxes, thus making the service "free" for users, which would help take cars off the road and give the service a sustainable base market of regular commuters.

Of course naturally the private sector i.e. Greyhound would scream bloody murder about unfair competition, however if such a service was offered, it might actually help increase their business since people would then have more money in their pockets to ride their buses to other areas...


WTF?

canucklehead2
Aug 27, 2007, 9:18 PM
Well if the cost of operating the HST service is say $10-20 mln/year, I could see the cost easily included in provincial taxes... I mean to keep it in perspective the province gives the Alberta horse racing industry $35 mln/year for advertising...

chenmau
Aug 27, 2007, 9:26 PM
How does the horse racing industry relate to HSR?

Bigtime
Aug 27, 2007, 9:40 PM
How does the horse racing industry relate to HSR?

He's saying that if right now the government is giving the horse racing industry 35 million a year why couldn't they give that much to contribue to yearly operating costs for HSR.

Also I didn't know we gave horse racing 35 million a year? What the hell is up with that?

Sorry for the derail!

canucklehead2
Aug 27, 2007, 9:58 PM
Thank you Bigtime for getting what I mean. If we spend $35 mln underwriting the advertising budget of the Horse Racing industry, why not spend that same amount of money operating a HST that people could use...

Bigtime
Aug 27, 2007, 10:05 PM
Thank you Bigtime for getting what I mean. If we spend $35 mln underwriting the advertising budget of the Horse Racing industry, why not spend that same amount of money operating a HST that people could use...

Perhaps if we take that 35 million and put it towards genetic engineering we can have a High Speed Horse Line instead of High Speed Rail! :haha:

So I guess we see that 35 million they get in those dumb ads about how important horse racing is to the Alberta economy...uh okay buddy. :rolleyes:

murman
Aug 27, 2007, 10:40 PM
Can anyone quote chapter and verse of this supposed funding?

Edmonchuck
Aug 28, 2007, 1:31 AM
When it is a 35 minute commute to downtown Calgary from Red Deer via HSR, it might make more sense than living in Mahogany.

Yeah, because EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVERYBODY works downtown and that is the final destination for EEEEEEEEEEEEVERYONE that would use HSR.

Yeah, there's a business plan that works.

Edmonchuck
Aug 28, 2007, 5:08 AM
Which type, the -100,-200, -705? And over what time frame does it use the same amount of oil as a car uses in one year? How many CRJ's are there versus cars in the world? Look past the oil, how about fuel burn per passenger versus people travelling in cars and factor in the distances covered as well.

What about the new aircraft coming on line such as the A380 and 787? 2 of the most fuel efficient aircraft ever built.

How is a world that continues to get smaller and smaller supposed to lessen the amount of air travel? And if the increase there can be offset by more fuel efficient aircraft what's the point? Yet cars seem to be taking a much longer time to adapt to fuel efficiency than the aircraft manufacturers are.

I'm sure Edmonchuck will throw some more in here as well. I'm just a simple pilot in my spare time and these were thoughts that came to mind.

Nothing much to add, you got it...

The RJ burning that much fuel in a 4,000 - 6,000 foot roll? Wow.

I think he was thinking a bit larger of an aircraft...

Aircraft trump HSR in 2 areas...

MUCH faster

Readily redeployable resource that can be used with multiple city-pairs and cover and entire continent twice in a day with stops in between...and I mean North America, not Australia.....

zooropa
Aug 28, 2007, 5:10 AM
Yeah, because EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVERYBODY works downtown and that is the final destination for EEEEEEEEEEEEVERYONE that would use HSR.

Yeah, there's a business plan that works.

if you take the HSR into downtown Calgary, and that is not your final destination, you walk two blocks and take the LRT to where your going. what's wrong with that?

canucklehead2
Aug 28, 2007, 6:10 AM
There are several sources which verify the Alberta Horse Racing Subsidy, and I myself wrote an editorial on it for a newspaper last summer, which surprisingly didn't recieve much attention one way or the other... And for the record its apparently $45 mln last year, $56 mln projected this year...


Vue wrote an article on it
http://www.vueweekly.com/articles/default.aspx?i=3572

The Alberta Liberals questioned Stelmach about it in June..
http://alc.whitematter.ca/index.php/alc/content/horse_racing_industry_june_14/

Search the Hansard for the past debates about it in the ledge...

Basically the governments argument is, you got to spend money to make money, because it supposedly gets the cash back via its cut of gaming revenue. But that circular argument could be just to justify just about any spending if one wanted to...

canucklehead2
Aug 28, 2007, 6:20 AM
Another article on the issue, though obviously not from a neutral source... http://www.liberalopposition.com/index.php/news/more/alberta_liberals_say_sweetheart_government_deal_for_horse_racing_must_end/

Either way, I think it goes to show you where the governments priorities lay, and I don't think it's with funding public transit, affordable housing, school lunch programs or anything like that...

Anyway, back to the issue at hand... HST's for Alberta...

I still find it funny that trains in the past in Alberta went 190 km/h yet we don't have them today. And that was on the existing CP ROW between the cities... Surely with todays tilting train technology we could go faster on the same route...

Policy Wonk
Aug 28, 2007, 7:24 AM
What the CRP track is or is not capable of doesn't come into this discussion - it isn't available for this purpose.

Bigtime
Aug 28, 2007, 1:17 PM
Nothing much to add, you got it...

The RJ burning that much fuel in a 4,000 - 6,000 foot roll? Wow.

I think he was thinking a bit larger of an aircraft...

Aircraft trump HSR in 2 areas...

MUCH faster

Readily redeployable resource that can be used with multiple city-pairs and cover and entire continent twice in a day with stops in between...and I mean North America, not Australia.....

Edmonchuck, I'm starting to like our "tag-team" aviation nerd er expert/enthusiasts group that we are forming here!

Horsies get 56 million this year?! :shrug: Just think of all the affordable housing, shelters, social services that could be put to use on instead.

Ok sorry for the derail yet again!

e909
Aug 28, 2007, 1:27 PM
One stupid government expenditure doesn't reason out another.

There's no bloody way the government should pay the train tickets of commuters. What's next? Free Hawaiian vacations?

Bigtime
Aug 28, 2007, 1:35 PM
One stupid government expenditure doesn't reason out another.

There's no bloody way the government should pay the train tickets of commuters. What's next? Free Hawaiian vacations?

I agree with you, so why the heck are we giving horse racing so much money? Like I said in my post it could go to much more needed services/infrastructure in this province.

Personally I'm still on the fence with this whole HSR thing, show me a business plan that actually makes sense and perhaps I will make a decision.

MichaelS
Aug 28, 2007, 2:18 PM
if you take the HSR into downtown Calgary, and that is not your final destination, you walk two blocks and take the LRT to where your going. what's wrong with that?

What if you want to go somewhere in the SE? Or if you are going to Edmonton, their LRT network isn't nearly built out as much as it needs to be. That is why people are arguing that there is a much better use of money in building LRT lines in the cities as opposed to a HSR.

zooropa
Aug 28, 2007, 3:35 PM
What if you want to go somewhere in the SE? Or if you are going to Edmonton, their LRT network isn't nearly built out as much as it needs to be. That is why people are arguing that there is a much better use of money in building LRT lines in the cities as opposed to a HSR.

I actually agree with you there - but the comment I replied to said nothing about 'spend money on LRT and not HSR'.

The Geographer
Aug 28, 2007, 5:50 PM
Yeah, because EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVERYBODY works downtown and that is the final destination for EEEEEEEEEEEEVERYONE that would use HSR.

Yeah, there's a business plan that works.

What the HEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL is your point? I was suggesting the net effect would be an increase in commuting between Red Deer and Calgary and Edmonton. I was also musing (partially in jest) that it might make more sense than living isolated SE Calgary: an area of the city I have ill-feeling towards. I never stated the magnitude of the effect, but any idiot can see that there won't be a decrease in commuting from Red Deer. I certainly didn't suggest the HSR would be justified on the grounds of Red Deer commuters traveling to the downtowns alone.

That being said, the central business district (in Calgary at least) is very strong, and it certainly makes a lot more sense to have an HSR station here than say, Indianapolis. Does HSR make economic sense in total? Maybe... I happen to think it is complementary with LRT and it makes more economic sense with strong LRT systems in Calgary and Edmonton which would produce better network effects for HSR; and conversely, HSR would improve the economics of LRT.

Bassic Lab
Aug 29, 2007, 12:48 AM
I agree with you, so why the heck are we giving horse racing so much money? Like I said in my post it could go to much more needed services/infrastructure in this province.

Personally I'm still on the fence with this whole HSR thing, show me a business plan that actually makes sense and perhaps I will make a decision.

I'd say that the best policy would be to begin preparing for the possibility but to only actually biuld such a system when the population warrants it and larger priorities (the completion of atleast the primary LRT networks in both cities) are out of the way.

Preparation would mean securing corridors for future rail connections through out the province. The most obvious corridor would be for a future high speed rail connection between Calgary and Edmonton but others exist. These corridors would over time have rails constructed on them. I imagine that high speed rail alone would not be enough justification for their construction but a provincially controlled rail line could have a number of uses. The same tracks that lead between Calgary and Edmonton's downtowns could be used by commuter trains running between Airdre and Calgary (or points further, depending on what commuting patterns are like in twenty years when it might be biult). Likewise it would be extremely useful for getting people to airports for flights. The new rail lines could also be leased for freight at certain times, so long as passenger rail received priority.

Other corridors would include extensions south to Lethbridge and north to Grande Prairie and an east-west corridor betwen Calgary and Banff. Such corridors would serve as the primary rail connections for far flung suburbs. LRT would really cease to be effective between High River and downtown Calgary, the trip would take well over an hour, so commuter style rail would be the answer (although frequency might extend beyond commuting hours). Really it would be like Ontario's Go Train system, but with its own tracks and a much larger scope (covering most of Alberta instead of just the golden horse shoe).

This would not be required for what could be decades, but it would be alot easier to secure farmland today than it would be to expropriate houses in suburbs in the future. Now fifty years in the future, imagine an Alberta with nearly ten million people, all connected by a world class transportation system.

Edmonchuck
Aug 29, 2007, 1:22 AM
Funny, you say you weren't trying to justify HSR on downtown traffic, and then launch into that tired HSR supporter thing of downtown to downtown traffic justifies this piece of white elephant crap, because Calgary's downtown business district is sooooooo strong that everybody wants to commute there. Give me a break. While doing great business and expanding rapidly, it is nowhere near important enough to justify HSR for Red Deer/Edmonton commuters. Plus, with suburban business parks taking off, well, what about those schmucks? Then you launch into "if we had a complimentary LRT system" malarky which would mean that we had an LRT already built out, or we need to double dip into that pool to make this whole thing work, plus add the bus routes and the myriad of LRT stops....list keeps on going. So, with the combined effort of trying to get government money for something possible (LRT) and then throwing this pipe dream of HSR into the "let's compete for government money" game...wow, how much money do you think we HAVE? We have schools, and other roads that ARE needed, and hospitals, and God knows what else that we need to dip into the government purse for.

And as for this garbage on HSR increasing the economics of LRT, why oh why oh why do HSR supporters reach for conclusions for which the problem doesn't exist? LRT stands on its own for each city on its own merit, HSR or not. The reality if intra city transit justifies this thing. Getting LRT to the airport completes the loop moreso than this multi-billion dollar uber pot induced idea of HSR. LRT and HSR are mutually exclusive to the point that trying to patch them together is like trying to patch the car and a Star Trek transporter device as mutually complimentary options that justify creating a transporter!

My HEEEEEEEEEEEEEELISH point is that this commute between Edmonton/Red Deer/Calgary garbage on a daily basis or a frequent enough is a dream point. There is not the amount of people willing to pay the price needed to make that commute even a remote reality. So what if it increases by 2 people, or even 20 people? The numbers still don't work and won't work for decades to come, and by that time the complimentary technologies will be out that will make such short distance trips more of an exception than the rule. Trying to justify HSR on the odd Red Deerian(sp) going to Calgary to work is like trying to justify my private plane to commute between Olds and Panoka, and making the taxpayer pay for it, but making sure that there is a government funded transit system on each side as well to further to kiss my butt.


Funny how this HSR talk all but went away as fast as this glossy report was released. Could it be that reality set in on the provincial level? Could it be that when these folks approached a few developers I know here in the city, they were received with "well, if you can actually get this thing off the ground, we MAY look at you, but in all honesty, without the City giving you a ROW, and with no concrete momentum, and with our plans really not relying on you, and for the simple fact that we know of several developments that are going to be in your way in the next 2 years preventing you from building anyway" be a good hint that this thing is dead dead dead? Could it be that there are enough options made available to people that they will make very sound business decisions personally and try to live as close as possible to their work to mitigate transit costs?

Nah. That commuter from Red Deer is the tipping point that will make this work, and we need it to FINALLY justify an already 40 year late need for LRT.

Ok, I know I am being a bit harsh at times on this HSR thread, and others, but really, I am tired of the logical leaps made in absence of hard economic numbers that make the private industry want to do this on its own. It is not going to happen given the economic model, stops, and politics behind this thing now. I will say it again, it is a nice TOY, but that is all it is. I, along with many others, MAY ride it once in awhile when the business actually TAKES me to Calgary vs Toronto or Los Angeles or Seattle or New York or London or the plethora of other places Edmontonians are doing business in other than Calgary as evidenced in the EXPLOSIVE transborder and domestic non-Calgary connecting air growth (combined with the declining TRUE YEG-YYC traffic – aka not using YYC to connect). Sure, one can stretch HSR and get some benefits to this, and some immediate personal benefits to the odd person, but the market does speak VOLUMES, and the mere fact that no one, and I mean no one, has come forward with a 100% privately funded option, or successfully launched an IPO with a plan for this, or would even dare try to raise the capital, speaks HUGE volumes to the true final feasibility of this product. Anyone can make virtually any project/product feasible if Daddy Warbucks is funding the initial start up costs either for free or for such a reduced price that it may as well be free, or better yet any schmuck can come up with an investment plan whereupon you can get the major capital funding guaranteed by someone else, mitigating your financial exposure. From an investor’s point of view, this is guaranteed money back, because you aren’t spending money on things that you can’t liquidate (aka TRACK, WIRES, ROW). You can sell the cars to someone else if need be, hope to make some money initially, and at the WORST recoup your individual money, while the taxpayer is stuck with what – pretty rails at a wrong gauge for anything else? So, this thing now relies on pressure to the government to keep investing in this pig to try to not lose out completely on their 10 billion dollar investment, giving rise to hair brained schemes like “only one airport for Alberta”…oh gee, did Bronco say that?

Sorry, too many people are waking up to this. You will always get initial excitement at the pretty toy (yacht, car, plane, 50 foot 5th wheel, gizmo du jour) but when you prudently look at things (staffing for the plane/yacht, actual need for the gizmo), and barring too much money and not enough brains, you usually err on the side of prudence, or go bankrupt with too many toys and not enough brains.

Sorry, Edmonton (and Calgary’s market) is the world, not each other anymore.

The real commuter rail business plan for transit for both cities is LRT to the respective airports, where it is going anyway. Then, you have the system connected that satisfies both cities, puts them on equal footing worldwide, and gives the corridor the clout on both sides to make this province work. Call your buddy/business partner in the other Alberta city, launch NetMeeting, and work on that contract/project plan/drawing in real time. Fly to Toronto to shake the hand of the dude/dudette to seal that business deal.

Take your 10 billion GOVERNMENT dollars and invest it elsewhere. Hell, I'd take an arena/stadium over this because I can derive much better total ROI than HSR.

The Geographer
Aug 29, 2007, 3:28 AM
Edmonchuck, it is not that you are harsh, it is that you didn't actually read the post.... again.
What the HEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL is your point? I was suggesting the net effect would be an increase in commuting between Red Deer and Calgary and Edmonton. I was also musing (partially in jest) that it might make more sense than living isolated SE Calgary: an area of the city I have ill-feeling towards. I never stated the magnitude of the effect, but any idiot can see that there won't be a decrease in commuting from Red Deer. I certainly didn't suggest the HSR would be justified on the grounds of Red Deer commuters traveling to the downtowns alone.

All of this is true. Yet again I didn't comment on the magnitude, just the direction. Now in the following parts of my post, my words were chosen very carefully, so pay attention.

That being said, the central business district (in Calgary at least) is very strong, and it certainly makes a lot more sense to have an HSR station here than say, Indianapolis [Note that I did not say it justifies, just that Calgary is a better candidate node than a roughly comparably-sized North American city].

Now for the most important part... now read carefully, because this completely contradicts the beginning of your post when you said I said it justifies "the white elephant".

Does HSR make economic sense in total? Maybe... I happen to think it is complementary with LRT and it makes more economic sense with strong LRT systems in Calgary and Edmonton which would produce better network effects for HSR; and conversely, HSR would improve the economics of LRT.

Wow, now that doesn't fit the picture you were painting of at all about my so-called justifying. The rest of the paragraph simply states that LRT and HSR are complementary (a not so subtle implication being that LRT investment is important). And yes, they ARE complementary. HSR would help increase the networking of LRT. Every part of the world with significant integrated rail networks show this to be true. They certainly aren't in competition to each other, that is for sure. Would the magnitude be significant enough to justify construction alone? I don't know, as my post never aimed to show that and was very ambiguous with regards to normative conclusions, as I have painstakingly proven.

If you are going to try to use someone's post to build a straw man to tear down, at least make sure that person's post is appropriate. Perhaps Edmonton's industrial fumes temporarily affected your judgment...


Now On to Something Else... Kinda

Now perhaps I will venture my normative opinion. Alberta should probably build HSR, but not while sacrificing the LRT system plans. I believe taxes should be raised and BOTH should be built out significantly. I personally don't think HSR should take priority over the West, SE or NC lines of Calgary's LRT, but with my plan, we would just get it all. Oh, and government can subsidize tickets as well :notacrook:. Now if I am going to play this game where the Tories make us fight for scraps, I would give up HSR in a heartbeat for LRT.

"But commie-boy, private investment isn't interested, and since they always cost for all negative externalities, their assessment that air travel should be promoted over HSR is VERY trustworthy. Didn't they teach you in school that markets are always right, and never produce inefficient results?" Yes, but then I read on to chapter two of first year economics.

SpongeG
Aug 29, 2007, 3:48 AM
One stupid government expenditure doesn't reason out another.

There's no bloody way the government should pay the train tickets of commuters. What's next? Free Hawaiian vacations?

they probably already do - the LRT's must have some subsidization

the west coast express actual cost was something like $35 per ride but people were only charged $7 - thats a large difference picked up by the government

i am not sure what it is now but that was around start up

canucklehead2
Aug 29, 2007, 5:58 AM
OK, now that I've found the 2004 HST study and devoured it's contents

tonight here is the jist....
5 Stations
Edmonton Centre
Edmonton Airport
Red Deer
Calgary Airport
Calgary Centre

Using the existing CP R.O.W
310 km length
Realignment of 22 curves and sharpness reduction of 47 others
Purchase of 108-309 hectares
119 km of fencing
$1.712 billion capital cost
2 h 10 minute travel time
1 683 000 annual passenger rides
$71 million/year operating costs (track maintenance, track and facility maintenance, fuel/electricity, train crew and onboard services, station and other services, administration)
Technology-240 km/h JetTrain by Bombardier




Greenfield route next to Hwy 2 using turbine engines or electric trainsets
294 km length
Purchase of 1430 hectares of land
256 km of fencing
$2.610-$3.143 bln
1 h 30 min-1 h 46 min travel time
1 903 000-2 031 000 passenger rides
$95-97 million operating costs



As you can see if the existing CP rail line was upgraded, HST service
between the cities would cost $71 mln/year to operate, all in. Granted
that the Horse racing subsidy is now $65 mln according to the Alberta Liberals, the difference in cost between the two spending priorities wouldn't be that much. And granted how many potential economic spin offs there are from such a project, I say it's a damn good use of taxpayer money..

And in relation to the LRT systems in Edmonton and Calgary, both are heavily subsidized (over 50% of the cost is covered by municipal tax dollars) so their already is a precident. Just think of the HST as a very long and very fast LRT line between 5 stations...

PS the 135 page document available on the Van Horne website also looks at public $ vs P-3's and concludes the most fiscally responsible project would be the CP ROW upgrade project using JetTrains paid 100% by the taxpayer... If you want to know more read the report...

The Geographer
Aug 29, 2007, 3:47 PM
When reading the Van Horne study, one must factor in that the costs were calculated before the worst of Alberta's cost inflation.

murman
Aug 29, 2007, 4:16 PM
PS the 135 page document available on the Van Horne website also looks at public $ vs P-3's and concludes the most fiscally responsible project would be the CP ROW upgrade project using JetTrains paid 100% by the taxpayer... If you want to know more read the report...

Well then the proposal can just go FARK OFF.

canucklehead2
Aug 29, 2007, 6:22 PM
Well the other option was P3, which according to the study would only have paid back roughly 1/3rd of the projects capital cost in 30 years, so it would make more sense from the side of taxpayers to have it publicly funded and being able to pay it off entirely... But don't take my word for it, go read the report yourself for more info. And trust me, there is plenty...

Policy Wonk
Aug 30, 2007, 12:23 AM
Once Again: THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY Red Dear and Leduc sublines are NOT available for high speed rail as it would be too disruptive to freight rail traffic.

The CN Three Hills and Camrose sublines are realistically speaking the only track that could be used - but it is a much less direct route and the track is in no condition to be used for high speed traffic.

Xelebes
Aug 30, 2007, 1:44 AM
Makes more sense to extend the LRT from Calgary to Edmonton. Just get some faster cars with possible improved rail lines and we're set.

The Geographer
Aug 30, 2007, 4:07 AM
Makes more sense to extend the LRT from Calgary to Edmonton. Just get some faster cars with possible improved rail lines and we're set.

You are joking right? Pay for a ticket to downtown Calgary and then spend 30 minutes getting from the northern edge of the city to the central station? While only going 100 km/h or so between the cities (assuming new trains)?

Never mind, I think you are kidding.

Xelebes
Aug 30, 2007, 5:02 AM
You are joking right? Pay for a ticket to downtown Calgary and then spend 30 minutes getting from the northern edge of the city to the central station? While only going 100 km/h or so between the cities (assuming new trains)?

Never mind, I think you are kidding.

Makes more sense.

ScottFromCalgary
Sep 4, 2007, 1:28 AM
Stelmach tagged with ‘Mr. Dithers' moniker
JIM MACDONALD

Canadian Press

September 3, 2007 at 2:23 PM EDT

EDMONTON — Eight months after his surprise victory in Alberta's Conservative leadership race, Premier Ed Stelmach is trying to brush off dismal poll results and shake the unkind moniker of “Mr. Dithers” that some critics are using to describe the rookie premier's cautious leadership style.

Political analyst Jim Lightbody says Mr. Stelmach was a relative unknown when he won the Tory leadership, but now that Albertans know him they're “quite unimpressed.”

“He seems like a very nice man who is in way over his head,” said Mr. Lightbody, a political science professor at the University of Alberta. He says the Mr. Dithers tag is much deserved because Mr. Stelmach has been indecisive on key issues, such as nuclear energy and a growing scandal over Alberta's energy regulator hiring investigators to spy on citizens.

“We genuinely have an aimless ship here and it does seem to be sinking.”

Mr. Stelmach bristles at the growing chorus of critics who are calling on him to take a firm stand on key issues.

“I am a leader. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't a leader,” the Premier told The Canadian Press in his first interview with the news agency since he became premier.

“We are doing very well as a province. Yes, there are issues. But I don't know of any other place in the world that has the quality of life that we have here.

“Will there be people without homes? Yes. Will there be some sick people that we can't save, despite all the medical technology that we have? Yes, there will be. But people are continuing to move here because where else are they going to go in Canada?”

Recent opinion polls indicate Alberta's Progressive Conservatives have sunk to their lowest approval rating since 1992, although many voters who have abandoned the party say they are undecided, so the opposition parties are still well back and showing few gains.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel says there's no question there are serious problems within the Stelmach government. He has locked horns with the Premier a couple of times on funding issues. Mr. Mandel says a large part of Mr. Stelmach's problem is that former premier Ralph Klein left a huge backlog of much-needed building projects.

“So all the infrastructure projects that weren't done from 1993 to 2006 are coming home to roost and people are saying ‘Why weren't those done?,' ” he said. “Really, you should have asked the previous government, which he was a part of, but I think that's a big one.”

NDP Leader Brian Mason also describes Mr. Stelmach as a nice man who's simply “out of his depth.” Mr. Mason, too, says Mr. Stelmach has been saddled with the “mess” left behind by the Klein government.

“At a time when Alberta is facing very, very critical decisions and in fact the whole direction of the province is under consideration, we don't have the leadership to take us where we need to go.”

Mr. Stelmach dumped many of Mr. Klein's senior ministers after taking office in January and rewarded his strongest supporters, many of them former backbenchers from rural constituencies, with key cabinet posts.

Critics and the opposition parties denounced the new cabinet as too inexperienced and too rural. Some wondered aloud if the Beverly Hillbillies had taken over the governing of Alberta.

Mr. Stelmach is quick to list some of the major accomplishments of his rookie ministers, including adding billions of dollars to the capital budget for new schools, hospitals and other building projects.

The Premier also says his government will be making some key announcements before the next provincial election. He hinted that this may include a high-speed rail link between Edmonton and Calgary and some unspecified tax help for families.

“How do we work with families?” he said. “Raising children is much more expensive, housing is more expensive. So how do we help out families, because we need growth in this province.”

For now, Mr. Stelmach has been left with the delicate job of trying to calm Tory supporters, some of whom appear to be in panic mode. Political consultant Rod Love, who was one of Mr. Klein's closest advisers, says although the Tories were fighting for their political lives in 1992, at least there was an upward trend. “It will take a lot of guts to call an election when the polls are trending downward,” said Mr. Love.

Mr. Lightbody expects Mr. Stelmach will drop the election writ some time after spring seeding, possibly in June. This could set the stage for one of the more exciting election campaigns in the last three decades, since for years the Tories have dominated in the legislature.

“The strange thing about politics, even in Alberta, is that when it starts to go down, it tends to gain momentum,” he said. “I think the premier has to be very decisive in a small number of issue areas, possibly on nuclear energy, certainly on the oil exploration in the northeast.

“He has to show leadership or he won't be expected to serve as the leader.”

Policy Wonk
Sep 5, 2007, 7:41 AM
Legacy wise - would it be better to be known for doing nothing, or the creation of the Alberta & Great Waterways Railway II?

"Stelmach Shuttle" ?
"Bullet Train to Nowhere" ?

FASTBALL
Sep 5, 2007, 4:23 PM
My point is that this commute between Edmonton/Red Deer/Calgary garbage on a daily basis or a frequent enough is a dream point. There is not the amount of people willing to pay the price needed to make that commute even a remote reality. So what if it increases by 2 people, or even 20 people? The numbers still don't work and won't work for decades to come, and by that time the complimentary technologies will be out that will make such short distance trips more of an exception than the rule. Trying to justify HSR on the odd Red Deerian(sp) going to Calgary to work is like trying to justify my private plane to commute between Olds and Panoka, and making the taxpayer pay for it, but making sure that there is a government funded transit system on each side as well to further to kiss my butt.

30% - That is the difference in housing prices in Calgary and Central Alberta. On a $500,000 average home in Calgary...can you do the math? Red Deer's average home price is $350,000. That gives the "Central Alberta commuter" an extra $1000 a month to pay the fare (the difference in mortgage payments). I'd pay twice that to get off the ugly dangerous QE2.
And its PONOKA. Get your head out of the tax payer funded office you work in and find out how much is going on in Central Alberta.

The City of Edmonton couldn't charge for LRT in the core for 20 years, how come nobody talks about the huge subsidies involved in making it viable? The LRT was as big a white elephant as it gets. But you are probably too young to have been around in the late 80s when the LRT was about to be mothballed. All grand ideas start out as unrealistic opportunities.

Leave the stadiums and light rail systems to the Cities (who just got some serious "cash" from Stelmach) and let the province seed the HSR. No corporation has stepped up (yet) because they know money will flow from taxpayers to get it started.

And just a point on air travel. It is the worst polluter of all transportation modes. According to the UN, air travel accounts for 7% of global CO2 emmissions and injects those emmissions directly into the upper atmosphere where they do the most damage.
http://www.oceansatlas.org/servlet/CDSServlet?status=ND0xNzk0MCY2PWVuJjMzPSomMzc9a29z

The business plan is there. (www.edrgroup.com/edr1/consulting/2_8/P129-calgary-edmonton-train.shtml)
The corporation is there. (Alberta High Speed Rail (2005) Inc.)
The passenger volumes are there on the QE2. (http://www.infratrans.gov.ab.ca/INFTRA_Content/docType181/production/hnp003.htm)
And the motivation is there: The QE2 is part of the CANAMEX Trade Corridor and the province and feds will pour a lot of money into keeping it moving for freight. That means taking passengers off it. That means HSR.

All this talk about trip distribution takes me back to my days in Engineering...ahhh...Stan Teply. The downtown area in Calgary and Edmonton will always dominate in the origin/destination algorithm used to justify HSR. The suburban office complexes are a fade, a planning fopaux that occured in response to the densification of the downtown area. There will always be the few Microsofts of the area that want to set themselves apart. But the majority of knowledge based employment will remain downtown.

fortroad
Sep 6, 2007, 3:16 AM
Imagine the opportunities for both cities if you could jump on a High speed train dt to dt. I think it would be great for everyone.

zooropa
Sep 13, 2007, 5:02 PM
In late July or August, didn't the media report that HSR was feasible etc. And the next day the Province said the media had jumped the gun and the final report on the feasibility would not be ready until September. Did I miss it, or is it still expected?

Wooster
Oct 6, 2007, 9:19 PM
Alberta's bullet train debate heats up

Province ponders 'visionary' rail link
Jason Fekete, Calgary Herald
Published: Saturday, October 06, 2007

Imagine a rush-hour commute from Calgary to Red Deer that's quicker than downtown to McKenzie Towne.

Picture Edmonton as a bustling bedroom community of Calgary, where you make the short trip to the provincial capital after work to catch an Oilers-Flames battle.

Envision 300 kilometres of free-flowing ground travel without having to negotiate transport trucks, radar traps and speed demons.
A high-speed train, similar to the Belgian Thalys, could travel at speeds of 300 km/h or more between Calgary and Edmonton.

This could be reality in Alberta within the next decade.

Indeed, the debate over building a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail link between Calgary and Edmonton -- with a stop in Red Deer -- is one of the most fundamental public policy debates facing the Alberta government today.

Premier Ed Stelmach is already on board the high-speed-rail bandwagon and could be the chief conductor who ultimately drives the train into the station.

He insists the government has "no choice" but to build a Calgary-to-Edmonton high-speed train -- potentially travelling at speeds of 300 km/h or more -- calling the project "visionary" and essential.

"We will be connecting the two major centres," Stelmach said last month, responding to a Herald query.

"When exactly, I don't know. But it is part of the long-term future of the province of Alberta."

Stelmach certainly appears to have big plans for high-speed rail. He recently suggested a Calgary-Edmonton train is part of an overall strategy to build rail links of some sort through "a quarter of the province."

In fact, the rookie premier mused about a possible high-speed train that would whiz people to booming economic regions outside the Calgary-Edmonton corridor, including the northern Alberta oilsands and refinery row northeast of the capital.

"I would say, 'What else is on the table?'" Stelmach added. "How do you move people to a large work site like Fort McMurray or from Edmonton to the industrial heartland?"

The premier's comments come as his government anxiously awaits a $1-million feasibility study -- expected this month -- that may well determine whether a bullet train is in Alberta's future.

The report will deliver data on potential ridership, travel patterns in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor and a comparison of four high-speed technologies.

Rumblings from the company tasked with conducting the study indicate it will give the project the green light.

The concept of a high-speed rail line between Calgary and Edmonton has been kicked around since the early 1970s.

Major studies were undertaken in the 1980s and again in 1995, but never pursued because of what were deemed exorbitant costs and insufficient passenger traffic.

Certainly, proceeding with a high-speed rail line is sure to be as expensive as it is contentious.

"It sounds like a huge, huge white elephant," says Scott Hennig, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"We're not convinced at this point that it's really going to be feasible, that enough people will use it and that it will be a great investment."

Estimated sticker prices for a bullet train and track in Alberta range anywhere from a few billion dollars to $12 billion. Skeptics worry inflationary pressures could drive the final bill to as high as $20 billion, more than the entire Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

But eye-popping resource royalties and bulging provincial coffers in recent years are renewing interest, with some policy analysts and politicians suggesting the province can't afford not to proceed with the rail link.

And as traffic mounts on the Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway (where 50,000 cars and trucks rumble daily), there's growing recognition that government must address the congestion and environmental issues that go with it.

A bullet train could blast Calgarians to Red Deer in about 40 minutes -- no doubt shorter than many vehicle commutes within the city -- and to Edmonton in just over 80 minutes via electric-train technology that's been employed in Europe for decades.

"High-speed rail is a good idea," says Mayor Dave Bronconnier.

"If you look at the Highway 2 corridor and the link between what's happening economically between Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton, it makes a lot of sense for moving people, moving cargo, tying into the international airport in Calgary."

Bronconnier notes government will have to keep expanding Highway 2 in both directions unless it pursues an alternative form of transportation.

However, Calgary's mayor recognizes questions remain over whether there will be enough riders.

"It's just whether or not between Calgary and Edmonton -- two million people -- is enough concentration to make it work," he says.

But high-speed rail isn't just for European metropolises such as London and Paris.

Dozens of European cities with much smaller populations than Calgary or Edmonton are connected to major high-speed networks.

Riding the rails is part of the public mindset in Europe and Asia.

However, it's far from what we associate with Canadiana in a country and province heavily influenced by the car culture.

That could soon change.

An exploding population in the QE2 corridor between Calgary and Edmonton -- one of the fastest-growing regions in Canada, with about 2.3 million people -- further demands the province pursue a high-speed rail link, Stelmach argues.

Between 2001 and 2006, both major cities saw their populations jump by more than 10 per cent -- making them two of the top four fastest-growing centres in the country.

That population boom, along with increasing reliance on cars, has seen a nearly 400-per-cent increase in automobile travel in the corridor since 1981.

"I don't see (population growth) slowing down, so that will add to the need," Stelmach told Tory party supporters recently at an event in Red Deer, when pressed about the possibility of a high-speed rail link.

The province has been more active on the issue than it has let on in recent years.

The Progressive Conservative government has already acquired or negotiated for lands in downtown Calgary and Edmonton for high-speed rail stations, should the project go ahead.

The Edmonton site -- purchased about 1985 -- is now valued at about $8 million.

Earlier this year, a similar purchase agreement was announced in Calgary to acquire land for about $14 million. The downtown parcel, approximately 3.6 hectares in size, is south of the CPR tracks that parallel 9th Avenue S.E. between 3rd and 7th Streets S.E.

The province is also busy obtaining rights of way throughout the QE2 corridor between the two major centres, according to government documents obtained by the Herald through the freedom of information act.

"The department (of Infrastructure and Transportation) has continued to acquire key portions of the (rights of way) within the major urban centres of Calgary and Edmonton to ensure that should the project proceed, there would be access to the downtowns," says an August 2005 document.

A briefing note three years ago recommended Alberta Transportation accommodate an additional track in all designs of structures crossing the CPR tracks between Calgary and Edmonton.

While the government appears on board, so, too, is the opposition.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft says connecting Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer with a bullet train will create an economic, social and cultural juggernaut that will let Alberta punch above its weight.

The booming population and increasing concern over climate change also make the push for high-speed rail "overwhelming," he says.

"This is just part of thinking ahead," Taft says. "The possibilities are so exciting."

It's not just government talking about trains; the private sector is also taking notice.

A handful of high-speed rail projects have been floated in recent years, including one from Calgary-based Alberta High-Speed Rail Inc., which proposes operating an electric rail link that would thrust riders from downtown Calgary to downtown Edmonton in only 84 minutes.

The proposal suggests government would have to shell out upwards of $1.9 billion in capital costs to build the track and rail infrastructure, and procure the necessary lands.

It's estimated the rail line would take between five and six years to complete.

"High-speed rail is a product whose time has come," declares company president Bill Cruickshanks.

"The money issue can be dealt with quite readily. I think it's the political will to say this is in the best interest of the province and now is the time to act on this."

Indeed, expenses may be the one factor that derails the project.

Cabinet ministers have suggested in the past year the cost could range from a few billion dollars to $5 billion.

But Jerry Bellikka of Alberta Infrastructure estimates the price tag between $3 billion and $12 billion, depending on the type of train used.

A 2006 government study obtained by the Herald through a freedom-of-information request suggests the "initial investment" in an electric train project could reach almost $11 billion, which doesn't include ongoing operating costs.

At first blush, it seems a steep price tag, even for a Tory government that ran an $8.5-billion surplus last fiscal year.

But adding another lane to both sides of QE2 to accommodate growing traffic would itself cost Alberta about $2 billion, says Bellikka.

While the province is awash in cash, there's no guarantees the government will be able to justify billions of dollars for the project down the road. Energy revenues are pegged to decline precipitously in the next few years (a surplus of $925 million is projected for 2009-2010).

Intergovernmental Relations Minister Guy Boutilier has called on the federal government to provide matching funding for "such an important transportation link between the busiest economic corridors in all of Canada."

Ottawa, he says, clearly has an interest and responsibility to help fund any potential rail project because of the environmental benefits that go with high-speed rail -- most notably a reduction in vehicle emissions that contribute to global warming.

Federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who's also the regional minister for Alberta, agrees the bullet train falls in line with what the Harper government is promoting for future transportation initiatives: environmentally friendly projects that reduce hydrocarbon consumption.

"In that sense, it fits with the philosophy of what the federal government has been doing," Prentice says.

However, the minister won't commit to ponying up matching funding until Ottawa examines the feasibility study. Many questions remain, he adds, such as the price tag and ridership forecasts.

"The real question is the financial viability," Prentice says. "It is a very visionary project but it will, at the end of the day, depend on the private-sector economics of constructing and operating such a piece of infrastructure."

Federal money or not, Stelmach and many observers envision some sort of public-private partnership (P3) that could see the government absorb the start-up capital costs, such as the track, vehicle overpasses and other corridor infrastructure.

The P3 arrangement is also the preferred option of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, should the project ever see the light of day.

However, chamber president Heather Douglas says a high-speed rail link isn't a top priority for her group's members -- for now.

"As a vision for Alberta, thumbs up. As a current priority, thumbs down," Douglas says.

But with about 80 per cent of new Albertans moving to the Calgary-Edmonton corridor -- a trend expected to continue for decades -- Douglas says it would make sense to build the project in the future to reduce vehicle traffic and emissions, and improve transportation safety.

"If this is one of the components needed to make Alberta the renaissance province it should be, then it should be part of the planning process," she adds.

Yet, spending watchdogs and some politicians worry a bullet train would be a shining example of foolhardy government expenditure that Albertans would eventually regret.

"This could be a legacy project. You better be careful what legacy you want it to be," warns Hennig of the taxpayers federation.

"If this turns out to be a big white elephant, which we think it very easily could, that's not the legacy that any premier should want."

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, whose city could potentially reap dividends from the train, is one of the biggest skeptics.

He hopes the government spikes the project before the train ever leaves the station.

"Don't spend the money," Mandel cautions the government.

He suggests there's far too many other priorities in Alberta -- such as roads, bridges, hospitals and schools -- to justify spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a train.

Also, Alberta's population of 3.4 million isn't large enough to make the project viable, he says. It's unlikely there would be sufficient interest in riding the rails from Edmonton to Red Deer or Calgary when travellers might need a vehicle at their destination.

"It's a dream . . . but not something in these economic times that's practical from a financial point of view," he says.

But policy analysts and published reports suggest otherwise.

A May 2007 study by the Conference Board of Canada strongly encouraged Alberta to conduct a full feasibility analysis of high-speed rail, predicting the line would deliver "a number of economic, environmental and quality-of-life benefits" for the corridor.

"Unfortunately, inter-city rail travel in Canada has been underfunded and underdeveloped, even though it can potentially draw people away from their cars in large numbers," said the conference board report.

"High-speed service between major centres must be an integral part of an improved national passenger rail system."

The study warned, though, that few high-speed rail projects are commercially viable without at least limited government support.

A 2004 Alberta high-speed rail study commissioned by the provincial government and conducted by the Van Horne Institute at the University of Calgary concluded there are enough would-be travellers and there is new technology to support a bullet train between the cities.

Back then, the sticker price of the project ranged from $1.7 billion for a Bombardier JetTrain capable of travelling upwards of 240 kilometres per hour on upgraded CPR lines, to $3.4 billion for a French-style TGV electric train capable of 300 km/h on new track.

The report projected one in five travellers between Calgary and Edmonton would use high-speed rail and estimated $3.7 billion to $6.1 billion in economic spinoffs would be produced.

All the data suggested the government should forge ahead with the concept -- but it didn't.

Then-premier Ralph Klein said the idea was only viable with significant government cash.

"I'm not keen on giving government subsidies," Klein said at the time.

Three years on, there's even more reason to roll out high-speed rail, argues Peter Wallis, president of the Van Horne Institute.

Since 2004, sky-high oil prices have helped Alberta's economy surge ahead, job growth remains strong and the province's population has mushroomed by a few hundred thousand people.

"It was (time) three years ago," Wallis says. "With the growth in population, I think you could argue . . . that would be the case even more so today."

Proponents of a bullet train say building the project will further integrate the provincial economy by allowing the two major cities to complement each other, increasing Alberta's presence in the global marketplace.

"It's an investment in the economy," suggests David Jeanes, president of Transport 2000 Canada, an Ottawa-based transportation advocacy group.

"Calgary to Edmonton is one of the more promising corridors in Canada . . . . . The million population at each end of the corridor is the critical mass you need."

A now-famous TD Bank report concluded the Calgary-Edmonton corridor is Canada's "economic tiger," but noted a major threat to the region is inadequate transportation infrastructure that could cost millions in lost productivity.

Follow-up reports reached the same conclusion and have politicians of all stripes encouraging the government to plan now for high-speed rail.

Last spring, provincial MLAs overwhelmingly passed a Liberal motion in the legislature calling for rights of way to be acquired for an electric rail line between Calgary and Edmonton.

"A high-speed rail link is, in the long term, inevitable," says Taft.

"The sooner we buy the land, the better it will be, the less expensive it will be."

Taft adds, though, that inflationary pressures on labour and materials could require the government to hold off on commencing with the project until the red-hot economy cools.

Any government investment would be difficult to swallow as Alberta faces a provincewide infrastructure debt of at least

$6 billion.

Mayors in both Calgary and Edmonton want billions in future years to extend light-rail transit lines within their own cities.

Spending on urban transit has also been endorsed by the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think-tank, which maintains both cities are designed for auto transportation.

For a high-speed train to work, it must include improvements to intra-city transportation such as light rail, according to the foundation.

"High-speed rail works if it connects to the appropriate urban infrastructure," says Canada West Foundation president Roger Gibbins.

"It's not an investment that stands on its own."

Gibbins notes any Calgary-Edmonton rail link must be seen as a long-term "transformative" investment for possibly 20 years down the road, rather than something servicing current needs.

Edmonton's mayor agrees, insisting there are far more pressing matters in the province.

Mandel doubts the government could sell the project to the rest of Alberta when municipalities across the province have their hands extended for cash.

"Do you think those people that live in Hinton or in Lethbridge or in Lloydminster or in Fort McMurray -- who need massive amounts of capital investment -- think building a train line between Calgary and Edmonton is going to solve their problems?" asks Mandel.

"We don't need a make-work project in Alberta right now. That's a make-work project."

Far from it, insists Wallis of the Van Horne Institute

Rather, he says his group's report three years ago clearly showed high-speed rail is not only needed, it is viable.

And he expects the highly anticipated feasibility study set to be unveiled this month will reaffirm those findings.

"This is sort of a visionary thing," Wallis says.

"It's the time to take the vision and run with it."

With files from Tony Seskus and Colette Derworiz, Calgary Herald

jfekete@theherald.canwest.com

Travel on the Calgary-Edmonton corridor

MEASURED IN THOUSANDS OF TRIPS

Cars: 1981

1,372

Cars: 2003

5,268 (+384%)

Air: 1981

664

Air: 2003

374 (-44%)

Bus: 1981

404

Bus: 2003

253 (-39%)

Note: There were about 18,000 rail trips between Edmonton and Calgary in 1981, and none in 2003.

Source: Government of Alberta

High-speed vision for Alberta

Are all the pieces in place for a high-speed train between Edmonton and Calgary? Several studies conclude the time is right, for these reasons:

POPULATION: The QE2 corridor between Calgary and Edmonton is one of the fastest-growing regions in Canada, with about 2.3 million people. Automobile travel on the highway has surged by nearly 400 per cent since 1981.

ECONOMY: Some policy analysts and politicians suggest Alberta, with its red-hot economy, can't afford not to build a high-speed link.

ENVIRONMENT: An electric train would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting traffic on the QE2. About 50,000 cars and trucks use the highway daily.

Where the train would go

The Greenfield Line

would run mostly on farmland, about 1.6 km west of Hwy 2. The route would be a fenced, double-track passenger line with bridges separating the roads from the railway.

The Brownfield line would run on existing Canadian Pacific tracks.

TRAVEL IN COMFORT

Alberta High-Speed Rail is aiming for a luxurious, European-style ride between the province's largest cities. There would be hourly departures from both directions. Trains would be air-conditioned with Internet, cellphone access and power outlets within easy reach. For the casual traveller, there would be satellite radio and television along with "bistro-like" food service.

feepa
Oct 6, 2007, 10:39 PM
anyone know where this is? Its been puzzling me for a long time--
The Edmonton site -- purchased about 1985 -- is now valued at about $8 million

240glt
Oct 7, 2007, 6:24 PM
Right to the north of the high level bridge Ì believe

Rise_of_the_West
Oct 7, 2007, 8:18 PM
I noticed that article yesterday. I'm glad people are thinking that Electric is the way to go. Not only would it be more reliable, we could use it to better the enviroment if the right source of power is used.

Also these are several stories in the link about passenger expereinces in europe, aswell as pictures of different technologies (ICE, TGV etc.)

Calgary Herald Link (http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/features/train/index.html)

feepa
Oct 7, 2007, 10:47 PM
http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/1219/margevsthemonorail3bd99co0.jpg

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Electrified,
Six-car
Monorail!
What'd I say?
Ned Flanders: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

Patty+Selma: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!

[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]

Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...

Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.

Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?

Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.

Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?

Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.

Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?

Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.

Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.

Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.

I swear it's Alberta's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

All: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

All: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: Once again...

All: Monorail!

Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...

Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!

All: Monorail!
Monorail!
Monorail!

[big finish]

Monorail!

Homer: Mono... D'oh!

murman
Oct 8, 2007, 5:45 PM
Alberta's bullet train debate heats up

Picture Edmonton as a bustling bedroom community of Calgary, where you make the short trip to the provincial capital after work to catch an Oilers-Flames battle.



Exactly why this will never get built. Telling Edmonton that it's going to be Calgary's newest bedroom community? That's sure to get support.

F^ck HSR to h3ll. :hell:

Beltliner
Oct 8, 2007, 6:56 PM
Exactly why this will never get built. Telling Edmonton that it's going to be Calgary's newest bedroom community? That's sure to get support.

F^ck HSR to h3ll. :hell:

Your loss, tovarishch. We'll just build it to Vancouver instead. :D

But seriously, folks...

Based on what I'm seeing in The Fishwrap so far, a turbine locomotive running on upgraded CP tracks might be the most effective way of getting the TGV party started not just between Calgary and Edmonton, but across western North America. The major challenges I foresee are the sheer volume of rock that would need to be blasted through the Rockies and the Coast Mountains to connect Calgary to Vancouver, on the one hand, and the 700 miles from Calgary to Salt Lake City (and 400 miles after that to Las Vegas) or the 900 or so miles from Calgary to Denver on the other. The trains would have to be on the order of maglev-level fast to compete with air travel, but maglev does not come cheaply, if the fifteen gigabucks being mooted for maglev TGV from Calgary to Edmonton is any guide.

The Geographer
Oct 8, 2007, 7:42 PM
"Maglev TGV" is a contradiction in terms. The TGV is not maglev, it is conventional.

Beltliner
Oct 8, 2007, 8:04 PM
"Maglev TGV" is a contradiction in terms. The TGV is not maglev, it is conventional.

Point taken.

That being said, my underlying premise remains--irrespective of the technology brought into play, a Calgary to Edmonton run cannot reasonably be an end in and of itself if TGV or maglev is to succeed, and any serious study of the issue must leave the door open to a plan for a longer-range network, said network plan acknowledging the question of how much potential passengers and shareholders alike are willing to pay for a network traversing substantial distances across difficult terrain that allows for travel times comparable to point-to-point air travel.

[/long-winded rant]

Policy Wonk
Oct 8, 2007, 8:36 PM
Based on what I'm seeing in The Fishwrap so far, a turbine locomotive running on upgraded CP tracks might be the most effective way of getting the TGV party started not just between Calgary and Edmonton, but across western North America.

The Red Dear and Leduc sublines are NOT WORKABLE unless you want to work something out with those guys who do the train robbery corporate retreats to do their show while the Jet Train is in the sidings.

This is the single worst idea to come out of Alberta in decades, using CPR rack isn't workable and European style high speed rail is economically unworkable.

Just re-open the Muni to commercial flights and be done with it, free airline tickets to anyone who wants to make the trip would cost a whole lot less than building and opperating this thing.

The province could buy 12,500,000 return flights between Calgary and Edmonton for the lowest of the low estimates on building this

Beltliner
Oct 8, 2007, 9:31 PM
The Red Dear [sic!] and Leduc sublines are NOT WORKABLE unless you want to work something out with those guys who do the train robbery corporate retreats to do their show while the Jet Train is in the sidings.

This is the single worst idea to come out of Alberta in decades, using CPR rack isn't workable and European style high speed rail is economically unworkable.

Just re-open the Muni to commercial flights and be done with it, free airline tickets to anyone who wants to make the trip would cost a whole lot less than building and opperating this thing.

The province could buy 12,500,000 return flights between Calgary and Edmonton for the lowest of the low estimates on building this

Err, Wonk? Didn't mean to draw you offside (http://www.comics.com/comics/getfuzzy/archive/getfuzzy-20071007.html) into full-on Randal O'Toole mode, but a careful reading of my posts might lead you to surmise that I'm not really interested in building a Special Ed legacy project here. I'm willing to listen to a triple-bottom-line argument on TGV service, and as a card-carrying Loonie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_A_Harsh_Mistress) I'll double down on any proposition laying shorter than ten-to-one odds, but I need to see a long-term vision and a reasonable long-term return on investment. Right now, your misgivings about the current CP right of way duly considered, the turbine train is the only proposition at this immediate juncture that comes even close to passing the smell test for me, if only because a line between two million-plus metropoli on an existing right of way that is amenable to some fine tuning strikes me as a reasonable test case for TGV service on the continental level. More importantly, a turbine train is the only current proposition that would not be laughed out of Wall Street or The City.

para transit fellow
Oct 8, 2007, 10:02 PM
Has anyone suggested what kind of fare would be charged for this high speed train?

I mean we are talking about a society that won't pay $10 for a ride in a commuter bus from one of the towns outside of Calgary. Will people actually find the train a bargain over driving themselves on the QE2?

Policy Wonk
Oct 8, 2007, 10:15 PM
More importantly, a turbine train is the only current proposition that would not be laughed out of Wall Street or The City.

But it would be laughed out of CPR Rail Traffic Control, the Red Dear and Leduc sublines aren't exactly growing weeds and any practical passenger service would be much too disruptive to the CPR traffic.

Beltliner
Oct 8, 2007, 10:21 PM
Has anyone suggested what kind of fare would be charged for this high speed train?

I mean we are talking about a society that won't pay $10 for a ride in a commuter bus from one of the towns outside of Calgary. Will people actually find the train a bargain over driving themselves on the QE2?

Based on current Red Arrow fares between Calgary and Edmonton (http://www.redarrow.ca/fares/fares.php), anything over the sixty dollar range would have to be justified by the prospect of getting from downtown to downtown more quickly than in three hours. Based on turbine-locomotive downtown-to-downtown times of one hundred minutes, I think The Fishwrap was mooting seventy or thereabouts for second-class and one-ten for business-first, but don't quote me on it. ;)

Beltliner
Oct 8, 2007, 10:36 PM
But it would be laughed out of CPR Rail Traffic Control, the Red Dear and Leduc sublines aren't exactly growing weeds and any practical passenger service would be much too disruptive to the CPR traffic.

When's the last time CP ever turned down an opportunity to make money? They would make a killing on franchise and access fees for new track along the Calgary-Edmonton corridor. :D

The Geographer
Oct 8, 2007, 10:48 PM
@Beltliner. What makes you think gauging the market response to a relatively slow jet train tells you anything about the potential market response to a relatively faster electric one? Especially if one is below a threshold of desirability while another is above?

Policy Wonk
Oct 8, 2007, 10:51 PM
When's the last time CP ever turned down an opportunity to make money?

Ask VIA Rail,

Beltliner
Oct 8, 2007, 11:11 PM
@Beltliner. What makes you think gauging the market response to a relatively slow jet train tells you anything about the potential market response to a relatively faster electric one? Especially if one is below a threshold of desirability while another is above?

Turbine locomotive is slow, relative to a maglev or an electrified TGV, but to my mind it's a matter of making the meal with the ingredients available. Downtown to downtown at one hundred minutes trumps the three hours Red Arrow can manage any time in my books. ;) Relative to greenfield TGV or maglev lines, a turbine locomotive along the CP right of way, even with the capital improvements needed to make that option work, is a thundering sight cheaper than anything else on the table at the moment. More to the point, an investment of two gigabucks can be sold at an introductory stage--ten megabucks a mile for capital improvements and rolling stock that can be provided more or less off the shelf--can be justified in London and New York, especially when those pesky shareholders start asking pointed questions about when they can expect to see dividends, whereas eighty megabucks a mile for greenfield maglev might be harder to explain.

Over the longer term, we would need to look at the costs of building and operating a continental high-speed network, especially once short-haul aviation starts pricing itself out of the market. That is why having a demonstrator system that can prove its ability to pay its own way and make change is so important for the Calgary-to-Edmonton run. If demand and long-term profitability for high-speed rail can be proven in one corridor, it makes the argument for additional corridors all the easier to win.

The Geographer
Oct 8, 2007, 11:18 PM
Actually, I was responding to the comment that a jet train between Calgary and Edmonton would be a reasonable test case for continental TGV service. My point was that a lacklustre response to jet train service may mean little when considering much faster TGV service around North America.

Beltliner
Oct 8, 2007, 11:33 PM
Actually, I was responding to the comment that a jet train between Calgary and Edmonton would be a reasonable test case for continental TGV service. My point was that a lacklustre response to jet train service may mean little when considering much faster TGV service around North America.

And aye, there's the rub, innit? If a hundred-minute Calgary-to-Edmonton run for relatively fiddling small change is hard to sell to the inter-city-commuting public, what are the odds of investors bankrolling much pricier TGV or maglev service to Vancouver, Denver, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, and points beyond? Yet how do you know in the end whether they'll come until you build it?

It all comes down to the key questions of time travelled, price paid for tickets, and returns on shareholder investment. Time spent travelling downtown to downtown should be a no-brainer for Calgary service to Edmonton or Vancouver, whereas Calgary service to Denver or Las Vegas may have to subsume into ticket prices major-league first-class amenities to bridge the time differential until passenger volumes justify an overall reduction in fares. And lest we forget, heaven help the consortium that fails to pay dividends to its shareholders at the first sign of trouble.

240glt
Oct 9, 2007, 3:00 AM
You are out of your freakin' mind if you think there'll ever be anything more than conventional rail service between Calgary and Vancouver. It'd be easier to build HSR between T.O. and Calgary... and British Columbians have nothing to gain from a HSR line from Calgary to the west coast.

J-MAN
Oct 9, 2007, 3:14 AM
are u guys all hyped up on crack or somthing....:koko:


2 cities with CMA's of 1 mil linking each other 300 KM apart with a bullet train!!!!!?????

WUT! i dought the alberta government is actually going to build this... more likely trying to get more votes and be more favorable...:whip:

Beltliner
Oct 9, 2007, 3:35 AM
Just out of idle curiosity and all that...

How could anyone who has actually read my posts on this topic today conclude that I was endorsing handouts from Special Ed on this project? :koko:

240glt
Oct 9, 2007, 4:00 AM
^Well obviously a certain percentage of the $xx billion dollar purchase price is going to come from the province, would it not ?

CMD UW
Oct 9, 2007, 4:42 AM
I can't believe this is even being debated. If this type of rail service was so feasible, there would be many systems operating in North America between larger markets. HSR in a market of 2.5 or so million people does not make sense.

Corndogger
Oct 9, 2007, 5:03 AM
I can't believe this is even being debated. If this type of rail service was so feasible, there would be many systems operating in North America between larger markets. HSR in a market of 2.5 or so million people does not make sense.
This debate is absolutely crazy and your mayor is so correct in saying that it makes no sense. In terms of white elephants this would probably put us first on the list in North America. If Stelmach wants to win major votes in the province he should announce a plan to turn a number of highways into full fledged freeways to improve the movement of people and goods. Highway 2 should be turned into a freeway from the Montana border to Edmonton. Highway 43 should become a freeway to Grande Prairie. Highway 63 should become a freeway from Edmonton to Fort McMurray. Highway 1 should be a freeway from the SK border to the BC border. Such a freeway network would go through most of the major cities in the province and would be much more popular and economically viable than a highspeed train (which given our track record would end up no better than what Amtrak currently has) which would end up realistically having no more than 1,000 people per day using it.

California has been talking about building a highspeed train system from San Diego to San Fran and then across to Sacramento for years now and still cannot justify the cost. What makes us think a corridor 180 miles long with just 2.5 million people will be able to do so? If this proposal starts to get real serious I hope the government will have a referundum on it like they plan on doing in California next year. I'd really hate to see us flush $5 billion+ down the toilet to appease a bunch of economically challenged environmentalists and the media.

Riise
Oct 9, 2007, 6:28 AM
If this type of rail service was so feasible, there would be many systems operating in North America between larger markets.

Smart Growth is feasible yet you don't see a plethora of that occurring in larger markets. Political will is very important when trying to get things done and it's usually absent when it comes to rail. The fact that we have it here can almost justify building the damn thing.

Such a freeway network would go through most of the major cities in the province and would be much more popular...

Just because it's popular with the people doesn't mean it's the right choice. The last time I checked it was the planners, engineers, and economists that were the experts. That aside, I believe that the QEII should be upgraded to motorway standards but it should be capped at six-lanes. I also believe that if we are taking the time to make it a closed system we might as well start building the HSR, or even regular speed rail, ROW. Like Christopher Hume said, let's stop trying to see how this cannot work and find ways to see how it can work.

Distill3d
Oct 9, 2007, 6:38 AM
...If Stelmach wants to win major votes in the province he should announce a plan to turn a number of highways into full fledged freeways to improve the movement of people and goods. Highway 2 should be turned into a freeway from the Montana border to Edmonton. Highway 43 should become a freeway to Grande Prairie. Highway 63 should become a freeway from Edmonton to Fort McMurray. Highway 1 should be a freeway from the SK border to the BC border. Such a freeway network would go through most of the major cities in the province and would be much more popular and economically viable than a highspeed train (which given our track record would end up no better than what Amtrak currently has) which would end up realistically having no more than 1,000 people per day using it.

building more freeways is not the answer. all thats going to do is increase our dependancy on the automobile, and to be honest, are we not attempting to curb this?

also, i'm not a trucker, but i do work in the trucking business. from our stand point, the less cars on the road getting in the way of commercial traffic the better.

newfangled
Oct 9, 2007, 1:36 PM
If this proposal starts to get real serious I hope the government will have a referundum on it like they plan on doing in California next year. I'd really hate to see us flush $5 billion+ down the toilet to appease a bunch of economically challenged environmentalists and the media.

Be careful wishing for a referendum. The fact that this debate even exists shows that there are a lot of "fast train good" folks out there. Giving them a political drum to bang on would be a nightmare.

murman
Oct 9, 2007, 3:52 PM
I can't believe this is even being debated. If this type of rail service was so feasible, there would be many systems operating in North America between larger markets. HSR in a market of 2.5 or so million people does not make sense.

Could NOT agree more.

There would seem to be a lot of too-stupid-for-their-own-good (and-the-good-of-others) people on this bandwagon. You heard me: STUPID.

Coldrsx
Oct 9, 2007, 11:00 PM
Bullet train a waste of money: Mandel
Susan Ruttan, edmontonjournal.com
Published: 3:55 pm

EDMONTON - A bullet train between Edmonton and Calgary would be a waste of money, says Mayor Stephen Mandel.

"We have an awful lot of infrastructure to build in the city of Edmonton that our citizens want way more than some bullet train to Calgary," the mayor told the Journal's editorial board Tuesday. Affordable housing, roads, bridges and overpasses need funding from the province first, Mandel said.

He predicted that the $12-billion cost estimate for the high-speed train will be low. "Buying a route and building a line from downtown Edmonton to the city perimeter would likely cost $4 billion alone," he said. The whole line would likely cost $20 billion or more, Mandel added. Although a recent poll said 70 per cent of Albertans would ride the bullet train, Mandel questioned how many would ride once the novelty wore off.
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"Would a person living in Edmonton's west end drive downtown and wait to catch the bullet train, when in the same time they could be driving south nearly to Red Deer?" he said. "And when I get to Calgary, I have my car."

The train idea has some strong backers in Calgary. That city's Mayor Dave Bronconnier has suggested it could link Edmonton and Red Deer to the Calgary International Airport.

The Stelmach government has commissioned a $1-million study of the train idea.

sruttan@thejournal.canwest.com


© Edmonton Journal 2007

Coldrsx
Oct 9, 2007, 11:01 PM
Bullet train a waste of money: Mandel
Susan Ruttan, edmontonjournal.com
Published: 3:55 pm

EDMONTON - A bullet train between Edmonton and Calgary would be a waste of money, says Mayor Stephen Mandel.

"We have an awful lot of infrastructure to build in the city of Edmonton that our citizens want way more than some bullet train to Calgary," the mayor told the Journal's editorial board Tuesday. Affordable housing, roads, bridges and overpasses need funding from the province first, Mandel said.

He predicted that the $12-billion cost estimate for the high-speed train will be low. "Buying a route and building a line from downtown Edmonton to the city perimeter would likely cost $4 billion alone," he said. The whole line would likely cost $20 billion or more, Mandel added. Although a recent poll said 70 per cent of Albertans would ride the bullet train, Mandel questioned how many would ride once the novelty wore off.
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"Would a person living in Edmonton's west end drive downtown and wait to catch the bullet train, when in the same time they could be driving south nearly to Red Deer?" he said. "And when I get to Calgary, I have my car."

The train idea has some strong backers in Calgary. That city's Mayor Dave Bronconnier has suggested it could link Edmonton and Red Deer to the Calgary International Airport.

The Stelmach government has commissioned a $1-million study of the train idea.

sruttan@thejournal.canwest.com


© Edmonton Journal 2007

davee930
Oct 9, 2007, 11:57 PM
it would be a complete waste of time and money

CMD UW
Oct 10, 2007, 1:41 AM
/\ exactly, economic feasibility is a concept that many 'utopian dreamers' can't wrap their head around.

Corndogger
Oct 10, 2007, 3:05 AM
/\ exactly, economic feasibility is a concept that many 'utopian dreamers' can't wrap their head around.

If Amtrak can't make money in the Washington-Boston corridor that has about 60 million people, a severely congested I-95 and air service with the worst on time service in over a decade then what makes us think we can with just 2.5 million people, decent air service and a freeway that is no where near the congestion level of I-95?

CMD UW
Oct 10, 2007, 4:08 AM
If Amtrak can't make money in the Washington-Boston corridor that has about 60 million people, a severely congested I-95 and air service with the worst on time service in over a decade then what makes us think we can with just 2.5 million people, decent air service and a freeway that is no where near the congestion level of I-95?
Oh, but who needs examples, Alberta is 'different' :shrug:

Koolfire
Oct 10, 2007, 4:18 AM
Pretty sure that bullet trains need a continuous track where the pieces of track are welded together. Would our climate allow for this or will the track snap when the it drops to -40 degrees. Alberta has much bigger range of temperature then in Europe and anywhere that i can think of bullet trains currently exist.

mersar
Oct 10, 2007, 4:40 AM
Pretty sure that bullet trains need a continuous track where the pieces of track are welded together. Would our climate allow for this or will the track snap when the it drops to -40 degrees. Alberta has much bigger range of temperature then in Europe and anywhere that i can think of bullet trains currently exist.

Seeing as how most of the CTrain system is done with continuous welded track (expansion joints at bridges are the one exception that I know of) I doubt it would be too big an obstacle. If you watch how they assemble the track its brought in on trucks and welded together as its pretty much the only way to get the track to the area it has to be laid.

evolv
Oct 10, 2007, 6:31 AM
Pretty sure that bullet trains need a continuous track where the pieces of track are welded together. Would our climate allow for this or will the track snap when the it drops to -40 degrees. Alberta has much bigger range of temperature then in Europe and anywhere that i can think of bullet trains currently exist.

I'm pretty sure they would have thought of this and gotten an answer before proceeding with the many studies.

shogged
Oct 10, 2007, 6:57 AM
If Amtrak can't make money in the Washington-Boston corridor that has about 60 million people, a severely congested I-95 and air service with the worst on time service in over a decade then what makes us think we can with just 2.5 million people, decent air service and a freeway that is no where near the congestion level of I-95?

Thing to remember is you're comparing 2 completely different modes of transportation. Amtrack is 100% not a high speed rail network. 140km/h on a network thats shared with freight trains isn't fast enough to justify a serious move from car and air traffic. What Alberta's proposed bullet train offers is upwards of 300km/h and potentially on an entirely different track, totally a different scenario.

I'm constantly finding myself flying between Calgary and Edmonton, and ALOT (and i really mean alot, to the point where I've lost sales and projects) of the time I can't get a flight because there just aren't enough seats at the right times. Not to mention a flight between Calgary and Edmonton really does take 2 hours in the grand scheme of things, plus the cab rides from each airport, its just a huge hassle.

And driving? No thanks, I have much better things to do than spend 6 hours round trip in my car.

A high speed rail network is hugely viable because I know for a fact that i'm not the only business man out their who's be taking this thing upwards of 3 times a week. I can only dream of the convenience of grabbing a train downtown and 90 or so minutes later pulling into Edmonton before the plane I was supposed to be on even takes off!

And another thing for the rail fanboys :) I spent this past weekend with part of my wifes extended family and met her sister for the first time. She works with Alberta Transport in Lethbridge and just so happens to be in charge of land acquisitions for the greenfield route! I kid you not, they already have all the land between here and Edmonton and she hinted that we should expect a major announcement soon!

Boris2k7
Oct 10, 2007, 7:11 AM
And another thing for the rail fanboys :) I spent this past weekend with part of my wifes extended family and met her sister for the first time. She works with Alberta Transport in Lethbridge and just so happens to be in charge of land acquisitions for the greenfield route! I kid you not, they already have all the land between here and Edmonton and she hinted that we should expect a major announcement soon!

This is very interesting. I would love to hear about this ROW, any chances of getting some insider info?

shogged
Oct 10, 2007, 7:13 AM
This is very interesting. I would love to hear about this ROW, any chances of getting some insider info?

I can run some stuff by her! what specificly are you looking for?

Boris2k7
Oct 10, 2007, 7:36 AM
I can run some stuff by her! what specificly are you looking for?

Oh, nothing in particular really. I'm just kinda interested in what towns it will be running close to (not that I expect stops in any of them). In particular, the location of the possible Red Deer station.

BTW, welcome to the forum!

shogged
Oct 10, 2007, 8:25 AM
Oh, nothing in particular really. I'm just kinda interested in what towns it will be running close to (not that I expect stops in any of them). In particular, the location of the possible Red Deer station.

BTW, welcome to the forum!

sure I'll give her a call tomorrow!

and ty =) i've been reading for god knows how long now, finally got around to registering!