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EllisDon to Lead Prairie Link High-Speed Rail Partners - Edm-RD-Cal

CplKlinger

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If somehow this could all get built and operated with a reasonable subsidy from government, I'd be so thrilled.
It's killing me that VIA isn't getting into this market. You'd think that since the Liberals are so big on climate action, this would be relatively low hanging fruit, and accompanied by flashy infrastructure spending.
 

DutchBoy

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The fight over flights will go on. And both YYC and YEG will not achieve the global reach they could if there was a single airport physically located between the 2 cities. This would also be a great opportunity for high speed rail to garner traffic from Edmonton and Calgary to the airport and to build Red Deer into a major city. Tourist traffic could head West through the foothills past Rocky Mountain House into the Rockies and allowing much needed tourist development along highway 11 into Saskatchewan River Crossing to Jasper and Banff. 2 billion for a single new airport ought to do the trick.
I can't see this replace Highway 1, but I think there is increasing tourism traffic and attention to the David Thompson Corridor. Some provincial funding has improved amenities and Nordegg is expanding.

@jason403 I like your explanations and giving % values to consider in #102. Are you a Superforecaster?

Also:
 

TravellingChris

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The fight over flights will go on. And both YYC and YEG will not achieve the global reach they could if there was a single airport physically located between the 2 cities. This would also be a great opportunity for high speed rail to garner traffic from Edmonton and Calgary to the airport and to build Red Deer into a major city. Tourist traffic could head West through the foothills past Rocky Mountain House into the Rockies and allowing much needed tourist development along highway 11 into Saskatchewan River Crossing to Jasper and Banff. 2 billion for a single new airport ought to do the trick.
I fully understand your point, and there is likely some (limited) benefit of critical mass in terms of attracting new flights. However, it's not going to happen for a number of reasons.

First, airports in Canada are publicly owned (Transport Canada) and operated by non-profit airport authorities. It would be EXTREMELY difficult to convince the taxpaying public that two large, publicly-owned, recently renovated and expanded airports in YEG and YYC should be closed to passenger service and replaced with a single facility at Red Deer. Any politician proposing this would be crucified. Even if a Red Deer facility were built, photos and video of massive, empty terminals in Edmonton and Calgary would pop up regularly in the media and political campaign ads as examples of waste of public money. Dictatorships in the Middle East can forcibly shut airports and build white elephants without political consequences. Democratic societies can't.

Second, there would be massive opposition in both Edmonton and Calgary. Calgarians in particular (politicians, residents, business leaders) would complain to high hell that passenger service was being ended at a convenient airport right inside their city limits, in order to build some "pie-in-the-sky" airport "in the middle of nowhere." And yes, those are the phrases that would be used.

Third, theory and practice are two different things. Remember we were told in the 1990s that ending passenger service at the Muni and consolidating flights at the International would lead to a golden age of new service. Whatever happened with that? We don't even have nonstop service to Chicago, for crying out loud. And remember even further back to when the International was originally built. Why is it so far outside of the city, even today as Edmonton has expanded south? One of the original proposed sites for the International was what's now South Edmonton Common. But the airport was instead built so far south in order to be equidistant from Red Deer as is the Calgary airport, with the idea that if the distance were the same, YEG could attract a lot of those passengers. That never happened, Central Albertans still prefer to fly out of YYC and Calgary still has better air service.

Fourth, unlike Kevin Costner, Albertans have no guarantee that if such a facility is built, anyone would actually come. Who would we be trying to attract anyway? Air France? Lufthansa? Emirates? ANA? And at what point would even theoretical expanded service to a Red Deer superairport start to impact a facility like YVR and threaten its business? Air Canada's Pacific hub, for example, depends on connecting traffic from other parts of Canada and the U.S. It is highly unlikely AC or the YVR authoriries would want to see a rival hub developed in Alberta. And the feds tend to defer to AC when dealing with traffic rights. It was a years-long fight to get Turkish Airlines service to YVR because AC and Ottawa thought it might steal traffic from AC's routes to the Subcontinent. And Emirates and Etihad still have only minimal traffic rights in Canada because of fears that AC's nonstops out of YYZ and YVR would be harmed.

Fifth, imagine the images and news stories about the families and farmers whose land is being expropriated to build the new superairport. ("Bob Cobb and his family have been farming this land outside Innisfail for ten generations. That's all over now...") Think of the PR black eye for Alberta in replacing farmland with a facility related to the burning of fossil fuels. Extinction Rebellion and like groups have laid down on runways and in front of bulldozers in order to prevent expansion at airports like Heathrow. You can imagine what environmentalists and protest groups would do in this case. It would be an extravaganza like we've never seen.

Red Deer can rest easy. A combined airport ain't never going to happen.
 

TravellingChris

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While high-speed rail between Edmonton and Calgary is interesting, there are a number of issues that make a project unlikely to succeed.

First, even in Europe, HSR requires public subsidies to operate. Even France, which has an excellent, high-quality and extensive network with interconnections to its neighbours, requires taxpayer money to keep the system going.

An Alberta HSR could never set fares high enough to fully recoup construction and operating costs because that would depress passenger numbers and drive traffic to other, less-green options (like air). Now, an Alberta government (which would have to provide most of the public subsidy required) COULD make the case that this project is part of a societal shift to reduce GHG emissions and should be subsidized as a component of a larger strategy. And there would definitely be federal Green funding available. But it will never be commercially viable on its own.

Second, be prepared for rival transport companies (bus lines, airlines) to scream bloody murder because HSR is getting public money that they aren't.

Third, there would be the temptation (as we saw with Edmonton's Valley Line LRT) to bastardize this project beyond all recognition. The Valley Line was originally supposed to be the rapid transit line between downtown and Mill Woods promised in the 1980s. It subsequently became a toy tram with too many stops, bus shelter-like stations and a requirement to stop at traffic lights in many cases. (How is that different from a bus?) That's fine in its own way, but it's absolutely not the rapid transit that was originally promised. Already instead of a direct Edmonton-Calgary bullet train, we're talking about stopping in Red Deer. (That adds travel time, operating and construction costs.) How long before politicians and business and community leaders start lobbying for stops in Nisku, Wetaskiwin, Airdrie and the like, on the grounds that "if our taxpayers are going to pay for it, the train should at least serve our community". We actually saw this kind of thing play out when the initial Eurostar routes were being planned--municipal and regional politicians in France, Belgium and Southeast England fighting to get stops in their communities.

Fourth, for HSR to be truly competitive it has to go downtown-to-downtown. Unfortunately in the 1980s Edmonton ripped up a lot of tracks in the city centre. There's no point in building big terminals somewhere that land is readily available--like far south Edmonton and far north Calgary--that will erode any advantage HSR has over air travel,by forcing passengers to change to LRT to get downtown.
 

ChazYEG

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^ Exactly!

We should stop wasting our time and energy on HSR and put it towards projects that actually make sense.
Yeah, as long as you're not talking about the Hyperloop...

But you'll be surprised by how much this makes sense, when they start coming up with the numbers of the project.
 

itom987

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^^ Unfortunately I don't share that opinion. The Hyperloop does not make sense at all.

If anything, I would wait until that project is built elsewhere before even talking about doing it here. Let someone else take the risk if it fails.
 
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The_Cat

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^^ Warsaw to Krakow also has proximity to Lodz, and it's also close to the same distance to Gdansk.

The Chicago to Seattle Amtrak line travels through Shelby, Montana (390 km south of Calgary). It may be possible to link this railway to this link if a HSR route is built between Chicago and Seattle.
 

jimmilegs

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I attended a conference this week with a presentation by Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson of Ellis Don Capital regarding both the Prairie Sky Gondola and Prairie Link HSR proposals. The presentation was somewhat vague in details as the proposal is still in the developmental stage and he didn't want to release too much proprietary information. However, he provided a few interesting bits of information about the Prairie Link HSR:
  • Seven proposed stations (Downtown Edmonton, 34 Ave, YEG, Red Deer, Airdrie, YYC, Downtown Calgary)
  • Higher frequency commuter trains will run between Downtown Edmonton / 34 Ave / YEG and Downtown Calgary / YYC / Airdrie
  • Express service will run between Downtown Edmonton / YEG / Red Deer / YYC / Downtown Calgary
  • During off peak hours, trains will provide a light freight service to increase the value proposition of the project
  • Ridership projection is approximately 6.5 million per year (~20,000/day), with half being commuter traffic and half intercity traffic
  • Design speed of the alignment is 400 kph, with expected top speed of 350 kph
  • Travel time from Downtown Edmonton to Downtown Calgary is 74 minutes
  • Total cost of the project is ~$10 billion
  • Operational in ~10 years (2032)
 

CplKlinger

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Dd
I attended a conference this week with a presentation by Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson of Ellis Don Capital regarding both the Prairie Sky Gondola and Prairie Link HSR proposals. The presentation was somewhat vague in details as the proposal is still in the developmental stage and he didn't want to release too much proprietary information. However, he provided a few interesting bits of information about the Prairie Link HSR:
  • Seven proposed stations (Downtown Edmonton, 34 Ave, YEG, Red Deer, Airdrie, YYC, Downtown Calgary)
  • Higher frequency commuter trains will run between Downtown Edmonton / 34 Ave / YEG and Downtown Calgary / YYC / Airdrie
  • Express service will run between Downtown Edmonton / YEG / Red Deer / YYC / Downtown Calgary
  • During off peak hours, trains will provide a light freight service to increase the value proposition of the project
  • Ridership projection is approximately 6.5 million per year (~20,000/day), with half being commuter traffic and half intercity traffic
  • Design speed of the alignment is 400 kph, with expected top speed of 350 kph
  • Travel time from Downtown Edmonton to Downtown Calgary is 74 minutes
  • Total cost of the project is ~$10 billion
  • Operational in ~10 years (2032)
Did he say when they hope to break ground?
 

jimmilegs

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Did he say when they hope to break ground?
He might have, but I don't recall. With a project of this scale, there will be a lot of stakeholder negotiations, land acquisition, and detailed design work. With a 2032 operational date, I would expect construction to commence in about 3-4 years, maybe 2025/26.
 

jimmilegs

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I had previously assumed that the final link between Strathcona and Downtown would not be economically feasible. However, after hearing that the Prairie Link team are proposing a downtown station, and understanding that the HLB cannot accommodate HSR, here is my proposed route between Strathcona and downtown:
  • Tunnel from south of Whyte Ave to a portal above Queen Elizabeth Park road
  • Elevated structure above Walterdale Road, over the river, and above River Valley Road
  • Tunnel from a portal near the Terrace Building, along 106 St, 104 Ave, beneath the Metro/Capital LRT tunnels, to a combined portal near 95 St
  • Underground station located at a redeveloped site of the current police headquarters with a pedway connection to Churchill Station
  • I chose this route because it's shorter than a HLB crossing, and follows road corridors that would avoid conflicts with building foundations
Site Plan - Overall.jpg

Site Plan - River.jpg

Site Plan - Downtown.jpg
 

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