Preliminary plans for passenger train service connecting Banff with Calgary airport remain on track

A proposed passenger rail service would connect the Banff townsite with Calgary International Airport. (file photos)

A proposed rail service for transporting passengers between Banff National Park and Calgary International Airport, with several stops in between, is one step closer to coming to fruition.

Invest Alberta announced Thursday that another memorandum of understanding had been reached involving Alberta Transportation and the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) regarding the service.

The initial MOU was signed in June 2020 and the latest agreement took into consideration the results of a recently conducted project feasibility study.

According to Invest Alberta, the CIB has reaffirmed its support and willingness to consider a long-term investment in the project. There has also been strong private sector interest in the project including an unsolicited proposal from a prospective project developer.

Should the project materialize, the proposed passenger train service is expected to bolster tourism opportunities, increase the potential labour pool for businesses in Banff, decrease traffic volume in the townsite and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"The YYC-Calgary-Banff rail project has the potential to be the first airport-to-mountain community transit solution of its kind in North America, making Alberta an even more compelling destination for global visitors year-round," said Premier Jason Kenney in statement released Thursday.

The stops along the proposed 150-kilometre line within the existing CP Rail corridor would potentially include:

  • Calgary International Airport;
  • Downtown Calgary;
  • Calgary Keith;
  • Cochrane;
  • Morley/Stoney Nakoda;
  • Canmore; and,
  • Banff.

Current plans could see up to 10 departures from the airport to Banff each day as well as the potential for running an express service between the airport and downtown Calgary four times an hour.

Karen Sorensen, Banff's mayor, says the potential return of passenger rail between Calgary and Banff would improve the overall experience for people visiting Canada's first national Park.

"Bow Valley communities have been working to bring back affordable mass transit for a number of years and we are excited to see progress on development of an environmentally-responsible service that would connect workers with jobs throughout the valley, reduce vehicle emissions, and provide a fantastic way to enjoy this special place in the Rockies."