Race to build high-speed Calgary-Edmonton rail on with second pitch

Construction and Infrastructure development company EllisDon announced on Thursday that it has received a memorandum of understanding from Alberta Transportation for a proposed high-speed rail line between Edmonton and Calgary. (Image Source: Prairie Link)

The idea of a high-speed rail connecting Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary could be one step closer to becoming a reality with a new contender showing interest in developing a line.

On Thursday, construction and infrastructure development company EllisDon announced it had received a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from Alberta Transportation for its Prairie Link project.

In a news release, the company said the MOU was secured after the project was proposed within the province's unsolicited proposal framework and guideline.  

According to EllisDon, the MOU lays the foundation for "cooperatively advancing project development."

EllisDon estimates the capital cost for the high-speed rail would total $9 billion, and boasted it could be "among the largest and most defining nation-building transportation projects in Alberta's history."

"The notion of high-speed rail — a proven technology around the world — connecting Edmonton, Red Deer, and Calgary in Alberta is not new, but we believe that its time has come," Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson, director with EllisDon Capital and Project Director for Prairie Link, stated in the news release. 

"We have built a team with both the capacity and faith in the future of our province to advance it in a meaningful way for Albertans." 

According to EllisDon, the Prairie Link team has already started Indigenous engagement for the private-sector project. 

“I think it’s the heart and soul of this project,” Hansen-Carlson said, adding, “Our commitment is to support all of those communities having equity in this project.”

An advisory committee has been established to guide the project's development.

Last month, a feasibility study put out by high-speed transportation company TransPod suggested a hyperloop link between Calgary and Edmonton would create as many as 140,000 jobs while adding $19.2 billion to Alberta's gross domestic product.

Hansen-Carlen wished TransPod luck, but said EllisDon's technology is already proven.

“I think if you just stand back and listen to the conversations Albertans are having, they want this now, and the now solution is proven technology," he told CTV News Edmonton. 

“Taking proven rail technology and applying what we know and executing it here for Albertans is very different from a company that is looking to prove technology.”

TransPod signed a MOU with the province in the summer of 2020 to determine the feasibility of a hyperloop between the two Alberta cities.

Hansen-Carlson is also is in charge of the Prairie Sky gondola project in Edmonton.