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Innisfail set to hear plan for passenger rail service

Airdrie group pitching ambitious project to several Central Alberta corridor municipalities
MVT Passenger train service
Innisfail town council will soon hear an ambitious plan by an Airdrie-based company to create a regional passenger rail system along the Calgary to Edmonton corridor. File photo

INNISFAIL – After making its rounds in several Central Alberta communities, Airdrie-based Alberta Regional Rail Inc. (ARRI) will soon be in town to see if there is interest for a blast from the past.

That blast is the sight and sound of a passenger train rolling through town, picking up scores of citizens wanting to travel to points north, south and east. But it’s a sight and sound that has been missing from the Edmonton to Calgary corridor for almost half a century. 

However, ARRI believes a regional passenger rail system that can connect urban centres to rural communities in today’s modern word is a vision worth pursuing for the future.

Todd Becker, the town’s chief administrative officer, told the Albertan last week he will be calling ARRI representatives to set up a date for a delegation presentation to town council.

ARRI made a presentation to Airdrie city council on Dec. 20. Council members, while impressed with the idea, ultimately declined to offer its immediate support for the plan, citing a lack of information and financial support.

The company was scheduled to make presentations in Olds and Carstairs on Jan. 10, and another in Didsbury on Jan. 11.

In December, the Town of Bowden received a news release from ARRI and Mayor Robb Stuart liked the plan, which according to the release envisions linking Edmonton and Calgary, as well as communities as far away as Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

Innisfail mayor Jean Barclay said she wants to hear from the delegation as she believes it would be “great” to have passenger rail service along the Calgary to Edmonton corridor.

She added there is renewed interest for such projects, noting the early stages of the Calgary to Banff rail transportation project that is now “getting off the ground.

“I am very interested in learning more about this and looking forward to these people coming to council and doing a presentation,” said Barclay. “It has been talked about for many years. I think you see passenger rail service in eastern Canada, particularly in Ontario and Quebec.

“It would be a very interesting concept to take a look at and I am very interested in it,” she said, agreeing there are many serious hurdles for project planners to overcome. “It is the early stages. I think the best we can do now is listen and see what the potential plans are, and go from there.”

With files from Doug Collie and Dan Singleton.

 



Johnnie Bachusky

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