The Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park (Gorgo/Public domain)

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Rocky Mountain rail: Canada mulls bringing trains to Banff once more

12 June 2020 | By GCR Staff | 3 Comments

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and the government of Alberta have signed a memorandum of understanding to probe the feasibility of a 130km rail link from the city of Calgary west to the mountain resort town of Banff in the Rocky Mountains.

Set in Banff National Park, the town owes its existence to rail after workers building the legendary transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) stumbled on hot springs at the site in 1883.

The town was then developed as a tourist destination to promote the line, but rail services between Banff and Calgary, where there was a grand CPR station, were discontinued in 1990.

Promoters of the new scheme say it would ease traffic congestion on the highway and in the popular town.

Built along the existing CPR corridor, it would connect Banff, Calgary International Airport and Calgary city centre.

The service could have up to eight departures a day to Banff and an express service to downtown Calgary every 20 minutes.

A luxury tourism rail service operates between Banff and Vancouver on Canada’s west coast.

The CIB will now collaborate with Alberta Transportation to review the project’s estimated costs and revenues, explore financing options and assess environmental, social and economic benefits. If these are positive, the CIB may invest in the scheme.

Ric McIver, Alberta’s transport minister, commented: “We’re pleased to be partnering with the CIB to complete a feasibility study for the Calgary-Banff Rail project. The CIB brings expertise and experience needed for a project of this scale. We look forward to learning more about this exciting project and hearing from our community partners about how this opportunity can support our tourism industry and get our economy back on track.”

Alberta is considering procuring the rail as a public–private partnership.

The CIB is a crown corporation mandated to invest C$35bn in federal funding and attract private sector investment into revenue-generating infrastructure projects. It also has a brief to advise public bodies in the pre-project stage.

Image: The Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park (Gorgo/Public domain)

  • Edited 19 June 2020. The original version mistakenly identified Calgary as the provincial capital

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