Alberta Regional Rail
http://www.albertaregionalrail.com This is not high-speed rail, but a regional rail system. The closest examples to my idea would be FasTracks RTD Denver and GO Transit Toronto, though most of my idea comes from my experience travelling around London UK. GO Transit is more established having been in operation since 1970s, and is primarily set up for commuter transportation, however this is changing with their proposed Regional Express Rail. FasTracks is currently under construction in various phases, and provides an idea of capital costs and issues with developing a rail system in the modern era. FasTracks also uses smaller Electric Multiple Units that are more along the lines of my idea, however I propose using a bi-mode Diesel/Electric Multiple Unit that can switch between modes whilst at speed. In order to save on capital infrastructure costs I would propose utilizing the existing rail rights of way operated by Canadian Pacific. The tracks pass through the middle of the largest urban areas immediately outside the City of Calgary, so little investment in infrastructure would be required to get it set up as a commuter service, and with regular freight trains currently in operation noise and other environmental concerns will be low. Through an analysis of various examples around the world, the traditional route to the development of public transportation is to start with bus services, and as passenger numbers grow move to rail. There are currently a number of bus services in operation, operated by the municipalities and private companies. Development of bus transit can be summarized as: -Purchase buses. -Widen roads. -Implement bus lanes/multi-occupancy vehicle lanes. Taking Airdrie to Calgary, or even Okotoks to Calgary as examples, after purchasing and operating bus services, the next course of action is to expand the capacity of the road network, add additional lanes to the QE2/Deerfoot Trail. For the Okotoks route some existing bridges pose issues, namely Ivor Strong and the Glenmore Trail bridge, however the On-It service from Okotoks only goes as far as the Somerset LRT station whilst Airdries ICE has services into downtown Calgary. Once additional lanes have been introduced on the highway, the next step is a separated multi-occupancy vehicle lane, as is currently being conducted by RTD Denver, one of their recent 16km sections cost US$497million, involving road re-alignment and bridge replacements. My estimate to build suitable track between Calgary and Airdrie is approximately CAD$300million, but to set up a basic service using existing infrastructure and only operating at peak hours should be less than CAD$50million. For a personal example, a bus and taxi lane was implemented on the M4 in London UK, from Heathrow Airport to the "elevated section" in 1999, and was subsequently abandoned in 2010. Research was produced to show it as a success, however the research was only conducted on the length of the bus lane, not the surrounding and approaching routes. Journey times may have been reduced and CO2 emissions cut on the length of the bus route, however the "bottleneck" was just moved down the road and affected traffic on the M25 and other routes. I lived in the area for many years and regularly used the M4. There is an interesting opportunity to establish a Regional Rail service in Alberta, a number of the pre-requisites are in place, in-use infrastructure and an established and large population base. The priority of the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton will always be their own transit systems, the other municipalities are too small to fund large infrastructure projects. Roads and highways are Provincially and Federally funded, rail infrastructure would fall under the same scenario. The benefits of rail include, improved mobility with an integrated transport network, increased productivity, reduced emissions, reduced wear and tear on the roads, with fewer vehicle collisions, and time savings. The big question is, are the Province of Alberta, the Cities of Edmonton and Calgary, and the municipalities in and around the Calgary - Edmonton corridor committed to an integrated transport system? A system that connects urban and downtown areas, and is integrated with local transit, to really make it easier for people to leave their cars at home and to be able to get where they want to go. A locomotive costs upwards of US$7million. Siemens Charger - US$$7million Bombardier ALP45DP - US$7.6million Brookville BL36PH - US$10.9million Electro-Motive Diesel F125 Spirit US$15million.
With power output over 4,000hp enough to pull 12 coaches, coaches cost between US$1.5 and US$2 million depending upon size and configuration. Population numbers would not require 12 coaches, I would anticipate average weekday ridership to be around 5,000, which puts it on a par with SunRail Florida, Coaster California, Capitol Corridor California, Northstar Minnesota, etc, which operate 3-4 coach trains. 2 trains would be the minimum requirement for a service to/from any of the areas, a train would consist of a locomotive and 3 coaches (4 units). 20 units is approximately where train purchases are viable for a manufacturer. Therefore, if say Airdrie, Okotoks, Cochrane, or Banff were to go it alone to try to purchase trains individually, very few or none of the manufacturers would consider bidding, or if they did it would be at a high cost as the order would be for about half a dozen units. However, if they all teamed up as a grouping, all manufacturers would consider bidding as the purchase would be for over two dozen units. If the entire idea of Alberta Regional Rail was to be built, over 75 units would need to be purchased. A 3-car train requires substantially less horsepower than that provided by current locomotives, and therefore a smaller engine could be used, the smaller engine would easily fit inside a passenger car sacrificing only a small number of seats, creating a Diesel Multiple Unit. A DMU requires no cost for the purchase of a locomotive, but a marginal increase in the cost for a couple of coach cars that would become driving cars. 7 + 1.5 + 1.5 + 1.5 = 11.5 3 + 1.5 + 3 = 7.5 The resulting DMU would be far more efficient with reduced emissions than the conventional locomotive hauled train, if additional passenger capacity is required Multiple Units can easily be connected together.