Super-fast transportation link could be demonstrated in central Alberta

Test track for 1,000-km/h hyperloop system would be built between Olds and Didsbury

Technology like something pulled from a science fiction movie — a device that will transport passengers and cargo at speeds up to 1,000 km/h through magnetic tubes — could be showcased in central Alberta.

Canadian hyperloop company TransPod Inc.’s ambitious plan to create a high-speed link between Edmonton and Calgary got a boost with the announcement on Tuesday that the government of Alberta has agreed to offer non-financial support for the project.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed that will see Alberta Transportation support Toronto-based TransPod’s plan to further study the feasibility of whisking people and goods through magnetic train-like pods between Edmonton and Calgary in 30 minutes. The proposal includes a stop in Red Deer.

The feasibility and other research and development are expected to begin this year and construction on a 10-kilometre test track between Olds and Didsbury could begin as early as 2022. It would likely take about five years to build and test at a cost of $500 million.

TransPod communications director Dianna Lai Read said it is expected the test track will be visible from Highway 2, but exactly where it will go is among the issues that will be looked at it in the feasibility study.

“As the construction will be quite unique, we want to ensure we minimize the possibility of people getting distracted while driving,” said Lai Read.

A similar test site is to be developed in France.

Building the full Alberta line would cost around $6 billion to $10 billion and would be bankrolled by private investment. If all goes well, construction could begin in 2025 and be ready for passengers in 2030, says the company.

TransPod estimates the project could create nearly 40,000 jobs and reduce Alberta’s carbon emissions by 300,000 tonnes a year, while improving the efficiency of moving goods around the province and diversifying the economy.

“Alberta’s leadership mindset and partnership with TransPod firmly places it at the cutting edge of transportation innovation,” said Sebastien Gendron, TransPod co-founder and CEO.

“Through this strategic agreement that secures the province’s economic future without having to commit any taxpayer dollars, the government of Alberta is investing in improving growth and quality of life in the region.”

The project could generate huge economic windfalls for the province, the company estimates. In 2020, the project could produce $1.3 billion worth of revenues, environmental and safety benefits, and time savings. By 2055, that number increases to $5.4 billion.

Besides Alberta, TransPod believes the technology would be a good fit in the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor. A feasibility study on creating a hyperloop serving Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh is expected to be ready in December.

Hyperloop systems are being tested in the U.S., France, Netherlands and China. The first commercial lines are about to be built in India and the Middle East, says the company.



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