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TransPod Inc. commits to building a Red Deer station on planned ultra-high-speed tube line

It’s needed for area’s economic development, the company has tweeted
An illustration of what the TransPod hyperloop line would look like, next to Hwy 2. (Contributed image).

A company planning to build an elevated ultra-high-speed tube line in Alberta has promised to invest the $1 billion to build a Red Deer stop between Edmonton and Calgary.

“We do plan to stop in @cityofRedDeer and don’t plan to ask for public funding compared to other competing projects,” TransPod Inc. tweeted out Thursday morning.

In a subsequent tweet Friday, the company said they have a “responsibility” to make sure there is a stop in the city.

“We will invest the $1B whether or not the government wants to do it… We have a social responsibility to (make the $1 billion investment) to allow Red Deer to continue its economic development,” TransPod Inc. stated.

This is a change from what Toronto-based company co-founder and CEO Sebastien Gendron had previously told the Advocate.

Last March, he said local residents have until about 2025 to pressure the provincial government to make a midway stop on the route part of the project’s criteria. Gendron stated this would ensure that private investors would pony up the extra money to create a Red Deer station.

Officials from Transpod Inc. could not immediately be reached on Friday to explain the reason for the new plans. However, it could have something to do with the competition.

Last July, Edmonton-based Prairie Link, which is planning to build a high-speed passenger train service between Edmonton and Calgary, signed a memorandum of understanding with the UCP government. The company wants to develop a 350 to 400 km/hr train to transport passengers between Alberta’s two largest centres in a little over and hour — and would include a station in Red Deer.

Mayor Ken Johnston said on Friday that the City of Red Deer would support any ultra-rapid transport project that includes a local stop. “It’s fundamental to our economic development,” he added.

The mayor maintained that mid-sized cities, with more affordable housing, would be attractive places to live for people with jobs in larger centres — as long as they had an accessible and affordable way to get to and from work, as needed.

City council so far, hasn’t had any formal discussions TransPod, and Johnston said he would welcome company officials to make a presentation and elaborate on their plans.

“The city manager and I would love to have some more discussions around it,” added the mayor, who sees $1 billion of local infrastructure spending as a “big attention-getter.” Having a high-speed rail or tube service stopping in Red Deer would be “exciting and transformational” for this city and its residents, Johnston added.

TransPod is currently doing an environmental assessment, applying for construction permits and land acquisition. The hope is to start constructing a test section of the line linking Edmonton Airport with the south part of Edmonton by mid-2023, with completion by 2027, Gendron has stated.

He recently told a Calgary media outlet that private investors are willing advance $20 million for the entire project.

The company aims to have Albertans travelling at speeds of up to 1,000 km per hour while seated in futuristic pods that would shoot through a sealed tube powered by electricity. Pods would come and go every few minutes at stations, much like subway trains, allowing customers to board and depart spontaneously rather than needing to pre-book tickets.

Trips between Red Deer and Calgary, and Red Deer and Edmonton, would cost about $50 one-way and take under half an hour. Gendron said the cost could, perhaps, be reduced for regular travellers.

An economic analysis indicated TransPod would contribute $1.9 billion annually to Alberta’s economy and remove a third of the traffic between Calgary and Edmonton. About 140,000 full-time equivalent jobs are expected to be created during the construction period of about a decade.

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