The Alberta government should make a decision this year on developing high-speed rail between Calgary and Edmonton, a transportation expert said in Red Deer on Thursday.
Anthony Pearl, director of Urban Studies at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, told more than 80 elected leaders and business representatives of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership that it’s important to get moving on high-speed rail.
Pearl co-authored the book, Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil, and is chairing the Intercity Passenger Rail committee of the U.S. Transportation Research board.
“And plan to actually be building the thing in three to four years time,” Pearl said.
“I’d like to come back (to Alberta) in the coming decade and ride a high-speed train between Calgary and Edmonton, and visit Red Deer as well.”
Places in the world that develop high-speed rail and other electric modes of transportation in the next several decades will have much greater opportunities than those relying on oil fuel transportation, he said.
“We’re on the cusp of an energy shift in the world which is going to make high-speed rail much more valuable in the future,” Pearl said.
“The economy is going to grow the fastest in places that do this first.”
Electric mobility can be powered by many different energy sources, not just oil.
“While it’s not going to happen overnight, but if we wait until the next big energy crisis, then we’re going to have a lot of economic and probably social problems that come along with that,” Pearl said.
China is building the world’s largest high-speed rail network, which will allow the country to move its millions of people around without reliance on oil, Pearl said.