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Mar 18, 2016
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When I was younger, the city of Calgary felt like an island of development unto itself. It didn't really have a metropolitan region like most major cities. There are now hundreds of thousands of people who live in Calgary's satellites. Airdrie, the largest of them has nearly sextupled in size since I was born, with just shy of 60,000 residents according to 2015 estimates.

This recent article about reviving train service between Banff and Calgary fed my interest in a regional train network for the Calgary Region:

The train network I have in mind would have three purposes.

Firstly, moving people within the greater Calgary area. It would help relieve congestion on our road ways and hopefully give some of our least lovely suburbs a node from which to develop their own cores. I think mostly of Airdrie when I think of this. It has no personality of it's own. It may as well be a chunk of NE Calgary lifted up and separated from the rest of the city by tectonic action. I'm sure there are lots of people who will say this promotes sprawl, but I say it's happening anyway. Why should only those who live close to the LRT lines be the ones presented with options?

Secondly, it would be about tourism and recreation. It would be a nice selling point to say look, you can come to Calgary and hop on a train and see the area without having to worry about car rentals and things like that. It would also help reconnect Calgary with it's train oriented past. The city owes a lot of it's initial growth to the CPR mainline. The target wouldn't just be out-of-towners though. As a skier and scrambler, I'm in the mountains year round. Dropping the drive would be a massive stress reviler, especially in the winter.

Lastly, wouldn't it be awesome to do away this those awful surface lots along 9th and 10th aves? Instead we could have a gorgeous building along the lines of Toronto's Union Station.

Below are a couple of rough maps I drew up for concepts. What do you folks think?

Greater Calgary - Baff Corridor.png
Calgary Region.png


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I recall discussion a while back about a train between Okotoks and Shaughnessy LRT station. It seems doable given that the CP tracks pass right by that station. You could easily do the same for Airdrie right into down-town.

I love the idea of a train between Calgary and Banff. That would be awesome.
As fantasies go, I think this one is pretty grounded. A lot of the infrastructure is already in place. Implementing it would mostly involve buying the trains, building the stations and coordinating with the railways. Though you never know, maybe CPR would be willing to partner on the project. They could tie it in with the Rocky Mountaineer maybe? It might also be helpful to have a group involved that many knows a thing or two about trains. :p

In my vision (I've already mentioned the wizard eyes), I put the Calgary North and Calgary South stations on the C-Train lines as well. The South Station is in the vicinity of the future Silverado Station on the Red Line and the North Station is situated at the future end of the North Leg of the Green Line. In the future with that North Station and an airport spur line, you could get directly to a train that takes you to the mountains without even having to hire a cab. Maybe that North Station could be used as a nucleus for hotel development too. So that we stop with the strange mixture of business parks, industrial sites and hotels that currently exists near the airport. (In my fantasy, Calgary would be get another fancy Fairmont in the vein of the Grand Railways Hotels of the early 1900s too. :p)

I don't know how often you get down to the city's deep south, it's not something I did until I started living there, but the development going on at Seton centred on the South Health Campus is quite impressive. Maybe in the future there could be a Southern spur line connecting the ends of the red and green lines.
I could see something like that happening someday. In fact these days with the way the city is changing, it seems like anything is possible. 20 years ago i wouldn't have thought it possible.

I was down at Seton a while back and was amazed at how much activity is going on there. The city is growing faster than I can keep up lol
Two weekends ago I was at Norquay doing Via Ferrata and the guide had some surprisingly interesting things to say about a train going from Calgary to Banff and potentially to Lake Louise.

For starters, he was avowedly in favour. To the point where he'd actually called up CP Rail to make some enquiries about setting up a passenger train himself. He'd definitely bitten off a little more than he could chew, but he did get some interesting information out of his inquiries.

For starters, the Rocky Mountaineer is one of the biggest barriers to running a passenger train into the Rockies. Apparently, just last year it had a ten year monopoly on passenger train service expire through the Bow Valley and Kicking Horse Pass expire. Which technically means that now is more opportune than before to launch commuter train, but it also shows how seriously the RM protects it's service. Secondly, CP has no interest in running passenger trains. All the money is in freight. As it stands there is only one full train line (with offings) running west of the city. So, CP isn't going to lose any capacity on the behalf of such a venture, and they're apparently inclined to tell anyone who thinks otherwise to take a hike. Meaning, the line would likely have to be twinned with outside money in order to accomodate a passenger rail line running the way I and apparently this mountian guide had invisioned.

(As an aside, if you don't know what Via Ferrata is, I highly recommend looking it up and doing it!)
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That's too bad about CP. I like the idea of a daily passenger train operating between Calgary and Banff, and it seems feasible from a business standpoint (even though I've never looked at or considered numbers) Have the train go from Calgary to Banff in the morning, and sit all day, heading back to Calgary sometime after dinner. It would be great for tourists, maybe this is something Tourism Alberta can jump on?
My personal hope would be for higher frequency than that, but it would be a start. Maybe the Olympics could catalyze this. I've seen other people make mention of it, but other than the article I posted from back in February, no one of any official capacity has made mention of it.
This isn't a train, but it is regional transit for Calgary. On-It is supposed to be Calgary's new regional bus service. Looks like it is only serving Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond and Turner Valley for now. I wonder if existing the existing Airdrie Express Bus is going to be integrated into On-IT.
I've seen those busses and wondered what that was about. Ultimately trains would be nice...and of course have more 'cool' factor, but busses can get the job done too. The price of $6 from Okotoks to Calgary seems reasonable to me.
This is what I have built so far:
Let me know what you think, pm me if you are interested.

Interesting indeed. I think a service between Calgary and Banff could work well, same for Calgary and Edmonton. I'm old enough to remember the days of the dayliner. I used to live in Greenview as a kid in the late 70's and we used to hang around the tracks a fair bit.
Hi All,
Yes It Would B Interesting. I KNOW a Lot About Rail Dispatching the Older Systems Really Learned TT/TO Dispatching (Time Table/Train Order Dispatching),
Both Main Line/Branch Line in Dark Territory, ABS and CTC/Interlocjing Rules, I Had All My Rue Books, Time Tables, from C.N. C,P, Algoma Central, Ontario Northland and P, G, E,/ B. C. Rail. Built Up the LARGEST Collection of Train Order Documents in CANADA, (All Across Canada) When I Got Sick 3 Yrs My Whole Railroad Collection - Timetables, Train Order Collection - Over 10,000 Documents, Photo Albums, Books - You Name It was Shipped to the Railroad Museum of
Eastern Ontario for Safe Keeping, With FRIENDS in the Right Places It was An Asset, For Personal Reasons I am Recognized as a Recognized Person on Rail
Dispatching TT & TO Operations Now I Use the Internet to Keep Up. My Only Regret- Never Got a Chance to Learn M B S/O C S Dispatching. Everything is NOW
Computerized Still Go Track Side as Time Permits Its All Changed but Its Still Fun to Get Out and Go Train Watching/LRT as Well.

Have Fun Guys,
Hi Group
The Ideas of a Train to Banff is OK, The Deal is that Rockey Mtn Rail Tours out of Vancouver has an Exclusive Deal of Sorts to Run a Psgr Train to Banff.Calgary 2ce a Week in the Smmer Time (May to October). Not Sure How C P/RMRT would Like that, Its Single Track Sunalta (Calgary) to a Point In the Vancouver Region. With Sidings on Route. C P Trains Have Gone from 100/125 to 200/250 Car Trains. In the Rule Books East/South was Superior to West/North. Not Anymore. In CT C Territory there is NO
Superiority of Trains, You Run by Signal Indication, For C P (and C,N.) First Class Trains (Psgr) had Right Over Freights .NOT ANY MORE, FREIGHT is KING and
Depending on what the Freight is Depends on Who gets Priority Now. C.P. NOW Dispatches ALL of CANADA From Calgary (Bolton a Point North of Toronto). There is a NEW C E O at C P Now.
Depending on His Take of Things , You Might B Lucky if There is a Open Views of Psgr Rail between Calgary - Banff/Lake Louise. Only Time will tell Just a Bit of Info and Some Knowledge of Rail Operations.