Found myself on a comparison rabbit hole today with seeing the Montreal REM opening.
I like that Edmonton is adding and plans for lrt service to several corners of the city. My concern is that I don’t see any line of sight to some of the better system/technology choices out there (at least better in my opinion). Things like automation, grade separation, and platform screen doors aren’t something we can look forward to.
population isn’t everything but Edmonton metro being about 1.6 million is equivalent to Vancouver in 1991 which is 6 years after their first sky train line opened.
Most or all upcoming projects here are extensions of existing lines (Metro & Capital). Looking for some hope that we might someday see a different approach and technology but where would that be?
Just throwing it out there for discussion purposes.
Part of the benefit to the REM is that it is utilizing and reworking a lot of pre-existing rail ROWs in Greater Montreal. Obviously a lot of work went into the REM but it’s why it was able to get up and running so quickly (despite delays).
These useful corridors are a lot more common out east in older cities that would’ve had denser passenger rail networks into hinterlands. But Edmonton (and Calgary) did do this initially with the Capital Line ROW between Churchill and Clareview. I do think the CPR tracks on the southside would be great for an RER-like system. Have a stop at Gov’t Centre, Whyte, 23rd Ave, and the Airport. All-day, 5-7 min frequency. As the CPR Yards get redeveloped, build an infill station at 76th Ave (while also connecting it east-west). This would bypass inevitably long and slow service that extending the Capital Line to the airport would do for tourists and give people access to Whyte and Downtown a lot quicker than driving (f it had speeds like the REM). It also makes IKEA runs a lot more convenient for people in the inner city. I think having a direct (non-looping) connection between Strathcona and Downtown is an overlooked but really vital piece of Edmonton’s rapid transit puzzle.
Gov’t Centre could also serve as an intercity/HSR passenger hub and the tracking could be doubled (one for HSR and one for REM). Tunnel briefly under Whyte Ave/Gateway/Cgy Trail. The HSR would only stop at Gov’t Centre and the Airport.
Eventually there could be a second and third REM-style train. There could be a tunnel under 109th St thru to Blatchford (where another stop at NAIT could happen, by passing the Metro Line loopiness) and then west and east down the old Grand Trunk corridor. To Stony Plain in the west and Elk Island in the east. I think there’d be lower returns on this compared to the south line, but it’s an option, particularly for true regional rail. Going west I could only see stops in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, and Calder. Maybe Acheson for peak-only service. Going east just Elk Island, Emerald Hills, and maybe Abbottsfield.