The Calgary-Banff rail project will involve the development of a new, 150km-long sustainable and innovative passenger rail service. Credit: Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB).
The passenger rail service will include seven stops, Calgary International Airport, downtown Calgary, Calgary Keith, Cochrane, Morley (Stoney Nakoda), Canmore, and Banff. Credit: SNEHIT PHOTO / Shutterstock.
Liricon Capital is the developer of the Calgary-Banff rail passenger project. Credit: Tatsuo Nakamura / Shutterstock.

The Calgary-Banff/Bow Valley Passenger Rail Project is a proposed 150km-long passenger railway service between Calgary International Airport and Banff railway station in Alberta, Canada.

To be developed by local family owned company Liricon Capital, the project will entail the twinning of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) corridor railway track to support hassle-free passenger and freight movement. The project partners include the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation (Alberta Transportation), Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), and Invest Alberta.

The construction of the Calgary-Banff passenger rail project is scheduled to begin by the end of 2022 and the new service is expected to be operational in 2025. The estimated investment in the project is approximately C$1bn ($796.5m).

Calgary-Banff passenger rail project background

The Calgary-Bow Valley mass transport feasibility study was released by the Town of Banff in February 2019. It was commissioned to explore the feasibility of implementing a mass transit service on the Calgary-Bow Valley route.

The study looked at bus and train options, as well as high-level infrastructure and fleet requirements, and confirmed that the mass transit project is feasible.

In April 2019, the Town of Banff discussed the next steps of the mass transportation service project with the regional administrations of Canmore, Cochrane, and the City of Calgary.

An initial memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Alberta Transportation and CIB to complete studies and due diligence for the project in June 2020. Under the MOU, CIB partnered with Alberta Transportation to evaluate the estimated costs and revenues of the project, as well as its environmental, social, and economic benefits before making an investment decision.

Invest Alberta, Alberta Transportation, and CIB signed a detailed MoU in July 2021. The MOU confirms CIB’s support for the project and interest in a long-term investment in the project. The Alberta Government will continue to evaluate the proposal, including soliciting feedback from the regional municipalities and indigenous communities, and assess the option of implementing the project under the public-private partnership model.

Calgary-Banff passenger rail project details

The Calgary-Banff rail project will include a new sustainable passenger rail infrastructure built within the existing CPR corridor.

The project will feature seven stations along a dedicated route, including Calgary International Airport, downtown Calgary, Calgary Keith, Cochrane, Morley (Stoney Nakoda), Canmore, and Banff.

The new service is expected to have up to ten daily departures from the Calgary airport to Banff. Passengers will have access to an express service from Calgary International Airport to downtown Calgary with a frequency of 15 minutes.

The passenger train service will offer a modern and eco-friendly means of transportation between the airport and the Banff National Park, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada.

Project benefits

The new railway passenger service through the rocky mountains will reduce congestion and carbon emissions in the Calgary to Banff National Park corridor while also creating employment and economic opportunities in the region.

The proposed train service will keep vehicles off the road and expand business at the Calgary International Airport.

The project will allow Banff to become a more pedestrian-friendly community. Furthermore, it will provide the residents of the Indigenous communities greater access to Calgary, Banff, Cochrane, and Canmore.

The Calgary Airport-Banff rail service will enhance tourism opportunities by bringing new foreign tourists, and contribute to the Banff National Park’s efforts to become a net-zero emissions destination by 2035.