Central Albertans have about three years to convince the provincial government to mandate a Red Deer stop on the Edmonton to Calgary high-speed tube-transport line, says TransPod’s co-founder and CEO.
Sebastien Gendron said on Wednesday that TransPod already has $550 million US in private financing lined up for its futuristic hyperloop line.
This investment means construction can begin on the first tube link, between Edmonton Airport and the south end of Edmonton, in 2023, he added. “This is huge… really great.”
TransPod’s deal with Broughton Capital Group and CERIECO (China-East Resources Import and Export Co.) to provide a combined $550 million US in financing for the project will also allow the first link to be tested once it’s built.
TransPod is intent on using all private investment for the transportation system that’s expected to be completed by 2035 at the latest.
Gendron said an estimated $22.4 billion (or about $45.1 million per kilometre) is needed to complete the line, which will consist of about 350 kilometers of track between Calgary and Edmonton. As well, an additional $6.7 billion will be needed for fixed infrastructure, such as stations.
With this week’s $550 million US investment, Gendron added TransPod has become the first tube-transportation company to confirm finance for a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project.
“We have an opportunity to create a transport system for the 21st Century, and we are happy to do it in Alberta.”
He figures Red Deer-area residents have until about 2025 — when construction on the first link is completed — to pressure the provincial government to make a midway stop on the route part of the criteria for developing the ultra-high-speed line in Alberta.
“I am pushing the government to step in and impose a stop for Red Deer,” he explained, because he believes quick access between Alberta’s large cities and central Alberta is best for the provincial economy.
Once more private investors come on board and TransPod becomes a consortium, Gendron is concerned decision-makers could feel spending an extra $1 billion on constructing a Red Deer station will not be worth the traffic gained from this 100,000-person city.
Gendron thinks otherwise. The intent was always to be inclusive and have a mid-way stop, he said, noting the extra cost would mean the project’s break-even point is in 26 years instead of 25.
“If you don’t add a (Red Deer) stop, it would impact the area, heavily…”
Gendron envisions Red Deerians could use the hyperloop line to work in the big cities, while people now working in Calgary and Edmonton would use it to get to more affordable homes in Red Deer.
With lower land costs, he believes more corporations could be attracted to setting up in central Alberta, knowing they have quick access to the larger centres.
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 at the tube station would come and go every few minutes, much like subway trains, allowing customers to board and depart spontaneously rather than needing to pre-book tickets.
A feasibility study shows a one-way trip between Calgary and Edmonton taking about 45 minutes, costing $90. 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.
His company hopes to have the first link of the line tested by 2027.
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, removing an average of 636,000 tonnes of CO2 emission per year through fewer car and airplane trips.
About 140,000 full-time equivalent jobs are expected to be created during the construction period of about a decade.