Rail plan updates: Calgary Transit, SBCTA and L.A. Metro

July 11, 2023
The Alberta government is investing in a study evaluating a rail connection to Calgary Airport while a cost sharing agreement between SBCTA and L.A. Metro supports the study expanding rail frequency between Redlands and L.A. Union Station.

Two proposed rail projects will move forward with studies after stakeholders in in Alberta, Canada and California agreed to invest in the assessments.


The provincial government of Alberta and the city of Calgary are partnering to study the optimal rail alignment between downtown and the Calgary International Airport. The province says the partnership “will help ensure the province is on track to deliver on a future of world-class transportation infrastructure.” The project also brings the potential to “revolutionize Alberta’s infrastructure” for both the business and tourism industries.

The province allocated C$3 million (US$2.26 million) in its 2023 budget to Calgary to lead The Calgary Airport Rail Connection Study. The study will include a ridership review, development and evaluation of different alignment scenarios and will identify the optimal connection from downtown to airport.

“As Calgary continues to grow, it’s vital to have a road map to build out a transit network that increases capacity and supports transportation needs now and into the future. This project is an important step forward in providing direction on affordable transit infrastructure that will best serve Calgary while respecting taxpayer investment,” said Alberta Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen.

The technical study will include engagement with Canada Infrastructure Bank, the Calgary International Airport, Canadian Pacific Kansas City Railway and various private rail developers who are developing private project plans to connect downtown with the airport and the surrounding region.

A request for proposals is currently in market for an engineering consultant to assist with the study. Once a consultant has been selected through the competitive process, the study is expected to begin in October 2023 and be complete in August 2024.

“It’s important for us to take a comprehensive look at all factors in this technically and physically constrained corridor to establish an optimal functional alignment that will best serve Calgarians, visitors and employees of the airport and surrounding lands. The study will consider existing rail plans, past city of Calgary transit studies and other opportunities to help guide future transit planning,” said Michael Thompson, general manager, Infrastructure Services, city of Calgary.

Recommendations from the study will be provided to Calgary city council to help guide the city’s short to long-term transportation and land use planning.


Rail frequency between the University of Redlands and Los Angeles Union Station will be studied following the July 5 approval of a $480,000 cost sharing agreement between the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) Board of Directors and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro).

SBCTA and L.A. Metro will split the costs of the study, which will be conducted by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA/Metrolink). In 2018, the Hybrid Rail Study was completed in partnership with SCRRA, L.A. Metro and SBCTA to analyze the feasibility and operating parameters for supplementing or converting existing Metrolink service on the San Bernardino Line with multiple-unit service. The goal was to reduce overall operating costs for rail service in the corridor and provide more frequent service with a focus on a convenient overall schedule for customers.

The joint study, which is expected to be completed by late spring in 2024, will look at how to best implement Diesel Multiple Unit and Zero Emission Multiple Unit service to all Metrolink stations on the San Bernardino Line within San Bernardino County, emphasizing timed connections to other Metrolink and passenger rail trains at Los Angeles Union Station.

SBCTA explains that as transit operators recover from the effects of the COVID pandemic, this study will provide a pathway for more frequent and cost-effective Metrolink service to more commuters in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.