Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, Devin Dreeshen, have unveiled plans for a cross-province passenger rail network.

A Passenger Rail Master Plan will be developed to implement a commuter rail system in and around Alberta's two biggest cities.

The network would connect nearby communities to the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, and both cities' respective airports to their downtown cores.

Premier Danielle Smith mentioned Okotoks as one of the communities in mind when it comes to the proposed commuter rail system during the announcement.

"We want to build stronger connections along Alberta's busiest corridor and to Alberta's top tourist destination. I mentioned the lack of rail connections to Alberta's two primary airports from the downtown core but we're looking into more than that. We don't want to leave those in surrounding communities on the outside of these mobility solutions. Consider Calgary, where many hard-working Albertans commute daily from nearby communities like Airdrie and Okotoks. Anyone who makes that daily commute or is travelling at the same time as the hundreds making that commute know that resulting traffic jams and backlogs only serve to add more stress to a day before it has even begun, and that doesn't need to be the case. We see the value in a commuter passenger line that connects folks in those communities to the Calgary Airport and then onto the downtown core, in the case of Airdrie, for a more streamlined and relaxed commute."

A rail line from Calgary to Alberta's national parks is also part of the plan, in order to boost Alberta's visitor economy.

Edmonton and Calgary would also be connected as part of the network, with a stop in Red Deer to serve as a transit hub.

Both cities' municipal LRT lines would be integrated into the system.

The coordination of funding, legislation, and delivery model will be assessed in a cost-benefit analysis, as well as a 15-year delivery plan.

A Request for Expression of Interest has been released for consultants to help develop the Passenger Rail Master Plan. 

After that, a Request for Proposal will be issued.

The Province aims to have the plan completed by summer 2025.

Alberta's 2024 budget includes $9 million to support the plan's development.

The announcement can be seen here.