After the REM, the Caisse embarks on a train project in Alberta

After the REM, the Caisse embarks on a train project in Alberta


Despite the many difficulties it is experiencing with the Réseau express métropolitain (REM), the Caisse has embarked on another train project, this time in Alberta.

At the end of last year, two wealthy Alberta investors, Jan and Adam Waterous, chose a Caisse subsidiary, Plenary Americas, to help them develop a 130 kilometer rail link between Calgary Airport and Banff National Park.

If completed, the train could be the first in North America to run on hydrogen.

The provincial hesitates

Valued at $1.5 billion, the project would be 50% financed by the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), a federal Crown corporation. The rest of the funds would come from Liricon Capital, the firm of the Waterous couple, from Plenary and from private lenders.

The promoters, however, are struggling to obtain the support of the Alberta government, which they consider essential.  

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney expressed support for the project last year, but will soon step down after losing support within the Conservative Party.

Liricon and Plenary are asking the Alberta government to contribute $10 million to help fund the design work for the project. The promoters and the BIC promise to share the balance of the bill, ie $20 million. Alberta would then be called upon to pay $30 million per year to the train operators.

The project has received support from four area mayors, including Calgary, Banff and Canmore, as well as the CEOs of Canada's five largest banks.

Concerned Environmentalists

Environmentalists are concerned, however, about the impact of construction work on the ecosystems of the national park. Proponents counter that the future train would use the existing Canadian Pacific right-of-way and that the doubling of tracks required for the project would not encroach on park lands.

Funds in Petroleum and gas

Adam Waterous is a former Scotiabank fund manager who in 2017 created an investment fund specializing in the hydrocarbon sector. It is also the owner of the Mount Norquay ski resort, located in Banff.

La Caisse acquired Plenary Americas in early 2020 from the Australian group Plenary. Plenary Americas is worth more than $1 billion, according to the institution's most recent annual report.

Plenary Americas has approximately 40 projects completed or in progress in its portfolio.

< ul>

  • Last week, CDPQ Infra, another Caisse subsidiary, postponed the commissioning of most REM stations to the end of 2024.  
  • The project in brief 

    • 130 kilometer rail link between the Calgary airport and Banff< /li>
    • Seven stations
    • Anticipated cost of $1.5 billion
    • Coming into service in 2025 or 2026
    • < /ul>