After the REM, the Caisse begins a train project in Alberta

Despite the many difficulties with the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM), the Caisse has tackled another train project, this time in Alberta.

Late last year, two wealthy Albertan investors, Jan and Adam Waterous, selected a Caisse subsidiary, Plenary Americas, to help them build a 130-kilometer rail link between Calgary Airport and Banff National Park.

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

The Provincial hesitates

The project is valued at US$1.5 billion and would be 50% funded by Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), a federal crown corporation. The remainder of the funds would come from Liricon Capital, the Waterous couple’s firm, Plenary and private lenders.

However, proponents are struggling to garner Alberta government support, which they believe is essential.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney expressed support for the project last year but is set to resign soon after losing support within the Conservative Party.

Liricon and Plenary are asking the Alberta government to provide $10 million to fund the planning work for the project. The organizers and BIC promise to split the balance of the bill, ie $20 million. Alberta would then be asked to pay $30 million a year to rail operators.

The project has received the support of four local mayors, including those of Calgary, Banff and Canmore, and the CEOs of Canada’s five largest banks.

environmentalists concerned

However, environmentalists are concerned about the impact of the construction work on the national park’s ecosystems. Proponents counter that the future train would use the existing Canadian Pacific right-of-way and that the doubling of track required for the project would not encroach on parking areas.

Funds in Oil and Gas

Adam Waterous is a former fund manager at Scotiabank, who launched a mutual fund specializing in the hydrocarbon sector in 2017. He also owns Mount Norquay Ski Resort in Banff.

La Caisse acquired Plenary Americas from Australian group Plenary in early 2020. According to the institution’s most recent annual report, Plenary Americas is valued at more than $1 billion.

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

  • Last week, CDPQ Infra, another Caisse subsidiary, postponed the commissioning of most REM stations until late 2024.

The project in brief

  • 80-mile rail link between Calgary Airport and Banff
  • seven stations
  • Estimated cost of $1.5 billion
  • Commissioning planned for 2025 or 2026

Leave a Comment