Many features of the CABR Project are unique. However, there a several strong examples which demonstrate both the benefits of the project itself and the advantages of the proposed P3 delivery model.
Canada Line, Vancouver
Canada Line provides a fast direct express rail link between YVR Airport and downtown Vancouver as well as a commuter link to the suburb of Richmond.
Canada Line is by many measures the most successful airport rail line in North America carrying over 54 million passengers in 2019. This comprised a market share of 27% of airport to Downtown passengers and approximately 20% of airport employees.
Canada Line was delivered on time and on budget ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics through a public private partnership which continues to provide operations and maintenance. Canada Line is partly owned by CDPQ, the parent company of Plenary Americas.
The CABR team have close personal experience of the planning and implementation of Canada Line which they have applied to CABR. One of the most important blessons is that traditional public transit planners hugely underestimated the number of riders Canada Line would attract and the willingness to pay a premium for airport access. As a result Canada Line was underbuilt for the number of riders it carries and after only ten years of operations need expensive retrofits to increase its capacity.
Reseau Electrique Metropolitain (REM) Transit Project, Montreal
The REM Project is a 67km 26 station public transit network in Montreal, including a link to YUL airport, being developed by CDPQ Infrastructure (Plenary’s parent) with significant funding from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The first segment of REM was successfully opened for service in summer 2023.
REM represents a big step forward in the evolution of Canada’s P3 model which is also being used as the basis for CABR.
CDPQ Infrastructure essentially made an unsolicited proposal to develop the system, which had been stuck in the governmental planning process for years. CDPQ accepted ridership risk and established early an affordability ceiling for the project expressed as a payment for each passenger kilometer actually travelled on the network. CDPQ then led the development, design and procurement of the project to fit within this affordability ceiling. CDPQ also financed more than half the capital costs repaid over the long term through farebox revenues and performance payments.
These same features have been adopted for the CABR unsolicited proposal to Government of Alberta and transfer design, construction, operations, maintenance and ridership risk to the private sector.
These Canadian projects are part of a resurgence of private sector interest in accepting commercial risks including ridership and revenue in major rail projects – especially those which serve unique leisure destinations. These projects all involve the private sector taking a larger role in development and design often under unsolicited proposal type models.
Other examples include:
- The RFP recently issued by Government of Canada (and CIB) for a private sector development partner to develop higher frequency/higher speed passenger rail services in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal- Quebec City corridor.
- The All Aboard Florida project to link Miami and Orlando by high speed passenger rail.
- The Desert Express project to provide passenger rail services between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.