One step closer to the dream of an Alaska to Alberta railway – by Colby Cosh (National Post – September 30, 2020)

On Sunday, the president of the United States, while horsing around on Twitter in his familiar fashion, announced that he intends to issue a presidential permit for a rail line running from Alaskan seaports to the Canadian bitumen capital, Fort McMurray, Alta.

If you were expecting this news to provoke jubilation in Alberta, you might have been a little disappointed. Clearance from the U.S. executive is a necessary piece of the puzzle now being pieced together by the Alaska-Alberta Railway Corporation, but unfortunately, it’s a thousand-piece puzzle.

And so far there is an absence of enthusiastic helpers to put their hands to the work. The Alaska-to-Alberta (A2A) rail concept has been around in various forms for decades. It doesn’t take a genius of enterprise to wonder why there is no freight link from south-central Alaska’s tidewater to the rest of the continental economy.

Before the Alberta oilsands came into full flower, northern rail was considered as a possible method of encouraging sluggish mining development in the Yukon.

Today it offers the prospect of marine shipments of Alberta bitumen being allowed to elude the British Columbia coastline, which is guarded by formidable myrmidons of statute, regulation and First Nations bands.

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