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President Trump Clears Hurdle for Alaska-Alberta Rail Corridor

Proposed Alaska - Alberta railway will link transportation networks in North America to world markets

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2020 - President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Border Crossing Permit (presidential permit) for the Alaska - Alberta Railway Corporation (A2A Rail) to lay track across the border between Alaska and Canada, a crucial step for the $17 billion USD rail line to become a reality.

The A2A railway will be a modern, safe, and efficient way to transport a wide range of bulk commodities including grain, ore, and other resources, in addition to containerized goods and passengers. The proposed route connects Alaska's deep-water ports and the existing Alaska Railroad network to Canadian railroads through northern Alberta. Construction is anticipated to be complete by 2025, with the railway being fully operational in 2026. Soft construction is ready to commence this year.

The A2A border crossing, which will be located between Alaska and Yukon, provides a long-sought "missing link" between Alaska and the North American railway system, ensuring free flow of freight from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska. This rail link will be the anchor tenant of a major northern development corridor; the purpose of which is to facilitate economic development, rural household service provision, and other opportunities to the communities in this isolated region. The presidential permit was signed following advice from the U. S. Department of State that the A2A railway was in the best foreign policy interest of the United States.

A2A Founder and Chairman Sean McCoshen welcomed the news:

"I would like to extend my thanks to President Trump, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, the Alaska Congressional Delegation and the Alaska State Legislature for their unwavering support for this project throughout the entirety of the presidential permit process.

"The issuance of a presidential permit is a significant milestone that will greatly assist with our continued efforts to build the A2A railway. This is a world-class infrastructure project that will generate thousands of jobs for American and Canadian workers, provide a new, more efficient route for trans-Pacific shipping and link Alaska to North American transportation networks. The new rail line will provide for greater national, international, and global trade and create new and exciting economic development opportunities for a wide range of businesses, communities, and Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Alaska.

McCoshen added, "We estimate that this rail line could unlock $60 billion in additional cumulative GDP through 2040 and create more than 28,000 jobs. In addition, A2A will lift household incomes by an average of 40% in the communities we pass through in Northwestern Canada and Alaska."

About the Presidential Permit:

The Presidential Border Crossing Permit is required of all United States/Canada cross-border infrastructure projects. The issuance of the presidential permit is a significant achievement that acts to remove uncertainty, facilitating the continued development of engineering, business partnerships, financing, Indigenous relationships and environmental permitting.

The railway will benefit the economic development of both the United States and Canada ensuring, for the rest of this century and beyond, a collective future whereby both Nations can play a significant role in growing trade with Asia and together for a more prosperous future.

A2A Rail will now intensify efforts to move forward with the following groups:

  • Indigenous Peoples along the rail corridor. A2A will provide significant opportunities for employment, procurement, business development and equity in the new railway. Indigenous Peoples are an essential partner in making this project a success. The A2A team will now intensify our ongoing discussions with the Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada.
  • Shippers. A2A can offer a new, safe and efficient rail infrastructure to facilitate expanded production and more competitive transport of a variety of goods and resources. The 'common carrier' railway will move commodities, goods, and people through northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Yukon to Alaskan ports, shortening end-to-end shipping times between North America and Asia by as much as 2-4 days.
  • National and regional permitting agencies in the United States and Canada, A2A will begin environmental impact assessments necessary in both countries to determine the most sustainable way to build and operate this railroad. This decision builds upon a crucial agreement made last summer with the Alaska Railroad to acquire and lease to A2A much of the required right-of-way for the U.S. portion of the route.

About A2A:

Alaska - Alberta Rail is a privately owned corporation. Business leader and seasoned infrastructure financier, Sean McCoshen, is the Founder and Chairman. Based in Calgary, Alberta, A2A also has offices in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage, Alaska.

A2A Rail Backgrounder

The Alaska – Alberta Railway Development Corporation (A2A Rail) will construct a multi-commodity railway connecting Alaska deep-water ports and the current Alaska Railroad network to the existing North American transportation system. Transiting through northern Alberta, the lower Northwest Territories, and Yukon, the 2,570 kilometer (1,600 mile) railway will provide a modern, safe, and efficient method to transport a wide range of cargo and increase the ability of North American economies to expand international trade networks.


  • A2A is ready to begin soft construction this year.
  • Construction is anticipated to be completed by 2025 and operational by 2026.
  • We will be working with Federal, State, and Provincial government entities in the United States and Canada to minimize this timeline given the current economic crisis.

Economic impact of A2A on the project:

  • A2A will contribute over 28,000 jobs to the impacted states and provinces.
  • The economic growth spurred by the project is expected to result in an approximate increase of $60 billion in cumulative GDP in Alaska, Alberta, Yukon, and NWT by 2040.
  • Average incomes in areas crossed by the railway are expected to increase by up to 40%.

A2A Rail will operate as a heavy haul standard gauge railway, capable of moving a wide range of cargo, such as:

  • general cargo (boxes, crates, drums, etc.);
  • bulk dry & liquid cargo (grain, potash, sulfur, gravel, propane, oil, minerals, wine, vegetable oils, etc.);
  • Bulk cargo (machinery, bundled steel, lumber, etc.);
  • refrigerated cargo (fruit, fish, meat, vegetables, dairy products, etc.);
  • roll-on/roll-off cargo (cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, etc.); and
  • container and passenger cargo.

A2A Rail is ready to accelerate work with our Government and Indigenous partners to generate immediate employment opportunities in both Canada and Alaska. The issuance of the presidential permit is the first of many regulatory milestones for A2A Rail. A2A Rail will proceed with and complete all required legal and regulatory processes in both the United States and Canada. Within the regulatory framework A2A will:

  • Proactively engage Indigenous Peoples, communities, agencies and interested parties.
  • Examine the way the project will interact with the natural and human environment; including potential impacts to air, land, water, people, plants, animals, the economy and communities throughout the proposed corridor.

A2A Rail will fulfill all required legal and regulatory requirements and:

  • Follow a carefully selected railway corridor, with the final alignment selected as a result of comprehensive studies, Indigenous engagement, public stakeholder input, and environmental studies. Approximately 300 km of the new railway alignment will fall within Alaska, and 2,270 km within Canada.
  • Allow for dual-direction freight to and from North American destinations.
  • Provide a modern, safe and efficient way to transport goods to world markets.
  • Connect existing North American rail networks through Alberta.

Indigenous Engagement:

  • The proposed route for A2A Rail crosses traditional, treaty, and heritage lands of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Alaska.
  • A2A Rail has initiated dialogue with Indigenous Peoples along the proposed route and will seek to build lasting relationships throughout the approvals, construction, and operation of the project.
  • In addition, Indigenous Peoples along the route will have the opportunity to invest equity into the project.
  • The project will provide opportunities for economic benefits to Indigenous communities.

Connecting southcentral Alaska through northwest Canada will:

  • Provide railway access through northwest Canada that does not currently exist, with opportunities for expanded economic growth and development.
  • Shorten shipping times across the Pacific Ocean by up to 4 days.
  • Lower the cost of transportation in northwest Canada and transit across the Pacific.
  • Lessen impacts to the environment compared to alternative means of transport.
  • Provide savings to consumers along the rail corridor and beyond.
  • Increase the competitiveness of Canadian and American products by providing more efficient transportation alternatives.

This railway is being designed for operational safety, efficiency, and cost competitiveness including:

  • Lower railway grades and curvature.
  • Infrastructure designed to meet environmental and operational standards (e.g. bridges, culverts and tunnels).
  • 24 hour-per-day operations, utilizing Positive Train Control (PTC) and other state-of-the- art technologies, such as heat detectors.

SOURCE Alaska-Alberta Railway Development Corporation