Expanded Edmonton High Level Streetcar route opens Thursday

Click to play video: 'High Level Bridge Streetcar extension to open in Old Strathcona'
High Level Bridge Streetcar extension to open in Old Strathcona
WATCH: The High Level Bridge Streetcar's new stop in Old Strathcona is opening this week. Chris Ashdown, president of the Edmonton Radial Railway Society, joined the noon news to talk about the new stop on Whyte Avenue – May 18, 2022

The historic High Level Streetcar is expanding its route south in Old Strathcona with a new stop at Gateway Boulevard on Whyte Avenue that is opening on Thursday.

“We’ll be coming out in the heart of Old Strathcona rather than being hidden behind the Arts Barns or the farmers’ market,” said Chris Ashdown, president of the Edmonton Radial Railway Society.

“We’ll be really present on Whyte Avenue.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s beloved streetcar getting extension in Old Strathcona'
Edmonton’s beloved streetcar getting extension in Old Strathcona

The expansion project has been in the works for several years and encountered some delays along the way.

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“We’re crossing a couple of very busy roads in Old Strathcona, we were dealing with an abandoned railway line, there are utilities in the area,” Ashdown said.

“There were also originally plans for a highspeed rail link from Calgary to Edmonton going along this line using the High Level Bridge. There was also the possibility of the LRT using the High Level Bridge as well.”

Edmonton Streetcar
Edmonton High Level Streetcar. Courtesy: Facebook/Edmonton High Level Streetcar

A ceremony will officially launch the new Gateway stop at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The streetcar season starts May 20 and runs into September.

Currently, rides operate Friday to Monday, but the group is hoping to get back to seven-day operations.

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The Edmonton Radial Railway Society. is completely volunteer-run and is still having some operator challenges post-pandemic.

“We are a 100 per cent volunteer operation and our volunteers put in close to 15,000 volunteer hours a year,” Ashdown said. “We put in all the restoration, maintenance and operations to our streetcar.

“To have the support of our passengers is really important for us. Just the fares alone allow us to maintain the line and restore streetcars for future use.”

New Gateway Whyte stop for Edmonton High Level streetcar. Global News

The Edmonton Radial Railway Society began in 1980 with one streetcar and has grown into one of the largest heritage transit organizations in Canada.

It now has the largest fleet of heritage streetcars in Western Canada and operates two heritage streetcar routes.

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Click to play video: '‘I’m driving the High Level streetcar right now!’'
‘I’m driving the High Level streetcar right now!’

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