Mayor Jeff Genung says having the provincial and federal government on board to assess the potential of establishing a passenger rail service between Calgary and Banff is a major step forward.

Cochrane is one step closer to potentially having a passenger rail stop in its downtown core at some point in the future with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and the Alberta government.

The CIB is advising AlbertaTransportation by developing a business case and financing options to attract private capital and ensure appropriate risk transfer.

One study is already underway and another will begin shortly.

The town was part of a consortium of municipalities from Calgary to Banff who released an initial feasibility study in Feb. 2019.

Mayor Jeff Genung is a huge advocate of the service and has been representing the town in discussions. He was advised of the signing on Monday.

"It's no secret that I'm a big fan of this project. To hear that the province sees that there's value in this and they are moving to the next stage is exciting."

"We needed some bigger level of government to step in and really fund and find a way to operate this. Eventually, we were going to get here, the fact that we're here today is exciting."

Being explored is the idea of developing a 130-kilometre passenger service that is capable of providing a modern and sustainable travel option from the Calgary International Airport to Banff with multiple stops, including Cochrane and Morley.

It is seen as a way to stimulate tourism and to increase mobility options of Albertans and visitors while reducing vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and congestion in the Calgary to Banff National Park corridor.

It has been almost 30 years since Alberta has had regular rail service between its largest city and Canada’s most visited national park.