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Wed July 28 2021

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Canada sets out plan for Toronto-Quebec railway

7 Jul The Canadian government has set out the first steps in the procurement process to build what would be the country’s largest transport project in decades.

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The proposals involve a new train service in the Toronto to Quebec city corridor. A dedicated passenger track would allow a travel speed up to 177-200km/h (110-124mph), which could result in reduced travel times of up to 90 minutes on some routes, such as Ottawa to Toronto.

The next steps being taken ahead of beginning procurement later this year include:

  • engaging Indigenous groups and communities to obtain feedback on the project;
  • engaging with the private sector to determine capacity, and seek perspectives on the best possible delivery model;
  • accelerating dialogue with partner railways to negotiate dedicated routes in and out of city centres.

The government of Canada plans to finalise the delivery model and launch the procurement process to select a private partner this autumn, when it will issue a request for proposals.

The high-frequency rail proposal involves building dedicated passenger rail tracks. Benefits would include shorter travel times and faster trains that would reduce average trip times between Toronto and Ottawa by up to 90 minutes; improved reliability and new services to communities such as Peterborough, Trois-Rivières, and Laval. There will also be new stations in targeted locations including near Jean Lesage Airport;

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The government will work with VIA Rail on the proposal. It said that is doing its due diligence and undertaking a phased approach to put in place the right conditions to ensure the greatest amount of success for what would be the country’s largest transportation infrastructure project in decades.

“Canadians deserve a fast and reliable train service,” said minister of transport Omar Alghabra. “Today, we are taking the first steps in preparing for the procurement process to build a new train service in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor. High Frequency Rail in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor is a massive transportation project with the potential to transform passenger rail service by offering faster, more reliable, more frequent, and cleaner transportation service.”

“Today’s announcement on the start of preliminary work and new resources for the Joint Project Office brings us one step closer to accomplishing this important project for our city and our region,” said president of the treasury board and member of Parliament for Québec Jean-Yves Duclos. “In a few years, thousands of commuters will opt for this way of travelling, rather than by car or by plane, as it will be faster, more reliable, economical and environmentally sustainable.”

“Since proposing High Frequency Rail more than five years ago, VIA Rail has been working tirelessly to ensure it becomes a reality,” said VIA Rail Canada president and chief executive officer Cynthia Garneau. “We are thus pleased with the decisive steps that have been announced as it brings us closer to that objective and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the federal government as a strong partner in delivering High Frequency Rail. It’s time to provide Canadians with a nation-building, growth-generating and environmentally friendly project which will transform the way present and future generations live and travel.”

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