The Government of Ontario has announced that it will spend $15 million on an environmental assessment (EA) to determine the feasibility of a high speed rail line in southwestern Ontario.
The proposed line would run from Toronto to Windsor, with potential stops at Pearson International Airport, as well as in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Chatham-Kent, and Windsor.
The announcement was made by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne in London, who suggested that the project is needed, in part, because Ontario is “outgrowing our current transportation network.”
The announcement comes as the province releases a new report by former federal minister of transport David Collenette, Ontario’s special advisor on high speed rail. In 2015, Mr. Collenette was asked to assess the project’s feasibility. After extensive consultations, his report has concluded that there is a business case for high speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor and that there are opportunities to engage the private sector in financing and delivering the project.
In her remarks, Wynne mentioned that “the best time to have built high speed rail was 40 years ago,” but admitted that the information they now have shows that today is the second best time.
High speed rail could cut travel times between Toronto and Windsor from four hours to just over two. With high speed rail expanding Ontario’s innovation supercorridor to Windsor, businesses will be able to attract the best talent, increase their productivity and support a low-carbon innovation economy.
“High speed rail will modernize and strengthen the Southwestern Ontario economy by increasing the interconnectedness between Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, and the Greater Toronto Area,” said London Ward 7 councillor Josh Morgan. “It will truly be a game-changer for London businesses and residents.”
The province has already conducted a pre-feasibility study of the project. As a result of the findings of the report, the province is now moving forward with preliminary design work, as well as the environmental assessment. The EA will be a joint federal-provincial initiative.
Trains on high speed rails would move at speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour using a combination of existing track and new, dedicated rail corridors.
A request for bids for the design required to support the Environmental Assessment for the full length of the Toronto-Windsor corridor will be issued this fall.