Transport Canada announced it is taking the first steps in preparing for the procurement process to build a new train service in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor.

These steps 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. The Government of Canada plans to finalize the delivery model and launch the process to select a private partner in the fall.
  • Accelerating dialogue with partner railways to negotiate dedicated routes in and out of city centres.

“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,” stated Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport. “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.”

The request for proposal for the procurement process is expected to launch in fall 2021.

The High Frequency Rail proposal in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor involves building dedicated passenger rail tracks which would provide many key benefits to travellers, including:

  • shorter travel times and faster trains that would reduce average trip times between Toronto and Ottawa by up to 90 minutes;
  • more reliable on-time arrival performance up to 95 per cent from a current average of 67 per cent;
  • more direct routes with improved connectivity between cities and to other modes of transportation;
  • new services to certain communities, such as Peterborough, Trois-Rivières, and Laval, and new stations in targeted locations including near Jean Lesage Airport;
  • more frequent departures between cities; and
  • a cleaner travel option using electrified technology.

“The Canada Infrastructure Bank is very pleased to continue our work related to the planning and procurement of enhanced passenger rail transportation in the Quebec City to Toronto corridor,” said Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank. “We look forward to gaining further insight through market engagements with industry experts, rail-sector stakeholders and investors, as we collaborate with the Government of Canada on potential delivery models.”

According to Transport Canada, a dedicated passenger track would allow a travel speed up to 177-200 kilometers per hour (or 110-124 miles per hour), which could result in reduced travel times of up to 90 minutes on some routes, such as Ottawa to Toronto.

It is expected that High Frequency Rail could nearly triple the amount of annual trips taken by rail in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor, rising from 4.8 million in 2019, to a projected 17 million by 2059.

“Since proposing High Frequency Rail more than five years ago, VIA Rail has been working tirelessly to ensure it becomes a reality,” said Cynthia Garneau, VIA Rail Canada President and CEO. “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.”

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