A modernized passenger rail system with a dedicated track would significantly improve the movement of people through Canada’s busiest transportation corridor, from Quebec City to Toronto, which runs through Peterborough.
Today, Maryam Monsef, Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha, on behalf of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced that the Government of Canada and Canada Infrastructure Bank are committing a total of $71.1 million in new funding to complete additional planning activities over the next two years to advance VIA Rail’s proposal for High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor. This work is critical to informing the future options of the Government of Canada to deliver this important project.
“This project would bring significant economic growth to our community and the affected regions along the corridor,” said Monsef. “It also requires a significant investment. That’s why we have taken each step forward in a measured, thoughtful way. We are not interested in creating buzz that leads to no results. We began by working with Via Rail to determine their business case, which we have determined would be good for the middle class and those working hard to join it. The next step is making sure we move forward in the correct way. That requires meaningful indigenous consultations and environmental assessment.”
The new funding will be used to establish a Joint Project Team and fund work to preserve the option of interoperability with regional transit providers in Montreal and Toronto.
The Joint Project Team, between Canada Infrastructure Bank and VIA Rail, will be established using the $55 million in funding from Canada Infrastructure Bank. This Joint Project Team will coordinate the next steps required in developing this project, focusing on the following activities throughout 2019 to 2020:
- finalizing legal and regulatory work related to safety and environmental assessments;
- consulting with stakeholders and Indigenous communities;
- examining required land and track acquisition; and
- completing the technical, financial and commercial analysis required for a final investment decision on High Frequency Rail in the Corridor.
The balance of the funding, $16.1 million, is for Transport Canada and VIA Rail to support VIA Rail’s contributions to the Joint Project Team. It will also fund technical work to ensure the interoperability and integration of High Frequency Rail with operating tracks used by local and regional transit providers in Montreal and Toronto.
This is the third phase in the Government of Canada’s approach to the project.
Budget 2016 provided $3.3 million in funding over three years for Transport Canada to conduct an in depth assessment of VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail proposal in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor.
Budget 2018 provided $8 million in funding for Transport Canada to undertake foundational work to advance VIA Rail’s proposal for High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor. This phase of the project supported further economic analysis of key issues associated with a mega project of this size, such as revenue and ridership projections, as well as estimates for capital and operating costs. This funding also went towards:
- exploring opportunities to leverage private investment or a potential role for the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and
- an assessment of social, economic and environmental impacts of the project
A recent market sounding exercise revealed that there is significant interest and enthusiasm in the marketplace about VIA Rail’s proposal for High Frequency Rail, but additional work must be completed to advance the project.
“This train has yet to leave the station, but this is the furthest we have ever come on the idea of a passenger train,” concluded Monsef. “Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone moving forward.”
“Today’s announcement is a significant next step for the VIA Rail High Frequency Rail proposal. This is no longer about feasibility; it’s about the process to approval. There are a lot of people in Peterborough who have been working on this project, and we are very appreciative of the commitment from the Canadian Infrastructure Bank and Federal Government.”
-Stuart Harrison, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
“I am excited to see the VIA Rail Canada project moving forward. The project has been in the works for a long time and will be of great benefit to the region.”
–Mayor Diane Therrien, City of Peterborough
- The Quebec City-Toronto Corridor market represents the greatest potential for intercity passenger rail in Canada, given the thousands of Canadians who travel by train each year through Canada’s most densely populated regions and busiest transportation corridor.
- Approximately 72 per cent of VIA Rail’s passengers travelled through the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor in 2018, which accounts for 66 per cent of the network’s revenues.
- Ridership within the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor is the most diverse, consisting of students, seniors, tourists and business travellers who do not typically travel by train outside of this area.
- The Canada Infrastructure Bank was established as a Crown corporation in 2017 with a mandate to invest $35 billion over 11 years to attract private-sector investment to revenue-generating infrastructure projects that are in the public interest.
- The Canada Infrastructure Bank, which is overseen by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, works at arm’s length from the Government of Canada to help communities across the country build even more infrastructure.