OTTAWA, Ont.–Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Via Rail’s proposed dedicated track in the Montreal-Toronto corridor seems to fit with what the Liberal government wants in new infrastructure projects, but said the government is looking into whether to spend taxpayer dollars on the proposal.
Garneau told the Ottawa Citizen that a dedicated Via Rail track in the corridor makes sense from a passenger’s perspective, and that Bombardier — which is looking for federal financial aid — “certainly has the capability” to provide Via Rail with the engines and cars if the project were to proceed.
Via Rail is proposing a “high-frequency” service on dedicated tracks for passenger rail in the busy Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor that would dramatically improve train speeds, frequency of trips and reduce travel times.
Separating passenger and freight rail networks to allow for a dedicated Montreal-Toronto corridor was a key recommendation in a comprehensive review of Canada’s transportation system that was tabled last week by the Liberal government.
Via Rail is looking to large public sector pension funds for approximately $2 billion to build the track and signalling infrastructure for a dedicated Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal passenger rail network, with federal dollars paying for new rail cars.
Garneau said the government is taking “a little bit of time” to examine Via’s proposal and whether there’s a good business case, including the “all-important” element of how many people would transition from vehicles or air travel to the train. The government also wants to gauge the investment community’s potential interest.
Via Rail shares track in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor with Canadian National Railway.
Via owns about two-thirds of the track between Ottawa and Montreal, with Canadian National Railway (CN) owning the rest, while CN owns about three-quarters of the track between Ottawa and Toronto, and Via holds the rest (a section between Ottawa and Brockville), said the Ottawa Citizen.
Julia Kuzeljevich is Editor of Canadian Shipper. She has been writing about transportation and logistics issues since 1999. All posts by Julia Kuzeljevich