Proposal for High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor

Backgrounder

The Government of Canada is conducting additional exploratory work over the next two years to advance VIA Rail Canada’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.

As with any large scale infrastructure project, a phased approach is prudent to ensure there is sufficient rigor and robustness in the analysis of High Frequency Rail in the Corridor, prior to making a final investment decision. The work that will be completed with the funding will also encourage private sector involvement.

Joint Project Team

A Joint Project Team will be established between Canada Infrastructure Bank and VIA Rail Canada using the $55 million in funding from Canada Infrastructure Bank.

This Joint Project Team will explore the possibility of High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor. The team’s work will focus 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 Joint Project Team will benefit from the respective expertise of Canada Infrastructure Bank and VIA Rail Canada in large infrastructure projects and intercity passenger rail service. 

Integration and Interoperability

VIA Rail Canada will use the funding to work towards the integration of its proposed High Frequency Rail with existing operating tracks used by local and regional transit providers in Montreal and Toronto. This is an important piece of preliminary work needed so that the different rail systems work together should High Frequency Rail proceed in the future. This includes track work in Montreal’s Mont-Royal Tunnel to enable VIA’s heavy rail trains to operate on this segment of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) light rail system.

VIA Rail Canada’s proposal for High Frequency Rail would also take into consideration any developments in Metrolinx’ plans, with a view to ensuring that both services are complementary.

What is High Frequency Rail?

High Frequency Rail is VIA Rail Canada’s proposal to transform passenger rail services in Canada.  If approved following further due diligence on the part of the Government of Canada, it would create new trains on dedicated tracks between major centres (Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto).  New routes would be established on discontinued and lower density freight rail infrastructure between Toronto-Peterborough-Ottawa, Ottawa-Dorion-Montreal and Montreal-Trois-Rivières-Québec City. 

The High Frequency Rail project involves separating passenger and freight rail operations, creating more capacity for sustainable transportation for both people and goods, as well as the opportunity to optimize current services along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway.


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