The Government of Canada is taking the first steps in preparing for the procurement process to build a new train service in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor

News release

July 7, 2021      Ottawa, Ontario    Transport Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to modernizing intercity passenger rail services in a way that will best meet the transportation needs of travellers, while also creating jobs and economic growth.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, Associate Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Ottawa—Vanier, the Honourable Mona Fortier, the Member of Parliament for Ottawa South, the Honourable David J. McGuinty, and the Mayor of the City of Ottawa, Jim Watson, announced the Government of Canada 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.

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.

Working with VIA Rail, the High Frequency Rail proposal would be the largest transportation infrastructure project seen by Canada in decades, which is why the Government of Canada is doing its due diligence and undertaking a phased approach to put in place the right conditions to ensure the greatest amount of success for this project.


“Canadians deserve a fast and reliable train service. 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. 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 Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

“I am thrilled to see our government continuing to build momentum on this important transportation project that will be a game changer for travellers between Toronto and Quebec City. Not only will the High Frequency Rail project create jobs and have a positive economic impact right here in Ottawa, but it will also build on our commitment to create a robust green economy and encourage a shift to cleaner modes of transportation.”

The Honourable Mona Fortier
Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

“The High Frequency rail proposal to build dedicated passenger rail tracks and expand service will provide many benefits to travellers from the National Capital Region. From shorter travel times and faster trains, to more reliable on-time arrivals, to cleaner travel using electrified technology, this major transportation infrastructure project will create jobs and economic growth.”

The Honourable David J. McGuinty,
P.C., Member of Parliament for Ottawa South

“Investing in High Frequency Rail along the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor will provide faster, cleaner and more sustainable transit for residents while better connecting communities. This important project will create jobs, grow the economy, and help drive Canada to a net-zero emissions future.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“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. 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. We will bring our expertise in leveraging public, private and institutional investment to support the next steps to modernize intercity passenger rail.”

Ehren Cory
Chief Executive Office, Canada Infrastructure Bank

“Since proposing High Frequency Rail more than five years ago, VIA Rail has been working tirelessly to ensure it becomes a reality. 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. It’s time to provide Canadians with a nation-building, growth-generating and environmentally friendly project which will transform the way present and future generations live and travel.”

Cynthia Garneau
President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail

“I am thrilled that the Government of Canada is investing in this project that will lead to more frequent departures and shorter travel times for Ottawa residents – saving up to 90 minutes on the Ottawa-Toronto trip. This is also an important green investment in a critical economic corridor; one that will make our regions more environmentally sustainable and economically competitive worldwide.’’

Jim Watson
Mayor of the City of Ottawa

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has been working closely with VIA Rail and the Canada Infrastructure Bank to make significant progress in designing and planning an improved passenger rail service between Toronto and Quebec City that will deliver good value for taxpayers and better options for travellers.

  • 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.

Associated links


Allison St-Jean
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
(613) 290-8656

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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