Government of Canada announces the groups that will be able to submit a proposal for the High Frequency Rail project
July 20, 2023 Montréal, QC Transport Canada
The High Frequency Rail project, the largest Canadian infrastructure project, aims to provide clean, safe and efficient transportation to Canadians while supporting our economic growth and strengthening our Indigenous relations. A major milestone in this project’s procurement was reached last February with the launch of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ). This was a crucial step towards selecting a private developer partner who will work collaboratively with VIA HFR to design and develop the High Frequency Rail project.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec Lieutenant, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, announced the outcome of the Request for Qualifications stage of the project.
The following groups have been invited to move to the Request for Proposals (RFP) stage:
- Cadence (CDPQ Infra, SNC-Lavalin, Systra Canada, Keolis Canada)
- Intercity Rail Developers (Intercity Development Partners, EllisDon Capital, Kilmer Transportation, First Rail Holdings, Jacobs, Hatch, CIMA+, First Group, RATP Dev Canada, Renfe Operadora)
- QConnexiON Rail Partners (Fengate, John Laing, Bechtel, WSP Canada, Deutsche Bahn)
Once the RFP launches this September, participants will be asked to present their proposal, including a technically and commercially feasible solution, a business plan and a management plan for the co-development, construction, and operations phases of the project. This approach will incentivize respondents to identify and prioritize the benefits to Canadians in their proposals, while also providing them with the flexibility to take innovative approaches to meet or exceed the desired project outcomes.
The entire procurement process has been and will continue to follow the highest standards and is overseen by a fairness monitor. This fairness monitor is an independent consultant that acts as an objective, third-party observer, who monitors the procurement process and ensures that it is conducted in a fair manner.
Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a priority for the Government of Canada, and this is why early engagement with Indigenous communities is already underway. As part of the RFQ process, respondents were required to demonstrate their capacity to work with the government to create mutually beneficial, socio-economic development opportunities for Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous reconciliation is critical to the success of the HFR project and will be integrated in all phases of the project.
National security and related risks will also be assessed throughout the project, along with measures to address such risks. Selection of the chosen private developer partner will depend on several conditions, including national security.
High Frequency Rail is a transformational project that promises to fundamentally change the way Canadians travel in southern Ontario and Québec, improving accessibility, and providing more travel flexibility.
“I am thrilled that High Frequency Rail — the largest infrastructure project —is advancing to the next stage of the procurement process. This exciting initiative will require strong collaboration between Transport Canada, VIA HFR, and the selected private developer partner to create a sustainable foundation for the design and development of the project. I look forward to the next phase of this project.”
The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport
"Today, we're one step closer to completing the high-frequency train project, which will offer Canadians faster train journeys, more frequent departures and greener travel. The project will also connect new communities, like Laval and Trois-Rivières, and allow people in the surrounding areas to benefit as well."
The Honourable Pablo Rodrigez
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec Lieutenant
“Today marks an important step in the High Frequency Rail project. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with the three qualified suppliers, to seek their unique expertise and further refine many aspects of this initiative that will connect Canadian communities together.”
The Honourable Helena Jaczek
Minister of Public Services and Procurement
“The qualification of these three teams confirms that our bold project is on track, on schedule and gaining momentum. VIA HFR looks forward to partnering with the consortium that brings us proven expertise and an innovative approach to advance the development of the future intercity passenger rail that is frequent, fast and green.”
Chair of the Board of Directors, VIA HFR – VIA TGF Inc.
As with any large-scale infrastructure project, the Government of Canada is using a phased approach to leverage input collected throughout the procurement process and to inform the next steps and decisions regarding the implementation of the High Frequency Rail project.
The Government of Canada is implementing a robust cost management strategy for every phase of the project to ensure costs are contained. This strategy will include annual cost updates, recurring due diligence reviews, and open-book reporting to manage costs and to report changes. Partners will also be incentivized to innovate and seek cost reductions to create better value for money, while protecting the public interest.
Budget 2022 provided Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada with close to $400 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to continue advancing key project activities and undertake the procurement phase of the project.
The next steps in the High Frequency Rail procurement process include:
- Evaluation of Request for Qualification submissions and identification of Qualified Respondents: April-July 2023
- Launch of Request for Proposals: September 2023
- Evaluation of Request for Proposal submissions: summer 2024
The Government of Canada is committed to engaging the public, including communities currently served by VIA Rail between Québec City and Toronto, and forming meaningful, nation-to nation relationships with Indigenous Peoples, to inform the project’s design and development on an ongoing basis. Anyone interested in sharing their views on the project, asking questions, or signing up for project updates is encouraged to visit the VIA HFR website.
The Government of Canada is also committed to exploring options to enhance intercity passenger rail service in Southwestern Ontario, including increased frequencies. Work is being undertaken to better understand the operating environment in Southwestern Ontario, and to explore options for enhancing service west of Toronto, including London and Windsor.
- Backgrounder: Responses to the High Frequency Rail Project Request for Qualifications
- VIA HFR website
- Minister of Transport announces the establishment of the VIA Rail subsidiary to support High Frequency Rail and appoints three founding members to its Board of Directors
- Government of Canada advances the procurement process for High Frequency Rail
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
Transport Canada, Ottawa
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