Government of Canada

06/25/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/25/2019 08:34

Government of Canada takes next steps to further explore VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail proposal in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor

June 25, 2019 Trois-Rivières Government of Canada

A modernized passenger rail system with a dedicated track would significantly improve the movement of people in Canada's most densely populated regions and busiest transportation corridor, from Quebec City to Toronto.

Today, 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 funding to further explore VIA Rail Canada's proposal for High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor.

The Ministers were joined by Cynthia Garneau, VIA Rail Canada President and Chief Executive Officer, and Pierre Lavallée, Canada Infrastructure Bank President and Chief Executive Officer.

The 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 Canada, will be established using the $55 million in funding from Canada Infrastructure Bank. This Joint Project Team will explore the possibility of High Frequency Rail in Quebec City-Toronto Corridor, 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, including $5 million still available from Budget 2018, is for Transport Canada and VIA Rail Canada to support VIA Rail Canada's contributions to the important work of 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 includes track work in Montreal's Mont-Royal Tunnel to enable VIA Rail Canada's heavy rail trains to operate on this segment of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) light rail system. This important piece of preliminary work is needed so that the different rail systems work together should High Frequency Rail proceed in the future.

As with any large scale infrastructure project, advancing in a phased approach will ensure there is sufficient rigor before the Government of Canada can make a final investment decision for VIA Rail Canada's proposal. This exploratory work is a responsible next step and will require Canada Infrastructure Bank and VIA Rail Canada's expertise, as well as external advisors.

A recent market sounding exercise revealed that there is significant interest in the marketplace about VIA Rail Canada's proposal for High Frequency Rail. The Government of Canada is therefore proceeding in a phased approach to ensure that the right conditions are put in place to achieve the greatest amount of success, and to encourage private sector involvement.