high-speed train

More talk of high-speed train line between Quebec City and Toronto still no action

The vision for a long-awaited high-speed train line between Quebec City and Toronto was presented during a luncheon to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, recently.

Martin Imbleau, CEO of VIA HFR—an office dedicated to the development of the high-frequency rail project—noted that the proposed network will extend over nearly 1,000 kilometres of dedicated and electrified tracks, with stops connecting Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Laval, Montreal, Ottawa, Peterborough, and Toronto. Travelling speeds could even reach 200 km per hour.

“This project will be transformative for both Quebec and Canada,” Imbleau said during his speech, noting that it could perhaps cut travel time between Montreal and Toronto by nearly half. “We will bring cities closer together and connect three capitals and the country’s two biggest cities!”

The objective of the project—which is reportedly the largest transportation infrastructure project in Canada since the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway over 60 years ago—is to put in place a rapid service between Toronto and Quebec that is comparable to European standards, essentially allowing passengers to get to their destination quickly and return on the same day due to frequent and reliable departures.

According to the VIA HFR website, the federal government launched a request for proposals back in October 2023.  The tendering process is underway to select a private sector partner to collaborate with to propel the project forward (by the end of 2024, the government will select a private sector partner to co-develop the project).

To date, three international consortiums are finalizing their applications; they will have to submit proposals to minimize travel times, including scenarios where trains will have no speed limit, allowing them to go as fast as possible.

“Taking our time now during the co-development phase is the best way to move quickly later. Let’s take the time to work intelligently to propose the outlines of a solid project,” Imbleau said. He added that the participation of Indigenous Peoples is essential to the success of the HFR project.

“We want this project to be a true vehicle for economic reconciliation with First Nations. “We will work with Indigenous communities to integrate their participation and make them partners.”

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