high-speed train

The dream of a high-speed train from Toronto to Montreal could be a reality by 2030

A high-speed train traveling between Toronto and Montreal in less than four hours could be in service by the mid-2030s, according to Martin Imbleau, CEO of VIA HFR.

Imbleau spoke about his plans for a rapid passenger train between Toronto and Quebec City at the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s Transportation Symposium on March 26, noting that, for large ventures like this, he’s learned from rail projects like the Eglinton LRT that the key is to be very patient in the long term, and very impatient in the short term.

“Make decisions on a daily basis, but don’t precipitate things on the overall aspect,” he told the Toronto Star in an interview before speaking at the symposium. “If we rush in early, this is (how) we create expectations that we cannot deliver.”

In terms of productivity, Imbleau said in a video statement posted on X that, if we don’t build the high-speed rail now, we will “regret” it.

The project is reportedly the largest transportation infrastructure project in Canada since the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway over 60 years ago. The goal is to develop a 1,000-kilometre high-frequency rail service between Toronto and Quebec—one 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.

So, for example, the travel time between Toronto and Montreal is expected to be three-and-a-half hours on the high-speed train instead of just under six hours.

As for progress, last October, the federal government launched a request for proposals regarding the co-development of the project, and three international consortiums are finalizing their applications.

“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 during a luncheon to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal last month.

In September, they must submit proposals to minimize travel times, including scenarios where trains will have no speed limit, allowing them to go as fast as possible.  By the end of the year, the government will select a team to collaborate with to propel the project forward.

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