Bringing high speed rail to the Toronto-Windsor corridor

Premier Wynne visiting Google offices in Kitchener on Friday

Wynne announces high-speed rail, trains to reach up to 250km/h

A report commissioned by the provincial government and written by David Collenette, the former federal Minister of Transport, pegged the cost of a high-speed rail project at around $21-billion.

"Building high speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor isn't just a game changer for southwestern Ontario - it's going to deliver benefits all along the line", Wynne told reporters. It's projected to cost $15 million.

More than 60 percent of Ontario's economic activity takes place along this corridor, which is home to about seven million people, Wynne noted. That's really the piece I want to emphasize. "Now this corridor lacks the required frequent, efficient transportation linkages to support Ontario's position as a leader in the knowledge economy".

During a news conference at the Carling Heights Optimist Club in London this morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne said there's a strong business case to invest in the new transit line, which would bring passengers from London to Toronto in about 73 minutes. The province says the private sector will have to help pay for the line. Collenette's report proposes trains operating at 250 kilometres per hour (155 miles per hour) at a cost of $55 million per kilometre.

The first option shows that trains could travel at a maximum speed of 300 kilometres per hour, reducing travel time between Toronto and Windsor from four hours to just under two.

The project will be split into two phases; phase one covers a line from London to Union Station in Toronto, and is set to be finished by 2025. Friday's report says construction "should ideally start by 2022".

The report estimates that the line would attract about 10 million people annually by 2041. However, Canadian governments and railroads have long discussed the possibility of such a project along the Windsor-to-Quebec-City corridor-the most populous area of Canada. "After this, we're going to Kitchener-Waterloo. They need to be able to create jobs on the basis of the connectivity of this corridor", she said.

"This has been talked about for quite some time, but every once in a while there's an idea whose time actually comes", McGuinty said at the time. "The best time to build this was 40 years ago, but the second best time to build it is today".

CTV reports that the province, in working with Via and Metrolinx, would seek out private financing and partners.

Preliminary design work is also starting and the government will establish a new body to oversee the project. Speaking to Google employees in Kitchener, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said the trip from Kitchener to Pearson International Airport would take 32 minutes, with Union Stations adding a further 16 minutes onto the travel time.

Before the 2014 provincial election, Ontario's then transportation minister Glen Murray included a Toronto-Kitchener-London high-speed rail line in the government's list of transportation promises for the next decade in its Moving Ontario Forward plan.

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