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[URBAN NOTE] “Via Rail ready to roll out plan for faster service along Quebec-Ontario route”

The Globe and Mail‘s Bill Curry describes a proposal that would help tightly knit together the Windsor-Québec City corridor, Toronto squarely in the middle of it all.

The head of Via Rail says the Crown corporation has investors in place and is ready to start construction in early 2017 on a plan that would dramatically improve service in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau will be presented with several financing options in the coming months, including some where most of the $4-billion price tag is covered by pension fund investors. Mr. Garneau told The Globe and Mail on Thursday that the government is reviewing Via’s plan but could not confirm how quickly a cabinet decision will be made.

Via Rail lobbied hard for the project – which it calls high-frequency rail – in the run-up to the March 22 federal budget. However, the budget announced only $3.3-million over three years to study the plan, including extending it from Quebec City to Windsor.

Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, president and CEO of Via Rail, said that’s no reason to delay the project, adding that the expanded service could be in place by the fall of 2019.

“We don’t see that three-year funding of Transport Canada as in any way slowing down the accelerated timeline that we’ve put together,” he said in an interview, explaining that Via is hoping for a government decision later this year. “We’d like to think there will be shovels in the ground by the spring of 2017.”

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2016 at 6:58 pm

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