Province commits $15 million to high-speed rail
A high-speed rail corridor between Toronto and Windsor is in the works — an idea floated in Ontario for decades, but the premier says this time it’s happening.
A government-commissioned report looking at the feasibility of such a project pegs the cost around $20 billion and suggests looking to the private sector for opportunities to partner on funding.
Preliminary design work and a $15-million environmental assessment are beginning, with an aim of full service in 2031. The government hopes that by 2041 the rail line would see 10 million users annually and take more than five million cars off southwestern Ontario highways.
The line would link Toronto’s Union Station, Pearson international airport, Guelph, Kitchener, London, Chatham and Windsor.
Trains would travel up to 250 km/h, which is expected to cut travel times between Toronto and Windsor from four hours to two.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said not only will the high-speed rail link save people time, but it will serve as an economic driver along a corridor that is home to more than seven million people and more than 60 per cent of Ontario’s economic activity.
High-speed rail has been debated since the 1970s, with excuses that the country is too large, the population is too small, and it’s not worth it, but it needs to happen now, Wynne said.
“We have lost opportunities as a province because we haven’t had this line in place,” she said Friday in London, Ont., a midpoint for the rail route.
“I get that there’s going to be a robust conversation about how much it will cost — how much the project will cost, how much people will pay — we obviously are going to work to keep the costs down in every way possible, but we’ve got to move ahead. We’ve got to not let this be another lost moment. We’ve got to do it this time, folks.”
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative transportation critic dismissed the announcement as a re-election ploy.
“Southwestern Ontario has been waiting on high-speed rail for years,” Michael Harris said in a statement. “Now, a year out from the election, the Wynne Liberals have shown up in London to reannounce another transit project they will never deliver on.”
Provincial New Democrats representing southwestern Ontario ridings issued a joint statement saying people in their communities “are wondering today whether this is just another hollow election promise.”