Chamber backs high-frequency rail option
The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce thinks a high-frequency rail system — not a lightning-fast rail corridor — would better address Ontario’s transportation needs.
The chamber backed a solution linked to Via Rail — an approach members say would decrease congestion and provide short-term relief to residents across Ontario. This approach involves running traditional trains that can reach speeds of 160 km/h more frequently, which the chamber says would better serve smaller communities in southwestern Ontario.
The suggestion to run a highfrequency rail system through Via Rail conflicts somewhat with the previous Ontario government’s plans for a $20-billion rail corridor from Toronto to Windsor, one that would travel up to 250 km/h and cut commuter time between the two locations in half. The estimated end date for that project was 2031.
That proposed high-speed rail corridor would not directly help Sarnia-Lambton, as the closest stop would be London. The region would more likely benefit from the higher-frequency rail system, one endorsed by Mayor Mike Bradley as well as the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce this week.
“Limited transit connectivity, aging assets, unique regional needs, and a historic underinvestment in infrastructure have led to a significant gap between the actual and needed infrastructure in Ontario,” Shirley de Silva, president and chief executive officer of the Sarnia chamber, wrote in a statement.
A $15-million environmental assessment for the high-speed rail project was green-lit by the previous Ontario government, but the summer election left its status up in the air. Fears the assessment would be cancelled were exacerbated when the new government axed an advisory board for the project.
Now the Ontario government is reportedly considering other options to handle Ontario’s congestion problem, especially along the busy Highway 401. The decision to look for other options was applauded by rural residents, many who felt left behind by the previous high-speed rail plan.
Currently, one train runs from Sarnia to London each day, leaving the border city around 6 a.m. One train returns each day, arriving back in Sarnia around 10 p.m.
There is no Greyhound route between Sarnia and London. [email protected]media.com