Canada starts work on $20bn Toronto high-speed rail plan

The Canadian province of Ontario is about to begin a high-speed rail link between Toronto and the city of Windsor on the border with Detroit.

It is estimated to cost CAN$20bn, and could take 5 million cars off busy roads.

The work will begin with a US$15m environmental assessment of the plan, followed by a request for design bids in the autumn. The preparatory phase is expected to last four years, with the first track laid in 2022, and the first trains running to London by 2025 and to Windsor by 2031.

"We’ve lost opportunities as a province because we haven’t had this line in place," said Kathleen Wynne, the Liberal Party premier of Ontario, in a speech on 19 May, reports The Huffington Post.

"I get that there’s going to be a robust conversation about how much it will cost, 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."

Proponents of the system say it will boost economic activity along a corridor that is home to more than 7 million people who generate about 60% of Ontario’s GDP.

The speech coincided with the release of a feasibility report commissioned by the Ontario government back in 2015.

According to the report, which was written by David Collenette, Ontario’s special adviser on high-speed rail, the project will cost at least $20bn. It estimates that the 10.6 million passengers will use the line by 2041 and take more than 5 million cars off Ontario’s roads.

The report proposed two options for the government to consider. Trains could either travel at 300km/h at a cost of $149m per kilometre, or 250km/h at a cost of $55m per kilometre.

The trains would cover the 330km between the two cities in two hours rather than four, travelling at a top speed of about 250km/h.

Once that is complete, the line may be extended under the Detroit River between Lake Erie and Lake St Clair to join the US rail system.

A new public body will be established to oversee the project.

Image: Toronto’s liberal leadership, with Kathleen Wynne second from right (Sandra Pupatello)

  • Edited on 23/5/17 to ammend a mistake in the image caption, thank you for your comments

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  1. Please note: In the Photo, Premier Wynne is second from the right.

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