Canada’s HFR Project Advancing – Railway Age

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Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra reported in an Aug. 30 Twitter post: “We are improving passenger rail services for Canadians in Southwestern Ontario. Today I announced the next step to expand High Frequency Rail to communities in the region.” (Photograph Courtesy of Alghabra, via Twitter)

“Travelers in Southwestern Ontario want faster, greener passenger rail service, and I am happy to say that our government remains committed to delivering on High Frequency Rail [HFR], stretching from Quebec City to Toronto,” Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra reported Aug. 30. “With the engagement of a new external advisor, we are ready to develop options that will enhance passenger rail for communities across Southwestern Ontario.”

The Canadian government this fall will seek an external advisor to analyze “concrete options to enhance service in Southwestern Ontario for potential future integration into the High Frequency Rail project,” according to Transport Canada, which noted that Alghabra in early 2023 will host a stakeholder roundtable on-area service. A Notice of Proposed Procurement is expected within the next few weeks. The external advisor will be required to submit a final report to the federal government by the end of 2023.

Transport Canada on Aug. 30 said the move builds on work being done to “improve the overall passenger rail experience in Southwestern Ontario and along the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor.” This includes C$42.8 million in Budget 2022 to upgrade VIA Rail stations; Brantford, Chatham and Sarnia station work is under way, with London station work to start later this year. Additionally, the government of Canada has invested C$990 million to replace VIA Rail’s fleet, with the first new passenger cars entering service later this year.

“As a regular VIA traveler on the Windsor-Ottawa corridor, I know High Frequency Rail could be a game-changer for Southwestern Ontario that will attract business, talent and tourism to Windsor-Essex,” said Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh.

The federal government in March 2022 began framing the scheme for a dedicated, electrified right-of-way linking Quebec City and Toronto for the first time since the project was first revealed in 2015, according to a report by Railway Age Canadian Contributing Editor David Thomas.

“High Frequency Rail will transform passenger rail service in Canada through the creation of a faster, more frequent, more accessible and more sustainable rail service among the major centers of Québec City, Trois-Rivières, Montréal, Ottawa, Peterborough and Toronto,” Transport Canada said at the time.

Further Reading:

VIA Rail’s Existential Problem? It Never Existed

Canada Commits to Passenger Rail Revival With HFR Certainty

VIA HFR: How Viable? How Close

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