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VIA Rail gains Canadian government, infrastructure bank funding for service ramp up

VIA Rail plans to provide high-frequency rail service for passengers traveling between Quebec City and Toronto.
Photo – VIA Rail Canada Inc.


Transport Canada yesterday announced the federal government and Canada Infrastructure Bank are committing CA$71.1 million to back VIA Rail Canada Inc.’s plan for high-frequency rail service in the busy Quebec City-Toronto corridor.

The funding will be used to establish a joint Canada Infrastructure Bank-VIA Rail project team and preserve the option of interoperability with regional transit providers in Montreal and Toronto, Transport Canada officials said in a press release.

The infrastructure bank was established as a crown corporation in 2017 to invest CA$35 billion over 11 years to attract private-sector investments for infrastructure projects that are deemed to be in the public interest.

Established using CA$55 million in funding from the infrastructure bank, the team will explore high-frequency rail services in the corridor. Throughout 2019, the team will work to finalize legal and regulatory work related to safety and environmental assessments; consult with stakeholders and Indigenous communities; examine required land and track acquisitions; and complete necessary technical, financial and commercial analyses.

The balance of the funding — CA$16.1 million — will be provided by Transport Canada and VIA Rail Canada to support technical work to ensure the interoperability and integration of high-frequency rail with tracks used by transit providers in Montreal and Toronto. Trackwork is necessary in the Mont-Royal Tunnel in Montreal to enable VIA Rail's heavy-rail trains to operate on a segment of the Reseau express metropolitain's light-rail system.

A recent market study found there’s significant interest in high-frequency rail, which would be phased in, Transport Canada officials said.

"Our government supports a modernized passenger-rail system that has the potential to increase reliability, frequency, service and provide faster trip times in the Quebec City-Toronto corridor," said Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau. "This would allow Canadians to get to their families faster and better connect our businesses, while reducing road congestion and providing a low-emission travel alternative."

About 72 percent of VIA Rail's passengers traveled through the Quebec City-Toronto corridor in 2018, accounting for 66 percent of the railroad's revenue.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/26/2019