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Wynne announces high-speed rail, trains to reach up to 250km/h

19 May 2017, 11:47 | Jan Cross

Wynne announces high-speed rail, trains to reach up to 250km/h

Wynne announces high-speed rail, trains to reach up to 250km/h

Will it be any different this time?

Premier Kathleen Wynne and members of her team - Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, Kathryn McGarry, MPP Cambridge, Liz Sandals, MPP Guelph, and Daiene Vernile, MPP Kitchener Centre - were at Google Canada headquarters in Kitchener today to present the province's plans to move forward with high speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor.

"It's time to look seriously at this idea that has been around for decades", said Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Here are some reasons why high-speed rail hasn't taken hold yet in Ontario - and some of the challenges that lie ahead in getting done.

A government news release adds, "With high speed rail expanding Ontario's innovation supercorridor to Windsor, businesses will be able to attract the best talent, increase their productivity and support a low-carbon innovation economy". A new agency will also be set up to oversee the work. A GO Train trip from Kitchener to Union Station now takes about two hours. But Wynne may not be premier a year from now.

A big transit announcement is expect Friday from the Ontario Liberals. Would they? Their statement didn't say. The report by the former federal transport minister concludes that a strong business case supports construction of such a line and anticipates 10 million annual riders by 2041. Passenger rail services, such as Via Rail and GO Transit - which are operated by government-affiliated bodies - have to negotiate with CN and CP to use the lines. Friday at a London news conference Ms. Wynne told of a modern train service from Toronto to Windsor built by private interests at an estimated cost of perhaps $20 billion.

Ontarians and Canadians are accustomed to generally outdated and inefficient rail service, according to Langan. It would offer an alternative to Highway 401.

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Low-priced airlines have also provided affordable alternatives to driving or taking a train around the province or to destinations in the U.S. In 2015, Mr. Collenette was asked to assess the project's feasibility.

The report also cites the advantages of opening up housing opportunities in Southwestern Ontario as a way to take pressure off the overheated housing market in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, while continuing to protect the Greenbelt. Countries around the world have long recognized the benefits of high speed rail - not just the time it saves people, but the opportunities it creates.

Collenette's report emphasizes that among the stakeholders that must be listened to are the Indigenous communities affected by the proposed route.

However, carrying out the environmental impact assessment could take six years.

The announcement is also expected to include a $15 million environmental assessment. Ontario is looking to partner on the project.

The province also argues that high-speed rail could eventually yield $20 billion in economic benefits through automobile operating cost savings, reduced congestion on roads and reduced greenhouse gas emissions and other economic benefits. In the other scenario, the maximum speed would reach 250 kilometres per hour, bringing the cost down to $55 million per kilometre.

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