Millions pledged to upgrade aging stations on Quebec City-Windsor rail corridor
The federal government is making another expensive budget pledge to bring a high-frequency rail line connecting Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City to fruition.
Thursday’s 2022 budget sets out $396.8 million over two years to Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada for “planning and design steps” to run frequent trains between Toronto and Quebec City.
It also includes $42.8 million over four years to Via Rail, with $169.4 million in remaining amortization, to build and upgrade stations and maintenance centres along its Windsor-Quebec City corridor.
Many of the corridor’s stations and maintenance centres are “decades-old” and “require significant investments,” the budget says.
The rail plan has been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but was officially announced last year by Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra during a press conference held onboard a Via Rail train.
Via Rail has said a high frequency rail line operating on dedicated tracks would cut travel times by 25 per cent and improve on-time performance by 95 per cent.
Launch date years off
Trains on the line are expected to travel at speeds of up to 177-200 km/h, faster than current Via Rail trains but well short of high-speed rail lines, which are capable of at least 250 km/h.
The federal government also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2021 budget for Via Rail to make infrastructure investments.
The line is expected to open sometime in the early 2030s.