"This week's announcement represents a transition from what has been a proof-of concept, or feasibility stage, to implementation. Just like you wouldn’t buy a house without a home inspection, the Government needs to check a number of boxes before they can confidently commit to a multi-
billion-dollar expenditure.” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “There are a lot of people in Peterborough who have been working on this project."
The federal government and the Canada Infrastructure Bank have committed $71.1 million to complete additional planning activities over the next two years to advance VIA Rail’s proposal for High Frequency Rail (HFR) in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor.
The Joint Project Team, between Canada Infrastructure Bank and VIA Rail, will be established using the $55 million in funding from Canada Infrastructure Bank. This Joint Project Team will coordinate the next steps required in developing this project, focusing on the following activities throughout 2019 to 2020:
$16.1 million will fund technical work to be conducted by the Joint Project Team to ensure the
interoperability and integration of High Frequency Rail with operating tracks used by local and regional transit providers in Montreal and Toronto.
“This project would bring significant economic growth to our community and the affected regions along the corridor,” said Maryam Monsef, MP Peterborough-Kawartha. “It also requires a significant investment. That’s why we have taken each step forward in a measured, thoughtful way. We are not interested in
creating buzz that leads to no results.”
It’s also important to understand the history of the project. Creating a passenger rail service from Peterborough to Toronto had a very rough start, almost instantly mired in politics.
"The Chamber helped to create an independent not-for-profit corporation – the Shining Waters Railway, with a volunteer Board of Directors. The NFP status allowed us to attract a Federal/Provincial funding envelope that generated the makings of a plan and a pre-engineering study," says Harrison. "It was that study that landed on the CEO’s desk at VIA Rail, and it was then that VIA Rail saw the opportunity to create something that would allow them to fundamentally change the way they had been approaching their core market – Quebec City to Toronto.The VIA Rail HFR concept is nothing like the Shining Waters Board ever dreamt of. It is multiple trains per day, running from Quebec City to Montreal, to Ottawa, to Toronto, and back. Peterborough just happens to be a stop on that line, and thank goodness for that.”