Welcome to High Speed Rail Canada. Canada's only national advocacy group on high speed rail. We have over 25 years of passenger rail advocacy experience. This blog will educate and keep you current on high speed rail information from Canada and the rest of the world. Please sign up for our free newsletter and stay engaged through our social media.

The MEDIA or interested parties can use our CONTACT page to get in touch with us for interviews.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Twenty Ontario Quebec High Speed Rail Studies - Do you know more?

Lynx High Speed Rail
Well Rick Mercer's fantastic video clip about Canada being a leader in high speed rail studies made me think. Exactly how many Ontario - Quebec high speed rail studies have been done? Here is the list that we have come up. Feel free to add your comments at the bottom identify the studies we have missed.

1. 1970 - Inter-City Passenger Transport Study - Canadian Transport Commission

2. 1980 - Alternative to Air: A Feasibility Concept for the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Corridor  - Canadian Institute of Guided Ground Transportation on behalfd of the Transportation Centre of Transport Canada.

3. 1984 - High Speed Passenger Rail in Canada, VIA Rail Canada

4. 1989 - Review of Passenger Rail Transportation in Canada, VIA Rail Canada,

5. 1989 - Pre-feasibility Study of High Speed Rail Services in the Quebec-Montreal- Ottawa/Hull-Toronto Corridor, Bombardier

6. 1990 - Sprintor, Pre-feasibility Study, Windsor-Quebec Rail Corridor, ABB Canada Inc.

7. 1991 - Ontario/Quebec Rapid Train Task Force, Ontario and Quebec Governments

8. 1991 - High Speed Rail Market Assessment - Air Canada/CP Rail

9. 1992 - Fast Tracks - Options for High Speed Rail in Canada - VIA Rail

10. 1994 - 1994 Improving a Fragile Linear Logit Model Specified for High Speed Rail Demand Analysis in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor of Canada - University of Montreal

11. 1995 - Quebec-Ontario High Speed Rail Project - Government of Canada, Ontario and Quebec Governments

12. 1995 - Quebec- Ontario High Speed Rail Project- Industrial Strategy Study - Simpson Guerin Consordium

13. 1998 - Lynx High Speed Rail System - Consordium - Alstom, SNC-Lavellin, Bombardier, and Others

14. 1995 - Joint Study of High Speed Rail Ridership and Revenues - Air Canada/CP Rail

15. 2002 - VIAFast- VIA Rail Canada

16. 2003 - High Speed Passenger Rail Analysis - Environmental and Socio- Economic Impacts - IBI Group for Transport Canada

17. 2009 - Infrastructure and the Economy: Future directions for Ontario - Martin Prosperity Institute (includes section on High Speed Rail)

18. 2010 - Socio economic Study of High Speed Rail implementation on the Quebec – Windsor– (Detroit – Chicago) Corridor for the cities of Quebec, Montreal, Laval, London, Toronto, Windsor and Montreal Metropolitan Community - SNCF International

19. 2011 - Updated Feasibility Study of a High Speed Rail Service Quebec City-Windsor - EcoTrains for Ministry of Transport Ontario,Quebec and Transport Canada

20. 2014 - Toronto - Kitchener - London, Ontario High Speed Rail - Pre-feasibility Study for the Ontario Ministy of Transportation

Sunday, December 28, 2014

VIA RAIL CEO Globe & Mail Interview - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A recent interview in the Globe and Mail outlines the vision of VIA RAIL CEO & President Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano. I will evaluate this article, highlighting both the positives and the negatives and what the VIA president should be doing.


1. VIA Rail President actually speaks to the public - Full credit for Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano for not hiding in his office and for actually going out to sell his vision of what VIA Rail should be.

2.VIA Rail focusing on getting people out of their cars - For decades VIA senior management were delusional in their priorities in thinking VIA Rail could compete with the airline industry and that they were competing for the same customer. It is refreshing to see VIA realize that they should be getting people to switch from their driving their autos to taking the train.

3.VIA needs their own dedicated track - It doesn't take rocket scientist to see that this is necessary, but it is still good to see the CEO saying it is a priority.

4. VIA should look for private partnerships - It is definitely a good idea that has been done for decades in the rest of world relating to improving passenger rail service.


1."I think they do run a national rail infrastructure across the country" - the CEO states VIA gets enough money from Harper government and that the Harper government does run a national rail infrastructure program in Canada. The CEO pleases the Harper government again, but fools no one with this nose-stretcher.

The simple fact is the Harper government has no plan for passenger rail in the country,
VIA rail is a skeleton of what it once was and the majority of rail infrastructure is not
owned by government.

2. The reduction in services was to recognize where there is no market, there is no point in having a service, which is the CEO's defence of cuts to VIA Rail.

Reality Check - When train frequencies are awful, train speeds are slow and fares are high most people won't take the train. Thanks to the Harper government and VIA Rail they have created that situation, where passenger rail is not a viable option for many Canadians. They have managed to eliminate more service, and alienate even more people from taking the train.


1. "I think the government of Canada through taxpayers’ money has done enough." This is a ridiculous statement from the CEO, but it will please the Stephen Harper government and the CEO will never be fired. Unfortunately any significant infrastructure money handed out by the government during the election year will not go to VIA Rail because according to the CEO VIA does not need it.

2. Mr. Desardins-Siciliano states that train speeds should be maximum 160 kph - Prehistoric speeds do nothing to increase ridership. I suggest the CEO watch our Turbotrain videos on our Youtube channel and educate himself that in 1970 trains went faster (200kph) in Canada and more people were riding them.

3. Fails to address the real issue - The tragic flaw with VIA Rail in Canada is that there are no Acts or Regulations in Canada for passenger rail. Nothing Mr. Desardins-Siciliano suggested can be accomplished unless there is legislation in place to protect and regulate VIA Rail's existence. There is a decent VIA Rail Act (Bill C-614) in parliament now.

Why does Mr. Desardins-Siciliano not mention the need for VIA Rail legislation or the existing bill that has been introduced into parliament? Could it be that Mr. Desardins- Siciliano does not want to upset the Stephen Harper government? After all, the bill is a private member's bill by NDP MP Philip Toone.

Although the Globe interview with CEO & President of VIA Rail, Mr. Desardins-Siciliano, did have some positive suggestions, his failure to address the underlying problem with VIA Rail e.g., the lack of federal passenger rail legislation, the lack of committed, long-term funding, and the lack of a plan by the Harper government, makes for a very disappointing article.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

R.A.I.L. - Advocating For Passenger Rail In Sarnia Lambton & Across Southwestern Ontario

Well I can't say enough good things about the work Mabel Higgins and her group are doing in the Sarnia area to try and invigorate VIA Rail passenger rail service there.

The pathetic state of VIA Rail service during the Stephen Harper era has left Sarnia with just one train a day. Check out their website and get involved. http://e-rail.ca/

Put Guelph in the loop on high-speed rail - Guelph Mercury Letter

Put Guelph in the loop on high-speed rail

Thursday, December 18, 2014

VIA Rail Act Returns to Parliament

Well back in March we talked about then MP Olivia Chow's C-577 relating to VIA Rail Canada. With Olivia gone from federal politics it was up to NDP MP Philip Toone Gaspésie — Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC to bring back the VIA Rail Canada Act on June 12th, 2014. He moved for leave to introduce Bill C-614, An Act respecting VIA Rail Canada and making consequential amendments to another Act.

Fast forward to December 4th and this private members Bill C-614 by MP Philip Toone was back in parliament.

MP Toone stated," Mr. Speaker, this bill would give parliamentarians far more control over the decisions made concerning VIA Rail. It would also allow for a partnership to be established with the communities and industries involved in VIA Rail service. This bill is designed to create the legislative framework that VIA Rail has never had.

In the U.S., Amtrak was in rough shape without a legislative framework. Now, with that framework, Amtrak is on the right track. This company serves far more communities than it used to. We hope to learn from that and improve service in Canada.

VIA Rail is in crisis. Ridership is down and many routes have been cancelled. It is time that Parliament took this seriously. Do we really want passenger rail service in Canada? We must not forget that passenger rail service and the rail system built our country. We hope to maintain it for future generations.
The motions deem adopted and the bill read for the first time and printed.

There are pieces in the bill and the amendments to the Canadian Transportation Act that if implemented would definitely help VIA Rail survive in the future.

For fun I have included Bill C-614 and former Minister of Transport David Collenette Bill C-26 from 2003 on the same subject matter in the same folder for people to read. VIEW THE FOLDER HERE.

Will the private members bill pass or will Stephen Harper continue to let VIA Rail drift into extinction? Time will tell.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How Two Billionaires Are Destroying High Speed Rail In America

I highly recommend reading this article by Julie Doubleday about how the Koch Brothers are using their intense wealth to destroy public transportation systems, especially high speed rail. YES they are in Canada, funding the discredited far right Fraser Institute and have invested heavily in the Alberta tar sands.

Here is the link to the article. http://www.attn.com/stories/295/how-two-billionaires-are-destroying-high-speed-rail-america

Thursday, December 11, 2014

High-speed rail plan takes shape

by Johathan Sher - LONDON FREE  PRESS
 Pssst Londoners: do you want a glimpse of where high-speed rail might go through the city?

Location of tracks, number of trains and cost of a ticket: All are laid out in a report on ambitious plans to cut in half the time it takes to go from London to Toronto.

“This looks to be an unusually easy route for a high-speed rail line, about as easy as you can get, in fact, both in terms of construction, and community,” wrote Michael Schabas, a rail consultant with First Class Partnerships, whose team wrote the report for Ontario’s Transportation Ministry.

Trains should be stored and maintained in London, possible at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant on Oxford St. that closed in 2012, he wrote.

Ontario officials announced last week they were sufficiently convinced to take the first major step by conducting an environmental assessment.

The assessment may take six years, but in the meantime, the early report has created a buzz at city hall.

“High-speed rail could be a game-changer,” London Mayor Matt Brown said Wednesday. “This report represents the beginning of the conversation with the community of what it might look like.”

The consultants suggested two ways for high-speed trains to enter London and get downtown. The first would enter the city from the east on new tracks built just north of the current CN tracks now shared by freight and Via Rail.

The second would enter from the northeast, following a path on tracks from Stratford, crossing Oxford St. at Clarke Rd. and Dundas St. just east of Hale St. before curving sharply right.

The two routes merge at Egerton St., and then continue west to what could be a new $100-million station.

Building Toronto-Kitchener-London high speed rail line ‘unusually easy’

by Chris Herhalt WATERLOO REGION RECORD— A consultant's report the Ontario Liberals used to argue they could build a high speed rail line through Kitchener says a Toronto to London line would be a cinch, but it relies heavily on maps available to anyone with internet access.

"This looks to be an unusually easy route for a high-speed rail line, about as easy as you can get, in fact, both in terms of construction, and community and environmental impacts," consultant Michael Schabas wrote in a memo to Ministry of Transportation officials last March.

The 51-page pre-feasibility report says an electrified 320 km/h rail line stopping in London, Kitchener, Guelph, Pearson International Airport and Toronto could cost $2.5 billion, requiring a maximum of 100 buildings be demolished. But because the government wanted the report before it tabled the 2014 budget, the report has done without a significant in-person examination of potential routes, with the London,

England-based consultants opting to use Google Earth satellite images instead.