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Will the Harper government hand out money to CP Rail for new Detroit/Windsor Rail Tunnel?

I, like many others, dream of seeing the return of passenger rail between Canada and the USA. Specifically the Sarnia/Port Huron or Windsor/Detroit Border.

The proposed $400 million CP Rail new double freight tunnel between Windsor and Detroit does not include any mention of passenger rail only freight.

The tunnel project known as the the Continental Rail Gateway project. It involves mainly CP Railway and Borealis Transportation — a division under the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System along with the Windsor Port Authority.

$200 million comes from the partners and $200 million is needed from the USA/CANADA governments. Then the construction of the tunnel, which will be built next to the existing tunnel, can begin.

This is not the first time the new tunnel idea has been tried. The Detroit River Tunnel Partnership spent around $100m on engineering. It also acquired 20 acres of land for the project from Detroit in 2007. The project could not kick-start due to funding problems.

So there are a couple questions that need to be asked.

1. Where is the $200. million in government funding coming from to make this project happen? The state of Michigan announced $10 million in funding, which proponents say is significant but falls far short of the needed amount.

2. The Harper government, who have been in discussion with the project leaders about tapping into the Build Canada fund. Should they fund a project that primarily benefits a private rail company and a pension fund?

3. Can passenger trains once again connect Detroit and Windsor? Yes this could happen. But it would be challenging for a variety of reasons. Especially since  VIA chose to build their new station where the old station is in Walkerville. Had they picked a new station location, as suggested in the Community Based Strategic Rail Study (pg 15) connections to the tunnel would have been easier.

Can the Harper government demand passenger rail service in the new tunnel in exchange for money? Yes they can. Ensuring passenger rail service in the tunnel would make the project beneficial to Canadians and not just CP Rail.

We will keep you up to date on this issue. For now we included a great video of the rail tunnel from 1994 when it was expanded a the top of this article.