CANADA: The government and Canada Infrastructure Bank announced a total of C$71·1m of funding on June 25 to support the further development of VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail proposal to enhance inter-city services on the Québec – Montréal – Ottawa – Toronto corridor.
The corridor carried 72% of VIA Rail’s passengers in 2018, and accounted for 66% of its revenues. Under the proposals, the national passenger operator’s services would use dedicated tracks between the cities, with the separation of passenger and freight operations creating more capacity for both and enabling service patterns to be optimised.
A joint project team is to be established by Canada Infrastructure Bank and VIA Rail Canada using the C$55m from the state-owned bank. This will undertake legal and regulatory work relating to safety and environmental assessments, consult with stakeholders and indigenous communities, examine land acquisition requirements and complete the technical, financial and commercial analysis required for a final investment decision.
The government’s $16·1m contribution will support VIA Rail’s activities as part of the joint project team, and fund technical studies to ensure interoperability with local services in Montréal and Toronto. This would include sharing the Mont Royal Tunnel in Montréal with future Réseau Express Métropolitain automated light metro services.