Canada is taking first steps in preparing for procurement process to build a new train service

From: Transport Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to modernizing intercity passenger rail services in a way that will best meet the transportation needs of travellers, while also creating jobs and economic growth.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Rural Economic Development and Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha, the Honourable Maryam Monsef and Mayor of the City of Peterborough, Diane Therrien, announced the Government of Canada is taking the first steps in preparing for the procurement process to build a new train service in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor.

These steps include:

  • Engaging Indigenous groups and communities to obtain feedback on the project.
  • Engaging with the private sector to determine capacity, and seek perspectives on the best possible delivery model. The Government of Canada plans to finalize the delivery model and launch the process to select a private partner in the fall.
  • Accelerating dialogue with partner railways to negotiate dedicated routes in and out of city centres.

The request for proposal for the procurement process is expected to launch in fall 2021.

The High Frequency Rail proposal in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor involves building dedicated passenger rail tracks which would provide many key benefits to travellers, including:
  • shorter travel times and faster trains that would reduce average trip times between Toronto and Ottawa by up to 90 minutes;
  • more reliable on-time arrival performance up to 95 per cent from a current average of 67 per cent;
  • more direct routes with improved connectivity between cities and to other modes of transportation;
  • new services to certain communities, such as Peterborough, Trois-Rivières, and Laval, and new stations in targeted locations including near Jean Lesage Airport;
  • more frequent departures between cities; and
  • a cleaner travel option using electrified technology.

Working with VIA Rail, the High Frequency Rail proposal would be the largest transportation infrastructure project seen by Canada in decades, which is why the Government of Canada is doing its due diligence and undertaking a phased approach to put in place the right conditions to ensure the greatest amount of success for this project.


“Canadians deserve a fast and reliable train service. Today, we are taking the first steps in preparing for the procurement process to build a new train service in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor. High Frequency Rail in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor is a massive transportation project with the potential to transform passenger rail service by offering faster, more reliable, more frequent, and cleaner transportation service.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra

Minister of Transport

“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone moving forward towards the return of passenger rail service to Peterborough. We’re carefully taking steps forward in very thoughtful and meaningful ways to provide the very best outcome for this transportation project which will bring significant economic growth to communities throughout Peterborough-Kawartha and other regions along the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef

Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha

“The Canada Infrastructure Bank is very pleased to continue our work related to the planning and procurement of enhanced passenger rail transportation in the Quebec City to Toronto corridor. We look forward to gaining further insight through market engagements with industry experts, rail-sector stakeholders and investors, as we collaborate with the Government of Canada on potential delivery models. We will bring our expertise in leveraging public, private and institutional investment to support the next steps to modernize intercity passenger rail.”

Ehren Cory

Chief Executive Office, Canada Infrastructure Bank

“Since proposing High Frequency Rail more than five years ago, VIA Rail has been working tirelessly to ensure it becomes a reality. We are thus pleased with the decisive steps that have been announced as it brings us closer to that objective and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the federal government as a strong partner in delivering HFR. It’s time to provide Canadians with a nation-building, growth-generating and environmentally friendly project which will transform the way present and future generations live and travel.”

Cynthia Garneau

President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail

“The Peterborough region will benefit greatly from the return of passenger rail service. I look forward to working with VIA Rail on this exciting and necessary infrastructure project.”

Diane Therrien

Mayor of the City of Peterborough

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has been working closely with VIA Rail and the Canada Infrastructure Bank to make significant progress in designing and planning an improved passenger rail service between Toronto and Quebec City that will deliver good value for taxpayers and better options for travellers.

  • A dedicated passenger track would allow a travel speed up to 177-200 kilometers per hour (or 110-124 miles per hour), which could result in reduced travel times of up to 90 minutes on some routes, such as Ottawa to Toronto.

  • It is expected that High Frequency Rail could nearly triple the amount of annual trips taken by rail in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor, rising from 4.8 million in 2019, to a projected 17 million by 2059.

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