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City councillors push for high-speed train along Quebec-Toronto corridor
March 31, 2023
Aisling Murphy

City council could soon be throwing its support behind a high-speed train in the Quebec-Toronto corridor.

City councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough-Guildwood) has moved a motion, recommending that the City of Toronto support Montreal’s calls for a high-speed -- rather than high-frequency, -- train between Toronto and Quebec City. Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie has seconded the motion.

The difference between high-frequency and high-speed trains is primarily speed: a high-speed train can reach nearly 300 kilometres per hour, which would shave down the travel time between Toronto and Montreal to just over two hours. The high-frequency model favoured by the federal government would slightly reduce the travel time between major cities in this corridor to about 200 kilometres per hour, “and make the project much less attractive to the population,” according to Ainslie’s motion.

“If Canada wants to significantly reduce its green house gas emissions and reach its targets promised to the international community, significant sums will have to be invested in public transit, particularly in rail transportation,” the motion states.

“Over the next ten years, Quebec and Ontario‚Ķplan to spend $56 billion on their road network, an amount that represents approximately twice the cost of a high-speed train between Quebec and Toronto.”

The City of Oshawa has already endorsed a February motion passed by Montreal City Council in support of a high-speed train between major cities.

A spokesperson for the federal transport ministry, however, told CTV News Toronto in February that Ottawa is “currently advancing” a High Frequency Rail (HFR) project instead and is looking for a private partner to develop it.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has said that while he believes the government’s proposed HFR project remains the best option, he is open to proposals for trains that can travel faster than 200 kilometres per hour.