Globe and Mail reports Canada Infrastructure Bank to support VIA Rail’s plan for high-frequency rail line

MP Maryam Monsef to make June 25th announcement in Peterborough, one of the stops on proposed route

A Via Rail passenger train. (Photo: Magnolia677 / Wikipedia)
A Via Rail passenger train. (Photo: Magnolia677 / Wikipedia)

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Liberal government will announce on Tuesday (June 25) that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is supporting VIA Rail’s plan to build a new high-frequency rail line from Quebec City to Toronto — including through Peterborough.

Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef will be in Peterborough on Tuesday to make an announcement at 11 a.m. on behalf of federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau. At the same time, Garneau and Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne will be in Trois-Rivieres in Quebec, along with Canada Infrastructure Bank president and CEO Pierre Lavallée, to make an announcement.

Both announcements are described as “related to the advancement of VIA Rail Canada’s proposal for High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor.”

The Canada Infrastructure Bank is an “arm’s length” Crown corporation that was created by the current Liberal government and is accountable to the Minister of Infrastructure. It has a budget of $35 billion to invest in infrastructure projects including public transit systems, trade and transportation corridors, and green infrastructure projects.

To date, the bank is investing $1.28 in Réseau express métropolitain to expand transit in Montréal and $2 billion to expand GO Transit’s rail network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

The Globe and Mail story states that anonymous government sources have confirmed that the Canada Infrastructure Bank will be providing funding for further study on how to “de-risk” the project, but that the announcement “does not represent the final green light for the project to proceed.”

VIA Rail’s initial plan was to build an exclusive high-frequency rail line from Montreal to Toronto through Quebec City and Peterborough at a cost of at least $4 billion, with an additional $2 billion for electric trains.

According to the Globe and Mail report, the route from Ottawa to Peterborough would mean converting a previously abandoned rail line which is currently a recreational trail and, for the stretch from Peterborough to Toronto, purchasing and upgrading an existing Canadian Pacific Railway line.

Monsef’s Tuesday announcement will take place at the office of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. Chamber president and CEO Stuart Harrison has been a long-time advocate of bringing passenger rail service back to Peterborough. He was involved in the non-profit Shining Waters Railway corporation, which produced a 2011 study that inspired VIA Rail’s plan.