Funding Set for Study of New VIA Rail Corridor

The proposed new corridor for VIA Rail Canada service between Toronto and Quebec City.

Funding has fallen into place to conduct a study of the creation of a dedicated rail corridor for VIA Rail Canada trains between Toronto and Quebec City.

C$55 million in funding for the study is being backed by the Canada Infrastructure Bank while another C$16 million will come from Transport Canada.

A joint project team of the bank and VIA will develop a plan to pitch to private-sector investors, notably, the country’s public pension funds.

The cost of a passenger-only corridor have ranged between C$4 billion, for a diesel-powered service to C$6 billion for an electrified line.

The passenger line would also use a patchwork of operational and abandoned rights-of-way.

The route would run from Quebec City to Montreal over former Canadian Pacific tracks now operated by Genesee & Wyoming’s Quebec Gatineau Railway.

From Montreal, the line would run north from Montreal Central Station to Ottawa, perhaps connecting with VIA Rail’s existing line from Coteau-du-Lac to Ottawa. Alternatively, it could simply follow Quebec Gatineau’s existing line all the way to Ottawa.

VIA currently used a Canadian National line between Montreal and Toronto that is shares with CN freight trains.

About 72 percent of VIA’s ridership is in the Quebec City-Toronto corridor in 2018. It accounts for 66 percent of the railroad’s revenue.

The idea of a new passenger route was advanced in 2015 by former VIA President Yves Desjardins-Siciliano.

He said at the time that this would enable VIA to increase frequencies and have better reliability.

The announcement of the funding agreement did not come with a date for when the study will be completed.

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