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Ontario Approves Establishment of High Speed Rail Planning Advisory Board

A High Speed Rail (HSR) corridor between Toronto and Windsor has moved one step closer to becoming reality, after the government of Ontario (Canada) approved plans to establish an HSR Planning Advisory Board.

Ontario Moving Ahead on High Speed Rail with Planning Advisory Board

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement on 23 October 2017 in a speech to the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. In addition to providing strategic advice on major business issues associated with the project, the HSR Planning Advisory Board will engage with the private sector, stakeholders and indigenous communities.

High speed trains between Toronto and Windsor would travel at up to 250 km/h on a combination of existing track and new dedicated rail corridors. This could cut travel times between these major centres from over four hours to just over two.

In his May 2017 report Special Advisor David Collenette recommended a phased approach to delivering the HSR project, spanning nearly 400 km across Southwestern Ontario; establishing the HSR Planning Advisory Board is part of the first phase.

The HSR line will serve a corridor that’s home to more than seven million people, with stations located at: Windsor, Chatham, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Toronto Union Station and Pearson International Airport. It is proposed that HSR be implemented in two phases. Phase One would connect Toronto with Kitchener-Waterloo and London, while Phase Two would extend the route to Windsor. The benefits of a phased approach include spreading capital costs out over time and allowing revenue and ridership generation to begin in earlier phases.

The corridor was selected because it is a hub for leading startups, research institutions, and the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, and the region is growing faster than its current transportation network can accommodate.

The vision for HSR in the Toronto-Windsor corridor encapsulates three foundational principles: to transform mobility choice in Southwestern Ontario; to catalyze economic development; and to support regional integration and development.

Canada is the only G8 country that does not yet have an HSR system under construction or in operation.

The next step now is expected to be the initiation of a formal Environmental Assessment process, in Spring 2018.

Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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Original author: Levent Elmastas
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