Category Archives for "Intercity Rail and Bus"

Jul 23

Letter to Minister Mulroney – Rail and Bus Transportation Plan for Southwestern Ontario

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Press Releases and Open Letters

Ontario’s Budget 2019 confirmed that the Province is actively exploring opportunities in Southwestern Ontario to enhance passenger train speeds and service levels on existing railway corridors, as well as opportunities for inter-community bus services or other transit solutions that better support the immediate public transportation needs of the region. A transportation plan will be brought forward by fall, 2019.

Transport Action Ontario (TAO) strongly supports this new approach. We have long advocated for High Performance Rail (HPR) – incremental improvement of passenger rail service on existing corridors, plus improved bus feeder service. Various meetings on this topic were held earlier this year by TAO and affiliated organizations with then Transportation Minister Yurek and his staff.

With the appointment of a new Minister, the Hon. Caroline Mulroney, TAO took the opportunity to update her and her staff on our thinking for this upcoming plan. Our letter to the Minister summarized the need for a robust public transportation option, the available technical reports on HPR, the need to include VIA Rail Canada and the Federal Government in the study, and key next steps including specific service scenarios that should be studied.

Our letter to Minister Mulroney can be viewed here:

We also sent the Minister a recently-prepared Policy Brief prepared by Transport Action Canada on Southwestern Ontario Rail and Bus.

Jun 25

Transport Action Welcomes VIA HFR Announcement

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Press Releases and Open Letters

The following announcement was made today, June 25, 2019, by our parent organization, Transport Action Canada.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Transport Action Canada Welcomes VIA HFR Announcement
Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Cynthia Garneau, VIA Rail Canada President and CEOfficer, andPierre Lavallée, Canada Infrastructure Bank President and CEO announced a total of $71.1 million in funding to further explore VIA Rail Canada’s proposal for High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City- Toronto corridor.

Transport Action Canada welcomes the announcement of $71.1 million by the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Government of Canada to complete diligence work on VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail project.

While we would clearly like to see the High Frequency Rail project move forward as swiftly as possible, we’re very pleased to see that the vital question of ensuring interoperability with REM (Réseau Express Métropolitain) and access to Montreal’s Mount Royal Tunnel is going to be addressed. We are confident that an engineering solution will be relatively straightforward now that the political will to make this work has been confirmed, ensuring that Montreal will enjoy both better transit and enhanced inter city connections.  

Thanks to VIA Rail’s choice of making best use of existing rail corridors and extant rights of way, the project completion risk for High Frequency Rail is much lower than any previous Quebec-Windsor upgrade proposal and many transit projects. We hope this will allow the remaining diligence to be completed swiftly, and for the work to proceed on the first sections of the new route in time for the arrival of the new corridor fleet in 2022.

The largest risk, which we feel the government needs to pay more attention to, is the escalating opportunity cost to Canada of falling further behind the rest of the world on this vital aspect of our transportation infrastructure. Infrequent and inadequate inter city rail service both is a constraint on our domestic economic growth and a deterrent to international investors. 

About Transport Action Canada
Transport Action Canada, founded as Transport 2000 Canada in 1977, is the nation’s leading citizen transportation advocacy group. We are a non-profit, consumer-based organization that promotes through advocacy and education, and represents the interests of consumers or users of public transport services in Canada.

Apr 28

Ontario Northland – passenger rail scoping and bus success

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario

Ontario Northland has been in the news a lot recently – for good reasons which are welcome news to Transport Action Ontario!

As reported by CTV News on April 16, 2019, the corporation has been asked to come up with a plan to restore passenger rail service to Northern Ontario. The plan will highlight what the service needs to look like, the funding requirements and the implementation timeline. The plan is expected to be released in November.

Restoring passenger rail service in northeastern Ontario

Could passenger service in northern Ontario be back on the rails?
In the recent budget from the Ford government, no money was allocated for Ontario Northland to renew passenger rail service, but it was mentioned briefly, and now CTV News has learned the company is in talks with Ontario’s finance minister, Vic Fedeli, about the issue. …

ONTC President Corina Moore provided more details of the passenger rail study, as well as details of the successful Ontario Northland bus service expansion in 2018, in an interview with the North Bay Nugget on April 26, 2019.

Ontario Northland’s success worth celebrating – Moore

Corina Moore is both “proud” and “grateful” Ontario Northland will be involved in creating a solution for passenger rail in northeastern Ontario, citing the agency’s role as “transportation experts” as the reason. …
VIA Train #73 at Windsor, 23 March 2016
Apr 24

New Passenger Transportation Policy Shift for Southwestern Ontario

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News

Ontario’s Budget 2019 confirmed a major passenger transportation policy shift for Southwestern Ontario. The Province has paused capital funding for High Speed Rail and is actively exploring opportunities to enhance train speeds and service levels on existing railway corridors, as well as opportunities for inter-community bus services or other transit solutions that better support the immediate needs of SW Ontario. A transportation plan will be brought forward by fall, 2019.

Transport Action Ontario strongly supports this new approach. We have long advocated for High Performance Rail – incremental improvement of passenger rail service on existing corridors, plus improved bus feeder service.  We look forward to the public consultation process that forms part of the new plan development.

A newspaper article speaking to the new direction was published in the London Free Press on April 19.  It quoted Transport Action Ontario director Terry Johnson extensively.  Here is a link to the article:

High-speed rail halted, but advocates still pushing for better train service

 

Mar 27

VIA high Frequency Rail (HFR) Project not part of 2019 Federal Budget, but Continues to be Evaluated

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News

The Federal Government released its 2019 Budget on March 19. There had been expectations that the budget would contain a decision on the fate of VIA Rail Canada’s $4B+ High Frequency Rail (HFR) project. As discussed in our statement of October, 2018, posted on this website, this project envisions new dedicated trackage between Toronto-Ottawa (using the partially abandoned Havelock line) and between Montreal-Quebec (using north shore trackage accessed through the Mt. Royal tunnel), while improving the schedule on existing Lakeshore and South-shore routes.

Our October statement noted that the Federal Government was evaluating this and other proposals to add passenger rail capacity in this corridor. We urged the Federal Government to move forward promptly and commit to boosting passenger rail frequencies, speeds and on-time performance in this corridor.

In contrast to the expectations, the Federal Budget was silent on HFR. However, in a March 20 article in the Globe and Mail, Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne is quoted as saying “this is a project that is important from Quebec to Windsor . so we keep on working with VIA Rail” and that a range of options are being considered. Transport Minister Marc Garneau stated that the Government continues to study VIA Rail’s plan, including how HFR could work with the Montreal light rail project to both share the Mt Royal tunnel, and that funding could flow through the recently created Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Transport Action Canada is hopeful that improved passenger rail service in the corridor will be announced in the near future, with VIA Rail’s proposal enjoying cross-party support. In the meantime, we continue to celebrate the federal approval in December of nearly $1-billion to replace VIA Rail’s aging corridor fleet, as this is a necessary first step to any service improvement

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