The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) has begun preliminary design work on a proposed high speed rail (HSR) route. To date, the MTO has commissioned a Special Advisory Report and Preliminary Business Case which are now complete. The Provincial Government is investing $15 million in a comprehensive environmental assessment (EA), projected to begin in the spring of 2018. Through the EA process, stations and track alignment will be finalized after consultation with Indigenous communities, land owners and municipalities. A Planning Advisory board led by Steven Del Duca (Minister of Transportation) has been established to carry out the plans.
As reported by the Ministry of Transportation, the Toronto-Windsor corridor is home to more than seven million people and generates 60% of Ontario’s economic output. It is estimated that 10 million passengers per year could be using the line by 2041. The Ministry also reports that HSR has the potential to yield more than $20 billion in economic benefits over 60 years from passenger travel time savings, automobile operating cost savings, greenhouse gas reduction, benefits from reduced road congestion and other, wider economic gains.
Central/downtown stations will be integrated with local transit authorities in Toronto, Pearson Airport, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Chatham and Windsor. The high speed trains could run as fast as 250 to 300 km/h and service could eventually connect to Detroit through an existing tunnel under the Detroit River.
High speed rail will be instrumental in the development of the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor – a proposed global technology supercluster (similar to Silicon Valley). Today the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo make up the beginnings of the cluster, containing 15,000-plus high-tech companies and 205,000-plus tech workers and contributing more than $360 billion to the annual GDP. Currently the corridor lacks the connective infrastructure required to facilitate the density and community required. Existing commuter rail and highways are insufficient for the movement of residents between the different cities. Increasing connectivity between the siloed urban centres will facilitate expertise spillovers and the growth of mentorship networks.
According to the Toronto Star, the private sector (mainly pension funds deploying investment capital into infrastructure) will likely be engaged in financing and constructing the Toronto-Windsor high speed line. Funding could also come through Infrastructure Canada’s new Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Source: Avison Young