Ontario Premier confirms start of construction on high-speed rail project

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: SAMANTHA KACZALA
FSU Advocacy and Communications Coordinator Jahmoyia Smith (left) and FSU President Morganna Sampson (middle) pose for a picture with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (right).

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and MPP for London North Centre and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, along with other representatives held a press conference at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre in London on May 19 to discuss Ontario's plans to move forward with the construction of a high-speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor.

According to a press release from the office of the Ontario Premier, the province will move ahead with the preliminary design of the rail and make a $15 million investment in a “comprehensive environmental assessment”.

The high speed rail is planned to include stops in Windsor, Chatham, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Toronto. There will also be a connection to the Toronto Pearson International Airport. The high-speed rail is expected to be an innovative form of transportation that will connect Southwestern Ontario better, create new opportunities for workers and businesses, reduce travel times, and give people a low carbon transportation option, according to the press release.

The Toronto-Windsor corridor is already a highly frequented area of travel and economy and Wynne explained the impact high-speed rail will have on the area.

“The Toronto-Windsor corridor is home to over seven million people and over 60 per cent of Ontario's economic activity and that's really the piece I want to emphasize. This is where our economy thrives. It's along that corridor, that Toronto-Windsor corridor, and so we need to make sure that we keep it the vibrant and diverse region it has been and that we provide the connectivity that will allow it to thrive,” Wynne said.

Steven Del Duca, Ontario's Minister of Transportation, said that research done by David Collenette, special advisor for Ontario's highspeed rail, shows promising results both economically and environmentally of high-speed rail.

“As was contained in [Collenette's] report, [high-speed rail] will deliver benefits by connecting more economic clusters and increasing employment catchment areas within Southwestern Ontario, our economic corridor. It will deliver over $20 billion and economic advantages over the next 60 years as a result of increased transportation and efficiency and safety and a reduction in congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. It will lead to a significant savings in travel times because high speed rail would be 40 to 60 per cent faster than current average journey times in this corridor,” Del Duca said.

It was stated in the press release, that the estimated travel time between areas like Toronto and London would be impacted immensely as the projected travel time would be 73 minutes, marginally decreasing the roughly three hours it would take to drive. Other areas along the Toronto- Windsor corridor are proposed to be similarly affected.

According to Wynne, Ontario is expanding and the province's transportation methods need to expand with it.

“We're growing and we're outgrowing our current transportation network. That's the reality, and so we absolutely have to provide faster, better, more sustainable transportation options for people.”

The high-speed rail is planned to complete phase one by 2025 with full service available between Toronto to London. The final phase, London to Windsor, is set to be completed by 2031.