Race to build Toronto-Quebec City high-frequency rail down to 3 contenders

Click to play video: 'Political push for high-speed train between Quebec and Ontario'
Political push for high-speed train between Quebec and Ontario
There is a growing momentum, this time by politicians, to build a high-speed rail line between Quebec City and Toronto – Feb 16, 2023

Three consortia have been selected as finalists to build the high-frequency rail project, which will connect Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Thursday that the three contenders will be submitting their proposals this year, but he said he expects service on the line to begin only by the mid-2030s.

The first consortium is Cadence, which consists of CDPQ Infra, SNC-Lavalin, Systra Canada and Keolis Canada. The second, InterCity Rail Developers, consists of Intercity Development Partners, EllisDon Capital, Kilmer Transportation, First Rail Holdings, Jacobs, Hatch, CIMA+, First Group and RATP Dev Canada, Renfe Operadora. The final consortium announced, QConnexiON Rail Partners, consists of Fengate, John Laing, Bechtel, WSP Canada and Deutsche Bahn.

“I am thrilled that high-frequency rail — the largest infrastructure project — is advancing to the next stage of the procurement process,” Alghabra said while making the announcement in Montreal.

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“This exciting initiative will require strong collaboration between Transport Canada, VIA HFR and the selected private developer partner to create a sustainable foundation for the design and development of the project. I look forward to the next phase of this project.”

Click to play video: '‘Canadians are asking for labour disruption to end’: Alghabra on B.C. port strike'
‘Canadians are asking for labour disruption to end’: Alghabra on B.C. port strike

The next stage, the request for proposal (RFP), will begin in September, Alghabra said. Participants will be asked to present their proposal, including a technically and commercially feasible solution, a business plan and a management plan for the co-development, construction and operations phases of the project.

While Alghabra has insisted in the past that the best way to serve the Toronto-Quebec City travel corridor is by building a high-frequency train, there have been calls from politicians in Quebec to build a high-speed rail system instead. In February, two Montreal city councillors called on the city to formally demand that the city be connected to a high-speed rail network.

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On Thursday, Alghabra said the government was looking for a private sector partner that could deliver a high-speed and high-frequency project, saying the two were not “mutually exclusive.”

He said, however, that he does not expect the line to begin service until the middle of the next decade.

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