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Although Canada does not have high-speed rail lines, there have been two routes frequently proposed as suitable for a high-speed rail corridor:

A possible international high-speed rail link between Montreal and Boston or New York City is often discussed by regional leaders, though little progress has been made.[1][2] Between Vancouver and Seattle, work is in progress to improve the existing Amtrak Cascades service, though it will not reach speeds normally associated with high-speed rail.[citation needed]

On April 10 2008, a new Canadian National Citizen's Advocacy Group High Speed Rail Canada[3] was formed to promote and educate Canadians on the benefits of high speed rail in Canada.[4]


Early high speed rail in Canada

CN Rail placed some early hopes with the UAC TurboTrain, in its Toronto–Montreal route during the 1960s. The TurboTrain was a true HST with the train sets achieving speeds as high as 200 km/h in regular service. CN's, and later VIA Rail's, TurboTrain service were marred with lengthy interruptions to address design problems and having to cope with poor track quality (accounting for dual passenger-freight use); as such, the trains were operated at 160 km/h. The TurboTrain featured the latest technology advances such as passive coach tilting, Talgo attachment for rigid coach articulation and gas turbine power.[citation needed]

Beginning in the 1970s, a consortium of several companies started to study Bombardier Transportation's LRC, which was a more conventional approach to high-speed rail, in having separate cars and locomotives, rather than being an articulated train. Pulled by heavy conventional-technology diesel-electric locomotives designed for 200 km/h normal operating speed, inspired by the British InterCity 125, it entered full-scale service in 1981 for VIA Rail, linking cities in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, but at speeds never exceeding the 170 km/h limit mandated by line signalling. It was the world's first active tilting train in commercial service.[citation needed]

In 1998, the Lynx consortium, including Bombardier and SNC-Lavalin proposed a 320 km/h high-speed train from Toronto to Quebec City via Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal based on the TGV and the French Turbo-Train technology. Recently, Bombardier and VIA have proposed high-speed services along the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor using Bombardier's experimental JetTrain tilting trains, which are similar to Bombardier's Acela Express, but powered by a gas turbine rather than overhead electric wires. These trains resemble the first TGV prototype (TGV001) powered by a gas turbine that were tested on the Strasbourg–Mulhouse line. As yet, no government support for this plan has been forthcoming, and Bombardier continues promoting the JetTrain especially for Texas and Florida routes.[citation needed]

Vancouver - Seattle

The Pacific Northwest Corridor is one of ten high-speed rail corridors by the United States federal government. If the 466-mile corridor were completed as proposed, 110-mph passenger trains would travel from Eugene, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, in 2 hours and 30 minutes, and from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2 hours and 50 minutes.

Edmonton – Calgary

The most advanced proposals are in the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor in Alberta. The cities are approximately 260 km apart (about 3 hours by car), and are connected by the Queen Elizabeth II Highway.

A study by the Van Horne institute concluded that "high speed rail would bring significant benefits to the Calgary–Edmonton corridor and Alberta as a whole". The report also stated that the project would "generate between CAD $3.7 and $6.1 billion in quantifiable benefits". The study considered three options:

  1. Upgrade of an existing Canadian Pacific freight route to allow trains up to 240 km/h using Bombardier's JetTrain, costing approximately $1.8 billion.
  2. A new dedicated passenger route, known as the "Green Field" route, also using the Jet Train, and costing approximately $2.2 billion.
  3. An electrified version of the Green Field route, using TGV style trains running at 300 km/h, costing approximately $3.7 billion.

The report found that there was little incremental benefit in running at 300 km/h rather than 240 km/h, and so recommended the first option.

On September 22, 2006, it was announced the Provincial government was deploying video cameras along a stretch of the Queen Elizabeth Highway to determine just how many cars travel between the three cities.[5]

Some figures quoted for the cost of the project are far larger than the above. For example, Vue Weekly gives the cost as "$3 to $5 billion".[6]

The Calgary Herald announced on April 18, 2007 that the provincial government had purchased land in downtown Calgary for a possible station or terminal.[7] The provincial government also maintains ownership of the top deck of Edmonton's High Level Bridge so a potential high speed rail line can reach downtown Edmonton.[citation needed]

The Calgary Herald has put on a "special topic section" about the prospect of a high-speed rail in Alberta over the 2007 Thanksgiving long weekend.[8]

Quebec City – Windsor

The Quebec–Windsor Corridor is the most densely-populated and heavily-industrialised region of Canada. With over 17 million people, it contains approximately half of Canada's population, the national capital and three of the four largest metropolitan areas in Canada (Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa–Gatineau). It is already the focus of most VIA Rail service. Currently the area is served by several freeways, VIA Rail, commuter and local transit, and several airports. This corridor population density is comparable to the Rhône River valley where the French TGV operates.

There have been proposals for a high-speed service, such as VIA Fast, but no action has been taken so far. However, the former leader of the Liberal Party, Stéphane Dion had said that he was in favour of developing a high-speed rail system as a way to fight climate change.[9]

On January 10, 2008, Dalton McGuinty (Premier of Ontario), and Jean Charest (Premier of Quebec) announced their two provinces will conduct a joint $2 million feasibility study into the development of high speed rail in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. The federal government has agreed to participate in the study. [10] [11] [12] In February of 2009, The EcoTrain Consortium, consisting of firms Dessau, MMM Group, KPMG, Wilbur Smith & Associates and Deutsche Bahn International, were awarded a contract to update the feasibility studies for high-speed rail (HSR) in the Québec City-Windsor corridor. The study is expected to take a year.[13][14]

Windsor - Detroit - Chicago

(Detroit - Chicago via Kalamazoo or Toledo)

Windsor - Detroit - Toledo - Cleveland

Toronto - Buffalo - Cleveland

Toronto - Buffalo - Albany - New York

Montreal – United States

(Montreal - New York via Albany or Boston)

In order to link with the Acela Express and Northeast Regional service from Washington, D.C. to Boston, and to serve northern New England communities along the route, the United States Federal Railroad Administration proposed in 2000 an accelerated line (200 km/h) between Boston and Montreal as one of several high speed rail corridors identified across the country. Public hearings and the first phase of a study were conducted in 2002 with the participation of the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The second phase of the study was cancelled after New Hampshire withdrew its support.

In the 1970s, the mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, announced his project to build a TGV (high-speed line) to New York in order to replace the slow and unreliable Adirondack service operated by Amtrak. More recently, Mayor Bourque tried to revive the TGV to New York project.[15] The topic has also been discussed between the governor of New York and the premier of Quebec, but no progress has been made since a pre-feasibility study conducted in 2003.[16] The line is problematic because most of the investment would need to be made through the sparsely-populated Adirondack Mountains north of Albany. Between Albany and New York, fast and frequent rail service is already available.


  1. ^ Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTRANS), State of Vermont, Boston to Montreal High-Speed Rail (BMHSR) Planning and Feasibility Study
  2. ^ U.S. Department of Transportation: Barrack Obama 2009 HSR proposal
  3. ^
  4. ^ High Speed Rail Canada Citizens Advocacy Group and Website Forms
  5. ^ "High-speed rail topic of survey". Calgary Sun. 2006-09-22. 
  6. ^ "Railing against traffic and congestion on Highway 2". Vue Weekly. 
  7. ^ "Land bought for rail terminal". Calgary Herald. 
  8. ^ "On Track: Alberta's Bullet Train Debate."
  9. ^ Global Cool » Canada Sees Climate Change Dollar Signs
  10. ^ |Via Rail says snowfall behind spike in ridership
  11. ^ Governments revive plans for high-speed trains between Quebec, Ontario
  12. ^ Ontario–Quebec to study rapid rail link
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Pierre Bourque intéressé par le projet d'un TGV entre Montréal et New York
  16. ^ Projet de train à haute vitesse Montréal–New York

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