Province to study possible high-speed rail line from London to Toronto
Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray was in London Wednesday announcing a plan to look into connecting London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Pearson International Airport and Toronto with high-speed rail.
Murray says "We have to build and imagine and dream and build things we have never built before, because the Americans have high speed rail coming to Buffalo soon."
The province says the rail line would improve travel options, reduce travel times and support economic development, and the effects would trickle down to Chatham and Windsor as well.
The trains would travel at 320 km/h, with 28 trains running from London to Toronto daily. Londoners could get to Pearson in under an hour, and downtown Toronto in just 71 minutes, with only one stop in Kitchener-Waterloo.
While it could cost from $2 to $3 billion to build, Murray adds that the revenue stream generated could be about $500 million annually and an estimated six million people would ride the rails.
"If we build high-speed rail, what's the first thing we would notice? More investment in London, more investment in Kitchener," Murray says.
The funding from the province will come from a 10-year, $29-billion 'Moving Ontario Forward' fund, but Murray hopes the federal government and the private sector will also contribute.
The province is planning to finalize the business case and begin an environmental assessment by the fall of 2014, with the hopes of opening the high-speed rail line to passengers in eight years.
The assessment would include identifying appropriate routes and examining technology options.
Deb Matthews, Liberal MPP for London North Centre, says, "This is exactly the kind of investment we need to get more people working and more people enjoying life in this extraordinary City of London.”
Not everyone ready to jump on the train
Elgin-Middlesex-London PC MPP Jeff Yurek is among those who is skeptical about the plan, the estimated cost and the timing of the announcement just a day before the provincial budget.
"They told us the gas plant cancellations will only cost $40 million, we can't believe their numbers, we can't believe they'll do this at the end of the day."
London West NDP MPP Peggy Sattler adds "They just make more announcements and empty promises."
Some area businesses are also concerned about what a high-speed rail line would do to their bottom line.