Proposal for High Frequency Rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor

 

THE CHALLENGE:

On-time service and congestion in the Québec City - Windsor Corridor from sharing tracks with freight trains. This not only impacts our on-time performance, but it means that our train schedules and frequencies are dependent on the access we are granted by the owners of the infrastructure.

THE SOLUTION:

High Frequency Rail is VIA Rail Canada’s proposal to transform passenger rail services in Canada. If approved following further due diligence on the part of the Government of Canada, it would create new trains on dedicated tracks between major centres (Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto).

New routes would be established on discontinued and lower density freight rail infrastructure between Toronto-Peterborough-Ottawa, Ottawa-Dorion-Montreal and Montreal-Trois-Rivières-Québec City.

The High Frequency Rail project involves separating passenger and freight rail operations, creating more capacity for sustainable transportation for both people and goods, as well as the opportunity to optimize current services along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Potential benefits

High Frequency Rail involves building dedicated passenger rail tracks that would provide significant improvements over the existing system and would allow for:

  • higher travel speed
  • better reliability and;
  • increased comfort for passengers,
This schematic view shows the current network and the additional services offered through the HFR project in more detail. The first route represents the existing shared tracks while the second represents the new ones dedicated to passengers. The dedicated tracks extend from Montréal to Québec City via Laval, Trois-Rivières, and Québec City Jean-Lesage International Airport; and from Toronto to Ottawa via Eglinton and Peterborough.

Potential Improvements

By running on dedicated tracks, it could be possible for VIA Rail to offer more frequencies, while reducing trip times by up to 25 percent and improving on-time performance to over 95 percent from current performance percentages in the low 70s.

The dedicated tracks would allow VIA Rail to have control over frequencies, speeds, and traffic priorities. For example, trains could travel at speeds of up to 177 kilometres per hour (or 110 miles per hour), reducing travel times from Ottawa to Toronto to as low as 3 hours and 15 minutes from current travel times of approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes.

High Frequency Rail could also reduce road congestion and provide a low-emission travel alternative.

Project Status

https://www.canada.ca/en/transport-canada/news/2019/06/government-of-canada-takes-next-steps-to-further-explore-via-rails-high-frequency-rail-proposal-in-the-quebec-city-toronto-corridor.html