Skip to main content

High-speed train between Toronto and Montreal one step closer to becoming reality

A high-speed train between Toronto and Montreal could be one step closer to becoming a reality.

Two city councillors in Montreal are putting forward a motion that would ask the federal government for support building a high-speed rail network along the Quebec-Toronto corridor.

The train, the councillors say, would reduce travel between the two cities to just about three hours.

A normal train ride from Toronto to Montreal takes an average of five hours.

 “The enthusiasm is palpable for high speed rail (HSR) in the Quebec-Toronto corridor,” Councillor Craig Sauvé said in a news release issued Thursday.

“It would be a huge legacy for quality of life and for the environment. We are the only G7 country without a high-speed rail network.”

In a news release, the councillors say a pitch for the project made by manufacturing company Alstom has “garnered great enthusiasm from many leaders in Quebecois political and economic circles.”

Councillor Serge Sasseville said in a statement he hopes the motion is approved unanimously.

A high-speed network would also reduce travel time to other locations along the corridor. The councillors said that a trip between Montreal and Quebec City could be reduced to an hour and 40 minutes, while a trip between Montreal and Ottawa would take just an hour.

This summer, Alstom will pilot a green hydrogen train on the Charlevoix railway.

The motion will be heard at Monday’s city council meeting.

"As the government of Canada is ready to invest massively in rail transport, we must seize this opportunity to provide ourselves with a passenger rail infrastructure which is truly competitive with domestic flights," Sauvé added.

For the federal government’s part, a spokesperson for the transport ministry told CTV News Toronto in an email that Ottawa is “currently advancing” a High Frequency Rail (HFR) project -- which is different from a HSR -- through a requests for qualifications phase that opened Friday and is looking for a private partner to develop it.

“The private developer partner is expected to incorporate innovative design ideas and efficient strategies for meeting or exceeding the project outcomes,” a statement from Transport Canada read in part.

At a news conference today, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he believes the government’s proposed HFR project remains the best option over a HSR, but added that if companies can come up with solutions that would allow trains to go faster than the original 200 km/h, he's open to the idea.

The Quebec City and the Quebec government meanwhile have said a high-speed rail would be a more attractive way to convince drivers to leave their cars and take the train.

A section of Ottawa's proposed High-Frequency Rail network is seen in this image. (Via Rail Canada)

This isn’t the first time a proposal for a high-speed train has been on the table, but the idea has never fully gained traction.

The Kathleen Wynne Liberal government had proposed a high-speed train that would have travelled from Toronto to Windsor in just two hours by travelling up to 250 kilometres per hour. However the funding was paused by Premier Doug Ford in 2019 in an effort to lower the provincial deficit.

The environmental assessment for the project was reportedly in the millions.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

Stay Connected