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Peterborough will benefit economically from a new high-frequency passenger train service from Toronto to Quebec City, officials said Thursday.
At a press conference outside the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce (site of the former Canadian Pacific Railway passenger station built in 1884), federal government officials touted Monday’s announcement that the procurement process will soon be underway to build a new train service from Toronto to Quebec City. Estimated to cost between $6 billion and $12 billion, the project is expected to be finished by 2030.
Peterborough will be included in the Via Rail service, said federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who noted that on Monday his train ride from Toronto to Quebec City took 11 hours — including some traffic interruptions. The new corridor would bypass most CN Rail lines, reducing travel time by up to 90 minutes.
Peterborough last had passenger rail service in 1990.
“Cities like Peterborough need travel options that are fast, reliable and safe,” he said. “We’re committed to getting started on the next phase of the project.”
Alghabra says the high-frequency rail will nearly triple the number of annual trips taken by rail in the Toronto to Quebec City Corridor, rising from 4.8 million in 2019 to a projected 17 million by 2059. The service also boasts more frequent departures between cities with more reliable on-time arrival, up to 95 per cent from the current average of 67 per cent. Trains would travel up to 200 kilometres per hour on the corridor.
“Let me just confirm — 100 per cent of the high-frequency rail will go through Peterborough,” Alghabra said.
CLICK TO SHARE QUOTE ON TWITTER: "LET ME JUST CONFIRM — 100 PER CENT OF THE HIGH-FREQUENCY RAIL WILL GO THROUGH PETERBOROUGH," ALGHABRA SAID.
He also said the trains will be run “90 per cent by electricity, offering a greener and cleaner alternative to travel.”
He called it a historic moment for the city, noting the project is about more travel options, economic development and job creation, environmental sustaininablity and reduction of pollution.
“But equally — or maybe even more importantly — this project is about nation-building, about connecting our communities,” he said.
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef says the announcement is a “significant milestone” moving forward towards the return of passenger rail service to the city.
She also acknowledged the previous work of the former Shining Waters Railway project — led by the late Tony Smith and current Havelock-Belmont Methuen Township Mayor Jim Martin — which for years studied the possibility of a passenger/freight service between Havelock and Toronto. She also thanked Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell, who first introduced her to the idea of a passenger service in the region.
Monsef says the new project will strengthen “connections” and create more “cohesion” between communities while spurring new economic opportunities throughout the region.
“This investment is going to create jobs and going to create opportunities — particularly for young people in our region,” she said. “Parents and grandparents are worried if their kids will stay here and find jobs in line with their potentials. This rail bed … this investment will ensure people from our region are benefiting from opportunities here and in the area….
“These connections are going to ensure that more skilled professionals are able to come here and are able to thrive,” she later added.
This article first appeared on globalnews.ca
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