Ontario’s high-speed rail plan not so far-fetched


Toronto Star via California Rail

What has eluded us, perhaps, is the idea that passenger trains can be run as a business. In the U.K., where railways have been privatized, many train lines are profitable. Indeed, what has Britons outraged is that rail operators, mostly foreign, are making out like bandits. Still, because the state retains ownership of the tracks, government can fine franchisees and/or cancel their contracts if they fail to meet contractual obligations.

So while Ontarians are busy pooh-poohing the idea of high-speed rail, global infrastructure investors, including some from the U.K., are licking their lips in anticipation. Given that there are more than 62,000 drives between Toronto and Kitchener daily, the idea of a 45-minute train ride suddenly seems very attractive. “We have reached a tipping point in terms of congestion,” Collenette says. “So when you provide a rail alternative, people are quite happy to take it.”

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