Montreal Is Officially Requesting High-Speed Rail Service Between Toronto & Quebec City

Including a stop in downtown Montreal.

Senior Editor
High-speed trains at a station in Beijing.

High-speed trains at a station in Beijing.

The Montreal City Council unanimously passed a motion Monday night in favour of bringing high-speed rail service to the Toronto–Quebec City corridor. The motion calls on the federal government to go beyond its current plans for only "high-frequency" rail between Canada's largest cities.

The current federal investment in rail infrastructure presents an "amazing opportunity," said City Councillor Craig Sauvé, who introduced the motion with Councillor Serge Sasseville, at the Monday council meeting. "We might as well make it fast and bring us up to speed with the other countries of the world" with rapid passenger rail service.

Sauvé noted that Canada is the only country in the G7 without high-speed rail (HSR; or TGV in French) despite, between Quebec and Ontario, having the kind of population density that makes it feasible. He also cited the economic and environmental benefits of fast train service.

According to the U.S.-based Environmental and Energy Study Institute, 250 km/h is generally considered the speed a new rail network needs to achieve to be true HSR. A TGV could mean a Montreal-to-Toronto travel time of around two and a half hours, Sauvé said.

The city administration is pushing Sauvé and Sasseville's proposal even further. Executive Committee Member Responsible for Transportation Sophie Mauzerolle added at the council meeting that the city hopes to see a TGV reach downtown Montreal, specifically, as long as it can meet "the highest standards of urban integration."

Canada's fledgling high-frequency rail project involves constructing new passenger-rail-only tracks between Quebec City and Toronto. Federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra has promised that trains on that new network will be able to reach a maximum speed of 200 km/h. He said in February that the federal government is "open" to higher-speed trains, but hasn't committed to HSR.

"It's time to unite families and friends with affordable, rapid, safe and clean rapid passenger rail," Sauvé said Monday.

"If not now, when?"

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas is MTL Blog's Senior Editor. He lives in Saint-Henri and loves it so much that he named his cat after it. On weekdays, he's publishing stories, editing and helping to manage MTL Blog's team of amazing writers. His beats include the STM, provincial and municipal politics and Céline Dion. On weekends, you might run into him brunching at Greenspot, walking along the Lachine Canal or walking Henri the cat in Parc Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier.
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