Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Friday’s announcement of a high-speed rail line between Toronto and Windsor:
1) Nothing is set in stone. Although Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that the province would be moving ahead with an environmental assessment for the project, there are still lots of steps that must be taken for the plan to become a reality.
2) It likely won’t be built all at once. The plan calls for a line from Toronto to London to be in operation by 2025, with an extension to Windsor scheduled for 2031.
3) Shovels won’t be in the ground right away, either. Friday’s report says construction “should ideally start by 2022.”
4) Two out of seven stops will be local. In addition to stops in Toronto, Mississauga, London, Chatham-Kent and Windsor, the report calls for trains to stop at Guelph Central Station and the new transit hub to be built at King and Victoria streets in Kitchener.
5) It will be much quicker than any existing options. Speaking to Google employees in Kitchener, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said the trip from Kitchener to Pearson International Airport would take 32 minutes, with Union Stations adding a further 16 minutes onto the travel time. A GO Train trip from Kitchener to Union Station currently takes about two hours.
6) Trains could reach 250 km/h between Kitchener and London, making that nearly 90-kilometre trip time out at 25 minutes.
7) Funding has not been allocated. The province says the private sector will have to help pay for the line. It will also be looking to the federal government for help.
8) Service is intended to be frequent. The report recommends three high-speed rail trains between Kitchener and Toronto each hour during the busiest hours of the day, and two trains per hour during off-peak times.
9) High-speed rail tracks would be used by other trains too. The high-speed rail trains would use the existing GO Transit Kitchener line, sharing tracks with GO trains and the Union-Pearson Express. New tracks would be built between Kitchener and London, along an existing hydro corridor.
10) Cambridge’s MPP sees benefits for her city. Kathryn McGarry says some commuters from Cambridge will drive to high-speed rail stations if it means avoiding gridlock on Highway 401.
11) Like Waterloo Region, London thinks it will help attract talent. While much has been made of the potential for high-speed rail to help people live in Toronto and work in Waterloo Region, or vice-versa, London’s business community thinks it will help their community attract jobs currently going to either Waterloo Region or the GTA.
12) The cost will be well into the billions of dollars. Friday’s report estimates that the Toronto-to-London stretch of the line will have $4.1 billion in capital costs (based on 2021 dollars), with the capital costs of the London-to-Windsor stretch a further $3.4 billion. With other expenses and contingencies factored in, the total cost climbs to approximately $20 billion.