High-speed rail plan touted as campaign hits Waterloo
Chase Banger, CTV Kitchener
Published Tuesday, May 15, 2018 3:49PM EDT
Drivers on Highway 401 are used to dealing with regular backups as they make their way between Waterloo Region and Toronto – and now there’s talk of giving people a new way to avoid them.
High-speed rail is a reality in many countries around the world. Now, proposals to connect Toronto to southwestern Ontario by high-speed rail have become an election issue.
The transportation move could get the commute from Kitchener to Pearson International Airport down to as little as 32 minutes, and to downtown Toronto’s Union Station in as little 43 minutes.
And with congestion and delays routine for drivers on the 401, the rail system could encourage economic growth.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Waterloo Region this week discussing the Liberal pledge to rail.
“$11 billion is now fully funded in our fiscal plan, that money is set aside to build phase one from Toronto to London,” she said Tuesday while at a campaign event in Waterloo.
With environmental assessments formally underway, Wynne projects service to begin in 2025.
The NDP have also outlined a commitment to continuing work on the project should they win the election.
“We will continue the current high speed rail environmental assessment, and expand it to include other high speed options like high performance rail,” an NDP platform document says.
It goes on to state that the rail project will only be successful if everyone affected is in agreeance.
And for residents of the more rural areas between London and Toronto, that might be a tough sell.
A group called InterCityRail has formed in opposition to the high-speed rail, citing issues of lost and severed farmland along the proposed route.
The Progressive Conservative party has not yet publicized an official stance on the issue.