Premier Kathleen Wynne, Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announcing next steps in high speed rail system. May 19, 2017. Photo by Scott Kitching, Blackburn News.

Wynne Announces Next Step In High Speed Rail

It is still years away, but high speed rail is a step closer in the Toronto-London-Windsor corridor.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was joined by Deputy Premier and London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca in London on Friday morning to announce that the province is moving ahead with preliminary designs and environmental assessments for the high speed rail project.

The comprehensive environmental assessment will cost $15-million.

Premier Wynne says the Toronto to London corridor is expected to be completed by 2025, while the second phase from London to Windsor will be ready by 2031.

“The Toronto-Windsor corridor is home to over 7-million people and over 60% of Ontario’s economic activitiy,” Wynne said. “This is where our economy thrives….and so we need to make sure we keep it the vibrant and diverse region that it has been and that we provide the connectivity that will allow it to thrive.”

Eventually, the high speed rail system will run from Toronto to Windsor, with stops in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and Chatham. The trip from London to Union Station in Toronto is expected to take 73 minutes, while the trip from Toronto to Windsor would take two hours.

“We’re outgrowing our transportation network, that’s the reality. And so, we absolutely have to provide faster, better, more sustainable transportation options for people,” Wynne said. “The best time to have built high speed rail was 40 years ago. The second best time is today.”

In 2015, former federal Transport Minister David Collenette was asked to look at the feasibility of a Toronto-Windsor high speed rail system. His report has been released and has determined there is a strong business case for the project along with opportunities to work with the private sector in areas of financing and construction.

The premier says Collenette’s report also predicts the high speed rail link could ultimately attract up to 10-million passengers per year.¬†She admits there will be challenges, but she says there is “enormous opportunity” to unlock local and regional economic development.

London Mayor Matt was at Friday’s announcement and stressed how important high speed rail will be to the city.

“It’s an investment that will, quite frankly, change the way we live our lives in a place like London, Ontario,” said Brown. “We’re a medium sized community of 400,000. We need to ensure that we have a strong connection to Toronto, and this is going to allow us to do that.”