Photo from the Special Advisor for High Speed Rail: Final Report.

Former MP To Head High Speed Rail Project

A former federal transportation minister has been named Ontario’s new czar of high-speed rail.

David Collenette was announced Tuesday as the chair of the high-speed rail planning advisory board. He is tasked with providing strategic support and advising the government on the landmark project which will join Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Toronto.

“I look forward to working with [(Collenette] as we move forward to build Canada’s first high-speed rail line. High-speed rail will connect communities in our province as never before, creating new opportunities and increasing transportation choices for people across Southwestern Ontario,” Transport Minister Kathryn McGarry said in a statement.

Before retiring from politics in 2004, the former Toronto MP was a Liberal cabinet minister under three former prime ministers including Pierre Trudeau. In 2015, Collenette was named the province’s special advisor for high-speed rail.

“I am pleased to be able to continue to work to deliver this service for our province,” said Collenette.

The $20-billion high-speed rail system, a first for Canada, 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. It would serve a region which is home to more than 7-million people.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said last spring, the Toronto to London corridor is expected to be running by 2025, while the second phase from London to Windsor will be ready by 2031.