High-speed rail in Ontario, finally? Not so fast – Canada

Calls for high-speed rail in one of Canada’s busiest corridors have been made before and went unanswered. Will it be any different this time?

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Friday that the province is proceeding with a plan to build a high-speed rail route stretching along the Toronto-Windsor corridor.

The announcement follows a report Ontario commissioned from David Collenette, a former federal transportation minister who was hired by the province to assess whether the speedy rail line would be feasible.

He says it is, and that Ontario should go for it. Wynne herself noted in her remarks that excuses have been made for decades, but that “we’ve got to do it this time.”

Here are some reasons why high-speed rail hasn’t taken hold yet in Ontario — and some of the challenges that lie ahead in getting done.

Political will

The proposed plan is a massive and expensive infrastructure program and politicians have preferred in the past to get elected by promising to expand highways in their ridings, rather than rail routes.

Paul Langan, from an advocacy group called High Speed Rail Canada, told CBC News that a lack of political will is a major reason why high-speed rail has never been built in Ontario.

In his report, Collenette also cites “political willingness to support the huge investment over more than one election cycle” as a factor in limiting high-speed rail development.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announces plans for a high-speed rail corridor between Toronto and Windsor. Phase one, which would see stops in Kitchener-Waterloo and London, would be completed by 2025 if the project proceeds as proposed. (Radio-Canada)

Wynne, for example, says she is committed to building the Windsor-Toronto route. But Wynne may not be premier a year from now. Ontarians go to the polls in June 2018, and the premier will be in a fight for her political life next year.

Ontario Progressive Conservatives called Friday’s announcement a political…

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