Wynne: 'Time to take a serious look at an idea that’s been around for decades.'
A high-speed rail corridor in southern Ontario is "exactly what our economy needs," Premier Kathleen Wynne says.
Wynne officially announced plans for a high-speed rail line from Toronto to Windsor Friday morning, with stops in Kitchener-Waterloo and London, by 2025.
"This is an idea that has been around for a very long time," Wynne said during the announcement in London. "We decided it was time to take a serious look at an idea that's been around for decades."
Wynne said seven million people live along the corridor between Toronto and Windsor and the current transportation options just aren't good enough.
"This is where our economy thrives, is along that corridor," she said. "It's exactly what our economy needs."
The project would use a combination of existing track and new rail lines dedicated to the high-speed train, officials told CBC News. It would include stops in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Chatham, and connect to Toronto Pearson International Airport.
London Mayor Matt Brown praised the project, saying it will cut Toronto commute times in half for residents of his city. It's estimated the train would take 73 minutes to get from London to Union Station in Toronto.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, who has been joined by Toronto Mayor John Tory in touting an innovation corridor between the two cities, said he was excited for what high-speed rail will mean for Waterloo region.
"I think this kind of infrastructure announcement, quite frankly, is transformational for the region in terms of becoming a global, technology super-cluster," he told CBC News.
"I think the province recognizes that, if we're going to compete in a global economy, investing in this kind of infrastructure – long overdue in Canada – is an important part of where we need to go."
This map shows a proposed high-speed rail network in southern Ontario. (Ministry of Transportation of Ontario)
Transportation Minister Steve Del Duca said there will need to be environmental assessments for both the provincial and federal approvals and design work will be done at the same time. That could take up to four years to complete. Construction could begin in four to six years.
The price for phase one of the project – Toronto to London – could be between $4 billion and $12 billion, depending on different factors, Del Duca said, citing a report by Ontario's high-speed rail special adviser David Collenette.
The trains will be 40 to 60 per cent faster than current journey times, but Del Duca said they still need to determine specifics like when trains will run and how much fares will cost.
The goal would be to have phase two, from London to Windsor, completed by 2031.
"We've got to move ahead on this," she siad. "We've got to do it this time, folks. I'm committed to it."