Millions of people have pledged to modernize aging stations in the Quebec City-Windsor rail corridor

The federal government makes another costly budget promise to make a high-frequency rail line linking Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec come to fruition.

Thursday’s 2022 budget proposal provides $396.8 million over two years for Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada for “planning and design stages” to run frequent trains between Toronto and Quebec.

It also includes $42.8 million over four years to Via Rail, with $169.4 million in depreciation remaining, to build and upgrade stations and maintenance centers along its Windsor-Quebec corridor.

Many of the corridor’s stations and maintenance centers are “decades old” and “require significant investment,” the budget says.

The rail plan has been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but was officially announced last year by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra during a press conference held on board a Via Rail train.

Via Rail said a high-frequency rail line running on dedicated tracks would cut journey times by 25% and improve punctuality by 95%.

Map proposed by VIA Rail for a new high-frequency rail network. (VIA Rail Canada)

Launch date years later

Trains on the line are expected to travel at speeds of up to 177-200 km/h, faster than current Via Rail trains but well below high-speed rail lines, which are capable of at least 250 kph.

The federal government also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in Budget 2021 to Via Rail to make infrastructure investments.

The line is expected to open in the early 2030s.

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