High-speed Passenger Rail Service
WHEREAS modern high-speed, high-frequency passenger rail links between Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal could greatly reduce the volume of car and air traffic between those centres and thus the volume of carbon emissions;
WHEREAS current passenger rail service is so slow that business travelers between those points are forced to use modes of transportation that are less convenient than trains;
WHEREAS Canada has the manufacturing capacity to build the rolling stock that would be needed for such a project, and that orders for rail cars and other equipment needed would help to stimulate the economies of Ontario and Quebec;
WHEREAS Via Rail, Canada’s crown corporation for passenger rail travel, has developed a plan to construct a dedicated passenger rail line between Toronto and Montreal with a view to upgrading its service between these two centres to a high-frequency service;
WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada already has policy calling for the prioritization of high-speed rail transportation (G10-P10 Prioritizing High-Speed Rail in Canada), this motion is a call for action to realize the goal set forth in that resolution;
BE IT RESOLVED that a Green government will fund the construction of dedicated passenger rail lines between Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in order to facilitate the construction of high-frequency passenger rail service, with a view to subsequently constructing a high-speed rail service between those points at a later date;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that funding for this project be limited to 4 billion dollars in the first phase of this project, and that funding come from interest-free loans from the Bank of Canada.
In 2014 fifty-six Greens traveled from Vancouver to Miramachi, New Brunswick on the ‘Green Train’ to attend the Biannual General Meeting in Fredericton. The trip gave us a first-hand view of the current state of Canada’s passenger rail service, which can be most generously described as ‘quaint’. For myself, as a long-time resident of Japan and having visited the country and used its high-speed trains shortly before the cross-Canada trip, the contrast between the service between Toronto and Montreal, and Tokyo and Nagoya could not have been starker. The rail service between Canada’s two biggest cities is slow, infrequent, rarely on schedule and at times was so bumpy I was unable to read without feeling seasick. It is no wonder that despite the advantages of a downtown-to-downtown transportation option most business travelers choose to fly instead.
A modern passenger rail service connecting Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal could significantly reduce the amount of travel by air and by car, which would have a positive impact on the country’s carbon emissions. It would also facilitate business by permitting speedier, more convenient travel between the country’s two largest cities, and construction of it would help to stimulate the economy in areas of the country negatively affected by globalization.
Via Rail currently has a plan to construct a dedicated passenger rail link through this corridor, which will allow it to build what it calls a ‘high-frequency’ rail line. Without having to defer to freight trains, its trains will be able to move quicker and more punctually. This is an important first step, but to be viable in the long term, it will need to become a true high-speed service, which requires the removal of all at-grade rail crossings. This will naturally require a great deal of funding, which should come in the form of a special bond issue from the Government of Canada, to be purchased by the Bank of Canada to make it an interest-free loan.
The construction of rail lines was a fundamental part of the creation of Canada – it’s why British Columbia joined the Confederation. We should be continuing that tradition today.