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VIA Rail: Shifting the Corridor North (Toronto – Peterborough – Ottawa – Montreal)

13th November 2016

There was a recent article that came out suggesting that VIA rail was considering a line between Toronto and Smiths Falls (via Peterborough / Havelock / Glen Tay / Perth).  This line, I assume would use CPR from Smiths Falls to Glen Tay, 94 miles of new track between Glen Tay to Havelock, CPR from Havelock to Peterborough, and finish up with Metrolinx (assuming that by the time this is built, GO train service has reach Peterborough) from Peterborough to Toronto.

New rail from Glen Tay to Havelock would need to be constructed.  This route was abandoned in 1971 from Glen Tay to Tweed, and in 1988 from Tweed to Havelock.  Below is a CPR passenger time table from 1960 for that section of track which would need to be reconstructed.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-9-11-44-am

The positives of this proposal is that it would reduce the conflict between VIA and CN on the Kingston sub since VIA would own the tracks from Coteau to Havelock.  If this was to proceed, the cost for acquiring right of ways and building this route would be much less than any route further south closer to Lake Ontario.

The negative for this would be that this would bypass a very populous part of the province (Kingston alone had 168,528 boardings in 2015).  Furthermore, this project would be very expensive since rumoured costs for this have been in the 3 billion dollar mark (which I think is too low).

If this is part of a very long term vision, it could make sense.  Given the recent investments that VIA has been making which would be deprecated by this plan (300 million for CNs Kingston sub in 2009, 20 million in Smiths Falls sub in 2015, … ) in the past few years, I doubt VIA sees this as a short or medium term possibility.

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