High-speed Quebec City-Windsor rail link could cost $21.3B
Published Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:06PM EST
OTTAWA - A new study predicts development of a high-speed rail line between Quebec City and Windsor, Ont., could cost more than $21.3 billion and have little hope of making money.
The detailed study -- the latest of more than a dozen since 1984 -- was conducted by a group of international consulting firms on behalf of the federal, Ontario and Quebec governments.
It includes assessments of high-speed train technologies, potential routes, traffic forecasts and cost-benefit analyses.
The study also evaluates socio-economic, environmental and transportation system impacts.
It looked at two technologies based on speeds of 200 kilometres an hour using diesel traction and 300 km/h using electric traction.
It estimated development costs in 2009 dollars for the full Quebec City--Windsor corridor at $18.9 billion for the slower technology and $21.3 billion for the higher-speed system technology.
The study says the busiest section, Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto, alone could cost between $9.1 billion and $11 billion.
"Governments would need to contribute significantly to the project development cost and receive no financial return on investment," says a report summary.
"From the point of view of the Canadian economy as a whole, the economic analysis showed that (high-speed rail) between Quebec City and Windsor would not generate a positive net economic benefit. However, a project between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto only could generate a positive net economic benefit at both 200 and 300 km/h."
About 85 per cent of Via Rail's annual ridership of four million travel the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, the bulk of that between Montreal and Toronto. Via's conventional trains top out at about 160 kilometres an hour.
The study was conducted by EcoTrain, a group of international consulting firms led by Dessau and comprising Deutsche Bahn International, KPMG, MMM Group, and Wilbur Smith Associates.