OTTAWA — The federal government has reported significant interest in its High Frequency Rail project, with the next stage of a Request for Qualifications set to begin early next year.
The project would boost passenger service between Quebec City and Toronto. The Ministry of Transport said it has received responses from 54 parties as part of the Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) stage.
A statement said responses confirmed support for the overall approach; sought clarifications on some elements of the project, including roles and responsibilities of the government and private partner; and suggested changes to the procurement process, such as shortening the Request for Proposal period.
The RFEOI was launched in February.
A subsidiary of Via Rail is being established to act as a dedicated project development office. It will be responsible for leading key project activities, working with the private partner.
The project would also include improvements to train service to Trois-Rivieres, Montreal, Ottawa and Peterborough.
The statement said the improvements to passenger service would include shorter travel times, with reductions of up to 90 minutes on some routes; increasing trip frequencies between major cities; adding new services to Peterborough and Trois-Rivieres; and ensuring the system is more sustainable with electrified technology.
The 2022 federal budget provided Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada with $400 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to support development of the project and the procurement phase.
“We’re pleased with the market’s interest in this project and in the government obtaining over 50 responses from interested parties,” stated Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra in the statment. “Feedback from these parties was critical in making this project even better and will be used to move the next phase of the project forward, the request for qualifications.”