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Ontario’s transportation minister, Glen Murray recently told CBC that if the Liberal’s are in power for next spring’s budget, plans for a high speed rail service will be included in their $29-billion infrastructure fund.
Murray said the $2 to $3 billion rails will connect Toronto, Toronto Pearson International Airport with Kitchener and London within the next 10 years. The plan would allow a commuter from Kitchener or London to reach Pearson in little over over half an hour.
According to the minister of transportation, the plan is to provide Ontarians with high-speed railway by 2024.
The model Murray suggest will work best is to have a railway that operates on a system that rewards customer loyalty. He suggests it will operate on a basis of – the more you use it, the less you pay.
He told CBC that if commuters are going to use it daily, it will cost between $10 and $25 per ride compared to, “infrequent riders,” who will likely pay about $40 for a ride from London, Ont. to Toronto.
“I think it’d be pretty cool,” Aaron Navarro, a Oshawa to Toronto daily commuter, said.
He currently pays about $15 for a two-way trip, but he said it’s not all about speed to attract users. It’s also about value. He said he wouldn’t like to pay more than $10 a trip, but for other, further trips he would be willing to pay more.
“If I got to school faster, I’d pay a dollar or two more,” Navarro said.
Jacob Cohen, 20, currently lives in Toronto but has family in Montreal. He said he would love to see the high-speed trains come to Ontario and potentially to Quebec as well eventually.
“I fly at Porter [Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport] to get home [ to Montreal] but if they had a bullet train, I’d for sure use it instead,” Cohen said. “It’d be convenient and more environmentally friendly, I can’t see why they wouldn’t bring them to Ontario and Quebec too eventually.”
In 2010, the Quebec and Ontario ministries of transportation conducted reports to see how feasible a network of high-speed trains from Montreal to Toronto would be.
The speeds being investigated were one set of trains that ran 200 km/h and another that had a capability of 300 km/h.
Canada has long had plans to develop high speed rail across the country, but to no avail. In 2002, Bombardier and VIA Rail proposed to use the Canada-developed JetTrain on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor as part of a new fast-rail initiative. The train was able to travel up to 250km/h, but the project was abandoned and The JetTrain sits idle.
A former Kitchener resident, Mitch Tierney, who lives in Toronto said he would absolutely use the high-speed trains to save time when visiting family in Kitchener. But he isn’t holding his breath that the plan will come into fruition.
“I can’t see it happening, there are already so many municipal transportation projects that need to be funded and completed before the government can worry about new high-speed trains,” Tierney said.
Thirty years ago France built its high-speed rail system, the TGV that like in Japan connects major cities, like Lyon, Avignon, Marseille and Paris for rapid transportation.
The new TGV high speed trains have the capability of going 350km/h, but unlike in Japan, France’s train system is not as esteemed internationally for safety standards after a derailment in July of 2013 killed six and seriously injured 22 passengers.
Spain and China have also been upgrading their high-speed train capabilities, seeing how successful they’ve been in Japan.
The government of Britain in 2013 due to rapid population growth and an increasingly over extended existing railway system invested $16 billion into high speed-trains, called High Speed 2 (HS2).
HS2 will link eight of Britain’s 10 largest cities and the plan hopes to serve one fifth of Britain’s population, reducing congestion on the roads and getting drivers out of their vehicles.
The United States has also dipped their toe into the high-speed train technology game. They currently have the Acela express that travels from New York, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia at speeds of up to 240 km/h.
With Canada literally kilometers behind the world in high-speed train technology, by next spring if the Ontario Liberal government are in fact still in power and keep their promise, Ontarians may become the first in Canada to enjoy trains like the Shinkansen in Canada.
The implementation of the high speed “bullet” trains or Shinkansen has improved transportation immensely, cutting commute times from six hours to four hours from Tokyo to Osaka since it began operation in 1964.
The high speed-trains, capable of a maximum speed of 320km/h made day trips possible, connecting the dense population centres of Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.
Within 12 years of the Shinkansen’s existence, the high-speed trains had already transported over a billion people. To date, high-speed trains in Japan annually deliver service to 143 million people.
Japan’s a country considered to have one of the greatest transportation systems in the world not only because they were the first to use the high-speed trains, but also because there has not been any record of a major accident in 50 years. In 1987, Japan’s national railways were privatized into seven companies, the largest being JR East that runs independently without any government subsidies, owning the entire infrastructure that it operates on.
While JR East offers the bullet trains as an option to consumers, 71 per cent of the company’s profits come from conventional slower trains that are a part of Japans railway network that’s expanding to this date.