High speed rail critical to London, group says

April 28, 2016

By Jonathan Sher, The London Free Press

With Via Rail seeking a track of its own for conventional trains, an expert says only high-speed trains will get people out of their cars between London and Toronto and inject a badly needed jolt to the region’s economy.Website Insert Passenger Trains Very Well copy

Southwestern Ontario won’t abandon the highway unless high-speed trains can get them more quickly to Toronto, said Terry Johnson, a Chatham-Kent business­person and president of the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance.

“It needs to be faster than 90 minutes,” he said Wednesday.

Johnson has allies in his push for high-speed rail, with the Ontario government already starting an ­environmental assessment.

But Via has pushed in a different direction, criticizing high-speed rail as too costly and lobbying for a track that would be used exclusively by its passenger trains, which now get stuck waiting for long freight trains that get priority on CN tracks.

Via’s approach may work well in the 541-km run from Toronto to Montreal, the company’s priority, Johnson said.

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