The private sector in high-frequency train controls | The opposition demands accountability from the Trudeau government

The High Frequency Train of the Future (TGF) is tainted with transparency according to opposition parties urging the Trudeau government to explain why the private sector is allowed to set prices and timetables for this important project.

Posted at 4:25 PM.

Julian Arsino

Julian Arsino

Ottawa wants to assign “Partner” to operate the VIA Rail trains that will run on the reserved corridor between Quebec and Toronto – Crowne’s busiest and most profitable. Journalism Watch this scenario when reading the Expression of Interest – a document of about 75 pages that has been quietly circulating for the past few days. No other options were considered.

Alexander Poliris, deputy leader of the New Democratic Party confirms: “We were told” This is what it is “. Were there any comparative studies? Were other solutions studied? We want answers. »

At a press conference in Montreal on March 9, the Federal Minister of Transport, Omar Al-Ghubra, limited himself to inviting the private sector to participate in the adventure, without providing further details.

The plan is to transfer all VIA Rail services in the Quebec City and Toronto corridor to a subsidiary that collects revenue. She will have her say in all aspects. If there are guidelines for pricing and timelines to be respected, no details will be provided.

asked by JournalismTransport planning experts were surprised that there were no details explaining the choice of Ottawa. The model in which a private company operates a public transport network is located elsewhere in the world.

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Mr. Alghabra never explained in detail why this option was preferred. In an email on Friday, his government was limited to saying the TGF is the “largest public transportation infrastructure project” in Canadian history and that it must be “done right”.

Several fears

For VIA Rail employees, many questions remain unanswered. Everything indicates that they can be transferred to a new entity or end up with the partner that Ottawa will keep.

There has been no public debate and all this information comes to us like hair in soup. What will happen to the employees? I get the impression it’s some kind of red herring where we try not to disappoint them. I think there is a need to clarify things. My impression is that the government does not know where to turn. All we know is that he wants the private sector to run the project.

Xavier Barceló Duval, Quebecoa Block Transfer Critic

Photo by Justin Tang, Canadian Press Archives

Bloc Québécois Representative Xavier Barsalou-Duval

Transport Canada says there will be no “privatization of VIA Rail,” which operates intercity lines across the country.

Minister Al-Ghubra said: “We will require that any agreement with a private sector partner respects collective agreements and benefits, and makes clear how the partner will work with VIA Rail employees and unions, and ensure that existing employees benefit from the employment opportunities that the project will provide.” Office. headquarters. center.

According to its most recent annual report, VIA Rail employs approximately 2,800 full-time workers.

“The failure of the Liberal government to provide meaningful information on how to build and operate the high-frequency rail corridor for Via Rail does not inspire confidence in meeting this commitment,” said Tory Transport Officer Melissa Lantzmann.

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TGF will operate on reserved railways, which is not currently the case. The trains will run faster, up to 200 km / h, which will lead to gains on all routes. Montreal-Quebec could be done in 2 hours 55 minutes or 3 hours, instead of 3 hours 24 minutes at the moment.

Photo via the railway website

The planned TGF network from VIA Rail.

After citing a $6-$12 billion budget for the fund last year, Mr. Alghabra said it shouldn’t have come forward. So the bill is likely to be higher, but the minister no longer wants to talk about numbers.

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  • 2030
    TGF is scheduled to start operating at the beginning of the next decade. Work should start around 2025.

    Government of Canada

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