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Minister of Transport announces the launch of the Request for Proposals for the High Frequency Rail project

The High Frequency Rail project will be the largest Canadian infrastructure project in generations. Once operational, the rail line will span the Québec City to Toronto corridor with dedicated passenger tracks. This transformational project will provide clean, safe, and efficient travel, drive our economy, and strengthen our partnerships with Indigenous communities.

Today, the Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant, Pablo Rodriguez, announced the launch of the Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP process will be ongoing until summer 2024. Following the evaluation period, the Government of Canada will select the group who will become the private developer partner to work collaboratively with VIA HFR to design and develop the High Frequency Rail project.

To maximize public benefits and innovation, RFP bidders will have to develop two solutions with respect to speed. One solution must include trains that can reach a maximum speed of 200 kilometres per hour, which is faster than the service offered today. The second solution must include high speed segments for faster travel. This will allow for a rigorous assessment of the costs and benefits of incorporating high speed rail on each segment of the Corridor.

Advancing Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a priority for the Government of Canada, and early engagement with Indigenous communities is already underway. Indigenous engagement is critical to the success of the project. As part of the RFP process, bidders will be required to detail their plans for Indigenous participation in the High Frequency Rail project and how they would facilitate opportunities for sharing the socio-economic benefits with Indigenous Peoples.

The High Frequency Rail project's competitive procurement process follows the highest standards of fairness and transparency. It is overseen by an independent Fairness Monitor, who acts as an objective, third-party observer to safeguard the integrity of the procurement process. National security and related risks will also be assessed, along with measures to address such risks.

High Frequency Rail is a transformational project that will fundamentally change the way Canadians travel in southern Québec and Ontario, notably for communities who will be newly served by passenger rail service such as Trois-Rivières and Peterborough.

Quotes

"The launch of the Request for Proposals for the High Frequency Rail project marks a significant milestone. In the future, more Canadians will choose to travel by rail, because the HFR will lead to faster train journeys, more frequent departures and greener travel. I look forward to seeing how the teams participating in this process will approach the challenge of connecting communities, honouring Indigenous Reconciliation, and improving travel in the Québec City to Toronto corridor."
Pablo Rodriguez
Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant

"Over the past few months, our government has been working extensively with world-class experts from the private sector to help deliver this major infrastructure project and ensure that Canadians have access to fast and reliable rail service. The High Frequency Rail project will contribute to the economic development of the regions served, particularly the Quebec region, while promoting labor mobility and green mobility. The launch of the Request for Proposals marks a critical step in the procurement process and brings us closer to the completion of this important project."
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Member of Parliament for Québec

"This transformative project is about connecting people and places in Canada's most densely populated corridor. Our team is committed to making passenger rail travel more flexible. By moving passenger trains onto their own dedicated tracks, we'll offer faster, more frequent trains that arrive reliably on time. Our service will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector."
Martin Imbleau
Chief Executive Officer, VIA HFR – VIA TGF Inc.


Quick facts
  • A major milestone was reached on July 20, 2023, when the three successful teams were announced as a result of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) stage of the procurement process.
  • VIA HFR is a wholly owned subsidiary of VIA Rail.
  • As with any large-scale infrastructure project, the Government of Canada is using a phased approach to leverage input collected throughout the procurement process and to inform the next steps and decisions regarding the implementation of the High Frequency Rail project.
  • The Government of Canada is implementing a robust cost management strategy for every phase of the project to ensure costs are contained. This strategy will include annual cost updates, recurring due diligence reviews, and open book reporting to manage costs and to report changes. Partners will also be incentivized to innovate and seek cost reductions to create better value for money, while protecting the public interest.
  • Budget 2022 provided Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada with close to $400 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to continue advancing key project activities and undertake the procurement phase of the project.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to engaging the public, including communities currently served by VIA Rail between Québec City and Toronto, and forming meaningful, nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationships with Indigenous Peoples, to inform the project's design and development on an ongoing basis. Anyone interested in sharing their views on the project, asking questions, or signing up for project updates is encouraged to visit the VIA HFR website.
  • The Government of Canada is also committed to exploring options to enhance intercity passenger rail service in Southwestern Ontario, including increased frequencies. Work is being undertaken to better understand the operating environment in Southwestern Ontario, and to explore options for enhancing service west of Toronto, in cities such as London and Windsor.
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