We’re moving ahead with plans to build high speed rail between Toronto and Windsor, a first for Ontario and Canada. Currently, we are in the early stages of the planning, design and environmental assessment work.

Over the next 60 years, the economic benefits from high speed rail are expected to yield over $20 billion from:

  • passenger travel time savings
  • automobile operating cost savings
  • greenhouse gas reduction benefits
  • benefits from reduced congestion on roads

There’s a lot to be done to realize these benefits, including planning, design, and environmental assessments (EA). This will include engagement with the general public, Indigenous communities, businesses and municipalities who could be affected.

Have your say

We want to hear from you during the planning, design and EA process! Your input will help inform the evaluation process and will influence decision making. Have your say and sign up for our mailing list to stay up-to-date on the program.

What it can do

High speed rail has the potential to:

  • increase transit options
  • reduce travel times by 40-60%
  • attract new visitors, businesses and talent to the province
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions

We will update this page as we continue to reach important milestones.

How high speed rail is different

In Ontario, we define high speed rail as a system as a rail system that operates at or above 250 km/h on dedicated tracks or at 200 km/h on existing tracks. High speed rail allows commuters to travel smoothly and quickly over longer distances that are currently a barrier to same-day travel.

Here are some key differences between high-speed rail and other types of rail service:

  Long-distance passenger rail Commuter rail High speed rail
Speed 80 – 160 km/h 130 – 175 km/h 175 – 300 km/h
Power Diesel-electric Diesel-electric Electric
Tracks Some parts shared with freight rail Some parts shared with freight rail Exclusive to passenger service
Typical station distance 15-30 km apart 30-50 km apart 50-100 km apart

High speed rail is in place across Europe, Japan and the east coast of the United States. Canada is the only G8 country without a high speed rail system.

Why the Toronto-Windsor corridor

The Toronto-Windsor corridor is a growing region that is currently home to more than 7 million people and 3.4 million jobs. By 2040 the region is expected to be home to over 11 million people. High speed rail will support the transportation needs of this growing population.

This region is an ideal candidate for high-speed rail because it’s:

  • a hub for leading start-ups, research institutions, and manufacturing and agricultural sectors
  • home to existing regional transit systems and Canada’s largest and busiest airport
  • growing faster than its current transportation network can accommodate

7 proposed station stops

The proposed high speed rail system will include 7 stops, constructed in two phases:

Phase 1: TorontoPearson Airport/MaltonGuelphKitchener-WaterlooLondon
Phase 2: LondonChathamWindsor

Simple line drawing shows the proposed route and 7 potential stops of high-speed rail service between Toronto Union and Windsor.

This map demonstrates a concept level route only.

The environmental assessment, public and stakeholder input and the planning and design process will help us confirm the station locations and final route.

Toronto Union

Potential location

The existing Union GO station: 141 Bay St., Toronto

Estimated journey time to…

  • Pearson Airport/Malton: 16 minutes
  • Guelph: 39 minutes
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: 48 minutes
  • London: 73 minutes
  • Chatham: 102 minutes
  • Windsor: 124 minutes

Connected systems

  • TTC
  • Via Rail
  • Union Pearson (UP) Express
  • GO Transit

Related projects


Pearson Airport/Malton

Potential location

The existing Malton GO Station: 3060 Derry Rd. E, Mississauga

Estimated journey time to…

  • Toronto Union: 16 minutes
  • Guelph: 23 minutes
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: 32 minutes
  • London: 57 minutes
  • Chatham: 86 minutes
  • Windsor: 108 minutes

Connected systems

  • Planned connections to Pearson International Airport Terminals 1 and 3
  • TTC
  • GO Transit
  • Union Pearson (UP) Express
  • Brampton Transit
  • Mississauga Transit
  • Opportunity for future partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority on multimodal hub plan

Related projects


Guelph

Potential location

The existing Guelph central station: 79 Carden St.

Estimated journey time to…

  • Toronto Union: 39 minutes
  • Pearson Airport/Malton: 23 minutes
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: 9 minutes
  • London: 34 minutes
  • Chatham: 63 minutes
  • Windsor: 85 minutes

Connected systems

  • Guelph Transit
  • GO Transit

Related projects


Kitchener-Waterloo

Potential location

The King/Victoria Transit Hub, a new multimodal station slightly west of the existing VIA Rail station

Estimated journey time to…

  • Toronto Union: 48 minutes
  • Pearson Airport/Malton: 32 minutes
  • Guelph: 9 minutes
  • London: 25 minutes
  • Chatham: 54 minutes
  • Windsor: 76 minutes

Connected systems

  • LRT – Waterloo’s Ion Light Rail Transit system
  • Grand River Transit buses
  • GO Transit

Related projects


London

Potential location

The existing London railway station: 205 York St.

Estimated journey time to…

  • Toronto Union: 73 minutes
  • Pearson Airport/Malton: 57 minutes
  • Guelph: 34 minutes
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: 25 minutes
  • Chatham: 29 minutes
  • Windsor: 51 minutes

Connected systems

  • Shift – London’s planned bus rapid transit system
  • Station is close to the existing Greyhound bus terminal

Related projects


Chatham

Potential location

The existing Chatham Via Rail station: 360 Queen St.

Estimated journey time to…

  • Toronto Union: 102 minutes
  • Pearson Airport/Malton: 86 minutes
  • Guelph: 63 minutes
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: 54 minutes
  • London: 29 minutes
  • Windsor: 22 minutes

Connected systems

  • Chatham-Kent Transit

Windsor

Potential location

A new station near the downtown.

Estimated journey time to…

  • Toronto Union: 124 minutes
  • Pearson Airport/Malton: 108 minutes
  • Guelph: 85 minutes
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: 76 minutes
  • London: 51 minutes
  • Chatham: 22 minutes

Connected systems

  • Transit Windsor

Path to delivering high speed rail

Work to bring high speed rail to Ontario involves three main streams.

1. Corridor planning, design and environmental assessment (EA)

The first phase of the corridor planning and EA work will be completed in two coordinated segments. The first segment from Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo is within the existing GO Regional Express Rail corridor and will be coordinated with Metrolinx.

The segment between Kitchener-Waterloo and London is a new corridor, and will follow the Ontario individual EA process. Development and approval of an EA Terms of Reference is the first step in the individual EA process, and will establish the process to be followed for the planning, design and EA study. We’ve retained WSP Group Canada LTD to assist with preparing the EA Terms of Reference.

Consultations

We’re committed to engaging with stakeholders, municipalities, the agricultural sector, and Indigenous communities in the Toronto-Windsor corridor. There will be a number of consultation opportunities throughout the planning, design and EA process which will allow us to better understand the thoughts and views of community members and provide opportunities to learn more about high speed rail. More details regarding these opportunities will be available as the program moves forward.

2. Corporate and financial design

High speed rail is a completely new mode of transportation for Canada and all aspects of the project must be explored in detail. This work is in early stages and we will develop more detailed cost estimates over time as the project proceeds through the EA process. We will need to do additional design work, service planning, modelling, and stakeholder engagement before the overall cost can be determined.

3. Regulatory and standards development

We will coordinate with Transport Canada, VIA Rail and other regulatory bodies to develop regulatory and safety standards.

Optimizing connections with GO Transit, VIA Rail, local and intercity transit will be critical to the success of the service. We’ll be working closely with rail and transit service providers and our municipal partners as corridor planning and environmental assessment work for high speed rail advances. No decisions made preclude the future expansion of high speed rail or the development of other rail services in the region.

High speed rail environmental assessment

An environmental assessment is a legislated planning and decision-making process that ensures governments and public bodies consider potential environmental effects before beginning an infrastructure project.

For high speed rail, this means considering how all aspects of the project (e.g. how stations and facilities are built, track locations, energy requirements, expected ridership, parking needs) could affect all aspects of the environment. This includes the land (e.g. in environmentally sensitive areas), water quality, air quality, noise or vibration levels and much more. During the development of the EA Terms of Reference there will be engagement with Indigenous communities and consultation with affected parties including the general public, the agricultural sector, municipalities, other transportation service providers and regulatory agencies.

EA Terms of Reference

The EA Terms of Reference will be developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and will provide a framework for completing the subsequent planning, design, and EA study. The final EA Terms of Reference document will include:

  • purpose of the project
  • rationale for the project
  • description of, and rationale for, the alternatives that will be evaluated during the subsequent planning, design and EA study
  • approach that will be used to assess and evaluate alternatives during the subsequent planning, design and EA study
  • description of the existing environment and potential effects of the project on the environment
  • approach to accommodating new circumstances
  • mitigation and monitoring commitments
  • consultation plan that will be applied during the subsequent planning, design and EA study

The route identified in the Special Advisor’s Report is a concept route only. High speed rail is a priority initiative and the EA Terms of Reference will be scoped to identify and evaluate route alternatives for high speed rail from Kitchener-Waterloo to London.

Timeline

We’ve retained a consultant, WSP, to develop the EA Terms of Reference, and issued a Notice of Study Commencement. Here’s what our team will be working on to prepare the Terms of Reference:

Spring/Summer 2018

  • Develop an engagement and consultation approach for the EA study
  • Outline the purpose of the project
  • Develop options for how to best implement high speed rail, from route alignment to new technologies
  • Assess issues raised by communities and noting environmental conditions

Late Summer 2018

  • Issue Interim Report 1. This is a technical document that will be combined with a second interim report to create the draft Terms of Reference.

Fall 2018-Early 2020

  • Continue development of an approach to evaluating options for implementing high speed rail
  • Identify options for addressing potential impacts
  • Ensure that the Terms of Reference is flexible so it can accommodate new circumstances as the project moves forward

2020

  • Publish the final draft Terms of Reference and submit to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for approval

Engaging Indigenous communities

We will work with Indigenous communities in the corridor at all stages of the high-speed rail project to ensure they are meaningfully engaged in the initiative.

Digital mapping

We’re starting work on a number of fronts to deliver high speed rail, including background studies to inform corridor planning and design and the development of standards and service planning.

Part of the early development work included the creation of a base map of an area between Guelph and London. To develop an accurate map, aerial photographs are taken following markers on the ground that pin point known coordinates that serve as references in the map making process. This map will be used to help planners define and consider a range of corridor alternatives.

No decisions have been made regarding final route alignment. We are interested in hearing from stakeholders and the general public as we move forward with the planning and design of high speed rail.

Project timeline

2031
High speed rail extension to Windsor projected to be complete
 
2025
High speed rail between Toronto and London projected to be complete
 
September 2018
Public outreach expected to begin
 
March 2018
 
May 2017
Ontario announces we’re moving ahead with preliminary design work on the high speed rail project and investing $15 million in a comprehensive environmental assessment
 
December 2016
Ontario’s Special Advisor on high speed rail submits his recommendations for high speed rail in the Toronto-Windsor corridor
 
December 2014
Ontario announces plans to proceed with an environmental assessment and consultations for high speed rail in the Toronto-Windsor corridor
 

Getting your input

We want feedback and input from the people, Indigenous communities, businesses, municipalities and agencies that could be impacted by high speed rail. This is a crucial part of the planning process and will help shape how we move the project forward. We are creating a database with the issues and views brought forward to us. This will influence decision making and help us to develop mitigation measures.

Some of the issues we have heard from you so far include the potential impact of high speed rail on farmland, road access and travel patterns, and wildlife. All of these issues, and more, will be taken into consideration during the EA process.

We know how important it is to hear what people are saying and we take your input and views seriously. As the program moves forward we will be hosting public engagement sessions, with the first planned for September 2018. In the meantime, we welcome you to email us with any of your questions or concerns.

Want to stay up-to-date on the high speed rail program? Subscribe to our mailing list.

Updated: May 14, 2021
Published: October 18, 2017