OTTAWA — The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced that the Government of Canada will fund up to one third of the cost of updating feasibility studies, including a passenger forecast study, for a high-speed rail service between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City. The cost of the studies will be shared jointly with the Governments of Ontario and Quebec.

"This government is committed to examining alternatives that offer comfortable, faster and more reliable passenger rail services that will also contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and other emissions," said Minister Cannon.

Such studies would need to examine the environmental and economic business case for such a service. As well, there is a need to assess the opportunity for private sector participation in the development and implementation of such a concept, so that taxpayers do not have to shoulder the entire financial burden of such an initiative. From previous studies, there may be opportunities for a public-private partnership.

These studies will be in addition to the recent $700 million in funding provided to VIA Rail for its network and equipment, which will allow VIA to provide more frequent service at higher operating speed and improve its on-time performance in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. Equally important, VIA's fleet refurbishment program will contribute to improving VIA's environmental performance through increased fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Once VIA's F-40 locomotive rebuild program is complete, VIA will have one of the most fuel efficient fleets of diesel locomotives of any rail passenger operator in North America.

"In addition, I am calling on the Ontario and Quebec Governments to do their part by continuing to invest in public transit in their respective urban centres, to ease congestion and contribute to cleaner air for Canadians," added Minister Cannon.

"It is critical to note that Canada is just beginning to address priorities for sustainable public transit, particularly in large urban centres such as Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal, and Quebec City. We must continue to support this effort by putting Canadian taxpayers' dollars to good use to ease congestion and clean the air we breathe," continued Minister Cannon.

The Government of Canada has recognized public transit as a funding priority through Building Canada, its $33-billion, seven-year, long-term infrastructure plan.