Tuesday, August 04, 2009
La Presse has an op-ed here by PQ member François Rebello that bewails the lack of planning for a high-speed train between Montreal and the cities of New York and Boston, which as you can see on the right are quite close (600 km to New York, 500 km to Boston) and make up a total of 25 million people between them. The reason for the bewailing now is because the Obama administration is embarking upon a high-speed rail program while the Canadian government doesn't seem to have any interest there at the moment, and perhaps a bit more enthusiasm on Canada's part could give the New York-Boston-Montreal corridor a bit more prominence.
At the moment it takes 10 hours to go from Montreal to New York, which is about the same time it takes to get there by car, compared to the train from Paris to Lyon which is three times as fast.
Other points made in the op-ed: Montreal would admittedly have a lot more to gain from a high-speed train than New York, and it's a pity that Canadian ministers did nothing (that's his opinion; I'm sure if they actually did nothing at all) to try to get the project started, which would cost $4 billion for the line from Montreal to New York. It's true that there is discussion about a high-speed train from Toronto to Montreal and finally Quebec city, but that idea is still a preliminary study, and this line should be accelerated too. But that doesn't mean that the line to New York should be delayed either simply because the one from Ontario is slow to get started.
He also points out that in spite of the fact that the distance between the two is quite short (600 km really isn't that far) Quebecers are visiting the north-east United States less and less, with 300 000 less people from Quebec spending at least one night in the north-east US per year between the years 1991 and 2001. Part of the reason according to the article might be that public transport in Quebec is increasing by 1% per year, and with less people driving their own cars the idea of a trip to New York or elsewhere isn't all that appealing.
Compared to the 25 million between Montreal, New York and Boston, the area encompassing Paris, Lyon and Marseille only has 14 million.