Quebec Premier Jean Charest says high-speed rail (TGV) from Quebec to Ontario must include Quebec City

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There is a proposed high-speed rail project in Canada's most populous area underway, and one of the debates is whether to construct it in one stage or two stages. One stage would mean a corridor that would extend from Quebec City in the northeast all the way down to Windsor Ontario (located just across the river from Detroit), but another idea proposed has been to work first on a shorter first stage that would simply connect the two most populous cities (Montreal and Toronto) and then work on the other areas later on. Jean Charest has said that a two-stage project would be a grave error though.

Before getting to the article first let's take a look at the map. The area from Montreal to Toronto is in red, while the lines from Montreal to Quebec and Toronto to Winsdor are in green.

Toronto has a metropolitan population of some 5.5 million, and Montreal over 3.5 million. Windsor only has a population of 250,000 or so, but also happens to be connected to Detroit. Quebec City though is kind of lying out there by itself, with a population of just a bit over 700,000 in the metro area. The exact distance between the cities is as follows:

Windsor to Toronto: 329 km
Toronto to Montreal: 515 km
Montreal to Quebec City: 230 km

Luckily for Quebec the distance from Quebec City to Montreal is not distressingly huge, and Quebec just happens to be the capital of the province as well so it's likely to get its way.

From the article:

A high-speed train from Quebec to Windsor not including Quebec City as the starting point would be "a grave error", warns the Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest.

Charest does not approve of the Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's idea to promote the high-speed train in two stages, focusing first on the Montreal-Toronto corridor, followed by an extension to Quebec and Windsor.

This would be a future election promise by the Canadian Liberal Party, which says that the project would still depend on the state of public finances in an eventual federal Liberal government.

The concept of a high-speed train in the Quebec-Windsor corridor is a project that Charest and the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty have been working on.

"There is one thing that disappointed me in what I read and I hope it's not true: an approach that would limit the corridor to Montreal and Toronto. That would be a grave error. This is unacceptable from Quebec's point of view." said Quebec Premier Charest on Monday, who gave a press conference in Montreal on climate change.

On the point in the Liberal commitment that it would need to reflect the state of public finances in the Canadian government, Charest said that "A project like this would happen over a long period of time. And if there's one thing I remember that is even more relevant today it's that this is in the context not just of climate change but also regarding the overload of cars and trucks on our roads. If the project was a good idea during the 1990s then it's even better today."

"We want, we insist that the journey happens from Quebec to Montreal, and then from Montreal to Toronto. Because if it does not start with Quebec, the chance of it being done one day is almost nil."
"This is an absolute must, and a question of principle for the government of Quebec: the high-speed train leaves from Quebec City, our national capital."

(note: national capital here simply means the capital of Quebec.)


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