Three teams competing to build Toronto-Quebec City high frequency rail line

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By Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Three construction teams have been selected as finalists to build a high-frequency rail project, which will connect Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced in July that the three contenders will be submitting their proposals this year. At a press conference at the Montreal Central Station, the minister announced a request for proposals from three consortia that had made it onto a shortlist, the latest step in a project announced in July 2021.

Teams:

  • Cadence – CDPQ Infra, SNC-Lavalin, Systra Canada and Keolis Canada
  • InterCity Rail Developers – Intercity Development Partners, EllisDon Capital, Kilmer Transportation, First Rail Holdings, Jacobs, Hatch, CIMA+, First Group and RATP Dev Canada, Renfe Operadora
  • QConnexiON Rail Partners, consists of Fengate, John Laing, Bechtel, WSP Canada and Deutsche Bahn

Alghabra said he hopes to select a partner next summer for the project expected to cost between $6 billion and $12 billion.

“While I may have a sense for the overall number, I also wouldn’t want to give Canadians an inaccurate number that later on I have to change,” he said, adding the projected completion date is now the mid-2030s — rather than the early 2030s, which he projected as recently as March.

“The forecast is that I’d love to see the service in operation in mid-2030s. That is where we expect the service to be ready,” he told reporters, with construction to kick off “a few years from now. But it is a lengthy process, I acknowledge that. But this is the best way to do it, because we want to do it right.” Alghabra said.

Topping out at about 200 km/h, Via Rail trains will run along mostly new track on land owned largely by Canada’s two rail giants, CN and CP, he said.

The passenger cars are expected to pass through Montreal, Trois-Rivières and other Quebec and Ontario municipalities that sit between Toronto and Quebec City, running at up to 200 km/h. The corridor would also include stops in Ottawa and Peterborough.

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