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Canada funds massive expansion

Toronto’s preserved PCC tram on recently-laid trackwork in the Brewery district for the new Cherry line. (P. Ehrlich)

Boost for Ontario transit projects; significant Montreal light metro infrastructure agreement reached.


The Canadian Federal Government has announced that CAD1.49bn (approx. EUR1bn) is to be made available for transportation infrastructure in Ontario, matched by an equal sum from the Province. The programme of investment was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on 23 August at a ceremony attended by Toronto Mayor John Tory.
Five cities in the province – Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Barrie and Sudbury – are to be the first recipients of the dedicated transit funding for projects that have already been approved. The funding can be used for up to half of the costs of an eligible project and the announcement allows retrospective contributions to 1 April.
Around CAD500m (EUR345m) will be available to the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) for dozens of projects that have been awaiting external funding because its own budget is not sufficient.
Work includes replacing signalling on the Bloor – Danforth subway, improving accessibility and overhauling lifts and escalators, better subway depot facilities, repairing or replacing tracks and overhead.
It also covers the mid-life overhaul of subway cars, life extension overhaul of 40 ALRV trams, new buses for regular fleet and Wheeltrans accessibility services, customer information screens, and ventilation and pump replacement.
Funding will also allow planning, design and early works on system expansion, including Finch West, Eglinton West and East, Scarborough Subway, and the Downtown Relief Line.
In Montreal, Pension fund Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) Infra has reached an agreement with Canadian National Railway (CN) to purchase land, buildings and infrastructure for its 67km (42-mile) Metropolitan Electric Network (REM) automated metro project.
Most significantly, CDPQ Infra will acquire the viaduct that leads to Montreal Central station, removing potential conflicts with other operators, Metropolitan Transit Agency, Via Rail and Amtrak. Announced in August, the agreement also avoids the demolition of several buildings and obviates the need for new parallel tracks and many major road closures.
Environmental impact hearings for the CAD5.5bn (EUR3.8bn) project (CAD3bn from CDPQ and CAD2.5bn from federal and provincial funds) will begin on 29 August. The Quebec Government is expected to make a final decision on the project this winter to allow construction to begin in spring 2017.