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Ontario high-speed rail link on track, despite high cost

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Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne recently announced a high-speed rail link from Toronto to Windsor. The issue has been talked about for decades, but previous governments had backed away because of the high costs.

Now, Premier Wynne says there is a business case for a high-speed corridor. Her government's plan is to do it in phases, the first between Toronto and London, Ontario to be completed by 2025 and the last phase to Windsor by 2031.

It comes at a cost of around $20 billion.
    
Until now the excuses for not building a high speed rail link were many—the country is too large, the population too small. But Wynne says studies show there is a business case for it.
        
"This high-speed rail link could ultimately attract up to 10 million passengers a year. Yes, there will be challenges in building it. But there's also enormous opportunity to unlock local and regional economic development," Wynne said.
    
Wynne adds that 60 percent of Ontario's economic activity is along that Toronto-Windsor corridor. Preliminary design work and a $15 million environmental assessment are underway. Canada is the only G-8 country that doesn't have a high speed rail system in operation or under construction.
    
Wynne also acknowledges that her announcement will spark a huge debate about the cost, but says it's time to move ahead.
    
Critics are skeptical. Opposition politicians question the timing of Wynne's announcement saying southwestern Ontario has been waiting for high-speed rail for years. Now, a year away from an election, they say they're hearing about another transit project that will never be delivered on.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.