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Government of Canada advances the procurement process for High Frequency Rail

Press Release

From: Transport Canada

October 31, 2022         Ottawa           Transport Canada

High Frequency Rail will transform passenger rail service in Canada through the creation of a faster, more frequent, accessible, and sustainable rail service among the major centres of Québec City, Trois-Rivières, Montréal, Ottawa, Peterborough, and Toronto.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced the next steps in the procurement process for High Frequency Rail (HFR) through an update to the Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI). This update reflects input and provides answers to key questions received through the RFEOI process. It provides industry and Canadians with new information about the HFR and its procurement.

Feedback from the RFEOI includes:

  • Responses from a total of 54 interested parties, confirming a high level of domestic and international interest in the project.
  • Responses confirming support for the overall approach; seeking clarifications on some elements of the project, including roles and responsibilities of the Government and private partner; and suggesting ways to enhance the design of the procurement process.
  • Recommendations for strategic changes to the procurement timelines, such as shortening the Request for Proposal period.

The next step in the procurement process, the Request for Qualifications (RFQ), is anticipated to begin in early 2023.

Launched in March 2022, the RFEOI marked the first step in the procurement phase and delivering benefits for Canadians. The RFEOI was undertaken to share the Government’s vision for the project and to obtain the market’s feedback on the HFR Project.

The Government of Canada is committed to an ongoing dialogue and building nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Input and feedback from Indigenous Peoples throughout the life of the project will be essential to developing an effective project.

VIA Rail and its employees are central to the success of High Frequency Rail and will continue to play a key role across Canada as our national passenger rail provider. A subsidiary of VIA Rail is being established to act as a dedicated Project Development Office. It will be responsible for leading several key project activities, and will work collaboratively with the private partner to co-develop and optimize the HFR project. Canada will work with VIA Rail and the private partner to ensure that workforce changes required for the advancement of the HFR project would be done in consultation with unions to protect the interests of VIA rail employees.

Please visit the HFR website for a full list of changes and clarifications to the procurement process, or to get involved in the project by providing feedback, asking questions, and signing up for project updates.

Quotes

“High Frequency Rail is a transformational project that promises to fundamentally change the way Canadians travel in southern Ontario and Quebec, improving accessibility, and providing more travel flexibility. We’re pleased with the market’s interest in this project and in the Government obtaining over 50 responses from interested parties. Feedback from these parties was critical in making this project even better and will be used to move the next phase of the project forward – the request for qualifications.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • HFR is expected to transform intercity passenger rail in the Corridor through a variety of project outcomes, including, but not limited to:
    • Shortening travel times, with reductions of up to 90 minutes on some routes;
    • Increasing trip frequencies between major cities;
    • Offering more reliable and improved on-time performance;
    • Adding new services to Peterborough and Trois-Rivières; and,
    • Providing a greener rail system and cleaner travel option using electrified technology.
  • As with any large-scale infrastructure project, the Government of Canada is using a phased approach to leverage input collected throughout the procurement process and to inform the next steps and decisions regarding the implementation of the High Frequency Rail Project.
  • Budget 2022 provided Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada with $396.8 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to continue advancing key project activities and undertake the procurement phase of the project.
  • The next steps in the High Frequency Rail project and expected dates include:
    • Government of Canada issues Request for Qualifications: early 2023
    • Request for Qualifications period ends: early spring 2023
    • Government of Canada evaluation of Request for Qualifications and identification of Qualified Respondents: Early spring 2023
    • Government of Canada issues Request for Proposals: Late spring 2023
    • Request for Proposals period ends: early spring 2024
  • High Frequency Rail will transform passenger rail services for Canadians in the Toronto to Québec City corridor. In parallel, VIA Rail continues the important work of rebuilding the passenger rail business in Canada following the pandemic.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to engaging the public, including communities currently served by VIA Rail between Toronto and Québec City, and consulting Indigenous Peoples to inform the Project’s design and development. Anyone interested in sharing their views on the project, asking questions, or signing up for project updates is encouraged to visit the HFR website.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to forming meaningful nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous Peoples through an ongoing dialogue to better understand their priorities and concerns , and how best to engage with them throughout the different phases of the project.

Associated links

Contacts

Nadine Ramadan
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
[email protected]

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055
[email protected]

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