Via Rail seeking federal budget funding for $1.3B passenger car upgrade in Toronto-Montreal corridor

Inc. is looking for funding in the March 22 for a new fleet of cars costing upwards of $1.3 billion that would go with a dedicated -- passenger rail corridor that could be operational in fall 2019 with the government’s blessing.

Via chief executive Yves Desjardins-Siciliano told the Ottawa Citizen the rail carrier also wants the federal government to allow it to proceed with plans to have large pension funds invest in the $2-billion construction of the corridor, a move that requires a cabinet order.

Any budget dollars for a new fleet of Via cars for the corridor could be a potential boon to Bombardier Inc., which is looking for some federal financial aid and whose rail division could produce the passenger trains the Crown corporation wants.

Channelling federal dollars and powers to separate freight and passenger rail networks to allow for a dedicated Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor was a key recommendation from a sweeping review of Canada’s transportation system, was tabled last week by the .

Tyler Anderson/NPTyler Anderson/NPVia Rail CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

On Monday, Desjardins-Siciliano said Via’s hopes for a dedicated passenger rail corridor fits nicely with the Liberal government’s plans to invest billions of dollars in large projects that generate jobs, long-term economic growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We believe it is a transformational project and it certainly meets a lot of the policy objectives we’ve been hearing about from the new government,” Desjardins-Siciliano

About Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen