HFR will not reduce Cornwall’s Via train service

Nick Laurin
HFR will not reduce Cornwall’s Via train service
Cornwall's Via Rail station (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall and other many cities along Via Rail’s southern Ontario route, will not be serviced by their new high-frequency rail line.

Last year, the Cornwall City Council were hoping for Via Rail Canada to build two high-frequency rail (HFR) lines. However, Council was informed that the new HFR trains would break away from the current rail line at Coteau-du-Lac station, divert to Alexandria, and go around Cornwall entirely.

This week, Senator Bernadette Clement’s staff attended a briefing to receive an update.

“This week, my staff were able to attend a briefing on the procurement process of the new high-frequency rail project. Remember that discussion? Cornwall, and many other cities along the southern route, will not be serviced by high-frequency rail,” said Senator Bernadette Clement in a statement on social media. “However, we were assured today that service along the southern corridor will continue. Transport Canada officials said that the high-frequency rail project is an addition to service – not a replacement.”

While the reassurance from Transport Canada is helpful, Senator Clement explained that there are still lingering questions.

“While that’s reassuring, many questions remain. Will VIA Rail invest in the Cornwall station to ensure residents are incentivized to travel by train? What is the long-term plan for the southern rail corridor? How will the federal government ensure that smaller and rural communities have affordable, environmentally-friendly commuting and travel options? And what about the addition of a stop between the Dorval and Smiths Falls station, just north of Cornwall? The addition of “secondary stations” will be decided down the road, according to officials. That’s a conversation our area should start now,” Senator Clement’s statement goes on to read.

As of March 9, 2022, the Government of Canada launched the next phase in the procurement process for HFR.

“Today, the Ministry of Transport, Omar Alghabra, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Annie Koutrakis, announced that the Government of Canada is launching a Request for Expressions of Interest seeking the advice and views from industry on the High Frequency Rail project through Buyandsell.gc.ca,” announced Transport Canada on the Government of Canada website.

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