Frecciarossa ETR500

State of High Speed Rail in Canada

V300ZEFIRO from Bombardier
V300ZEFIRO electric multiple unit (EMU), Italy.
Image from Bombardier Inc

It’s not hard to describe the current state of high speed rail in Canada. It’s pretty much non-existent. That is apart from Bombardier who is busy building high speed trains for countries around the world.

The ZEFIRO by Bombardier is capable of speeds up to 380 kilometres per hour. Yet you won’t find any of them in Canada.

Around the world many countries are expanding existing high speed rail infrastructure; yet Canada it seems is intent to sit on the sidelines. media! News Magazine asked the founder of High Speed Rail Canada, Paul Langan, about the state of high speed rail in Canada.

Here is what he had to say.

How did you get involved with High Speed Rail Canada?

I had been doing passenger rail advocacy for about 25 years in Canada. Grassroot groups that were mostly about fighting to keep VIA Rail service going in a community. I found myself often in conflict with VIA RAIL management on how the organization was run. I decided to do something different but still passenger rail advocacy related.

In 2008, I started up the national non-profit advocacy group High Speed Rail Canada to educate Canadians on high speed rail. I found there definitely was a lack of knowledge about high speed rail in Canada and on the subject in general.

Describe the current state of high speed rail in Canada

In Canada the state of passenger rail now is at one it’s lowest points in Canadian history.

Prime Minister Harper has no vision for passenger rail at all. This has resulted in Canada having a passenger rail system that is about 50 years behind the rest of the modern world.
High Speed Rail Canada’s Paul Langan

Canada had faster passenger trains in the 1970s than they do now. The CN Turn train had speeds over 200km/h in the early 1970s. So Canada already had high speed rail. Four decades later and passenger rail in Canada is in shambles.

Could we be doing better?

You cannot do better if you do not invest in it. The Harper government continues to cut funding to VIA Rail and VIA keeps cutting routes.

Why should Canadians care about high speed rail?

It is no secret that automobile exhaust is big contributing factor for global warming and the resulting climate change we are experiencing. The true social and financial cost of our auto-dependency is staggering. If you care about the future and the quality of life for the next generation we have to make significant changes in how we life. Using higher speed passenger rail is one of those options.

What are some current viable routes in your opinion?

Siemens Velaro China high speed trainEdmonton to Calgary – The easiest route that should be done first is Edmonton to Calgary. How can Alberta’s tow largest cities not even have passenger rail service.

I cringe every time I read about traffic accidents on that highway between the two cities.

Windsor-Montreal Corridor – Over twelve studies have been done and still no action.

Without the political will, there will never be high speed rail in Canada.

~ Paul Langan

You can learn more about High Speed Rail Canada and Paul Langan by visiting www.highspeedrailcanada.com. There you will find past Canadian high speed rail studies, CN Turbo Train videos and much more.


Should the Canadian federal and provincial governments be investing money in high speed trains or could it be better spent elsewhere? Are there better options? Let us know what you think about high speed rail by leaving a comment below.

Letter to the Editor Archie’s Rock

Letter to the Editor Archie’s Rock

During my 39 year tenure in the tourism industry, I’ve met many interesting people, none more interesting than my friend Archie Chenier. I only wish I could have met him sooner and joined him on the many adventures and expeditions that he has been fortunate to enjoy. As Archie would say, life is one big adventure. Seize the moment!

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