An Ottawa city councillor wants Via Rail to delay plans for increased speeds on an express train route from Ottawa to Toronto and slow it down through her ward by a third.

The express route, which began in January but is set to increase its speeds May 6, would see trains blaze through areas of south Ottawa at up to 160 km/h.

Coun. Jan Harder, who represents the community of Barrhaven, worries the new speeds would put her constituents at risk. She introduced a motion at city council today to see the train slowed down, and it was carried unanimously.

The city, which has been working with Via Rail on this plan since June 2011, is now seeking a 60-day consultation period to further examine the speed of the express route through Barrhaven.

"I'm just saying you're not going to be saving a couple of minutes by racing your speeding train by the community where 75,000 people live," Harder said.

Via Rail upgrades eastern Ontario systems

A Via Rail spokesman told CBC News it recently invested $25 million into tracks between Ottawa and Smiths Falls to install new signalling systems, tracks and sidings.


Via Rail is set to speed up through Barrhaven and has added new warning systems so passengers are ready for pickup at Fallowfield station. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

The timing mechanisms at Fallowfield station were also changed to warn residents of when a train is coming at a faster speed.

"If we were not absolutely 100 per cent sure that our trains could travel at whatever the allowed speed would be in our network, then we wouldn’t be doing that," said Malcolm Andrews. "There are regulations that govern this."

With the exception of making stops, Barrhaven is the only area on the route between Ottawa and Toronto where the train currently slows down.

This new express route would save four minutes, the company added, by not slowing down near the Fallowfield or five other railway crossings in Barrhaven.