Via Rail to delay speed increase to 160km/h

Via Rail has agreed to delay a speed increase for an express route between Ottawa and Toronto by 60 days after city councillors agreed more consultation was needed.

Via Rail has bowed to demands from a south Ottawa councillor to delay plans to speed up an express train through her area, according to local politicians.

Coun. Jan Harder and Nepean-Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre told CBC News today the speed change will be delayed 60 days to allow city officials and Via Rail to consult further.

Via Rail will delay the speeding up of an express train route through Barrhaven. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

"We need to have that technical discussion and we need to have a people discussion," Harder said in reaction to the decision to delay.

"I think it's presumptuous to think that it doesn't have an effect at all on life and safety."

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

Harder was worried this would put her constituents at risk and she introduced a motion at city council last week 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, was granted the consultation it sought.

Via Rail invest in better eastern Ontario tracks

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

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

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.