WATCH: Windsor politicians disagree with rail study
Eddie Francis and NDP MP Brian Masse say high-speed rail should link Quebec to Chicago
A new feasibility study commissioned by the federal and Quebec governments shows a high-speed rail link between Windsor and Quebec City is just not viable.
The report suggests a the link would cost between 18 and $22 billion dollars, but the portion from Toronto to Windsor would not be financially viable.
However, the report found a smaller link between only Toronto and Quebec would benefit the entire Canadian economy.
Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and Windsor-West NDP MP Brian Masse disagree. They say a link between Chicago and Windsor is also needed and should be studied.
"Any corridor or any discussion of a corridor of high-speed rail would have to include the consideration of the Midwest U.S. region and the ability to connect with Chicago," Francis said. "The only way you can get from Chicago to Toronto on high-speed rail is through Windsor."
The report doesn't rule out Windsor entirely, but suggests it be the last leg added to the link.
Francis said the Midwestern region between Windsor and Chicago boasts a potential ridership of 65 million people.
"Sixty-five million individuals within a two-and-half-hour train ride is significant to any financial study," Francis said.
Masse said the strength of the entire project really resides in the concept of a link between Quebec City and Chicago with the connection through the Windsor-Detroit corridor.
"That's where you get tens of millions of people involved in a project that really reshapes North America," Masse said. "I was kind of surprised that the study was so myopic in terms of not even considering the connection into the American system, especially given the fact that they're pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into higher speed rail as we speak and we're still studying it."
U.S. spending millions on high speed
In May 2011, the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration announced Michigan will receive $200 million in federal high-speed rail grants to fund projects in the state.
The lack of a plan for high-speed rail frustrates Gerry McCartney, manager of London's Chamber of Commerce. He says while Canada keeps studying the issue other countries have been moving forward.
"When you think of France and Japan and China - all these countries - they're not doing it to be cute or sexy, they're doing it to be competitive," he said.
Paul Langan, the founder of the advocacy group High Speed Rail Canada, says he doesn't think it will happen unless municipal leaders, business owners and the public demand an end to studies and a start to planning Canada's future transportation system.
Langan says the federal government needs to take the lead.
"They're spending $10 (to) $12 billion on prisons and you know our crime rate's going down," Langan said. "They want to spend $20 billion on fighter jets and there's no war."