The federal government is considering a $2-billion proposal that would get one million trucks a year off Highway 401 and onto flatbed railway cars, says a report from Global News.
Robert Ritchie, president and CEO of Canadian Pacific Rail Co. (CPR), was to have made the pitch to Transport Canada at a private meeting with Transport Minister David Collenette and his senior officials.
Under the proposals, truck trailers would be delivered to the rail yards, loaded on rail flatcars and then picked up by truck cabs at the final destination.
Those who support the private-public partnership say it would make the highway safer, save taxpayers millions of dollars in road repair costs, reduce energy consumption and cut one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
Some 400,000 vehicles drive on the 401 every day in the Windsor-Toronto-Montreal corridor and 80,000 of these are trucks.
But the initiative would require a huge, five-year $2-billion investment in new and upgraded rail lines, in some areas, involving construction of a second set of tracks so trains could run simultaneously in opposite directions.
And it would also require the co-operation of the Ontario government, and it’s a given that the proposal would also upset the vast numbers of truckers making their daily hauls along this and other connected routes.
According to Ontario’s Ministry of Transport, 35,000 trucks travel daily between Toronto and Detroit. That total will increase by an additional 320 round trips a day next year when Toronto’s garbage is hauled to Michigan. An additional 25,000 trucks travel between Toronto and Montreal.
Although CPR has not yet presented ideas to the province of Ontario, the proposal documents say that Ontario will be central to the future of the concept.
The rail upgrades would allow for heavier loads to be shipped by train and the trains to move faster. It would also create second rail lines between Smiths Falls and Toronto and between Toronto and Windsor.
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