high frequency train | Alstom advocates a “21st century solution”

A “21st century solutione Alstom believes high-speed is key to improving rail service between Quebec, Montreal and Toronto, and is urging Ottawa to think bigger with High Frequency Train (TGF). According to government documents, the door should be open.

Posted at 5:00 am

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

Spending more than four hours by train between the metropolis and the Queen City, as TGF is currently planning, is “far too long” to induce the population to turn their backs on cars or planes,” says Michael Keroullé, President of Alstom Americas.

“We think that the right measure is a driving time of less than three hours,” he said in an interview on Monday The press, at the edge of an advertisement (see capsule). For us, we must opt ​​for a solution of the XXIe or XXIIe Century. It’s high speed. »

The TGF provides for the construction of reserved tracks in the Quebec-Toronto corridor, which is not currently the case. This would allow trains to travel faster, up to 200 km/h. A high-speed train (TGV) can reach 300 km/h.

Wholly agreeing with the construction of reserved lanes, the world number two for rolling stock believes the Trudeau government should try to combine frequency and speed.


Michael Keroullé is President of Alstom Americas.

“We have experience with TGVs in countries such as France, Italy, Germany and Spain,” emphasizes Mr. Keroullé. In order for this to work sustainably and for a long time, speed is important. We are aware that every country is different, but it has worked that way everywhere. »

A model nearby

According to Mr. Keroullé, Ottawa could take inspiration from a project south of the border in which Alstom is involved: the Acela, an Amtrak train (built by the French giant) that runs in the rail corridor of the American Northeast, connecting cities like Boston, New York and Washington. Trains can travel at over 250 km/h on some sections.

“What we’re saying to the government is, don’t think that today you have to choose between frequency and speed, you can have both,” affirms the President of Alstom Americas.

The Trudeau government has already said it analyzed the TGV option but decided on the frequency. The bill for a TGV between Quebec and Toronto could total $65 billion, according to Transport Canada estimates. Mr Keroullé also acknowledged that Alstom’s proposal includes a “higher level of investment”.

Nevertheless, a document from the Joint Project Office – under the responsibility of VIA Rail and Canada Infrastructure Bank – was obtained The press Last fall it became clear that the corridor between Montreal and Toronto would be one of the most suitable for the TGV in North America.

Transportation planning specialist Pierre Barrieau of the University of Montreal is not surprised by Alstom’s exit. Agreeing with certain arguments of the French giant, the expert adds that there is a commercial logic behind it.

“Alstom only has TGVs in production for North America,” says Mr. Barrieau. Siemens also has no TGV and CAF. If we look at this aspect, there is a trade war that is being fought for speed. »

Changed criteria?

There are still a few steps to be taken before groundbreaking for the TGF, which is planned for the middle of the decade. Ottawa, which is seeking industry opinion, doesn’t seem hesitant to change its mind, according to a 23-page document published online last month. Of the 71 questions received by Transport Canada, the issue of train speed “limited to 200 km/h” was raised twice.

“Higher speeds on certain segments may be considered if they represent good value for Canadians,” the document replies.

When asked, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra’s office said the project’s “minimum standards” had been defined and that Ottawa “would certainly welcome proposals aimed at more speeds, frequencies and more ambitious travel times.”

Minister Alghabra’s office declined to elaborate further on the issue.

A commitment to Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville

Bombardier Transportation owner Alstom has delivered on a commitment it announced more than two years ago by establishing an “innovation hub” in the southern suburbs of Montreal, where the French giant plans to hire 80 engineers by the end of the year. Hybrid, battery and hydrogen… the multinational’s team is tasked with developing platforms aimed at decarbonizing the rail sector in North America. Activities are integrated into the prototyping center located in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville near Alstom’s Americas headquarters.

Learn more

  • 12 billion
    Ottawa has already estimated the TGF bill at 12 billion, but Transport Minister Omar Alghabra backed down last March.

    Source : the press

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