The federal government announced in July that it is taking the first steps in planning a new high-frequency train service between Toronto and Quebec City. The service would have local stops along the route, including Casselman and Alexandria, and has attracted the attention of municipal governments in the Argenteuil region who also want to be considered.
The government is contacting Indigenous groups and communities to get their input, and with potential private partners to determine the best model for delivery. The government plans to decide on a model and begin selecting a partner this autumn, along with deciding on a route.
The proposal includes a step for building dedicated passenger tracks. VIA Rail shares tracks with Canadian National Railways in many places, meaning passenger trains delays while they yield to freight trains. Dedicated passenger tracks would result in shorter travel times and less delays due to freight interruptions, meaning faster trips and arriving on time more often. They would also open up the possibility of electrified transportation technology.
Casselman Mayor Daniel Lafleur has asked for an increase in service to the municipality before, noting it is a convenient halfway point between Ottawa and Montreal. The municipality has seen more people moving there away from the cities, and Lafleur would like to see their commute become more convenient.
Municipal leaders north of the Ottawa River see an opportunity with this project. There has been no passenger rail line from Gatineau to Quebec City since it was sold to the Canadian Pacific Railway and became freight-only. MRC d’Argenteuil council has been encouraging the return of a passenger line since November 2018, as they say it is a viable alternative to motor vehicles.