Quebec pension fund Caisse’s Montreal LRT plan derails Via’s pitch for dedicated passenger tracks

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Via Rail CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano has been a vocal advocate of dedicated tracks on the busy Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor, which would allow for more frequent and faster train service.

TORONTO — Via Rail was in talks with Quebec’s pension fund about building a dedicated set of passenger tracks between Quebec City and Toronto, but that fell apart after the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec proposed a $5.5-billion commuter line for Montreal instead.

Via chief executive Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said the development is a mixed blessing, as it shows that there’s investor appetite for rail projects but appears to eliminate a major contender for his own plan.

“The Caisse announcement is somewhat bittersweet,” Desjardins-Siciliano said in an interview Wednesday at Via’s offices near Toronto’s Union Station.

“On the one hand, it supports our suggestion; on the other hand, their people will now be focused on delivering a very aggressive project on a very aggressive timeline, so it makes our project less of a possibility for them.”

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