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Plan for Guelph to Cambridge passenger rail line inches forward

'If (a viable)  business case can be made, I definitely want to become an advocate,' says Mayor Cam Guthrie
A public consultation process is set to begin soon regarding plans to establish a rail line between Guelph and Cambridge.

A plan calling for passenger rail service connecting Guelph and Cambridge has taken a small step toward becoming a reality.

As they prepare to release a final report on the concept, Region of Waterloo officials have begun a public consultation process on the idea, estimated to cost between $450 million and $550 million.

“Anything that can further regional transportation options, I am 100 per cent in favour of,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “If (a viable)  business case can be made, I definitely want to become an advocate.”

The initial business case calls for the development of conceptual designs for a service running between Guelph Central Station and a potential future light rail transit station in the Hespeler area of Cambridge.

The service would run on the current CN-owned and -operated Fergus subdivision line, which is currently used for freight.

Guthrie believes looking at the potential passenger line makes sense as a next step to efforts to establish all-day, two-way GO trains between Kitchener and Toronto, including Guelph.

“With that on the horizon of being completed, it certainly would be logical to start looking at other means of connecting other cities,” the mayor said. “I feel regional transit is just good all around.”

Guthrie listed several potential benefits for the communities involved, including fewer vehicles on the roads and allow drivers more personal time, as well as an increased accessibility and speed of commerce.

At this point, city staff have not completed a detailed review of the plan.

“Once staff have had a chance to review the (initial business case) in detail, we will determine the best way to provide information to Guelph city council for awareness and for council to decide if Guelph is supportive of the IBC or not,” explained Terry Gayman, the city’s general manager of engineering, said in an email to GuelphToday.

“In the meantime, city staff will ensure we are present during public open houses that the region plans to host in Guelph so we can assist in answering the community’s questions.”

It’s currently undecided where and when those open houses will occur.

“My understanding is the region will be sharing details publicly soon,” added Gayman. “Once we see that, Guelph staff will do their best to share the message/information with the community.”

When the events are announced, Guthrie encourages Guelphites to learn more about the plan and provide feedback.

More information about the Region of Waterloo-led project can be found here.

The work to develop the business plan expands on a 2021 feasibility study that touted Cambridge as the "only urban municipality of over 100,000 residents in Ontario that is presently not served by passenger rail service."

- with files from Doug Coxson,


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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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