High-Speed Rail Needs Private Investment

California's high-speed rail project is a triumph for rail advocates, but made possible by private sector funding. A Canadian rail project must also follow the model of public-private partnerships.
January 21, 2009, 10am PST | Michael Dudley
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"If we want to drag Canadian passenger rail service out of the 1960s, Ottawa must include private partners, a development that could mean selling the moribund Via Rail to a transportation consortium that understands the technology, the market opportunities and is willing to invest.

High-speed rail...is tailor-made for public-private partnerships. Such train networks are extremely capital intensive and therefore depend on public financing to get going. But as a transportation service that competes vigorously with airlines, private operators will bring the necessary marketing savvy, as well as the ability of amortizing capital costs over a long period.

If the recent developments in California do herald the beginning of a new era for 21st century rail in the U.S., Canada desperately needs to insert itself into that conversation, making the case for cross-border service connections and international joint ventures involving private investors."

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Published on Monday, January 19, 2009 in The Globe and Mail
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