Prepared by: Research and Traffic Group June 30, 2015
This research examines the long-term scenarios for regional and remote passenger rail services in Canada. It analyses the government contributions to support services and current or possible private sector involvement, it assesses whether building road links would be a cost-effective alternative, and it reviews whether the current performance, routes and costs meet the needs of travellers. The authors rely on a literature and data review, as the analysis was constrained to using only publicly available data. The performance projections and underlying assumptions for the eight active regional and remote passenger rail services show that costs and government subsidies are expected to rise significantly by 2035. There is a lack of a definition for criteria for the provision of government subsidies for regional (as opposed to remote) services. The authors recommend that defining criteria for provision of subsidies to ‘regional’ services and involving local regions in the funding and service design of those operations might help to stem the decline in ridership, and that this set the stage for subsequent discussions with private industry for potential involvement in regional and remote services.