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VIA Rail and Amtrak Plan Rail Connection between Toronto and Chicago

Toronto Skyline

Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada have proposed a rail connection between Chicago and Toronto, closing the service gap between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. 

The expansion aims to establish rail service by 2027, reducing travel times to under 10 hours. The proposal involves utilizing the existing Wolverine line, connecting Chicago to Detroit, with additional stops in Michigan and the inclusion of seven new stops in Ontario to connect with VIA Rail service from Toronto. 

If implemented, the proposal would also increase the frequency of service between Chicago and Detroit.

Cris David, Vice President of Sales Canada for Railbookers Group, told Open Jaw in an email, "Currently, there are only two Canadian cities with direct access to the U.S. by rail: Montreal and Vancouver, limiting the options for Canadians wishing to commence a rail vacation from their home station and avoid flying," he added. "This, in turn, would provide access from Toronto's Union Station to a wide selection of Amtrak Vacations journeys commencing in Chicago, such as Grand National Parks with Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier."

According to Amtrak, despite being only 230 miles (370 kilometres) apart, Toronto and Detroit last had direct rail service in 1967. The proposed Chicago-Detroit-Toronto service aims to increase frequency between Chicago and Detroit, connecting Amtrak's existing routes and proposed corridors in the Midwest. 

With a combined metropolitan area of 17.6 million people in Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto, the new route would connect over 25 Fortune 500 companies to Toronto, a significant economic center in Canada.

"This new service will also provide Americans across the Midwest with convenient access to the VIA Rail Network, making it so much easier for them to visit and explore Canada by Rail," said David.

Proposed Stations

  • Chicago, IL
  • Hammond-Whiting, IN 
  • Michigan City, IN 
  • New Buffalo, MI 
  • Niles, MI 
  • Dowagiac, MI 
  • Kalamazoo, MI 
  • Battle Creek, MI 
  • Albion, MI 
  • Jackson, MI 
  • Ann Arbor, MI  
  • Dearborn, MI 
  • Detroit, MI
  • Windsor-Walkerville, ON (NEW)
  • Chatham, ON (NEW)
  • Glencoe, ON (NEW)
  • London, ON (NEW)
  • Ingersoll, ON (NEW)
  • Woodstock, ON (NEW)
  • Brantford, ON (NEW)
  • Aldershot, ON
  • Oakville, ON
  • Toronto, ON

Despite Amtrak's service, both cities recognize the need for improved rail connectivity to solve traffic congestion and economic development.

Enhancing rail frequency and establishing connections to Toronto is seen as crucial to meeting these goals in the Great Lakes region. More information on the Amtrak VIA Rail proposal here. 

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