There has been public interest in the idea of high-speed rail (HSR) for over half a Century in Canada. The country was once even poised to become a global leader in HSR development. Yet despite studying the commercial feasibility of HSR in various transport corridors, the country has never had a proposed project move forward to the delivery phase. Here I consider the conditions that would be required for a sustainable HSR project to become a reality in Canada. I argue that there are 12 conditions – the majority of which would have to be met – for a bona fide HSR project to see the light of day, and for it to serve as a sustainable mode of intercity transport. Moreover, considering the required conditions in light of Canada’s contemporary political economy, I discuss how the window of opportunity for such a project may be closing, particularly as the aviation and automobile subsectors are undergoing rapid technological change, potentially further undermining the investment case for HSR.
About the speaker
Ryan Katz-Rosene in an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies, where he researches and teaches a range of topics relating to global environmental politics, international political economy, and Canada’s role in the world. At the university Ryan helps coordinate the International Political Economy Network (IPEN), while off campus he serves as Vice President of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada. In 2017 Ryan completed a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Ottawa, examining ongoing debates about the role of nuclear energy in climate change mitigation efforts. He obtained his Ph.D. at Carleton University in 2014, writing his dissertation about the environmental political economy of high-speed rail development. He lives on (and helps to manage) a small organic family farm in Cantley, Québec.