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Ottawa calls for bids on Pearson rail link

‘Four or five’ groups already interested, Collenette says

By Josh Rubin
Staff Reporter

The federal government will start taking bids by the end of the month from companies wanting to build and run a promised high-speed rail link between Pearson International airport and Union Station.

Federal transport minister David Colllenette made the announcement at a morning news briefing held by the organizers of Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Olympics.

“As of March 31, the Department of Transport will issue expressions of interest,” said Collenette. The federal government has committed $20 million to the project. The private sector will have no trouble coming up with the rest of the $300 million budget, Colenette said.

“This is something that companies will be able to make money on,” said Colenette, who called the high-speed link long overdue.

The link is seen by most observers as a big boost for Toronto’s chances of landing the Olympics. Since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where several athletes missed their events because of transportation problems, the International Olympic Committee has increased its scrutiny of how people get around in cities bidding to host the Games.

Colenette claimed several companies have already approached him about helping build the link, but wouldn’t reveal any names.

“There are four or five consortia, some of them not even in Canada. We’re talking about financial institutions, companies involved in transport, contractors, and engineering firms,” said Colenette, who expects the link to take two or three years to build.