Quebec seeks high-speed rail funding

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A Canadian transport official said Friday he could ask France to help fund a high-speed rail linking Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto when he travels to Paris in the coming weeks.

Sam Hamad, the transport minister for Quebec province, pointed to a French loan of 625 million euros ($845 million) to Morocco in 2008 to help finance a high-speed rail link between Tangiers and Casablanca, that was to be designed, built, operated and maintained by French firms.

Hamad is due to meet with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in Paris.

"We will discuss it and see what comes of it," he told AFP.

Proposals for linking eastern Canada's biggest cities by high-speed rail have been around for decades, but despite a dozen positive feasibility studies, none has ever materialized.

A new study ordered in 2009 is due to be released soon.

Hamad said Quebec strongly supports building the network, but added that Ottawa's position on the latest proposal was "not clear."

Canada's Federal Transport Minister Chuck Strahl was not immediately available for comment.

An engineer at train builder Bombardier told AFP that the project would cost an estimated 18 billion dollars.

Hamad said he hoped US President Barack Obama's support for a rapid rail network linking Washington, New York and Boston would renew interest in high-speed trains in Canada, and that maybe the US line could be extended to Montreal.

© 2011 AFP

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