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Via Rail's decades-long neglect of Windsor

the station will be built immediately next door to the current one. This, after years of talk about building an “intermodal” station at Windsor Airport that would connect seamlessly to air and other ground transportation. Or even putting a new station at the former CP Wellington site which could connect easily to America’s Amtrak through the Windsor-Detroit tunnel. The Obama Administration has been touting hi-speed rail. The Canadian government not so much. Yet with lip-service paid to reducing greenhouse gases and concern over future oil price spikes train service is considered an environmental alternative. But Via has decided to construct its station at the same old site. “We don’t want to wait forever,” Laliberte said. Bravo for ending bureaucratic sclerosis! He also said that doesn’t mean Via won’t look at yet another location should the time come. (Don’t hold your breath.) But just why has Via waited so long to build a station? Some might find it surprising Windsor ranked sixth busiest of all Canadian stations last year. And this was during a recession, after the gradual elimination of train services elsewhere in the country, and especially after the massive decline in U.S. tour groups – remember Key Tours? - embarking and arriving at Walkerville for discounted weekend excursions to Toronto in the 1980s and 90s. For decades bewildered American tourists have had to try to find their way to the obscure station tucked amidst the whisky warehouses. By contrast, Dorval, in suburban Montreal and about the same size as Windsor station but less busy, had a makeover years ago. And London, which already had a station in a modern office tower, saw a completely new station built. As usual, authorities get around to Windsor when they see fit – usually last. The cliché about the highway ending at London is fitting only in this case it’s the railroad. By not looking deeper into southwestern Ontario Via Rail, like myriad other government and private organizations, has been blind to the gateway potential of this international city.

WindsorOntarionNews.com March 23 2010

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