WINDSOR, ONT. -- Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra held a news conference at the Via Rail train station in Windsor Thursday to announce their commitment to improving the Windsor-Toronto corridor.

“We need to do it right, and we need to consider all factors and all circumstances and all benefits and features for this project,” says Alghabra.

Alghabra says Phase 1 of this project is already underway, on the Toronto-Quebec City corridor, where the procurement process has now started.

“I’m here today to tell you that Phase 2 will include the Toronto-Windsor corridor,” he says.

Alghabra won’t commit however to when high-frequency rail could be a reality in Windsor-Essex County, saying their first step will be talking to local indigenous groups and community stakeholders.

“We know we want to increase frequency, speed and reliability. Can we get that out of the existing tracks? Do we need new tracks? Where should they stops be? All of these questions need to be answered as we decide to move to the next phase,” says Alghabra.

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk says a commitment from Ottawa to build high-frequency rail in southwestern Ontario is an important first step.

Kusmierczyk says the discussion over Phase 1 of the idea started in 2016.

“We know that the RFP and the plan for the Toronto-Quebec corridor is to have it completed by 2030, for example,” says Kusmierczyk.

“This is an opportunity to really not only improve quality of life but also attract investment to this area and so this is a strong commitment.”

According to the federal government, the Windsor-Toronto corridor is Via Rails’ second busiest, behind the Toronto-Quebec City corridor.