The Special Advisor, David Collenette, estimated that the fares for HSR will be 20% higher than the current VIA Rail service. (see the audio clip in the sidebar).
The cheapest adult round trip fare (Escape – non refundable, 50% change fee) on VIA Rail between London and Toronto is $75.58. The cheapest Business round trip fare is $192.10. With a 20% increase, the equivalent HSR fares will be $90.70 for Escape and $230.52 for Business. (all prices include taxes).
However, Collenette forgot to include the subsidy that VIA Rail receives from the Federal government. The subsidy is from $0.21 to $0.29 per km, depending on the distance from Toronto. If we assume an average VIA Rail subside of $0.25 per km, then the round trio between Toronto and London is about $90. It is very unlikely that the Federal government will subsidize HSR as it will seriously impact the viability of VIA Rail in south-western Ontario. Without the subsidy, the equivalent round trip HSR fare will be $180 for Escape and $320 for business class.
For a family of 4 (2 adults & 2 children at 1/2 price), the HSR round trip fare, including HST will be $310 if the Federal subsidy remains in place. Without the subsidy, the total cost will be $620. This gets the family to Union station, no where near the Ontario Science Centre, the Toronto Zoo, Black Creek Pioneer Village or Canada’s Wonderland so it’s difficult to see a family taking the train until the “last mile” problem is solved.
Anyone commuting from Woodstock, Ingersoll, or Stratford will have to drive to either Kitchener or London to board HSR since it does not serve rural communities. HSR access in London and Kitchener is downtown and to just get to the train station and back will easily add another hour to the commute. The additional cost of parking downtown must be added to the increased in fares.