Michael Schabas

Michael Schabas is a UK-based railway consultant who has been involved in launching several railway projects and businesses. He has advised clients on projects in more than 20 other countries.

Michael Schabas
Born17 November 1956[citation needed]
Toronto, Canada[citation needed]

Early life and educationEdit

Schabas was born and raised in Toronto. He studied Architecture at the University of Toronto and City and Regional Planning at the Harvard Kennedy School.[1]


When Schabas was Chairman of the City of Toronto Cycling Committee at the University of Toronto, he secured funding for the City’s first on-street cycle lanes. He attracted controversy by asserting cyclists had the same rights to use streets as cars.[2]

Schabas was employed by UTDC as Design Coordinator for the first Skytrain (Vancouver) line (now called the Expo Line), which was the world’s second driverless metro opened in 1985. He then worked in Toronto and Honolulu before moving to London as vice president of transportation for Olympia & York (O&Y), which were developing the Canary Wharf project in London Docklands. He led O&Y's involvement in planning and promotion of the Jubilee Line Extension and also instigated the re-signaling and re-engineering of the Docklands Light Railway.

In 1994, Schabas was retained by the London Borough of Newham to review the proposed Channel Tunnel Rail Link. He subsequently testified in the House of Lords for the Kings Cross Residents Association and argued against the plans to demolish their neighborhood for a new rail terminus. He suggested instead that the line could run into St Pancras which, at the time, was partly disused. Schabas was subsequently retained by British Rail, and plans were changed to used St Pancras. This, as well as the development of the Jubilee Line Extension, Docklands Light Railway, and London Overground, is covered in Schabas’s book, The Railway Metropolis – How Planners, Politicians and Developers Shaped Modern London, published 2016 by ICE Publishing.

In 1995, Schabas founded GB Railways (GBR), which went on to win the Anglia Railways franchise and to launch GB Railfreight and Hull Trains.[3] GB Railways was part of the Great Southern Railway consortium (now Journeys Beyond Rail Expeditions), which acquired the long-distance trains operated by Australian National Railways. The Indian Pacific and Ghan services of the Australian National Railways, GB Railfreight, and Hull Trains continue to operate without subsidy.[4]

In 2003, GBR was acquired by FirstGroup.[5]

Schabas remained to lead FirstGroup’s acquisition of A. Merl GmbH and expanded into the German bus market.

In 2008, Schabas joined the boutique railway consultancy First Class Partnerships (FCP) based in the UK as a Senior Partner. FCP merged with CPCS Transcom, a global infrastructure advisory firm based in Ottawa, Canada, in 2021.[6] [7]

In 2013, Schabas authored a review of the “The Big Move”, Toronto’s regional transport plan for Neptis, a Canadian charitable foundation.[8] This generated renewed interest in electrification of the GO Transit regional rail system. Schabas and his firm FCP were subsequently retained by Metrolinx, the regional transit agency, to prepare an initial business case that led to the provincial government funding the project, now known as GO Expansion, with a total capital cost of about $20 billion.

In 2014, Schabas was retained to prepare a pre-feasibility study for a high-speed rail line between Toronto, Kitchener and London, Ontario. The study suggested the project could have a benefit-cost ratio of 3:1.[9]

In December 2018, Metrolinx, a public transit agency of the Government of Ontario, hired Schabas to lead a team to create a plan for the Ontario Line, a light metro proposed for the City of Toronto.[10] Building on plans for a Downtown Relief Line which had originated in the 1950s, Schabas is credited with making the case for major changes to the project, doubling the line length without a proportionate increase in costs and raising the benefit-cost ratio from 0.5:1 to more than 1:1.


  1. ^ "Michael Schabas". CPCS - Advisors to infrastructure leaders. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  2. ^ Blatchford, Christie (28 May 1979). "A curse on sweaty, unwanted cyclists". Toronto Star.
  3. ^ "Michael Schabas". CPCS - Advisors to infrastructure leaders. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Train operating company celebrates 18 years | News | Hull Trains". www.hulltrains.co.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  5. ^ Osborne, Alistair (17 July 2003). "First Group bids 500p a share for GB Railways". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Ottawa consulting firm CPCS merges with U.K.-based company". Ottawa Business Journal. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  7. ^ "CPCS and FCP announce merger". RailBusinessDaily. 7 January 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Review of Metrolinx's Big Move". Neptis Foundation. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  9. ^ "ONTARIO - QUEBEC HIGH SPEED RAIL STUDIES, MAPS". Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  10. ^ Spurr, Ben (15 February 2020). "How Ford's Ontario Line plan came together in just three months – with secrecy, a shifting route and a consultant". Toronto Star. Retrieved 15 February 2020.

External linksEdit

Official website