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Barrie Collingwood Railway (BCRY)

alexanderglista

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As there has recently been some discussion in the VIA Rail thread about the viability of passenger service from Barrie to Collingwood, I thought I'd make a thread here as a more apt place to discuss it. Also, the Orangeville-Brampton Railway has a thread, so figured that this RR should have one too, considering that its infrastructure could play an important role down the road potentially.

Also to start it off, here is a link to articles discussing RR cost sharing:

Barrie wants to share costs with Innisfil, Essa and County of Simcoe
 

Fritter

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I had heard that Metrolinx had contributed some funds to purchase the right of way when abandonment was possible from Utopia to Collingwood. Metrolinx wanted to protect for possible future use but did not to publicly say and create false intentions that service was going to happen.
 

dowlingm

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Could use the Barrie-Utopia trackage to run Canadian up the Newmarket and join CP MacTier, if a curve was constructed. No reason to right now but you never know.
 

ShonTron

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I had heard that Metrolinx had contributed some funds to purchase the right of way when abandonment was possible from Utopia to Collingwood. Metrolinx wanted to protect for possible future use but did not to publicly say and create false intentions that service was going to happen.
The track is unusable between Utopia and Collingwood. Several crossings have been ripped out; in other sections, the you can't see the rails between the weeds. The track has been gone from Downtown Collingwood for over 20 years. I think restoration of passenger rail service here is a pipe dream.
 

innsertnamehere

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The corridor is intact, so it would just require new tracks, which you would probably want anyway. I can't imagine them being in good condition even on the active parts of the line.
 

ShonTron

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The corridor is intact, so it would just require new tracks, which you would probably want anyway. I can't imagine them being in good condition even on the active parts of the line.
Still, I wonder if this is a viable proposition. Greyhound still has one or two daily buses to Collingwood, but that's a far cry from the services once provided by PMCL. If there isn't even a decent bus service, why go all the way to rail? I would really like to see a semi-frequent bus service between Collingwood and Barrie (and from Barrie to Midland/Penetanguishene) first. We talk about rail, but we can't even get buses going first. That's why I'm dismissive of most of the Moose proposal in the Ottawa-Gatineau area as well.

I'm glad the corridor is protected. I'd like to see a proper cycling route all the way from Barrie to Collingwood. (Right now, the trail only goes from Collingwood to Stayner.)
 

DSC

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The corridor is intact, so it would just require new tracks, which you would probably want anyway. I can't imagine them being in good condition even on the active parts of the line.
You say that as though laying new track would not cost LOTS of $$$. I love trains but this idea seems overkill (a sort of rural Scarborough subway). Providing a better and far more frequent bus service would surely be the first stage and far cheaper to start and expand bus by bus. Only when the demand is shown to be there would rail be a feasible and cost-effective idea.
 

innsertnamehere

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Yea, I'm not really talking about this in the short term. Something 10-20 years out. Should be put on the regions and municipalities TMPs and let it sit for a decade or two, but the option needs to be protected.

The problem with today too is that the rail service from Barrie is rather poor, meaning that a connection from Collingwood to Toronto wouldn't be particularly fast. But with the upgrades to the Barrie corridor Metrolinx is planning, faster trips up to Collingwood may be possible.
 

UserNameToronto

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The track is unusable between Utopia and Collingwood. Several crossings have been ripped out; in other sections, the you can't see the rails between the weeds. The track has been gone from Downtown Collingwood for over 20 years. I think restoration of passenger rail service here is a pipe dream.
This is my thought as well - that track is in awful shape, and trains were limited to 10-20kph if they ran at all. Wasn't there semi-regular service to the Mist whiskey plant more recent than 20 years though?
 

crs1026

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You say that as though laying new track would not cost LOTS of $$$. I love trains but this idea seems overkill (a sort of rural Scarborough subway). Providing a better and far more frequent bus service would surely be the first stage and far cheaper to start and expand bus by bus. Only when the demand is shown to be there would rail be a feasible and cost-effective idea.
Check out the cost for relaying the GO line from Bradford to Barrie. I don't have it handy, but it was substantial, several millions of dollars per mile.... even though the roadbed and civil structures were retained.

As much as I like the idea also, the cost would just never be recoverable. It's a situation where you could provide a free bus ride to every rider for a decade or more.

The only hope for this line would be if Collingwood justified renewed freight service, and I see little hope of this.

Now, if there were good early day GO train service to Barrie, and buses directly to specific resorts as well as downtown Collingwood and Wasaga, you could probably attract lots of picnicers by summer and skiers by winter. Then you could fill in the shoulder season with festivals or whatever. It would appeal to the "carless living downtown" market mostly.

Unfortunately, for people living in the burbs, you'd have to drive your car to Maple or Downsview to catch the train.....and once you've gone that far, it will mostly be more convenient to just keep driving. So other than maybe long weekends when the cottage-bound traffic is heavy, you won't get people from the 905 or even Etobicoke/Scarboro jumping to use it.

I do wonder about the potential for a shore-road transit bus from way up Georgian Bay down to Collingwood and Barrie. As with Muskoka, there are lots of people living up there year-round or summer-long who might find it better than driving.

- Paul
 

ShonTron

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This is my thought as well - that track is in awful shape, and trains were limited to 10-20kph if they ran at all. Wasn't there semi-regular service to the Mist whiskey plant more recent than 20 years though?
Yes, there were three customers in the industrial park on the east end - Mist, AG Global, and Pilkington, served from a spur line that became the "main" once the tracks to downtown and the harbour were removed.

Recently, parts of the industrial spur were removed and replaced by a trail.
 

alexanderglista

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Here is an article discussing the potential for passenger service from 2009, with some interesting tidbits, including an old plan for VIA service:

County rail plans on track

At a recent Simcoe County council meeting, the idea of tying GO train service into the Barrie Collingwood Railway (BCRY) and Canadian Pacific lines was raised.

The local CPR line -- referred to as the MacTier Subdivision -- snakes up through Tottenham and Alliston before crossing County Road 90 between Barrie and Angus. It then tracks eastward through Midhurst before zigzagging towards Coldwater and on into MacTier in the Muskokas.

Collingwood has had passenger train service in the past, where people would come up from the GTA with their skis in tow for a weekend on the slopes. That service is long gone, but the time for its resurrection may have arrived.
.........
There was a failed effort in 2001 to restore passenger -- using VIA Rail trains -- to Collingwood during the winter for weekend excursions.
Here is a quick visualization of the route. It is very very straight. From my Google Maps calculations, it is 48.6 km from Barrie to around where the line ends before the industrial spur.

In railroad forums, I've heard the number $1 million per mile thrown around very frequently for laying track on a flat, uncomplicated route. 48.6 km = 30.2 miles, therefore according to "hack" math the cost of rebuilding the line to passenger standards is $30.2 million. That does sound a bit low, but I couldn't see how replacing track and getting service going would cost more than $50 million. I wonder if once the existing GO lines have all-day + weekend service if there will be a push for extending GO to areas like Collingwood. I could see the PCs pushing for something like this for their rural constituents.

 

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