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Barrie Collingwood Railway (BCRY)

innsertnamehere

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I think this corridor is especially possible given it's geometry, lack of need for expensive upgrades in locations, and feeding directly into a line that is scheduled for extensive upgrades.

Get the tracks updated to 90mph speeds, add a passing track or two, build two bare-bones stations in Angus and and Collingwood, and run some DMUs on it on an bi-hourly schedule or so direct to Union.

GO is expecting travel times to Barrie to drop to about an hour after RER is complete. Add another 30 minutes to get to Collingwood and you have an extremely time competitive travel option.

10 years ago it would have been completely ridiculous to consider, however not so much any more knowing what is happening on the Barrie Corridor.
 

robmausser

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lenaitch

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I was past there today. The rest of the roadbed is dirt (assuming there was stone/clinker ballast at some distant past, it has long disappeared).
I think this corridor is especially possible given it's geometry, lack of need for expensive upgrades in locations, and feeding directly into a line that is scheduled for extensive upgrades.

Get the tracks updated to 90mph speeds, add a passing track or two, build two bare-bones stations in Angus and and Collingwood, and run some DMUs on it on an bi-hourly schedule or so direct to Union.

GO is expecting travel times to Barrie to drop to about an hour after RER is complete. Add another 30 minutes to get to Collingwood and you have an extremely time competitive travel option.

10 years ago it would have been completely ridiculous to consider, however not so much any more knowing what is happening on the Barrie Corridor.
If by "expensive upgrades" you mean things like grade separations, you are largely correct, it's pretty flat and straight, but I'll let others weigh in on things like crossing rules for that kind of speed. There are a large number of rural and private crossings that are completely unprotected. In order to achieve that kind of speed, the entire line would have to be re-built from the ground up, plus signalized (it crosses a mainline if nothing else). I will again leave it to others to opine on a per-mile cost.
Beyond all of that, I'm simply not convinced there would be a year-round ridership. A train every two hours assumes there is a trainload of people in the Collingwood area that want to go to/from Toronto every two hours. A large part of the growth in the town's population in the past few years is retirees. I know several, and they might go to Toronto once or twice a year, maybe. There's a reason they left. To a lesser extent, there is a commuting population to Barrie and Alliston (Honda). Skiiers perhaps, especially in the morning, dusk and when the hills close, but that is typically December to April.
 

Northern Light

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I was past there today. The rest of the roadbed is dirt (assuming there was stone/clinker ballast at some distant past, it has long disappeared).


If by "expensive upgrades" you mean things like grade separations, you are largely correct, it's pretty flat and straight, but I'll let others weigh in on things like crossing rules for that kind of speed. There are a large number of rural and private crossings that are completely unprotected. In order to achieve that kind of speed, the entire line would have to be re-built from the ground up, plus signalized (it crosses a mainline if nothing else). I will again leave it to others to opine on a per-mile cost.
Beyond all of that, I'm simply not convinced there would be a year-round ridership. A train every two hours assumes there is a trainload of people in the Collingwood area that want to go to/from Toronto every two hours. A large part of the growth in the town's population in the past few years is retirees. I know several, and they might go to Toronto once or twice a year, maybe. There's a reason they left. To a lesser extent, there is a commuting population to Barrie and Alliston (Honda). Skiiers perhaps, especially in the morning, dusk and when the hills close, but that is typically December to April.
Good post.

But I must insert my admonition; while I fully agree that a proper cost-analysis needs to be done; and I, as you, am not fit to that purpose; I think its important not to analyze it in terms of naked ROI; but in comparison with road and highway widenings and extensions that will otherwise be built in lieu of said railway.

While I may not possess sufficient knowledge to intelligently proffer a cost on the upgraded (and spurred) railway. I feel reasonably confident that a future six-lane freeway to Wasaga/Collingwood etc. would at least rival said costs, if not exceed them given a much larger land area.

Presuming I am correct on the latter; and I would subordinate that to expertise greater than my own; the question then is whether an upgraded railway avoids the need for such a highway expansion/upgrade or merely reduces it in scale/defers it.

Then we can get into the clear sense of financial worthiness of said project.
 

lenaitch

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Good post.

But I must insert my admonition; while I fully agree that a proper cost-analysis needs to be done; and I, as you, am not fit to that purpose; I think its important not analyze it in terms of naked ROI; but in comparison with road and highway widenings and extensions that will otherwise be built in lieu of said railway.

While I may not possess sufficient knowledge to intelligently proffer a cost on the upgraded (and spurred) railway. I feel reasonably confident that a future six-lane freeway to Wasaga/Collingwood etc. would at least rival said costs, if not exceed them given a much larger land area.

Presuming I am correct on the latter; and I would subordinate that expertise greater than my own; the question then is whether an upgraded railway avoids the need for such a highway expansion/upgrade or merely reduces it in scale/defers it.

Then we can get into the clear sense of financial worthiness of said project.
Fair points. If the MTO has a this-century plan for such an upgrade I would agree the comparative analysis is warranted. Another element might be climate change. Highly efficient snow-making equipment aside, a shift in climate could render the Blue Mountains a nice green backdrop for the retiree's condos.
 

Allandale25

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Would much rather take the train to Collingwood to visit the in-laws that have to drive.
It was talked about in 2001. The article is about service to Guelph but near the end mentions Collingwood.

 

urbanperson

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Sounds like the railroad is going to close very soon. Given the nature of the BCRY operation, it will be impossible to privatize and Deloitte's idea to "just operate the Utopia yard" is a complete non-starter because the yard has no use without customers. This means that it is almost certain that the BCRY will shut down not long from now. It really is a shame, but this railway has been such a failure. The only surprise is that Barrie held on to their section even after Collingwood backed out.
 

lenaitch

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Perhaps, but it is just an 'exploration' at this point. Two of the customers are in Innisfil so there will no doubt be arm-twisting. I'm not sure why Essa would care. I agree that the Utopia yard has no value without the line. Bad political mojo to cut the knees out from under rail-dependent taxpaying businesses.
 

urbanperson

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Quick update. Reportedly, Haliburton Timber has moved off of Tarpin's siding and is loading directly at Utopia now.
 

Northern Light

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I have no idea why the city would be paying $700,000 per year on this. There is hardly anyone using it, and those that do could use trucks. They only receive service twice per week so there wouldn't be any noticeable increase in truck traffic. Collingwood were the smart ones. They knew when to pull out. This idea was just stupid from the start. If CN couldn't make money then why would the city have tried. The reality is that if a company wants to use rail, they shouldn't be in Barrie. There is no way this operation is ever going to viable.
Preserving the line, and more particularly the ROW was done first to maintain some existing industry and possibly to serve some new ones, some of which were contemplating locations along the line at the time it was to be abandoned.

But it was also preserved to allow for future passenger rail use and/or as a recreational trail.

Buying back the land later at a greatly inflated price would have been silly.

It was a reasonable decision to save the line.

Part of the issue in expense has been a failure to obtain new customers.

But further, a consideration in choosing to walk away is not simply one of abandoning the operation, its considering issues with re-starting in the future; not just rebuilding infrastructure, but residents objecting to rail beside them, if there had been none for years.

Creating a trail isn't free either.

Its not a simple matter as you make it out to be.

This is demonstrated by the VIA HFR proposal to re-lay track east of Havelock on what is now a popular recreation trail.

Had the trail not been put in, the corridor might well have been lost.

Even with the trail in, VIA, should this proposal go ahead, will be faced with demands to retain the trail within in the ROW, which may be possible, but will definitely add costs.

To be sure, this line is unlikely to break even in the foreseeable future, as a freight operation.

However, that doesn't mean its abandonment should be done carelessly or without thought to the future.
 

lenaitch

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I have no idea why the city would be paying $700,000 per year on this. There is hardly anyone using it, and those that do could use trucks. They only receive service twice per week so there wouldn't be any noticeable increase in truck traffic. Collingwood were the smart ones. They knew when to pull out. This idea was just stupid from the start. If CN couldn't make money then why would the city have tried. The reality is that if a company wants to use rail, they shouldn't be in Barrie. There is no way this operation is ever going to viable.
Perhaps they are spending the money to retain an infrastructure that may attract industry or, prevent ones from leaving by its absence. I don't imagine the library system is a money maker either. Collingwood's decision was driven by both a reduced capacity to carry the cost and I think they were down to a single customer. Also, they seem to like to have all their eggs in the tourism/retirement community basket.
An industry's dependence or preference for a particular form of transportation is not driven solely by its profitability. There are all sorts of shortline operations across Canada that were former Class I roads and that are doing quite nicely, partially because they have lower costs.
At least you didn't say it would make a nice trail.
 

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