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General railway discussions

For context I was in Germany for a business trip to Nuremberg, the train we took was going 270km in one section and it was fantastic, makes me wish we had that here stretching across the country.

I think it's totally possible if the federal government took it seriously.

One can dream.
Yes, one can dream of HS in NA, but we will be all gone before that happens,

Have ridden a fair number of trains that did 300-320km when heat wasn't an issue for the rails. I find it somewhat funny when HS is used for trains doing 200km is the tops speed for the country.

Doing 300km between Toronto and Ottawa or Montral will be a game changer, let alone to other places. Most trains show how fast the train is going as well as where it is on the route.

If we had HS in NA, I would use it than drive depending on my trip.
 
For context I was in Germany for a business trip to Nuremberg, the train we took was going 270km in one section and it was fantastic, makes me wish we had that here stretching across the country.

I think it's totally possible if the federal government took it seriously.

One can dream.
The difference between "across the country" in Germany and 'across the country' in Canada might be a clue. Germany also has over double our population crammed into a country less than 5% our size.
 
For context I was in Germany for a business trip to Nuremberg, the train we took was going 270km in one section and it was fantastic, makes me wish we had that here stretching across the country.

I think it's totally possible if the federal government took it seriously.

One can dream.

As @lenaitch notes above, 'across the country' is not a reasonable goal for High Speed in the next few decades. Ambitious, but plausible is Windsor - Quebec City, including an off shoot to Niagara; and Edmonton to Calgary. At an extreme push, should population growth surge in the applicable area, I can envision St. John to HFX.

But high speed in Northern Ontario or the Prairies (East-West) is largely improbable, really hard to justify, even as a fantasy.

Calgary to Vancouver might make sense, if we invested in very large, very expensive reroutes through the mountains, instead of around them. But that investment is a long while off, if it happens at all. As it stands, the case of it today would largely rest on the benefit to our freight carriers.

Yes, one can dream of HS in NA, but we will be all gone before that happens,

Anywhere in North America? I don't know when you're planning on expiring, but I certainly hope to see it in my lifetime; arguably the N-E corridor is already close, and I believe Toronto-Montreal if not Windsor to Quebec City will happen......though it may indeed be a while.

Drum, you really should stick around, your an insightful poster, and you would be missed..............at least wait til you're old, another 40-50 years anyway.
 
I have had the opportunity to ride 300 and near 300 kmph trains (they slow in China for bad weather) in various locales. And I hate to be negative about this, but I think the chances of this happening in Canada are about nil. Higher Speed (200 and near 200 kmph) in select areas with Higher Frequencies - yes. But the corridor only ( London to Quebec City) and an outside, political choice between Edmonton and Calgary. I live to see myself proven wrong.

On the other hand, I am currently in America’s Mid West region (Iowa,Kansas, Missouri) looking at logistics facilities, and Holy Hannah, are we so much further ahead in all aspects of creating livable cities and city regions that are not solely dependent on ICE vehicles for movement.
 
The U.K. has a larger population and economy than Canada, and look at all the problems they're having constructing a single line between London and Birmingham. Even having to make cuts to the route. Not to mention going wildly over budget.

I don't think Canada can make HSR realistically work today, even within the Windsor- Quebec corridor. We would have to grade separate every single rural crossing. I would be content with just faster and improved VIA service.

What's the fastest a train can travel on the Windsor- Quebec corridor? Can we make improvements to the existing tracks and signals to allow trains to travel faster? Add tilting to turns?
 
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The U.K. has a larger population and economy than Canada, and look at all the problems they're having constructing a single line between London and Birmingham. Even having to make cuts to the route. Not to mention going wildly over budget.

I don't think Canada can make HSR realistically work today, even within the Windsor- Quebec corridor. We would have to grade separate every single rural crossing. I would be content with just faster and improved VIA service.

What's the fastest a train can travel on the Windsor- Quebec corridor? Can we make improvements to the existing tracks and signals to allow trains to travel faster? Add tilting to turns?
Three consortia currently developing proposals for a high frequency rail service between Toronto and Ottawa and Montreal, with the option to propose higher speeds if they can identify a business case.
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It's going to be very interesting to see what speed they propose to achieve, given that Renfe and DB have direct experience operating trains at speeds >250 km/h and Keolis' parent SNCF does also.
 
Across the country? To achieve anything, they'd have to go the full monty, at 350 km/hr. If not some kind of maglev system to achieve 600 km/hr.

It's completely economically infeasible.

Sometime in 1881…

“It’s impossible to build the Trans Canada Railway. Crappy landscape, too few laborers, not enough money. We just shouldn’t bother.”

Look - although my comment is tongue-in-cheek, it does comment on a general Canadian mentality: it sounds hard, so let’s just not bother.

There are serious problems with Canadian public works today: serious, unexplained cost inflation, fickle political will, a depleted public engineering force, over-deference to local interests and more. It’s holding us back. It bothers me that our political class - and national discourse - accepts these as givens and tries to work around them instead of upending the system. We are capable of so much more, but our mentality and drive holds us back.

Rant over.
 
Comparing our situation now to the 1800s is pointless. Back then government gave railway companies to take land, blast it, fill it, bridge it and if a few hundred workers died in the building of it so be it.

We now have worker protection, environmental protection, First Nations land claim recognition etc. etc. Our government also made decisions to sell thousands of miles of track to private interests because at the time they deemed they needed the money. Pretending we don’t have to work with the Canada we have is for the fantasy threads
 
Admittedly we a cautious bunch, but what other country with our population and even approximating our size has coast-to-coast highspeed rail? The population part is important, because it is needed to pay for it. Happy with you taxes now? Want them increased ten-fold? or are you proposing private industry do it. I'm not seeing ideas being floated, probably because there would be no money in it.

When I see ideas like this I am convinced everyone needs to drive across this country at least once, if for no other reason than to understanding the scale, geography and lack of density.
 
I am all in favour of thinking big and long, and taking courageous decisions around investments that could define the next hundred years..... however..... I would stlll not jump on board with a plan to build long distance high speed railways as a nation-wide transportation medium.

I don't see it as providing the value that would make it worthwhile.

If I had the money for a single huge endeavour.....it would be to bore a Gotthard-quality rail tunnel through the Rockies that is level and weather-free. Measure the distance from Hope BC to Nelson - 295 kms - drill that as Phase I. Use the existing rail line to Calgary, and do a Phase II later. If Van Horne had TBM's he would never have gone through Kicking Horse pass!

I'm in fantasy territory perhaps, but my intent is simply to demonstrate that there are other huge investments with equally long payback periods and nation-defining quality that would deliver benefits in excess of transcontinental high speed passenger trains. These ought to take precedence over a transcontinental rail passenger "National Dream".

in terms of carbon, cost, environmental impact, operational and fuel efficiency.... the enemy is all the freight we move. Continuing to fly people where we need them gets cheaper every day, hauling grain doesn't.

- Paul
 
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I am all in favour of thinking big and long, and taking courageous decisions around investments that could define the next hundred years..... however..... I would stlll not jump on board with a plan to build long distance high speed railways as a nation-wide transportation medium.

I don't see it as providing the value that would make it worthwhile.

If I had the money for a single huge endeavour.....it would be to bore a Gotthard-quality rail tunnel through the Rockies that is level and weather-free. Measure the distance from Hope BC to Nelson - 295 kms - drill that as Phase I. Use the existing rail line to Calgary, and do a Phase II later. If Van Horne had TBM's he would never have gone through Kicking Horse pass!

I'm in fantasy territory perhaps, but my intent is simply to demonstrate that there are other huge investments with equally long payback periods and nation-defining quality that would deliver benefits in excess of transcontinental high speed passenger trains. These ought to take precedence over a transcontinental rail passenger "National Dream".

in terms of carbon, cost, environmental impact, operational and fuel efficiency.... the enemy is all the freight we move. Continuing to fly people where we need them gets cheaper every day, hauling grain doesn't.

- Paul

A 300km Gotthard? ; Gotthard is only 57km! LOL

I assume your're meaning that the distance on the existing trackage is 300km and that a tunnel would shave that considerably?
 
A 300km Gotthard? ; Gotthard is only 57km! LOL

I assume your're meaning that the distance on the existing trackage is 300km and that a tunnel would shave that considerably?
LOL No, I'm actually looking at Gotthard and thinking that much bigger, a la Van Horne and George Stephen and Sir John A. :)

Obviously I haven't done a hard number comparison (I did say it was fantasy, sort of) - but - if you look at the (considerable) traffic that Gottard handles, I am sure the GTM's that CN/CP carry through the Rockies will stand up in the same way. Fort Macleod is only 945M above sea level, where Kicking Horse Pass is 1627 M, and torturous to cross - why go the hard way?.

Wikipedia says that the Gottard Base Tunnel (57 km) cost 9.6B CHF. Simplistic math says a 300 km tunnel would 51B CHF or $79B CAD, pus inflation. Which is huge, but my point was..... how much huger is that than a Toronto to Vancouver HSR project (with links to various cities) ?
Would it generate $1B in lower costs vs Kicking Horse annually for 80 years? Maybe not, but possibly closer than one might first think.

But more seriously, there is certainly room for less than end to end tunnel construction that would shorten and level more of our routes through the Rockies, with benefits in fuel, weather, and maintenance costs. I do believe these would have a positive ROI and again much more positive than transcontinental HSR. So if people suggest transcontinental HSR is affordable, here's where I would spend that money instead.

- Paul
 
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LOL No, I'm actually looking at Gotthard and thinking that much bigger, a la Van Horne and George Stephen and Sir John A. :)

Obviously I haven't done a hard number comparison (I did say it was fantasy, sort of) - but - if you look at the (considerable) traffic that Gottard handles, I am sure the GTM's that CN/CP carry through the Rockies will stand up in the same way. Fort Macleod is only 945M above sea level, where Kicking Horse Pass is 1627 M, and torturous to cross - why go the hard way?.

Wikipedia says that the Gottard Base Tunnel (57 km) cost 9.6B CHF. Simplistic math says a 300 km tunnel would 51B CHF or $79B CAD, pus inflation. Which is huge, but my point was..... how much huger is that than a Toronto to Vancouver HSR project (with links to various cities) ?
Would it generate $1B in lower costs vs Kicking Horse annually for 80 years? Maybe not, but possibly closer than one might first think.

But more seriously, there is certainly room for less than end to end tunnel construction that would shorten and level more of our routes through the Rockies, with benefits in fuel, weather, and maintenance costs. I do believe these would have a positive ROI and again much more positive than transcontinental HSR. So if people suggest transcontinental HSR is affordable, here's where I would spend that money instead.

- Paul

You might have the info handy, what's the existing track distance between those 2 points. I'm curious if we can discern how much distance and travel time could be saved for a freight moving east to west with such an investment.

Figuring that sorta thing out seems like a @reaperexpress type exercise. Bit outside my field for coming up with a credible number.
 
You might have the info handy, what's the existing track distance between those 2 points. I'm curious if we can discern how much distance and travel time could be saved for a freight moving east to west with such an investment.

Figuring that sorta thing out seems like a @reaperexpress type exercise. Bit outside my field for coming up with a credible number.

Here's some data to consider. I count from Medicine Hat AB to Hope BC as that's where the relevant rail lines and imaginary map lines converge.

Distance and Climb

Hope BC to Fort MacLeod AB (my theoretical tunnel) - 600 kms
Existing connection Fort MacLeod to CP main line at Medicine Hat AB - 237 kms
Total - 837 kms
Highest elevation - Fort MacLeod 945m
Total climb westwards - Medecine Hat (690m) to Fort MacLeod (945m) - 255 m

Hope BC to Calgary via CPR Kicking Horse Pass - 884 kms
Existing CP main line Calgary to Medecine Hat AB - 282 kms
Total - 1166 kms
Highest elevation - Kicking Horse Pass
Total climb westwards - Medicine Hat (690m) to Calgary (1045m) to Summit (1627m) plus Revelstoke (480m) to Rogers Pass (1330m) - total 1807m

Tonnage

The Gottard Base tunnel has a daily maximum capacity of 260 slots (both ways included) for trains with maximum capacity of 2,000 metric tons. That's 190 million metric tons annually. (In fact, they have been handing a lesser volume this past few months due to a blockage).

In 2022, the Port of Vancouver handled 141 million metric tons of bulk freight plus 3.6 million container TEU's. Figuring a container at average of 10 metric tons, that's 177 million metric tons annually. (That does count CN freight as well as CP's)

The Swiss route is more trucking constrained than the Rocky Mountains, but I didn't go digging for numbers. Arguably, a new rail route through the rockies might justify constraining trucking as the Swiss have.

A Gottard shipment would incur road and rail costs for the segments at either end, where my end to end Canadian comparison is all-in.

Very simplistic analysis, nothing that proves anything either way - the point being, it's not that far out of scale for the volume that the Swiss are moving. But 200 miles less of railway trackage, and a whole lot less vertical hauling, over current Canadian infrastructure.

- Paul
 
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