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General railway discussions

lenaitch

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A smart-train that can integrate braking, coupling/uncoupling, and add new forms of equipment monitoring will certainly be much safer and cheaper to operate.

I don’t see length as the big obstacle - the components will handle the drawbar forces. What will be interesting is how to energise and motorise all the railcar-mounted devices that are operated by hand to day as trains are built and disassembled. And how to digitise some of the things that are done by eye today, such as aligning couplers, confirming pins are up/down, confirming good joints and separations, opening/closing angle cocks, and setting/releasing handbrakes. These are not low-energy mechanical operations! And how to make these components reliable and maintenance free. (Perhaps the savings would offset a much more demanding approach to maintenance and state of good repair, which the railways don’t even attempt today).

An integrated solution is mandatory…. no point in automating the coupling if the air brake system isn’t automated at the same time. But, the Westinghouse brake, while incredibly clever, sorely needs to be replaced with a better system that gives more protection against runaways, spurious emergency stops (which can cause derailments), and mitigates slack action better. So a huge opportunity.

There is a huge logistical issue too, in that there has to be enough equipment equipped to be operable…. or a huge backwards compatibility design effort is needed. Equipping the fleet gradually with a goal of reaching 100% capability is a 40-year proposition, and until the new tech can function, there is no ROI. (A lot like having one burned out bulb on a string of Christmas lights…. all it takes is one gap….)

- Paul
Indeed. A couple of websites show that there are roughly 1.7 millions freight rail cars in North America with, as you mention, an average lifespan of about 40 years.
 

reaperexpress

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From the article:

I want to reiterate that the Lac-Megantic rail bypass will continue to be a priority for the government of Canada until it is fully completed in 2023," Alghabra said in a press release.

And yet...

• The first offers to purchase the land have been submitted. Offers will continue to be submitted gradually over the coming weeks.
• The plans and specifications reached the 30% progress mark and were submitted to the Canadian Transportation Agency in order to initiate the project approval process.

There is absolutely no way they will complete the new railway in the next two years, if they only just started land acquisition and are only at 30% design.

Canadian Pacific - who is actually building the track - had this exact response to Alghabra's press report, as covered in this CBC article published today:

Le Canadien Pacifique (CP) blâme Ottawa et craint de ne pas être en mesure de terminer à temps la construction de la voie de contournement ferroviaire de Lac-Mégantic, prévue pour 2023.

Dans une lettre envoyée lundi au ministre des Transports Omar Alghabra, dont Radio-Canada a obtenu copie, le Canadien Pacifique expose ses importantes préoccupations sur de nombreux retards dans le projet et en impute la faute à Ottawa.

[...]
La lettre du PDG de CP vient contredire le ministre Alghabra, qui assurait, pas plus tard que vendredi, que le projet progressait bien. Je tiens à réitérer que la voie de contournement ferroviaire de Lac-Mégantic continuera d’être une priorité pour le gouvernement du Canada, jusqu’à sa pleine réalisation en 2023, écrivait-il dans un communiqué.

Dans sa lettre, le CP fait état de retards dans l’achat des terrains nécessaires au passage de la nouvelle voie ferrée, et dans le financement du projet.

[...]

Ottawa doit négocier avec 44 propriétaires pour acquérir 80 terrains nécessaires à la construction de la voie de contournement ferroviaire. Transports Canada souhaite éviter les expropriations et veut acquérir les terrains au moyen de négociations de gré à gré avec les propriétaires.

Des propriétaires de terrain interrogés par Radio-Canada affirment ne pas avoir été approchés pour entreprendre des négociations avec le gouvernement. Ce que semble confirmer la lettre du CPCanadien Pacifique au ministre Alghabra.

Le gouvernement n’a pas commencé l’acquisition des terrains nécessaires comme prévu au printemps 2021, écrit le CP, et ne semble pas en voie de terminer le processus à temps pour que la construction puisse commencer cet hiver. Or, la seule façon d’atteindre cet objectif de 2023, selon le CP, est de commencer la construction de la voie de contournement à l'hiver 2021-2022.

Transports Canada rétorque que c’est faux. Le dépôt des premières offres d’achat pour l’acquisition des terrains a débuté, indique l’organisme par voie de communiqué, ajoutant que les offres continueront à être déposées progressivement au cours des prochaines semaines.
[...]
 

Allandale25

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^ Translation of the CBC article.

Lac-Mégantic bypass: Ottawa is dragging its feet, says CP​

On the one hand, the railway company maintains that the federal government did not start acquiring the land as planned last spring. On the other hand, the government repeats that this project is an absolute priority.

Christian Noël (access the author's page)
Christian Noël

at 4 p.m.
Canadian Pacific (CP) blames Ottawa and fears it will not be able to complete construction of the Lac-Mégantic rail bypass, scheduled for 2023, on time.
In a letter sent Monday to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, of which Radio-Canada obtained a copy, the Canadian Pacific expresses serious concerns about numerous delays in the project and blames Ottawa for them.

Eight years after the terrible rail tragedy that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, construction of the bypass does not appear to be about to begin.

Transport Canada officials do not appear to be acting with the level of urgency necessary to achieve this government-set target , writes CP CEO Canadian Pacific, Keith Creel. Either they do not intend to complete the project on time, or they have not received the necessary political guidance to overcome the significant obstacles to the rapid completion of the project , adds Mr. Creel.

Letter from the CEO of Canadian Pacific contradicts Minister Alghabra, who assured, as late as Friday, that the project was progressing well. I would like to reiterate that the Lac-Mégantic rail bypass will continue to be a priority for the Government of Canada, until its full completion in 2023 , he wrote in a press release.

Land acquisition

It is extremely disappointing, says the Conservative MP for Mégantic – L'Érable, Luc Berthold, who represents the region. If the CPCanadian Pacific Do not believe it, why does Transport Canada not give citizens the truth?

Ottawa must negotiate with 44 owners to acquire 80 lots needed for the construction of the rail bypass. Transport Canada wishes to avoid expropriation and wants to acquire the land through mutual agreement negotiations with the owners.

Landowners interviewed by Radio-Canada say they were not approached to begin negotiations with the government. What the CP letter seems to confirmCanadian Pacific to Minister Alghabra.

Government did not start acquiring the necessary land as planned in spring 2021, writes Canadian Pacific, and does not appear to be on track to complete the process in time for construction to begin this winter. However, the only way to reach this 2023 goal , according to the Canadian Pacific, is to begin construction of the bypass in the winter of 2021-2022 .

Transport Canada retorts that this is false. The filing of the first offers to purchase the land has begun , the organization said in a press release, adding that the offers will continue to be filed gradually over the coming weeks .


MP Berthold deplores Transport Canada's lack of diligence in these negotiations with the owners concerned. It is important to complete the project quickly, but not at the expense of negotiated agreements with the owners , he says.

The project was initially valued at $ 133 million for a 13-kilometer section, paid for 60% by Ottawa and 40% by the Government of Quebec. The evaluation is obsolete, it will cost much more , believes Luc Berthold, especially because of inflation and the rise in the price of materials .

The Canadian Pacific also accuses Transport Canada of administrative dragging its feet. The railway company is awaiting purchase authorizations from the government in order to procure the steel needed for the project.

The current and accepted routes of the bypass at Lac-Mégantic.

The current and accepted routes of the bypass at Lac-Mégantic.
PHOTO: RADIO-CANADA
However, on two occasions in October, the Canadian Pacific was unable to complete the transaction because he did not receive the necessary documentation from Ottawa on time. To date, Transport Canada has still not given the necessary authorizations and the steel has still not been ordered , says the letter of the Canadian Pacific.

In its letter, the railway company also pleads for a better financial arrangement with Ottawa. Mr. Creel regretted that the representatives of Transport Canada treat the project like an ordinary project with normal financial terms , when he believes it would take better terms in order to meet the aggressive, accelerated and unconventional schedule of the project .

Government response​

Minister Alghabra's office indicates that this project is an absolute priority for our government and no community should have to experience what Lac-Mégantic has experienced .

We have accelerated the process, says a spokesperson for the minister, while ensuring that all safety and environmental standards are met.

About CP requests Canadian Pacific regarding the financing of the project, the Ministry of Transport replied that it expected Canadian Pacific meets the strict conditions established during the negotiation process to complete this project .

This imbroglio between Ottawa and Canadian Pacific does not bode well, believes the Conservative member for Mégantic – L'Érable.

If the Canadian Pacific and the federal government cannot come to an agreement, no timeline can be considered realistic, he said. I ask the Canadian Pacific and Transport Canada to come to an early agreement. They owe it to the citizens of Lac-Mégantic.
 

crs1026

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^I can’t fault CP for proactively setting the table and sending a message that they won’t be used as the scapegoat when LM fails to deliver as promised. Sending the letter in french is particularly astute as it enables direct cut and paste by Quebec media. It seems pretty improbable for this work to actually conclude on time, and fingers will start getting pointed eventually. CP is way out ahead of that.
I have to wonder if it also ties to CP’s outlook on both HFR and potentially Milton GO expansion. Reading between the lines, the message is “this is why we can’t trust you guys…. All talk and no resolve…. Don’t come asking for anything unless you are able to commit and execute”
As a simple matter of negotiating strategy It wouldn’t be a bad time for CP to get grumpy, with those two negotiations about to get started. And the potential for more blockades always on the horizon.
In other circumstances I might consider it posturing, but I think CP may well have reason to call out government and political parties that talk big but can’t get their stuff together.

- Paul
 

Allandale25

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"Preliminary application from Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) under section 98 of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) to construct a railway bypass around the downtown of the City of Lac-Mégantic"


Letter Decision No. LET-R-60-2021​

November 12, 2021

Preliminary application from Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) under section 98 of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) to construct a railway bypass around the downtown of the City of Lac-Mégantic

Case number:
20-08580

PRELIMINARY APPLICATION

On October 1, 2021, CP filed a preliminary application under section 98 of the CTA on behalf of its subsidiary Central Maine and Quebec Railway Canada Inc. In its application, CP requests that the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) approve the construction of a railway bypass around the downtown of Lac-Mégantic (the proposed railway line).
Before constructing a railway line, a railway company must apply for, and obtain, the Agency’s approval under section 98 of the CTA. The railway company bears the onus of providing the required information in enough detail, with supporting evidence, to enable the Agency to fully assess the application. To assist the railway company in meeting its burden, the Agency has produced the Guide to Railway Line Construction, which describes the information a railway company is required to include in a section 98 application. The Agency may also require additional information based on the specific facts of each case.
In the interests of efficiency and to assist the railway company in completing its application, the Agency has reviewed CP’s preliminary application and identified information that CP will need to file to complete its application, as follows:

1. LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED RAILWAY LINES

Number of Private Crossings

Five private crossings are contemplated in CP’s preliminary application and the overview plan included in the preliminary application shows that many properties will be subdivided by the proposed railway line. CP will need to explain the difference between the number of private crossings contemplated in its application and the number of properties that will be divided by the proposed railway line.

Plan Details

While CP’s overview plan illustrates adjacent residences, the plan does not contain the following required information: existing and future land use and zoning; adjacent property owners’ names and property lines; and sensitive receptors.

2. RAILWAY OPERATIONS AND SERVICES

More details are required concerning infrastructure and ground alterations, operations planned for the route, and proposed construction activities and schedules.
In addition, final versions of the following documents referred to in the preliminary application will have to be filed:
  • Layout Drawing Package
  • Track and Structures Package
  • Crossings and Utilities Package
  • Noise and Vibration Report
  • Site Drainage Report
  • Infrastructure Design Report
  • Culvert Report
  • Facility Operations Report
  • Construction Plan
  • Stakeholder Engagement Report
  • Traffic and Transportation Impact Report
  • Environmental Effects Evaluation
  • Risk Assessment Report

3. ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIES

To complete its application, CP must file additional information about the interests of localities, including any studies and commitments prepared to address concerns raised, as well as information about any outstanding issues requiring further study.
CP will need to: (1) inform people in the affected localities that it intends to construct the proposed railway line, and provide them with all available public documentation related to this project; (2) conduct a meaningful engagement activity (at a minimum, an online public consultation of no less than two weeks); and (3) compile the results of the consultation, including its responses, and identify any commitments necessary to address concerns raised during the consultation.
CONCLUSION
The Agency requests that CP provide its explanation of the difference between the number of private crossings contemplated in its preliminary application and the number of properties that will be divided by the proposed railway lines in advance of any public engagement activity to be conducted before the application is completed.

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Elizabeth C. Barker
 

Kitsune

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So Highway 1 - washed out. Highway 5 - southband lanes washed out and a bridge collapse. Looks like both the CPR and CN rail lines also have mutiple washouts... and add multiple mudslides across every highway too. Vancouver is going to be cut off for a while, and Prince Rupert is going to get severely overloaded now with containers.
 

Bordercollie

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So Highway 1 - washed out. Highway 5 - southband lanes washed out and a bridge collapse. Looks like both the CPR and CN rail lines also have mutiple washouts... and add multiple mudslides across every highway too. Vancouver is going to be cut off for a while, and Prince Rupert is going to get severely overloaded now with containers.
You can take a route through the states, now that things are open. You have to be fully vaccinated though.

I guess the Canadian is going to be suspended?
 

IRT_BMT_IND

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There are people on this forum more qualified than me to meaningfully assess the extent of the damage here. I will note that washouts in the Fraser Canyon are actually pretty common and CP and CN have lots of experience repairing them.

The only alternate routes for rail traffic to/from the Port of Vancouver are the former BCR line through Prince George, or go through the US.
 

roger1818

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Depending on where the mudslide is there might be a northern route to take.

It isn't one mudslide. All major highways in or out of the lower mainland in all directions are closed due to flooding or mudslides. As for CN CP:

and BNSF:
 

roger1818

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The only alternate routes for rail traffic to/from the Port of Vancouver are the former BCR line through Prince George, or go through the US.

As I mentioned in my previous post, BNSF's tracks into Vancouver are also closed. CP's Fraser Valley Sub to the USA travel along the foot of the escarpment that is the western edge of Sumas Prairie, which is under evacuation order, so I suspect they are flooded. I haven't heard anything about CN's Squamish sub to Prince George, but I would be amazed if it is unaffected.
 

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