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General railway discussions

With our population demographics, I doubt that even with paying a premium, retail shippers like FedEx or Walmart would see an economic advantage to use piggyback rail. These are not shipments from suppliers. A large portion of that (very large in the case of Walmart or Canadian Tire) comes from overseas in containers. I am guessing that shippers like Walmart and FedEx in the US are using piggyback rail to ship between their internal nodes (warehouses, distribution centres) and not out to stores or customers. I don't know for certain but imagine there isn't a whole lot of movement between their nodes in Canada, and if there is it more done by air given the distances. Paying a premium for expedited rail service is probably a whole lot easier when it can be accommodated by mainline carriage. FedEx has a relatively new distribution centre in Barrie, very near to a BCR spur. Between an interchange with CP and a not-everyday BCR service, I doubt it would be worth that additional cost to build trackage, handling and car storage facilities.

I don't know EU vehicle standards but I would suspect that making van trailers 'lift-capeable' for well-type rail cars would require NA-wide construction standards changes. They are made purposely light to maximize capacity with most of the strength carried by an aluminum deck frame. Hanging off that frame and getting in the way of hoisting is wheels/suspension, landing gear, air tanks, etc.
 
With our population demographics, I doubt that even with paying a premium, retail shippers like FedEx or Walmart would see an economic advantage to use piggyback rail. These are not shipments from suppliers. A large portion of that (very large in the case of Walmart or Canadian Tire) comes from overseas in containers. I am guessing that shippers like Walmart and FedEx in the US are using piggyback rail to ship between their internal nodes (warehouses, distribution centres) and not out to stores or customers. I don't know for certain but imagine there isn't a whole lot of movement between their nodes in Canada, and if there is it more done by air given the distances. Paying a premium for expedited rail service is probably a whole lot easier when it can be accommodated by mainline carriage. FedEx has a relatively new distribution centre in Barrie, very near to a BCR spur. Between an interchange with CP and a not-everyday BCR service, I doubt it would be worth that additional cost to build trackage, handling and car storage facilities.

I don't know EU vehicle standards but I would suspect that making van trailers 'lift-capeable' for well-type rail cars would require NA-wide construction standards changes. They are made purposely light to maximize capacity with most of the strength carried by an aluminum deck frame. Hanging off that frame and getting in the way of hoisting is wheels/suspension, landing gear, air tanks, etc.
They can not use double stack container due tunnels and other height issues. This is an example of what I have seen on my trips with trains up to 45 cars long.

Set the camera on the bridge while shooting with the DSRL to get photos shots and never noticed until the end the camera had moved from the position I set up for it. Its an COFC/TOFC train with mostly trailers
 
I was checking out a construction site and noticed a new rail spur going in off of Brown Rd, which comes South off of Woodlawn Rd. in Welland. The Gio switcher had just spotted gondolas at the scrapyard and was returning to their train. The new customer deals with Lumber from what I hear. As someone who works in the industry, it's nice to see.
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Any idea what the track issue is? Does Metronlinx own the track all the way to Uxbridge?
 
^In past years, there was an annual or semi-annual premium-fare special event train to Stratford. I don't know if VIA sponsored it or just sold a charter to some promoter - but it ran, even had a cocktail reception at Toronto Union. So the premise has certainly been demonstrated. If I were a Councillor or civic booster in Stratford I would be all over ML to do more of this.

There are some logistical things to resolve however. The least of which are the Halton connectivity on CN, the need for passing sidings west of Georgetown, and the general need for track improvement.

Then there is the problem that it's 980m from the platform in Stratford to the central Downie-Erie-Ontario intersection where the best dining spots are. And then 1400m from there to the Festival Theatre, and another 1600m from there back to the rail station. Not unpleasant distances for a walk, but possibly not appealing to the older demographic who represent a significant slice of Stratford Theatre--goers. There would have to be an assured shuttle service between these points, with appropriate timings.

Being a regular Stratford patron, I suppose I might use the service if it were offered - maybe. Stretching a lunch+matinee outing into dinner and a late arrival in Toronto (with a first/last mile leg required) could be a dealbreaker. Parking at Bramalea or Malton stations, and having a choice of after show/before dinner and stay-for-dinner return options would be the most attractive - I would be happy to skip the drive to Stratford part of the outing. For evening shows, I would not be eager to arrive back very late after a slow train ride and have to get home from Union in the wee hours.

If one assumes that Kitchener-Stratford-London route will become the VIA/GO backbone route before long (with or without HFR, and certainly long before anyone can sell new right of way construction to Oxford County) - then certainly building excursion appeal to a Stratford outing is a no-brainer. The article is compelling in demonstrating just how much potential there is for that much travel on the route. But personally I would not single out Stratford - add in many events in Kitchener, St Jacobs, Guelph....the route simply needs good hourly service all day every day. The business case is there, intuitively at least. Somebody just needs to get that moving as a project, without wasting years chasing studies.

- Paul
 
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Any idea what the track issue is? Does Metronlinx own the track all the way to Uxbridge?
Yes it does according to the article linked. Other online news sites seem to indicate that it was the confluence of a couple of issues. The union representing track workers went on brief strike in early December which affected the excursions around that time (and pushed back whatever work had to be done) but it seems the bigger issue was a "mechanical problem" that turned out to be a bigger fix than originally thought. They don't say but I have to believe it was with their motive power.
 

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