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Rail: Ontario-Quebec High Speed Rail Study

http://www.thestar.com/News/article/293107

Onboard for high-speed line

Quebec City-Windsor rail link resurrected by McGuinty, Charest

Jan 11, 2008 04:30 AM
bruce campion-smith
Ottawa bureau chief

OTTAWA–After decades of study and debate, the premiers of Ontario and Quebec now say a high-speed rail line from Quebec City to Windsor is an idea whose "time has come."

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest yesterday announced yet another feasibility study of a fast train line, but both made clear they thought the ambitious project may finally get on track.

Any such project would come with a hefty price tag. A 1995 feasibility study pegged the cost then at $18.3 billion.

"This has been talked about for quite some time but every once in a while there's an idea whose time actually comes," McGuinty said.

Charest said it was an idea "worth pursuing."

"I see this as a project that will have many, many economic, social and environmental benefits," he said after meeting with McGuinty at the Chateau Laurier.

While many studies have already been done, McGuinty said it was time to do one that took into account "some of the new realities."

Congested roads, ballooning gas prices and growing worries over climate change have all given new life to this old dream, the premiers said. And they pitched the multi-billion-dollar, 1,200-kilometre rail line as a massive job-creation scheme.

"I don't think there's any doubt there's going to be lots of good Ontario and Quebec jobs created as a result of this project," McGuinty said, citing the need for workers to build the tracks, manufacture the cars and engineer the high-speed technology.


Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove said he would be "very supportive" of such a rail link if the rolling stock is built here.

"We need something different from what's happening today, a major mega-project that recognizes manufacturing is really, really struggling," Hargrove said before a morning Queen's Park meeting with McGuinty and auto executives to discuss the auto industry.

"As long as it's combined with a requirement that the vehicles or the cars that they use are purchased or built in Ontario or Canada then I'll be fine with it," he said.

Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said later that Ottawa would share the study cost.

"This government is committed to examining alternatives that offer comfortable, faster and more reliable passenger rail services that will also contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and other emissions," Cannon said in a statement.

But he said governments would have to assess the willingness of private firms to share in the cost "so that taxpayers do not have to shoulder the entire financial burden."

Long-time supporters of the project are expressing optimism that talk may finally turn into action.

"The time is now because of fuel costs ... because of the environment and because of the economy," said David Jeanes, president of Transport 2000 Canada, a public transportation advocacy group.

The 1995 study of the project, done by the three levels of government, concluded that a high-speed rail line would woo passengers away from cars and airlines, resulting in a 20 per cent cut in energy consumption related to intercity travel. It also forecast a reduction in greenhouse gases.

The new service would also be a boon to travellers. Whizzing along the tracks at upwards of 300 km/h – double the speed of VIA Rail's current trains – it would take two hours and 18 minutes to travel between Montreal and Toronto, down from four hours.

***

It's also fought in any cabinet meeting by Westerners, who think it's just another east-only project.
Come to think of it, it might be a good thing that this is being done by the provinces. It gives westerners less ammo to try to derail it (excuse the pun). With a provincial project getting federal funding, it gives incentive for Alberta to start something between Edmonton and Calgary, BC to team up with Washington state, etc.
 
It's actually 67mi (103km) with 4 stations (3 currently in service), but point taken. The thumb-twiddling when it comes to HSR in the UK is embarrassing. The ongoing bit-by-bit upgrades of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) has turned into a boondoggle by this point. I would blame a dependence on the "free market" and privatisation for the situation in the UK, they've been too busy trying to have their trains show up and trying to keep their rails from falling apart to think too much about HSR. (Think of it as a warning of where we're fated to end up in Canada if we try to improve rail service without a proper, conclusive plan.)

Indeed--4 when Stratford opens. I think there's an easy explanation for the UK's lack of HSR: nobody in power gives a s*** about anything outside London. Makes a lot more sense when you look at it that way. The capital is now connected to Paris and Brussels by a very good high speed link, and thus hooked into the European network. That seems to be enough for the British government, even if the *other* 45-or-so million people they represent are stuck on broken-down Pendolinos.
 
Oh the UK is absolutely maddening when it comes to rail. They just had a far-reaching report on transport, and it said that high-speed rail isn't worthwhile. Guess who they got to write the report? The former Chairman of British Airways.

Check this out, though.
 
Could this be what is in store for us:

"The new Bombardier ZEFIRO design concepts for travelling at speeds in excess of 300 kph, have been created by Bombardier's industrial design team in co-operation with Zagato, a world-renowned Italian industrial design house.

The new ZEFIRO designs are a worldwide breakthrough in terms of aerodynamics, aesthetics, functionality, interior comfort and future adaptability. These design concepts presented today by Bombardier mark the beginning of a new era in terms of very high-speed rail travel. Bombardier has developed concepts of design encompassing innovation, glamour, maximum passenger comfort, timelessness design and cost effectiveness.

"Very high-speed rail travel is the future mode of transport in many countries worldwide and Bombardier is the global leader in this exciting and dynamic field," commented André Navarri, President, Bombardier Transportation. "We combine our technical excellence with world class designs that together will change the perception of very high-speed rail travel for the future," added André Navarri.

With its participation in 95% of all very high-speed trains operating today in Europe, and also a leader in North America and Asia in high-speed trains, Bombardier has the technology and know-how available to fully design and manufacture very high-speed trains; from very high-speed bogies to bodyshells, pantographs and top-performance water-cooled IGBT propulsion systems."
 
If the private sector has to get involved, I think I would be okay with Virgin Trains doing a partnership with VIA Rail. The trendiness of Virgin with the absolute beauty of the DB4 Zagato would do wonders to get people on the train.
 
Oh the UK is absolutely maddening when it comes to rail. They just had a far-reaching report on transport, and it said that high-speed rail isn't worthwhile. Guess who they got to write the report? The former Chairman of British Airways.

Coming up next: a feasibility report on HSR in Canada written by General Motors, the CAA and the head of the Fraser Institute.

PS: Wasn't David Jeanes the same guy who sunk the Ottawa LRT?
 
Coming up next: a feasibility report on HSR in Canada written by General Motors, the CAA and the head of the Fraser Institute.

PS: Wasn't David Jeanes the same guy who sunk the Ottawa LRT?

You are correct! Who needs enemies when you have transit advocates like David Jeanes? He's also, for some strange reason, on the Union Station advisory committee.
 
After doing a little reading, it took $1 billion USD (in 2003) to construct the Shanghai track. Based on 1200 km, the cost would be approximately $40 billion. I know that figure needs to be adjusted for inflation and needs to recognize some sort of economies of scale, but we can get a basic idea.

There is no way this would ever happen at that price tag, and without Bombardier attaining the licenses to build the technology (or some other way to bring them into the mix).
 
You can't just multiply the cost of a short line. The Shanghai route is entirely throuhg an urban area, which massivelyh increases costs and engineering challenges. A short route also requires the same maintenance facilities and base infrastructure of a much longer route.

The Zefiro trains seem to be a great option for any Canadian service. It's a good train, with a mix of new advanced technologies and more proven systems.

Virgin offers pretty and trendy trains, but they travel at the same speeds and with the same reliability of trains thirty years ago.
 
I usually fantasize about high speed rail service while sitting on a motionless train in the Smith's Falls rail yard waiting for another VIA train that has priority on the one available track.


If it's not perfect, David Jeanes won't support it.
 
You can't just multiply the cost of a short line. The Shanghai route is entirely throuhg an urban area, which massivelyh increases costs and engineering challenges.

I know, I realize that. Im sure the fact that it is elevated for a large portion increased the costs as well. Its a very rough questimate, nothing more.

But how much do you think they could realistically spend on this project? I read $18 billion somewhere (Ill try and find the link) and damn, is that ever expensive.
 
I would hope that passenger rates would be kept reasonable. I looked into taking the train to Montreal for a weekend and was shocked at how expensive it was. In the car I went. Keeping HSR affordable, maybe with different classes of seating for those who don't mind paying for luxury, would encourage its use over the car, imo.
 

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