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Rail: Ontario-Quebec High Speed Rail Study

I'm not sure people are going to want to pay a tax explicitly for roads on their air conditioning bill. A tax at the pumps works to show a tax is being collected by the users of roads and to show road users are paying their way, an electricity tax wouldn't. Right now a Hummer driver pays a huge amount of tax, whereas an electric Hummer driver would pay much less because a 35% tax on electricity is never going to happen.

Okay, I was just speculating. But realistically, I can't see any kind of road tax that involves tracking users. That might fly in Europe. Can't see that here. We tend to be much more prickly about privacy than they are. More than likely we'd just have some kind of flat tax tied with the registration of the car.

Anyway, my point was that you don't need to penalize the car to make rail attractive. It already is. We've just structured passenger rail pricing badly. And the services aren't competitive with the car. Heck, keep the same price and speed it up so it's marginally competitive with the car (it takes longer door-to-door today with the train) and you'd get more customers.
 
Or, we could take a cue from the dutch and charge for auto usage by km, however, implementing a recording system for such a thing would be a logistical nightmare (the recording hardware alone, how easy is it to tamper with an odometer?), and likely unpopular in rural areas. I would image the equation for such a tax would have to take into account neighborhood density and quality of transit service and provide exceptions or discounts for people who need to use their vehicle for their work.
 
Not to get us too far off track here.............

But just so we're clear there is nothing logistically complex about charging by the km; nor do most motorists get irate about having their every move trackable (i would argue they should, but most never give it that much thought)

Driving a late-model GM? Hello, ONSTAR....Real-time GPS satellite locate of every car; your car is lojacked.

Look at the Onstar commerical, if you enable all functions on the deluxe model, there is not just GPS and real-time 2-way communication, ONSTAR has real time access to your cars black box, its locks, its ignition.

Now, let's be clear, today most drivers don't yet have that on their cars, and its entirely optional. But the equivalent to ONSTAR will be offered on virtually every major brand of car; and every model within 5 years.......as it gets cheaper.........most people will accept it voluntarily. They won't consider the Orwellian implications.

Its no big leap from there to mandating it.

It may come over a few years............but I fully expect it will come.

In the meantime, enjoy tolls on major highways and/or toll lanes; higher gas prices, higher license fees; until one day your told the good news..........if only you agree to be charged by the km, like most of your neighbours...... it will cost less; and simplify your bills.......

The Dutch system is real-time tracking btw..............
 
I agree that the Dutch system is a good model to look at, and perhaps in the future the better way to go.

But I also agree with kEiThZ that for making HSR more attractive it isn't an issue. HSR will (as has happened in Europe) take a lot away from airline travel in the corridor, and make the train more attractive for some types of car trips. But without a super strong regional rail network and local transit to back up HSR it isn't likely to take a big chunk out of car trips. Not that it can't in the future, and secondary and tertiary stations along the line can help make the service more attractive. But HSR would be successful even if auto-travel pricing remained the same so really, why bring up an issue that is only going to make enemies and not friends.
 
The biggest thing that HSR could do for the Quebec-Windsor corridor, IMO, is to take airplane trips off the corridor. The entire corridor still needs great local and regional transit improvements, but by just having express only Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal 320 km/h trains would be a huge improvement. We still need the regional HSR trains and regional rail going throughout the countryside (not even mentioning the lack of regional rail in the cities,) but just that simple express service would accomplish so much. It's really a wonder that we're still debating whether it should get built.
 
It's really a wonder that we're still debating whether it should get built.

I think the debate is more about how to make it work best for Canada. There is often the notion that Canadian cities have the same density as many European cities and thus its a no brainer...it will just work. But the lack of regional rail is just one major difference between Canadian and European cities that makes HSR somewhat more challenging here. If a lot of people are going to have to drive to an HSR station, how many are just going to stay in their car (think of someone in Markham or Vaughan trying to get to Union).

The list could go on with other examples but that gets tedious fast. Its not enough to just build the network...it has to be well integrated into Canadian transportation patterns and networks and make an efficient use of resources to capture as many potential passengers as possible. Any previous plans have really focused on one thing...how to maximize profit...by reducing service to only the most dense and profitable parts. It is important to make money and for HSR fiscally sound, but it is not the only thing a project like this should focus on.

Edit: For what its worth I think it is getting closer to the point where there are going to be enough secondary networks that HSR will be a reasonable door-to-door choice for enough people that it can achieve the level of support needed to get it off the ground. If Ottawa gets it LRT network underway, and Montreal and Toronto develop S-Bahn type regional rail service on a majority of the GO and AMT networks that will make a critical difference. And though I think it could go forward without industry involvement, pre-emptively working with the airlines and perhaps involving them in a limited ownership partnership to help offset loses to them and build strong connections with airline travel would do a lot push HSR forward.
 
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I agree with everything there, but Rail on the corridor is almost competitive with highway travel. What HSR would do is really open up the current airline market to rail travel. We can already see that people are happy to drop their cars off at the airport and fend for themselves once they get to their destination, so I could see a very similar thing happening with HSR. Once GOT and AMT get S-Bahn like regional rail services, we're pretty set for European-style transport. From there, we'd move on to regional rail off of the main corridors, and develop secondary passenger rail lines throughout Southern Ontario and Quebec and integrating the region even better.
 
I agree with everything there, but Rail on the corridor is almost competitive with highway travel. What HSR would do is really open up the current airline market to rail travel. We can already see that people are happy to drop their cars off at the airport and fend for themselves once they get to their destination, so I could see a very similar thing happening with HSR. Once GOT and AMT get S-Bahn like regional rail services, we're pretty set for European-style transport. From there, we'd move on to regional rail off of the main corridors, and develop secondary passenger rail lines throughout Southern Ontario and Quebec and integrating the region even better.

The issue I have is that simply taking the airlines market away shouldn't be seen as enough of a goal. It will happen regardless. The plan should be looking at how to also attract more highway trips. It doesn't have to be a large percentage of those trips...even 10% of car trips (which would be about 8% or 9% of all trips in the corridor) would be a huge feat. This is where details matter and no previous plan has ever addressed how to create faster door-to-door trips for those not centered on the major train stations. Again, using the example of someone in Vaughan, even if driving to Union still results in a faster trip...where do they park? (And yes you could go to a parking lot and take GO or the Subway but then that is one more transfer and more than one transfer on either end is really not desirable).

I would also add that transit plans in K/W and Hamilton are also good news in that they could provide excellent links to a future HSR system.
 
^I think that having mini-airport like stations in the suburbs complete with park and ride lots and rental car facilities would be a major boon to riders from the outskirts.

Actually, speaking about airports, why not place those stations at the airports? They have rental car facilities anyway and giant parking lots - plus, you could then have codeshare agreements with major carriers, allowing them to axe low-performing regional routes like Toronto-Kingston, Toronto-London ON, Ottawa-Dorval, etc. and send connecting passengers by rail, instead. The airports are already strategically placed: Pearson would be a natural stop on a London-Kitchener-Toronto HSR line, and Dorval already is a stop on the way to Ottawa and Montreal.
 
On that same note, I could see at Ottawa HSR mainline stop at Greensboro, with the O-Train expanded a station south to the airport. It would make the airport immensely more useful withing the larger network. Ideally though, in addition to a southern through-route, I'd love to see a spur reconnecting Ottawa Union station to the rest of the rail network, but with the NCC running the show, its doubtful that would ever happen.
 
^ The politically popular term at the moment is "mobility hubs". Basically integrating as many transportation options into a single station as possible.

There was an idea floating around the forums, I can't remember who penned it, but basically, the government would purchase and maintain trackage in high-priority passenger corridors and charge CN or CP usage fees for those tracks. CN and CP have the benefit of not having to pay for track maintenance, while governments and transit agencies have the benefits of improving passenger rail through track improvements and scheduling. Renting out track for freight would also be a source of revenue for the government. GO is already beginning to do this to an extent by buying up railway segments within the GTA.

CN and CP would still be private companies, and still maintain their US operations, and Trackage rights outside of major passenger corridors as opposed to fully nationalizing the rail network. Both freight operations are profitable for both companies, so why completely eliminate them entirely through full nationalization?
I love this suggestion because it would put rail and roads on equal footing and provide some stable funding for rail costs.
 
Two things needed to overcome the local transport issue:

1) Better transit
2) Co-location of rental car services and car-sharing services.

1 is being worked on and isn't really all that bad in major cities in the corridor (save Kingston).
2 is the big problem. Hardly any of the VIA stations today have car rental and car sharing services.
 
^I think that having mini-airport like stations in the suburbs complete with park and ride lots and rental car facilities would be a major boon to riders from the outskirts.

Actually, speaking about airports, why not place those stations at the airports? They have rental car facilities anyway and giant parking lots - plus, you could then have codeshare agreements with major carriers, allowing them to axe low-performing regional routes like Toronto-Kingston, Toronto-London ON, Ottawa-Dorval, etc. and send connecting passengers by rail, instead. The airports are already strategically placed: Pearson would be a natural stop on a London-Kitchener-Toronto HSR line, and Dorval already is a stop on the way to Ottawa and Montreal.

For me, airport stations are critical and I couldn't envision an HSR network without Pearson and Dorval. For Pearson though the station absolutely needs to be right on site, Schiphol style. For Dorval, it may be possible to keep the station where it is if there was say some sort of high speed sidewalk that would make it easy and quick for passengers to get to the terminal (depending on how much it would cost to divert the line right to the station and what passenger loads at the airport are projected to be).

Stations like Oshawa and Guildwood should be expanded to be full service nodes, along with stops to the west in Oakville (roughly) and Hamilton (not that all trips would originate from Hamilton but having that did would provide a good value added service. In the case of Toronto I would even suggest having a station at Richmond Hill or elsewhere to the north that again would have only a few trips originating and terminating from there but would provide direct service to what would probably be a strong market. In Montreal I would suggest the same for service to Laval, and to the South Shore as well.

On that same note, I could see at Ottawa HSR mainline stop at Greensboro, with the O-Train expanded a station south to the airport. It would make the airport immensely more useful withing the larger network. Ideally though, in addition to a southern through-route, I'd love to see a spur reconnecting Ottawa Union station to the rest of the rail network, but with the NCC running the show, its doubtful that would ever happen.

Ottawa already has two stops and a third seems rather silly. I am not sure on how many airport passengers would find that service useful. I know I have used the train and flown out of Dorval a few times, but I dont think there are enough people who take the train with Ottawa airport being their final destination. If a quick connection between a HSR station and the airport was ever needed in Ottawa a better way would be to extend the LRT line from the airport to Fallowfield station. For what its worth, Fallowfield station is actually a very well placed station. I live in the Lebreton Flats neighborhood and when I am coming back from Toronto or Kingston on the train I get off at Fallowfield and take the bus because it actually saves me 15 - 20 minutes of travel time.

And though I would love a downtown station in Ottawa creating a terminus at Union Station is less than ideal since you have capacity issues with trains loading and unloading and lose the efficiency of a drive through station. For the money it would cost to put a station directly downtown, it doesn't really seem worthwhile at the moment and with better links coming to the current station with the LRT network, I think it will meet the needs, even if it is not completely central (and the station itself is among my favourites admitingly).
 
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For me, airport stations are critical and I couldn't envision an HSR network without Pearson and Dorval. For Pearson though the station absolutely needs to be right on site, Schiphol style. For Dorval, it may be possible to keep the station where it is if there was say some sort of high speed sidewalk that would make it easy and quick for passengers to get to the terminal (depending on how much it would cost to divert the line right to the station and what passenger loads at the airport are projected to be).

Stations like Oshawa and Guildwood should be expanded to be full service nodes, along with stops to the west in Oakville (roughly) and Hamilton (not that all trips would originate from Hamilton but having that did would provide a good value added service. In the case of Toronto I would even suggest having a station at Richmond Hill or elsewhere to the north that again would have only a few trips originating and terminating from there but would provide direct service to what would probably be a strong market. In Montreal I would suggest the same for service to Laval, and to the South Shore as well.
To route a rail line towards Pearson, the costs would be pretty enormous but well worth it I think. You get a double benefit by being able to create a full HSR corridor that both Go and VIA trains could use. Connecting the Airport straight into the Georgetown line would have huge benefits, and the Airport's basically a necessity for good HSR service.

I think something interesting could be figured out with regional HSR stops. On top of the straight Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal route, there'd have to be a route serving smaller areas, like Toronto-Oshawa-Kingston-Ottawa. Maybe under that would be an even more local spacing, like Oshawa-Port Hope-Cobourg-Trenton-Belleville, etc. That would create a very strong rail network and get the best bang for your buck for HSR infrastructure. Express would compete mainly with the airline market that exists between Toronto Ottawa and Montreal, while regional and local would compete more with the highways and work to serve people in the smaller cities.
 
It's a shame that Ottawa has cut of its historic station from the rail network in order to build a scenic parkway, and a highway interchange. While much of the existing alignment exists in road form, dealing with the Nicholas Street Ramps would be a total nightmare.

A southern Ottawa line, bypassing the existing station would allow trains to remain at high speed while travelling through Ottawa for direct Toronto-Montreal service, and is physically shorter. Track could also be electrified to the existing Ottawa Train Station for more local service. If all trains between Montreal and Toronto are going to stop in Ottawa, then using the existing station makes sense, but if not, a suburban routing would at least keep speeds up.

I know that different levels of service are being considered for the Northeast Corridor. Here's what I can see as far as service goes on a Windsor-Quebec Line:

Super-Express
Toronto-Montreal

Express
Windsor-Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec

Limited
Windsor-London-Kitchener-Pearson-Toronto-Oshawa-Kingston-Ottawa-Dorval-Montreal-Trois Rivieres-Quebec

Regional
VIA-Style Service on both High Speed and lower speed corridors

Local
GO-Style Service in urban areas, regional in rural areas

With the introduction of the Presto system, transfers are fares would become much more simplified. You may still need to buy a ticket for express and limited services, but more local services could be bought at time of travel.
 

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