VIA Rail

Discussion in 'Transportation and Infrastructure' started by ehlow, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. ehlow

    ehlow Senior Member

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  2. innsertnamehere

    innsertnamehere Superstar

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    The most interesting thing about that article is the comment about possibly opening up VIA rail funding to allow the provinces to give money. It may allow VIA to operate the HSR.
     
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  3. mdrejhon

    mdrejhon Senior Member

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    Responding to the HSR potential aspect:

    "operate the HSR"?
    Realistically: How about both?
    Nothing stops GO HSR and VIA HSR from co-existing on the same route.
    Heck, it may make certain parts of the route more cost-effective.

    Maybe GO handles commuter HSR (London-Kitchener-Toronto), and VIA handles true intercity HSR (Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal). With VIA running some HSR trainsets along the whole route for the tourist market (VIA paying Metrolinx the privilege to use their own planned electricified tracks for HSR west of Toronto).

    - The GO RER has plans to electricify to Kitchener, possibly within 10 years. This is part of the Kitchener HSR route, and Metrolinx owns this route. And Ontario may darn nearly fully funds this. In this case, a new subsidiary of Metrolinx would be a shoo-in to operate the first HSR heading west of Toronto.
    - The HSR is more viable along the Windsor-London-Kitchener-Toronto leg, than the Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa-Montreal leg. This is because the cities essentially become within commuter distance of each other.
    - In Japan, the shinkansen bullet trian daily commuters often commute 100-200km one-way daily; very similiar to distance between London-Kitchener-Toronto. Japanese often commute by HSR quicker than Torontoians commute by TTC bus.
    - London-Kitchener-Toronto is commuter HSR territory
    - Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal is non-commuter HSR territory
    - See article High-speed rail to Toronto for as low as $10?, yes said Queen's Park -- that's commuter ballpark -- and a strong hint of a subsidary of Metrolinx being a shoe-in as the HSR operator west of Toronto.
    - Since Metrolinx will own the first 100km+ electricified train route, they could theoretically operate express trains at up to 250kph in some sections, Acela Express style
    - Ontario HSR plans is a bit ahead of federal HSR plans at the moment. (delays aside)

    From this detail, it would be silly not to consider the "commuter HSR" angle.

    Based on current trends (and delays, delays, delays), I'd wager that a London-Kitchener-Toronto Metrolinx-operated would be GO HSR -- high-speed express commuter trains happening before VIA using Acela Express style trainsets for operation in by-then existing electricified GO RER corridor. GO RER HSR by the late 2030s (wild guess of timing) and VIA HSR sometime after.

    Depending on what color Queens Park is, and the Feds, it could be conceivable VIA is the only operator of HSR trains. But realistically, eventually both Metrolinx and VIA will operate HSR trains for different markets (e.g. commuters) along segments of the same HSR line. Either way, VIA needs to keep improving. It's nice to finally be able to go to Ottawa in less than 4 hours, thanks to the Kitchener ROW renovation. Keep shaving half hours off, and get the VIA train to Ottawa in less than 3 hours from Toronto using existing diesel trainsets, then less than 2 hours from Toronto after electricification. But it looks like Metrolinx might end up beating VIA to having a HSR, at least the Kitchener-Toronto leg.

    If you're gambling with a bet -- "Who runs the first electricified HSR service in Canada?" -- then I am tempted -- very tempted to put it on that green-colored provincial agency that begins with a "M" and ends with an "X".

    But I'd love to be sitting on a VIA HSR to Ottawa, my hometown -- if the cost can be justified. (I wouldn't protest if shovels hit the ground!)
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
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  4. ssiguy2

    ssiguy2 Senior Member

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    The problem with VIA is how it's operations are dictated by Ottawa.

    The reality is that outside of a few special Summer Trains like the Rocky Mountaineer, VIA should really just be a Corridor system.

    The reality is that Canada is too spread out for effective passenger rail and a disproportionate amount of the funding goes towards non-productive routes. VIA was built and designed before air travel or even Greyhound for that matter. It use to be an essential service for towns and rural areas but that's no longer the case. Let Greyhound take over the smaller towns. cities, rural areas for public transportation and leave the big city travel to VIA.

    The train to London is ridiculously slow because it has to stop at every little town along the way even if nobody ever uses it. Train travel has gone from a service connecting destinations and rural service for getting to the city to strictly a urban connector service.

    The only all year service it should provide is Win/Sar/Lon/KW/NF/Tor/Ott/Mon/QC. In other words just east/west on the corridor not even a train to Sudbury or Atlantic Canada or anywhere in the West. If somebody want to run the Rocky Mountaineer, Churchill, Prince Rupert, or Atlantic routes then let them. Give them the standard current corridors and stations and let them do their best but no public money should be used to subsidize these grossly underused routes.

    The only route outside QC/Win that should be considered is a route that no longer exists........Calgary/Edmonton. Just the fact that the only place outside the Corridor that could support urban rail is not served at all speaks legends about how political interference has screwed up the system.
     
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  5. TheTigerMaster

    TheTigerMaster Superstar

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    Wow. I'm very surprised to see that there's no Calgary to Edmonton service. That's a no brainier.

    As for the service eliminations you suggest, I doubt that would be politically viable, regardless of how economical it would be.
     
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  6. wopchop

    wopchop Building Toronto

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    The Rocky Mountaineer is not operated by VIA Rail.
     
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  7. DSC

    DSC Senior Member

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    About 15 years ago VIA's fastest train from Montreal to Toronto was the 5pm train that took 4 hours - actually 3 hours and 59 minutes. Then the government gave them $$ to improve the track and create passing tracks - while this was going on the journey time was extended as it, not unexpectedly, caused delays. The track is all (I think) finished but the fastest scheduled time (again the 5pm train) is now 4.32. From the chart in the top posting the actual times are longer (though the last few times I have made the trip it has, pretty much, been on time.)
     
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  8. MisterF

    MisterF Senior Member

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    That's not true. There are countries more spread out than Canada that have far more extensive passenger rail systems. The problem is where we've spent our infrastructure dollars. While Australia, Sweden, and Russia invested in passenger rail, we invested in roads. Australia has hardly any four lane highways between its cities but plenty of passenger trains. We have the opposite.

    The conventional argument is that Canada is too spread out for effective passenger rail, but you could just as easily argue that Canada is too spread out for effective expressway networks. I can't think of another region as big as the Prairies with so few people and so many divided expressways. And those expressways are big money losers.
     
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  9. innsertnamehere

    innsertnamehere Superstar

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    The expressways in the praries are generally very cheap actually, they aren't full expressways but rather just an additional carriageway. They build them for something like 1.5 million per km, stupidly cheap compared to what Ontario typically pays for a km of 400 series highway. (Roughly 10 million per km)
     
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  10. MisterF

    MisterF Senior Member

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    True enough, but they're still a strain on the maintenance budgets. And rail lines would be just as cheap, if not more so. Construction of the original CPR just flew through the Prairies because it was so easy to build there. In most countries, rail is considered feasible for sparsely populated areas before expressways. My point is simply that our lack of a decent passenger rail system isn't because of feasibility or geography, but of where we've chosen to put our transportation dollars.
     
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  11. ssiguy2

    ssiguy2 Senior Member

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    But these goes to my point.

    Passenger rail use to be an essential service for rural areas as well as urban connectors because there were no alternatives.
    Now the roads are there and are well maintained and rural and small city people tend to have far higher rates of car ownership than do urbanites. Rural areas and small cities neither need them nor use them and longer distance are covered by planes which again really wasn't even an option before 1960 for most areas.

    The proof is in the pudding, rural areas simply have no ridership nor ridership potential. Alberta has studied resurrecting rail between Cal/Edm and there are many significant size towns between the 2 but the train would not stop at any of them. It would be a non-stop route with some of the trains stopping at Red Deer. Even the fact that only a few of the trains would actually stop at Red Deer with 140,000 in the area speaks volumes about how little people outside the large urban areas are willing to travel by train.

    As far as I'm concerned VIA should be viewed as a FAST way to connect cities and not serve ANY rural area.

    These would be the only stops I would have along a route:
    Win/Lon/KW/Ham/NF/Tor/Ott/Mon/QC with perhaps every other train stopping in Chatham,Kingston, and Drummondville.
    It would contain only 3 basic routes.......the Win-QC corridor with non-stop between Tor/Mon, a Lon/Mont route via KW/Tor/Kin/Ott, and a third route to from Tor to NF via Ham.

    I would ditch the Sarnia line and anything east of QC and west of Ottawa. Eventually I would even get rid of the NF route if GO expands to NF and a train route to hook up with Amtrack in Buffalo. Effectively VIA should have just those 2 routes but make them very fast and very frequent.

    The only way the fed will contribute is if there is also service outside Ont/Que which would obviously be Cal/Edm HSR with potential stop in RD. That too makes economic sense and again the service should be very fast and very frequent.

    When I am talking speed and frequency I mean it with all trains reaching speed of at least 200km/hr and hourly service between all points with maybe every other train stopping in Ch/Kin/Dru.
     
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  12. vegeta_skyline

    vegeta_skyline Senior Member

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    Doubt the province is interested in that and it doesn't make much sense for Ontario to pay the feds more to run a service they could do themselves at lower rate. Its only natural that the CEO of VIA would put a positive spin on the VIA's future prospects. But the reality is their future is far more murky. Inside shop talk here at Bombardier is of us talking over more and more VIA routes and expanding outwards in the coming decades. And when it finally happens I fully expect the initial Ontario only portion of HSR to be a Metrolinx only entity(under a new division) with the trains themselves operated by an outside contractor(Bombardier).
     
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  13. MisterF

    MisterF Senior Member

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    But that's just my point. The only reason people use their cars so much and stopped taking trains is because we invested heavily in road infrastructure and sold off the rail system. It didn't need to be that way, it was a choice that we made. We chose to be a car society at the expense of rail, while a country like Australia didn't. That's the only reason that rail doesn't work anymore in much of the country, it has nothing to do with population density.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
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  14. ShonTron

    ShonTron Moderator

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    Greyhound and other scheduled bus operators have abandoned all but the most lucrative routes.

    Kitchener-Guelph, a mere 30 minute drive, has minimal bus service because Greyhound still has the contract for it. It does, however, run a lot of Toronto-Guelph, Toronto-Kitchener and Toronto-London buses because they;re still busy (thank students). In the 1980s, one could get daily buses to places like Goderich, St. Thomas, Simcoe, Owen Sound, Collingwood and Sarnia by bus from Toronto. That's not possible anymore.

    There's no more Guelph-Hamilton bus anymore. Coach Canada abandoned the route; so did Aboutown (which is nearly bankrupt) when they tried to make a go of it. The hope is that GO Transit will take it on.
     
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  15. ssiguy2

    ssiguy2 Senior Member

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    Of course it has to do with population density.......you need people to take the train and specifically those people need to be concentrated in relatively few locations. Rail is only effective today for inner city travel. Our highways are here to stay and people in the country and small centres use them a lot as they have high car ownership and their transit systems are lousy in the smaller cities and non-existent in places of less than 15,000.

    Also effective rail naturally means that people have to get the station and that means either chancing leaving your car there all day at a healthy premium or taking transit and the major centres on these lines all have decent transit. No one is going to drive for 30 minutes to get to a train station and them pay to leave their car there...............they'll just take the car to the city.

    VIA could work with Greyhound and other regional bus services to coordinate times and maybe even some form of integration in fares so Greyhound in Southern Ont/Que very much would work as a feeder system, I think they would find it mutually beneficial.
     
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