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VIA Rail

Silly question.

I see they have (badly decayed) second track still in place for a good distance around Zoo Road in Rouge Park, if that area is a bottleneck, why is the second track in dis-use/storage track condition?. (I'm not questioning your statement, I'm curious about CN's thinking)

I see most of that section (12 miles York Sub) either had a second track at one point or is set up for it (bridges that allow for two tracks)
I assume that the point made by @smallspy was that capacity is constrained enough to not rip out any second or third tracks the second we have HFR along the Havelock Sub (as @crs1026 keeps insisting for whatever reason), but doesn’t cause enough pain to justify (yet) the expense of restoring a second track along the Eastern half of the York Sub. CN’s focus would therefore be to maintain the current capacity along its Toronto-Montreal main corridor and to mitigate the impact of the single-track section between Doncaster and Pickering…
 
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Silly question.

I see they have (badly decayed) second track still in place for a good distance around Zoo Road in Rouge Park, if that area is a bottleneck, why is the second track in dis-use/storage track condition?. (I'm not questioning your statement, I'm curious about CN's thinking)

I see most of that section (12 miles York Sub) either had a second track at one point or is set up for it (bridges that allow for two tracks)
Considering how much extensively the York Sub is being used for diversions while Metrolinx does work on Lakeshore East, it's fairly surprising that they didn't either offer CN the cash to reinstate a siding to make it flow adequately during diversions (although maybe that says more about Metrolinx-VIA relations) or get told by CN they were going to have to pay for one to make it work.
 
Considering how much extensively the York Sub is being used for diversions while Metrolinx does work on Lakeshore East, it's fairly surprising that they didn't either offer CN the cash to reinstate a siding to make it flow adequately during diversions (although maybe that says more about Metrolinx-VIA relations) or get told by CN they were going to have to pay for one to make it work.
But why would VIA offer to use any if its severely limited capital expenditure funding to invest into upgrading third-party infrastructure it only uses exceptionally (i.e. half a dozen weekends per year for maybe the next 5 or so years)…?
 
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Why would VIA offer to use any if its severely limited capital expenditure funding to invest into upgrading third-party infrastructure it only uses exceptionally (i.e. half a dozen weekends per year for maybe the next 5 or so years)…?
The diversions are of train paths over Metrolinx infrastructure, around Metrolinx projects, so presumably Metrolinx has to ask CN from the paths and is picking up the tab for the extra train-miles?
Unless the payment for VIA paths on what is now Metrolinx infrastructure is still covered as a pass-though under VIA's 2007 TSA with CN, which says such diversions incur no additional train-mile charges, and maybe Metrolinx manages to be off the hook.
However, my understanding is that VIA now has a TSA directly with Metrolinx.
 
The diversions are of train paths over Metrolinx infrastructure, around Metrolinx projects, so presumably Metrolinx has to ask CN from the paths and is picking up the tab for the extra train-miles?
Unless the payment for VIA paths on what is now Metrolinx infrastructure is still covered as a pass-though under VIA's 2007 TSA with CN, which says such diversions incur no additional train-mile charges, and maybe Metrolinx manages to be off the hook.
However, my understanding is that VIA now has a TSA directly with Metrolinx.
I would be surprised if Metrolinx was in any way contractually responsible for VIA when the ML section of the Kingston Sub is closed. I’d assume they simply notify VIA that the Kingston Sub will be unavailable and that VIA has to make alternative arrangements if they still want to reach TRTO during the closure. VIA would then contact CN for access over the York Sub and ML for Bala Sub, but ML would in no way interact with CN about VIA diversions, which is why the case for ML/MTO providing capital funding to upgrade the York Sub is even more questionable than that for VIA/TC…

Tldr: If a supplier notifies you sufficiently in advance that he temporarily won’t be able to honour its contractual obligations for valid reasons, why should that supplier organize second-guess your needs and organize a replacement at his own cost?
 
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On that second point, all I can think is.. there ought to be a law....
There are laws. The laws protect people's right to ownership of property and the use of what is theirs. If VIA or the Federal Government had a contract with CN that had guarantees in it for service prioritization and schedules then the law would be holding CN to account. However there must not be a contract with penalties or significant enough penalties to make a difference.

As the government you can't just take over private property without expecting a massive fallout in terms of trust and scaring away investors in Canada's economy. That would be a significant shift in how our government is defined. If just taking control of private property was normal then the affordable housing problem could be solved simply by the government taking over condos and luxury rental buildings and forcing low rents. That would be communism.
 
There are laws. The laws protect people's right to ownership of property and the use of what is theirs. If VIA or the Federal Government had a contract with CN that had guarantees in it for service prioritization and schedules then the law would be holding CN to account. However there must not be a contract with penalties or significant enough penalties to make a difference.

As the government you can't just take over private property without expecting a massive fallout in terms of trust and scaring away investors in Canada's economy. That would be a significant shift in how our government is defined. If just taking control of private property was normal then the affordable housing problem could be solved simply by the government taking over condos and luxury rental buildings and forcing low rents. That would be communism.

Contract laws are a thing. Part of me wonders if there are fines and that CN just sees it as the cost of business.
 
Contract laws are a thing. Part of me wonders if there are fines and that CN just sees it as the cost of business.
No clue about the legal relationship between VIA and its host railways (or ML either for that matter), but contract law is civil. Although it is a regulated industry, both parties are corporations; one private one public. If there is a performance contract between two parties and one side feels the other isn't living up to its terms, they can take the matter to civil court to seek compensation, release from the contract or some other manner of relief. No fines (fines go to the state), nobody goes to jail.
 
I wish I’d been old enough to travel VIA’s network in the 1970s. But my first VIA trip was in 1988 as a 16y/o solo Toronto to Calgary, and the cuts were already hitting hard.


b2ap3_large_viahistory1.jpg


Imagine taking the train from Toronto to Thunder Bay, or North Sydney, NS. We really should have done a better job to serve these distant parts of Canada.

 
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I wish I’d been old enough to travel VIA’s network in the 1970s. But my first VIA trip was in 1988 as a 16y/o solo Toronto to Calgary, and the cuts were already hitting hard.


b2ap3_large_viahistory1.jpg


Imagine taking the train from Toronto to Thunder Bay, or North Sydney, NS. We really should have done a better job to serve these distant parts of Canada.

Agreed, but the much more pressing problem today is that the discontinued VIA services have not been replaced by adequate bus services (Winnipeg-Regina is down to one departure per week[!] and Edmundston-Rivière-de-Loup has been severed since the early days of the pandemic), as very modest subsidies in intercity bus services would have paid for a much more useful network than anything VIA ever operated…
 
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Silly question.

I see they have (badly decayed) second track still in place for a good distance around Zoo Road in Rouge Park, if that area is a bottleneck, why is the second track in dis-use/storage track condition?. (I'm not questioning your statement, I'm curious about CN's thinking)
The long and the short of it is: It's not useful anymore.

When the line opened, most freight trains were about 5,000-6,000 feet long - which is the length of the siding. And it was used quite frequently, as I understand it. But trains today are now regularly double and sometimes triple that length. And because of how the line was built, lengthening the siding is problematic as it can't be extended west (north) without major work - see below - and extending it east will cause it to foul a level crossing - which is something that they try to avoid at all costs.

I see most of that section (12 miles York Sub) either had a second track at one point or is set up for it (bridges that allow for two tracks)
Unfortunately neither of these are true. The line was built as a single-track from day one, and none of the bridges were built with a second track in mind - they don't even have abutments wide enough to handle a second structure alongside the first. This greatly complicates any future improvements.

As well, while the road bridges over the route have generally been built with some expansion in mind, the overpass of CP's Belleville Sub was not, and can only fit a single track through it. The Beare controlled location, which is the west end of the siding, is located feet away from it. Expanding this would be a reasonably major undertaking with a lot of coordination required from both parties.

Dan
 
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The long and the short of it is: It's not useful anymore.

When the line opened, most freight trains were about 5,000-6,000 feet long - which is the length of the siding. And it was used quite frequently, as I understand it. But trains today are now regularly double and sometimes triple that length. And because of how the line was built, lengthening the siding is problematic as it can't be extended west (north) without major work - see below - and extending it east will cause it to foul a level crossing - which is something that they try to avoid at all costs.

Good to know.

Unfortunate that just lengthening the siding is seen as so burdensome.

Unfortunately neither of these are true. The line was built as a single-track from day one, and none of the bridges were built with a second track in mind - they don't even have abutments wide enough to handle a second structure alongside the first. This greatly complicates any future improvements.

Ummm, the above would seem to conflict w/the below:

As well, while the road bridges over the route have generally been built with some expansion in mind, the overpass of CP's Belleville Sub was not, and can only fit a single track through it. The Beare controlled location, which is the west end of the siding, is located feet away from it. Expanding this would be a reasonably major undertaking with a lot of coordination required from both parties.

Dan

To be clear, I actually looked at the aerials over the entire section of corridor, and what I noted was:

1) The bridge over McCowan clearly has ample room for additional track:

1695736884564.png


Not a single track bridge:

1695736925112.png


I count room for three tracks.

Then there's 14th Avenue: (also 2 tracks)

1695737373496.png


The crossing at Markham road is set up for two tracks:

1695737077004.png


Those three bridges cover the western 1/3 of the route.

***

Point taken, however, that other crossings are single span, notably the Rouge, CP and the 401

I can't make up my mind on 9th Line or Steeles, both look like twin track design from underneath and have one up on top now, but the one on top the aerial view is not convincing as to sufficient room for twin track.

****

On the siding; for the benefit of others (this distance roughly agrees w/ Dan's assessment):

1695738348361.png


That's 7,800ft (includes sections where second track was clearly present but is now clearly abandoned/disused.)

***

I'm not sure of the extent of work required for the embankment to extend the passing track to the south/east, but were it otherwise viable, you could get to ~3.4km total length before hitting the level crossing at Woodview.
 
What I am hearing, in a nutshell is it can be extended,but not cheaply. Maybe the governments can help fund double track of it and all other mainlines within the GTA to be double track as a minimum. It would help freight, and passenger service.
 
What I am hearing, in a nutshell is it can be extended,but not cheaply. Maybe the governments can help fund double track of it and all other mainlines within the GTA to be double track as a minimum. It would help freight, and passenger service.

It’s not very businesslike to spend many millions of dollars to double track a line that does not need double tracking.

This ties directly to the point that I have made that @Urban Sky is at odds with : CN simply does not need double track throughout its Montreal-Toronto main line. Some amount of the existing double track exists only because CN is astute enough not to pull up track that is used for current VIA service. If that VIA service is shifted to a new VIA line, you can be sure that CN will reduce its capitalisation and its own operating expenses by taking some sections of double track out of service, retaining only as much as it feels it needs. The Kingston Sub may then look more like the Winchester or York or Halton - some double segments, but some single track segments. That’s a pretty obvious improvement to the balance sheet.

It would be interesting to know how CN charges VIA for a return on whatever incremental capitalisation currently exists on the Kingston Sub. I’m confident they don’t provide those assets for free.

Back in the days when freight trains were 6,000 feet long, having passing tracks at Beare and Liverpool was convenient and perhaps necessary. But now that they are 14,000 feet long, and therefore much harder to weave in and out of sidings, it’s simpler to hold a train at McCowan or Liverpool rather than have a meet at Beare (which, by the way, was always a tricky siding to work).

As to spending huge amounts just to accommodate VIA detours that may only happen once.or twice a year - that would be an enormous waste of somebody’s money. CN can grit its teeth and suffer the pain of VIA detours every so often. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent elsewhere.

When CN needs more track on the York Sub, they will make the investment.

- Paul
 
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It’s not very businesslike to spend many millions of dollars to double track a line that does not need double tracking.

This ties directly to the point that I have made that @Urban Sky is at odds with : CN simply does not need double track throughout its Montreal-Toronto main line. Some amount of the existing double track exists only because CN is astute enough not to pull up track that is used for current VIA service. If that VIA service is shifted to a new VIA line, you can be sure that CN will reduce its capitalisation and its own operating expenses by taking some sections of double track out of service, retaining only as much as it feels it needs. The Kingston Sub may then look more like the Winchester or York or Halton - some double segments, but some single track segments. That’s a pretty obvious improvement to the balance sheet.

It would be interesting to know how CN charges VIA for a return on whatever incremental capitalisation currently exists on the Kingston Sub. I’m confident they don’t provide those assets for free.

Back in the days when freight trains were 6,000 feet long, having passing tracks at Beare and Liverpool was convenient and perhaps necessary. But now that they are 14,000 feet long, and therefore much harder to weave in and out of sidings, it’s simpler to hold a train at McCowan or Liverpool rather than have a meet at Beare (which, by the way, was always a tricky siding to work).

As to spending huge amounts just to accommodate VIA detours that may only happen once.or twice a year - that would be an enormous waste of somebody’s money. CN can grit its teeth and suffer the pain of VIA detours every so often. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent elsewhere.

When CN needs more track on the York Sub, they will make the investment.

- Paul
We have seen that there are choke points in the supply chain from factory to store. Canada's railways infrastructure is one of those elements. Freight movements are not getting shorter or less often. Thoughout the GTA, passenger service, whether it be Via, GO or Northlander is not getting less frequent. All of this points to the idea of investing in the infrastructure before it becomes critical. It could be done incrementally by doing the stuff that is easy, or the stuff that would do the most good. Over 150 years ago, we invested in railways because it was needed.
 

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