News   Apr 18, 2024
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VIA Rail

Since there is not a lot going on to be excited about in terms of H*R or anything else, I wanted to ask this group of wise folks a wild-ass hypothetical. Suppose, instead of giving 13 Billion in subsidies to VW for a battery plant, the federal and Ontario governments gave this money to Via. How would you spend it? What do you think we could actually get for it?
Like-for-Like fleet renewal for the non-Corridor fleet (cost: maybe $3 billion?) and the rest on HFR in the Corridor plus a token study for other “corridors” like Calgary-Edmonton…
 
Since there is not a lot going on to be excited about in terms of H*R or anything else, I wanted to ask this group of wise folks a wild-ass hypothetical. Suppose, instead of giving 13 Billion in subsidies to VW for a battery plant, the federal and Ontario governments gave this money to Via. How would you spend it? What do you think we could actually get for it?

What makes you think the $13B given to VW is substitutable? That money is being given because it's an investment in a manufacturing capability that anchors an industry that employs a lot of Ontarians. Can you show that $13B spent on public transport creates the same or more employment for the same or more time?

I won't even entertain the hypothetical because it's ridiculous. And has nothing to do with VIA Rail. If you're fantasizing why stop at $13B? Let's start imagine what could be done if we gave VIA $100B.
 
What makes you think the $13B given to VW is substitutable? That money is being given because it's an investment in a manufacturing capability that anchors an industry that employs a lot of Ontarians. Can you show that $13B spent on public transport creates the same or more employment for the same or more time?

I won't even entertain the hypothetical because it's ridiculous. And has nothing to do with VIA Rail. If you're fantasizing why stop at $13B? Let's start imagine what could be done if we gave VIA $100B.

A more meaningful question would be, what would an all-in envelope for a properly built out rail passenger network for the country look like?
And then, if one assumes that amount of money is not immediately available…. What first tranche projects should it prioritize ?

- Paul
 
A more meaningful question would be, what would an all-in envelope for a properly built out rail passenger network for the country look like?
And then, if one assumes that amount of money is not immediately available…. What first tranche projects should it prioritize ?

- Paul
If we want to go that way, The Corridor. Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal first, then Quebec City and Corridor West (Hamilton, London, Windsor, Kitchener, whatever).

The rest is all fantasy. Perhaps a 50/50 funding split with the provinces on Banff/Calgary/Edmonton, and Halifax/Moncton/St. John. Those are very distant seconds. Replacement of the railcars on the non-Corridor routes, but none of these are big transportation needs.

Possibly, offer to take over some funding of transit operations if the provinces have to pay for some of the intercities. Offer the same deal to QC/ON (though will we take it? Probably not).

The priority is, and absolutely should be, on getting a dedicated ROW running for Corridor services.
 
I would like to see HFR split in two, with the Quebec City-Ottawa portion phased first, on the premise that there will have to be new construction around Sharbot Lake on the Toronto-Ottawa leg that may take longer to complete.
I would also like to see Toronto-Kitchener- London prioritised sooner. ,These three routes really just need improved track and signals without too many miles of new line constructed, so represent low hanging fruit.
The long distance fleet needs renewal, and the Corridor needs enough additional trainsets to sell some growth.
Add new/better customs facilities at Windsor and Niagara, station improvements at Kingston, and consider feeder lines to the Corridor.

- Paul
 
A more meaningful question would be, what would an all-in envelope for a properly built out rail passenger network for the country look like?
And then, if one assumes that amount of money is not immediately available…. What first tranche projects should it prioritize ?

- Paul
I doubt $13B would be enough to reverse the cuts of the 1990s If we use UrbanSky's $3B just for the existing fleet, We would neat at least that same amount, plus we would need funding for all the new trains plus all the new stations, plus maintenance.
 
In any event, that $13B has already been repurposed in another thread to end homelessness.

I appreciate the humour.... but there's the rub. Anyone can point to any expense in the federal budget and say, "that money could have been better spent on......(pick your worthwhile cause)".

That gets me back to.... just how much funding would we expect Ottawa to put forward for passenger rail over the next, say, 10 years, recognising that it's one line in a budget that (even with the current drunk sailors in power) has to be prioritised in some way and fits within some general limit to affordability? Just what is realistic?

- Paul
 
I appreciate the humour.... but there's the rub. Anyone can point to any expense in the federal budget and say, "that money could have been better spent on......(pick your worthwhile cause)".

That gets me back to.... just how much funding would we expect Ottawa to put forward for passenger rail over the next, say, 10 years, recognising that it's one line in a budget that (even with the current drunk sailors in power) has to be prioritised in some way and fits within some general limit to affordability? Just what is realistic?

- Paul
It also backs my thought when someone wants cuts to our government, I always ask "What service do you use are you willing to see cut?" People tend to not have a single thing they are willing to see cut that would actually affect them. They can always point to something that our government should fund.
 
What makes you think the $13B given to VW is substitutable? That money is being given because it's an investment in a manufacturing capability that anchors an industry that employs a lot of Ontarians. Can you show that $13B spent on public transport creates the same or more employment for the same or more time?

I won't even entertain the hypothetical because it's ridiculous. And has nothing to do with VIA Rail. If you're fantasizing why stop at $13B? Let's start imagine what could be done if we gave VIA $100B.
I don't think the government should be in the business of subsidizing capital intensive industries in the name of preserving jobs, whether it's battery plants or the transmountain pipeline. Rail lines have enormous positive economic and environmental externalities while cars (even electric) have negative ones (congestion, air and water pollution, higher aggregate energy demand).
 
I don't think the government should be in the business of subsidizing capital intensive industries in the name of preserving jobs, whether it's battery plants or the transmountain pipeline. Rail lines have enormous positive economic and environmental externalities while cars (even electric) have negative ones (congestion, air and water pollution, higher aggregate energy demand).
Businessmen always extoll the virtues of the free market and decry government handouts to the poors, but have no problem accepting billions of dollars of public monies to prop up their business.

If the free market is so great, it seems to me like Volkswagen should be just fine without government intervention.
 
I don't think the government should be in the business of subsidizing capital intensive industries in the name of preserving jobs, whether it's battery plants or the transmountain pipeline. Rail lines have enormous positive economic and environmental externalities while cars (even electric) have negative ones (congestion, air and water pollution, higher aggregate energy demand).

Businessmen always extoll the virtues of the free market and decry government handouts to the poors, but have no problem accepting billions of dollars of public monies to prop up their business.

If the free market is so great, it seems to me like Volkswagen should be just fine without government intervention.

We aren't doing this to help Volkswagen. We're doing this to save jobs in Ontario. If those subsidies weren't given Volkswagen would simply set up everywhere.

So again, I'll ask, given that the government's primary concern is keeping high quality (and high paying) manufacturing jobs in Ontario, and specifically in Southwestern Ontario (which has become a bit of a rust belt), what specific evidence is there that reallocating that money to public transport will achieve those goals. No generic responses or lectures about the virtues of Capitalism or how evil corporations are.
 
We aren't doing this to help Volkswagen. We're doing this to save jobs in Ontario. If those subsidies weren't given Volkswagen would simply set up everywhere.

So again, I'll ask, given that the government's primary concern is keeping high quality (and high paying) manufacturing jobs in Ontario, and specifically in Southwestern Ontario (which has become a bit of a rust belt), what specific evidence is there that reallocating that money to public transport will achieve those goals. No generic responses or lectures about the virtues of Capitalism or how evil corporations are.
And don't forget the LG plant that hired tons of foreign workers at a fraction of what Canadians get paid.
 
And don't forget the LG plant that hired tons of foreign workers at a fraction of what Canadians get paid.

Nobody ever said our governments' intents and competences always line up.

Though to be fair, a lot of that foreign labour (albeit too much) is for the construction phase. It's not exactly like Canada is full of expertise on building cutting edge battery manufacturing plants. Unfortunately the government let them get away with bring over more construction workers than they should have.
 
And don't forget the LG plant that hired tons of foreign workers at a fraction of what Canadians get paid.

This is a bit of a myth. Every technology company has to bring in specialized workers from equipment suppliers, management, and technical specialties in order to get a foreign operation going, whether it's a factory, R&D, programming, CGI, what have you. Most go home after a few months with a few managers staying longer to integrate the operation into the company. Normally speaking foreign workers are supposed to be paid prevailing wages. Korean salaries are about 5/6 those in Canada. Is that the fraction you meant? By the time relocation and other expenses are factored in, I'd be very surprised if there is any financial saving at all.

We'd be more familiar with this if Canadian tech companies were opening branch operations around the world and sending Canadians out to get and keep them running. But of course they aren't, for much the same reason that Canada is 4600 km across and has no HSR, while South Korea is about 400 km long with several hundred km of HSR lines.
 

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