News   Jun 14, 2024
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News   Jun 14, 2024
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News   Jun 14, 2024
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VIA Rail

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I was just joking. But the fact that Air Canada has 18 daily flights each way and Westjet has another 9 flights shows that not everyone is driving. the flight takes 1 hour, Via should be able to do it in about 2 hours. If departing from train stations downtown, the amount of time savings from driving time to the airport and the need to arrive an hour early for flights, plus the comfort of the train and the ability to work comfortably for a couple hours, should make it an extremely popular route for business people.
 
Surely starting a local service like that should be the responsibility of the provincial government, the same way Ontario is taking responsibility for Toronto to London.
In the US the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) basically says that. This is a simplification, but under 750 miles, it's up to the States to cover losses for trains in their territory, over 750 miles (for services that existed before PRIIA) it's up to Amtrak. Personally I prefer an approach which would make provincial governments have to contribute to long distance services too, but with a lower degree of responsibility than for regional/corridor services. There are a mixed bag of "essential services" which should be looked at on a regular basis and provinces should be able to put forward business cases for new ones. At present, these are seen solely as legacy obligations, retained on the fear of losing the local federal seat(s).
 
So....if I understand you correctly.....if you leave out the parts where no one lives, the density of the Prairies is about half of the density Nordic countries?
It would appear so. Not northern Norway though, which does have rail service, or most of Australia.
 
It would appear so. Not northern Norway though, which does have rail service, or most of Australia.

The main reason Norway/Sweden has extensive railways is because the government subsidizes them and provides frequent service. This is key. VIA service frequency is a huge problem. One train a day (to Niagara Falls) or 3 times a day between Montreal and Quebec is a joke. I fully agree that VIA needs to become an urban connector service but it needs to provide good frequency before people will change habits to rely on the train. There are over 50 flights between Toronto and Montreal (AC, WSJ, Porter), but only 9 trains a day. There should be at minimum hourly service between our 3 major cities: Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa. That way people can just show up at a station and hop on a train rather than figuring out if they can make the 1 train a day. If they miss it, they drive, and that reenforces the habit that driving is easier.

Right now the whole debate is about HSR but I don't see a point in investing in HSR before you even has regular train service working well. VIA needs to get it's own tracks and improve travel times. It also needs to serve busy markets with more frequent service. For example, Toronto-Niagara Falls should easily support more frequent service, especially in the summer with the number of visitors. The problem is the last mile issue. There needs to be better integration with how people can get from the train station to their final destination. VIA needs to integrate with local transit, cycling, cabs, and bus companies for other connections. This is how it's done in Europe. Train stations are major inter-modal hubs even for small towns.

In Canada, the train station is typically either next to a highway (see Oshawa) surrounded by parking, or it's in the middle of nowhere (see Kingston or Ottawa).
 
London's VIA station is right downtown and just 2 blocks from the main downtown intersection.....Dundas & Richmond as well as the busy London Convention Centre {the only convention centre in NA that was designed and geared toward medical conferences} the Bush Centre Arena, all downtown shopping and hotels. Despite the bitching London's transit system is quite good for a city it's size and has higher ridership than any other city in the province save TTC/Miss and Ottawa.

The problem with VIA London is the trains are not nearly as frequent as they should be and that they are painfully slow having to stop at every little place along the way. It's faster to take Greyhound to Toronto than to take VIA.
 
This "every little place" thing ssiguy - Toronto-London-Toronto services (via Aldershot) stop five times en route. Of those, Ingersoll is served by one train southwestbound and two trains northeastbound. Woodstock is the only stop which might fit the description. Based on my trips to London I would say Oakville, Aldershot and Brantford justify themselves.
 
I would say that the only station between London and Toronto should be Aldershot as it would provide transfers to GO for Greater Hamilton and Niagara/Buffalo. Eventually GO will go to Brantford so there is no real need. The smaller the city the less people use the train as it doesn't have good transit connection to serve the area and the more likely people are to have 2 cars.

Too many stops makes the train go from HSR to a milk-run. I remember back in the 80s taking the London express from Union and it only took 1 hour 40 minutes but now it's 2 hours and 20 minutes. Those extra stops make a big difference in time.
 
I would say that the only station between London and Toronto should be Aldershot as it would provide transfers to GO for Greater Hamilton and Niagara/Buffalo.
As far as I know, they're proposing HSR uses the northern rail route for HSR, which bypasses the Lakeshore/Hamilton/Guelph rail route. The northen rail route has less expropriation requirements, adds a Pearson stop, and this is also the first route to be electricified, thanks to SmartTrack/UPX. Also, the province now owns most of the railroad corridor all the way to Kitchener, on this northern rail route, having recently purchased ~55km of rail near Kitchener. So HSR can be introduced sooner.

Besides, the CN/CP ownership of the rails near Hamilton, makes the southern rail route far more problematic for HSR. The reconstruction of the Hamilton flyover/underpass (past Aldershot) while entering Hamilton, to bypass freight trains and accomodate expanded GO service, adds gradient changes (to go under the freight owned track) and introduces a 70mph speed restriction around that region, as far as I know.

Clearly, if HSR happens, it's happening on the northern corridor, not the southern one.

The plans for HSR call for a 4-stop line: London-Kitchener-Pearson-Toronto
 
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Too many stops makes the train go from HSR to a milk-run. I remember back in the 80s taking the London express from Union and it only took 1 hour 40 minutes but now it's 2 hours and 20 minutes. Those extra stops make a big difference in time.
Do they? The 6:25 am express from London stops twice and takes 2 hours 10 minutes. The 7:40 pm milk run stops 5 times and takes 2 hours 11 minutes. Perhaps there are other factors.

The plans for HSR call for a 4-stop line: London-Kitchener-Pearson-Toronto
I don't think they've come anywhere close to defining the number of stops. In every other country I know of, high-speed service is a mix of longer-distance express trains, and shorter-distance local trains - and sometimes even high-speed commuter services.
 
The main reason Norway/Sweden has extensive railways is because the government subsidizes them and provides frequent service. This is key.
Yes, those countries subsidize rail the way we subsidize driving. That's my whole point.

In Canada, the train station is typically either next to a highway (see Oshawa) surrounded by parking, or it's in the middle of nowhere (see Kingston or Ottawa).
Actually our stations are typically in the centre of the community. It's just that most of them have been closed. But even the ones that are still open tend to be downtown, like in Kitchener, London, Cobourg, Port Hope, Niagara Falls, Brantford, etc.
 
I don't think they've come anywhere close to defining the number of stops.
Actually, I meant "proposed" 4 stations in the HSR study, rather than "planned". So this can certainly be subject to change.

In every other country I know of, high-speed service is a mix of longer-distance express trains, and shorter-distance local trains - and sometimes even high-speed commuter services.
Sounds like GO RER upgraded to HSR trainsets.
 
Actually our stations are typically in the centre of the community. It's just that most of them have been closed. But even the ones that are still open tend to be downtown, like in Kitchener, London, Cobourg, Port Hope, Niagara Falls, Brantford, etc.

Port Hope: Beautiful historic station building, but bit of stretch to say that's downtown. Your point stands though.
 
Kingston and Ottawa suck but the rationale was that the old stations weren't as good for through operation. Kingston you had to back out, and with Ottawa, IIRC, you had to back out or do a loop through Quebec.

[Edit] Well, a rationale I guess.
 
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The main reason Norway/Sweden has extensive railways is because the government subsidizes them and provides frequent service. This is key. VIA service frequency is a huge problem. One train a day (to Niagara Falls) or 3 times a day between Montreal and Quebec is a joke. I fully agree that VIA needs to become an urban connector service but it needs to provide good frequency before people will change habits to rely on the train. There are over 50 flights between Toronto and Montreal (AC, WSJ, Porter), but only 9 trains a day. There should be at minimum hourly service between our 3 major cities: Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa. That way people can just show up at a station and hop on a train rather than figuring out if they can make the 1 train a day. If they miss it, they drive, and that reenforces the habit that driving is easier.

Right now the whole debate is about HSR but I don't see a point in investing in HSR before you even has regular train service working well. VIA needs to get its own tracks and improve travel times. It also needs to serve busy markets with more frequent service. For example, Toronto-Niagara Falls should easily support more frequent service, especially in the summer with the number of visitors. The problem is the last mile issue. There needs to be better integration with how people can get from the train station to their final destination. VIA needs to integrate with local transit, cycling, cabs, and bus companies for other connections. This is how it's done in Europe. Train stations are major inter-modal hubs even for small towns.

So are you suggesting that VIA build brand new passenger-only railways at 160 km/h standards, then at some time in the future build a second passenger-only line for 300 km/h? I somehow feel like this is much more of a waste than simply building our new rural lines for 250-320 km/h in the first place.
 

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