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kEiThZ

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Thats why im adamant they need to purchase the same cars as being used on the Acela corridor, as they tilt further than any other trainset and can increase speeds around curves up to 20%.
Probably not happening. They took out options on the Siemens order specifically so they can exercise them when HFR is approved.

Also, as per @Urban Sky this whole thing is being designed for as little capital as practical. So the kind of opportunity investment that most of us here are hoping for is probably not happening.

We'll probably end up with a service that's 3.5 on Toronto-Ottawa, 1.5 hrs on Ottawa-Montreal and 5 hrs on Toronto-Montreal. Via will make their yield on the first two segments and hope to beat out the bus cos on the third trip.
 

SFO-YYZ

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Also, as per @Urban Sky this whole thing is being designed for as little capital as practical. So the kind of opportunity investment that most of us here are hoping for is probably not happening.
Which is probably the most practical approach if you want to see any of this built in the near future. Having worked several large scale provincial and federal procurement bidding processes (not in transit, but in IT infrastructure), it's always prudent for the bidders to go in with an offer on the lower end of the spectrum to get in the door. Once the project is started, it's far easier to include add-ons via change orders (since you are bypassing the usual procurement process).
 

micheal_can

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Which is probably the most practical approach if you want to see any of this built in the near future. Having worked several large scale provincial and federal procurement bidding processes (not in transit, but in IT infrastructure), it's always prudent for the bidders to go in with an offer on the lower end of the spectrum to get in the door. Once the project is started, it's far easier to include add-ons via change orders (since you are bypassing the usual procurement process).
In other words, cost overruns, which means more money from taxpayers, which means one more thing the public will be pissed off about.
 

Urban Sky

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Which is probably the most practical approach if you want to see any of this built in the near future. Having worked several large scale provincial and federal procurement bidding processes (not in transit, but in IT infrastructure), it's always prudent for the bidders to go in with an offer on the lower end of the spectrum to get in the door. Once the project is started, it's far easier to include add-ons via change orders (since you are bypassing the usual procurement process).
In other words, cost overruns, which means more money from taxpayers, which means one more thing the public will be pissed off about.
Ideally, the add-ons would get approved by a parliament vote before construction starts. Drawing from experience from back home in Germany and elsewhere, many of these add-ons are required by local politicians and communities, not the projects’ promoters. Therefore, I wonder what the objection is if the promoters present the minimum project scope which achieves the desired operational and commercial benefits and negotiate their share of these minimal construction costs before politicians add all the noise protection measures into their shopping carts.

It is exactly these kinds of unnecessary bypasses and tunnelling which lets construction costs of rail projects explode and if the respective governments accept that communities receive measures which go beyond what they are legally entitled to, then they should pay for it!
 

crs1026

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^My own experience has been that "scope creep" is deadly and is to be ruthlessly beaten back. It's imperative that the "bells and whistles" (no pun intended) be clearly laid out before any construction contract is signed. No one should be dreaming up new variations or additions after the project is launched. There is enough risk just with unforeseens and construction related variables.

IT change orders have their own special place in hell, they make vendors huge profits - and they usually derive from inadequate assessment of required functionality and/or unclear instructions to the vendor and/or people dreaming up "enhancements". Caveat emptor applies.

At least with HFR, there will be an EA and many issues of impacts will get aired ahead of time. But - remember the West Toronto Diamond project, where GO assumed a very aggressive construction pace which was undone by residents taking legal action at the CTA over noise at all hours. Stuff happens.

- Paul
 

lenaitch

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In my limited experience as a provincial civil servant, the government is a horrible IT consumer. Often, overruns are necessary simply to get the original project to work in the first place because they didn't properly articulate what it wanted or understand their own environment and/or didn't fully understand what they were buying. When what they wanted isn't delivered by what they bought they will pay more to get there because the alternative - legal action - is lengthy and bad karma, and the vendors know this.

Scope creep happens as well because politicians and bureaucrats know full well that the real cost of what they really want to do simply won't fly with public opinion or treasury board. Going back to the well after millions have already been spent is much easier because, otherwise, the perception is those millions are wasted. I think the feds are much more accomplished at this.
 

robmausser

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In my limited experience as a provincial civil servant, the government is a horrible IT consumer. Often, overruns are necessary simply to get the original project to work in the first place because they didn't properly articulate what it wanted or understand their own environment and/or didn't fully understand what they were buying. When what they wanted isn't delivered by what they bought they will pay more to get there because the alternative - legal action - is lengthy and bad karma, and the vendors know this.
Oh man cannot agree more. Do web development and have government clients. I've never seen a project completely change in what needs to be done versus what was requested so much than with government jobs. This is even after specifically making sure they know what they are getting and asking a million questions to be absolutely sure.

Never worked on a project for government that didnt at least go 300% over budget.

My favourite lines are such as

"looks good! (after 6 months of work, nearing project completion final stages.) Ill show it to the upper management to see if they approve of it." FOR THE FIRST TIME.
 

Allandale25

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Might be a good opportunity to ask some HFR questions.

VIA Rail continues to uphold the duty it has to report to Canadians on its performance, financial results and projects for 2019.

Join our Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Françoise Bertrand, our President and Chief Executive Officer, Cynthia Garneau, and our Chief Financial Officer, Patricia Jasmin for our 2020 Annual Public Meeting webcast on August 13.

In an effort to ensure proper physical distancing between our speakers, as outlined by public health authorities, this year’s edition will not be broadcasted live. The webcast will begin at 4 p.m. (ET), and can be viewed on our Facebook page and YouTube channel.

If you would like to submit a question, please do so here between July 21 and July 24, or between August 3 and August 6. Answers to the most recurring questions will be published on August 13 on our Annual Public Meeting page.
 

reaperexpress

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I was getting impatient waiting for the HFR report, so I decided to do my own armchair analysis.

The whole description ended up being pretty long so I just posted it on my blog here: https://ontariotrafficman.wordpress.com/2020/08/17/mythbusting-vias-hfr-travel-time-claims/
but here's the summary:

These are the segments which appear to be upgradeable to 110 mph operation using curve widening and some relatively feasible realignments.
1-overall.JPG


The biggest challenge is the 102 kilometres between Kaladar (east of Tweed) and Smiths Falls.

For the 87 kilometres from Kaladar to Glen Tay (just west of Perth), the line traverses rough rocky terrain dotted with lakes. As a result, the line follows a meandering path with frequent tight curves, with a radius of about 550 metres. This would only allow speeds around 80 km/h (50 mph) or so. Basically none of the existing ROW is useable for 110 mph operation since the curves are too close for the realigned route to rejoin the existing ROW before the next curve.

Big circle is 1300m (approx radius for 110 mph), small circle is the existing radius: 570m
5-unusuable.JPG


For the 15 kilometres from Glen Tay to Smiths Falls, the route follows CP’s main line. Given that the whole point of the HFR project is to avoid interference from freight trains, this segment will need a new ROW, whether it be adjacent to the CP line, or along a completely different route.

6-Ownership.JPG



Given these challenges it seems like it’s a question of all or nothing for the 102 kilometres between Kaladar and Smiths Falls. If the line is to be improved at all, an entirely new alignment is required. Given the terrain, the new railway would need to make extensive use of bridges and cuttings.

But the plus side of all that grading is that the net cost of fully grade-separating the line becomes relatively low, especially since there are hardly any crossing roads in the first place. A fully grade-separated railway could operate well above the 110 mph limit that would be imposed by level crossings. VIA’s new fleet can operate at up to 125 mph (200 km/h), and it would probably be prudent to use an even higher design speed to accommodate even faster trains in the future.

7-NewLine.JPG


To get an order-of-magnitude estimate for travel time, I assigned a speed for each segment and simply calculated the travel time at that speed. This provides the theoretical minimum travel time given those speed limits. It is not possible to achieve this travel time in the real world because it does not account for acceleration/deceleration, miscelaneous slowdowns (e.g. through switches), stops (stations, meeting trains in the opposite direction) or schedule padding.

The speed limits in the slower segments were roughly based on the radius of existing curves, except for the segments within Toronto and Ottawa, which are based on existing GO Transit and VIA Rail schedules, and within Peterborough where I assigned a 50 km/h (30 mph) limit due to the numerous awkward level crossings.

I examined three options, which include varying degrees of new alignments. The first scenario only upgrades the easiest segments. The second scenario also fills in the gaps around Havelock and around Tweed. And the third scenario adds in the big-ticket item: a new 102-kilometre high-speed railway from Kaladar to Smiths Falls.

results.JPG


The interesting thing here is that in either of the options without the new 102-km high speed line (HSL), it is physically impossible to achieve the 3:15 travel time that VIA has been touting. Even if the trains had infinite acceleration, infinite deceleration, never stopped at stations, never slowed to switch tracks and never stopped in sidings to let trains pass in the opposite direction, those scenarios would still take longer than 3:15.

The HSL would cost several billion dollars on its own, so I don't get the impression that it's included in VIA's current concept. But I'd love to be proven wrong.

But on the flipside, if that line does get built, it may be possible to even beat the 3:15 estimate. Including the real-world factors, maybe the 2:47 theoretical minimum could plausibly correspond to a real-world scheduled time in the ballpark of 3:00-3:10.


Personaly I'd like to see the third option persued right off the bat, rather than reinstalling tracks along the crappy segment of the CP ROW and then abandoning them later. The project could be phased to first upgrade Toronto to Peterborough, and start a basic service on that segment to develop ridership and interest (a.k.a ribbon cuttings for politicians) while works continue on the HSL further east. That would be similar to how Brightline started its operation with service on the upgraded line from Miami to West Palm Beach, while work continues on the new 125 mph railway to Orlando.
 

Allandale25

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^ Re I'd like to see the third option pursued right off the bat, rather than reinstalling tracks along the crappy segment of the CP ROW and then abandoning them later.

Just for clarity, what is your third option and would it still use the Havelock Sub? Are you suggesting to online the line in segments, and then straight it out and build the Perth and Smiths Falls (and possibly more) bypasses?
 

Northern Light

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I was getting impatient waiting for the HFR report, so I decided to do my own armchair analysis.

The whole description ended up being pretty long so I just posted it on my blog here: https://ontariotrafficman.wordpress.com/2020/08/17/mythbusting-vias-hfr-travel-time-claims/
but here's the summary:

These are the segments which appear to be upgradeable to 110 mph operation using curve widening and some relatively feasible realignments.
View attachment 264098

The biggest challenge is the 102 kilometres between Kaladar (east of Tweed) and Smiths Falls.

For the 87 kilometres from Kaladar to Glen Tay (just west of Perth), the line traverses rough rocky terrain dotted with lakes. As a result, the line follows a meandering path with frequent tight curves, with a radius of about 550 metres. This would only allow speeds around 80 km/h (50 mph) or so. Basically none of the existing ROW is useable for 110 mph operation since the curves are too close for the realigned route to rejoin the existing ROW before the next curve.

Big circle is 1300m (approx radius for 110 mph), small circle is the existing radius: 570m
View attachment 264099

For the 15 kilometres from Glen Tay to Smiths Falls, the route follows CP’s main line. Given that the whole point of the HFR project is to avoid interference from freight trains, this segment will need a new ROW, whether it be adjacent to the CP line, or along a completely different route.

View attachment 264100


Given these challenges it seems like it’s a question of all or nothing for the 102 kilometres between Kaladar and Smiths Falls. If the line is to be improved at all, an entirely new alignment is required. Given the terrain, the new railway would need to make extensive use of bridges and cuttings.

But the plus side of all that grading is that the net cost of fully grade-separating the line becomes relatively low, especially since there are hardly any crossing roads in the first place. A fully grade-separated railway could operate well above the 110 mph limit that would be imposed by level crossings. VIA’s new fleet can operate at up to 125 mph (200 km/h), and it would probably be prudent to use an even higher design speed to accommodate even faster trains in the future.

View attachment 264101

To get an order-of-magnitude estimate for travel time, I assigned a speed for each segment and simply calculated the travel time at that speed. This provides the theoretical minimum travel time given those speed limits. It is not possible to achieve this travel time in the real world because it does not account for acceleration/deceleration, miscelaneous slowdowns (e.g. through switches), stops (stations, meeting trains in the opposite direction) or schedule padding.

The speed limits in the slower segments were roughly based on the radius of existing curves, except for the segments within Toronto and Ottawa, which are based on existing GO Transit and VIA Rail schedules, and within Peterborough where I assigned a 50 km/h (30 mph) limit due to the numerous awkward level crossings.

I examined three options, which include varying degrees of new alignments. The first scenario only upgrades the easiest segments. The second scenario also fills in the gaps around Havelock and around Tweed. And the third scenario adds in the big-ticket item: a new 102-kilometre high-speed railway from Kaladar to Smiths Falls.

View attachment 264104

The interesting thing here is that in either of the options without the new 102-km high speed line (HSL), it is physically impossible to achieve the 3:15 travel time that VIA has been touting. Even if the trains had infinite acceleration, infinite deceleration, never stopped at stations, never slowed to switch tracks and never stopped in sidings to let trains pass in the opposite direction, those scenarios would still take longer than 3:15.

The HSL would cost several billion dollars on its own, so I don't get the impression that it's included in VIA's current concept. But I'd love to be proven wrong.

But on the flipside, if that line does get built, it may be possible to even beat the 3:15 estimate. Including the real-world factors, maybe the 2:47 theoretical minimum could plausibly correspond to a real-world scheduled time in the ballpark of 3:00-3:10.


Personaly I'd like to see the third option persued right off the bat, rather than reinstalling tracks along the crappy segment of the CP ROW and then abandoning them later. The project could be phased to first upgrade Toronto to Peterborough, and start a basic service on that segment to develop ridership and interest (a.k.a ribbon cuttings for politicians) while works continue on the HSL further east. That would be similar to how Brightline started its operation with service on the upgraded line from Miami to West Palm Beach, while work continues on the new 125 mph railway to Orlando.
TY for your wonderful contributions, as always!.

@Urban Sky Thoughts?
 

reaperexpress

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^ Re I'd like to see the third option pursued right off the bat, rather than reinstalling tracks along the crappy segment of the CP ROW and then abandoning them later.

Just for clarity, what is your third option and would it still use the Havelock Sub? Are you suggesting to online the line in segments, and then straight it out and build the Perth and Smiths Falls (and possibly more) bypasses?
It's the "All" option in the table, which generally uses the Havelock sub, except for the 102 km segment illustrated above, which is totally useless for 110 mph operation.

My concept for phasing would be :
1: Upgrade Smiths Falls - Fallowfield from 100 mph to 110, mostly for the sake of widening out the curve which currently forces trains to slow to 85 mph in the middle of an otherwise high-speed segment.
Existing speed limits (in mph):
Capture.JPG


2. Upgrade Toronto-Peterborough to 110 mph, and start a minimal service with a few tains per day, mostly for the sake of having "something to show" for politicians. This segment consists entirely of upgrading the existing line.
Existing ROW in black, upgraded segments in yellow:
Capture2.JPG


3. Fill in the gap between Peterborough and Smiths Falls.
Existing ROW in black. Segments which upgrade this ROW are in yellow, and totally new segments are in red:
caputz1.JPG


Again, this is a very very rough armchair glance without any kid of engineering study, so the particular alignment shown on the map is totally meaningless. The level of detail that can be gleaned from my amateur glance is merely that it is plausible to upgrade the line for the most part, except for the eastern 100 km of the Havelock sub, which is total garbage. I was actually pleasantly surprised by that result - I expected that much more of the line would be so squiggly that the existing ROW would be useless. It turns out that western half of the line has plenty of long straightaways which could be reused.
 
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crs1026

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^Great analysis.

I suspect the project will have done similar, in a much more granular mile by mile detail, same basic format but with collumns quantifying the cost of bringing each curved segment up to various higher speeds. That would enable some value for money prioritization, and provide a sense of where there is a diminishing return.

I also wonder if one could shave minutes out of other zones for low cost. One good example is the Ottawa-Fallowfield segment, which is ridiculously slow today.

I'm still beating the same old drum - if the project can afford as much new construction as you suggest - an alternative would be building northwest from Kingston to connect to the (abandoned) Napanee - Smiths Falls line? A shorter section of new construction through no more adverse terrain, with the same opportunity to build at 200 km/hr from the outset. If one took that cost out of the fixed envelope, what would the remainder be able to achieve along the Kingston line to add capacity and remove conflict with freight?

A new line between Kaladar(ish) and Perth might still have to be wrapped around lakes, swamps, and terrain to some degree. Perhaps more obstructions could be bridged or tunnelled through, but that would not be cheap. If any such line were built, it ought to be built to a very high standard....with an eye to HSR some day. I can understand refurb’ing an old line to kickstart HFR, but building a new line that would be made redundant by HSR seems wasteful.

- Paul
 

crs1026

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For those who may not watch the railways day to day, and apropos to earlier discussion here about CP’s Winchester Subdivision and its potential use as a passenger corridor between Smiths Falls and Montreal.

At the moment, CP is in process of removing a good amount of double track from the line, in favour of a more modern single track CTC equipped line. This work program was long awaited and is no surprise.

Ray Kennedy has been updating the progress on his Old Time Trains website - see here.

The new configuration is high quality - 45mph turnouts and long (5-7 mile long) passing sidings, the kind that today’s extra-long freights require. With proper timing, trains can still pass each other without stopping. The line has loads of capacity for freight traffic.

The takeaway for passenger rail observers is - while the line may have looked underutilised and available for passenger trains, it is clearly central to CP’s plans for the future. No fire sale here.

- Paul
 

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