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VIA Rail

micheal_can

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Just because a DMU could be setup for sleeping, doesn't mean it should. First of all it would be the only sleeping DMU in the country, so the utilization of the required spare train would be very low. Secondly, DMUs tend to only be beneficial for short 1 or 2 car trains. At 3 cars they are a toss up and at 4 or more cars, a conventional train is more economical. A sleeper train needs at least 1 baggage car, 1 coach car, 1 dinning car and 1 sleeper, so you are at 4 cars and you haven't added any for excess capacity. If you look at the following video of a train entering Churchill, it has 7 cars, so it is no where close to the size a DMU would be beneficial.


So, as I see it, any non sleeper, under 4 car train could be DMU. That could not only include Sarnia - London, Sudbury - White River, Montreal- Jonquière, and Montreal - Senneterre, but also Toronto- Kington, Ottawa Kingston and Montreal Kingston after HFR is built. There will likely be a need for service, but not at the current amount. This would give an easy way to upgrade those sections served by RDCs and short trains.

The key phrase in that point is "if it is full." Even if it is full, having double the number of departures isn't a bad thing when service intervals are infrequent?

Agreed. I'll bet there is a number of seats needed filled to be considered successful.

I agree it isn't a simple. There are many factors, some you like to highlight, and some you like to ignore.

I don't ignore them. If anything, I look into why those factors exist and what can be done to mitigate them. The Northlander is a great example of this. I don't ignore all the reasons it shouldn't come back. I try to figure out how to resolve them.
 

lenaitch

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It isn't arbitrary, it is based on which communities already have tracks.

Not my understanding of the word "arbitrary" but that's how I interpreted what he meant.

I wonder, if the line to Churchill didn't exist, but, a fixed link was to be built today, would a road be chosen over rail?

With your thought exercise, if a rail line didn't exist, the port wouldn't exist and if a link was considered, in my view it would likely be a road. In reality, a remote community of about 900 people approx. 300 km from the nearest road would likely get neither. It's difficult to project how things would be different under different circumstances, but I imagine that, without the port and tourism, both enabled by the rail line, the town would likely be smaller.
 

micheal_can

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With your thought exercise, if a rail line didn't exist, the port wouldn't exist and if a link was considered, in my view it would likely be a road. In reality, a remote community of about 900 people (which would likely be smaller without the port/rail employment and tourism enabled by the railway) approx. 300 km from the nearest road would likely get neither.

It makes me wonder what the point of the T&NO extended to Moosonee. Now a days, We don't build much into the hinterland.
 

lenaitch

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It makes me wonder what the point of the T&NO extended to Moosonee. Now a days, We don't build much into the hinterland.

Different times. The final northern stretch (north from Abitibi Canyon GS) was built as Depression-era work project. I guess if nothing else it facilitated the construction of Otter Rapids farther down river

The original Algoma Central charter was for the 'Algoma Central and Hudson's Bay Railway'. A different era before roads.
 

roger1818

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So, as I see it, any non sleeper, under 4 car train could be DMU. That could not only include Sarnia - London, Sudbury - White River, Montreal- Jonquière, and Montreal - Senneterre, but also Toronto- Kington, Ottawa Kingston and Montreal Kingston after HFR is built. There will likely be a need for service, but not at the current amount. This would give an easy way to upgrade those sections served by RDCs and short trains.

In theory you could, but to what benefit? It woud decrease VIA’s operational flexibility and force a transfer in London for those in Sarnia (and points in between) to provide a product that is less comfortable for passengers.
 

crs1026

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I wonder, if the line to Churchill didn't exist, but, a fixed link was to be built today, would a road be chosen over rail?

That’s a very interesting question. Having not the slightest idea how costs would compare, I would bet the road would win. Certainly that’s the case elsewhere.

The original Algoma Central charter was for the 'Algoma Central and Hudson's Bay Railway'. A different era before roads.

And before due diligence. Imagine if the old time investors had a JPO and a CIB to study the proposal. So much of our rail network was built on dreams and aspirations alone.

- Paul
 

micheal_can

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In theory you could, but to what benefit? It woud decrease VIA’s operational flexibility and force a transfer in London for those in Sarnia (and points in between) to provide a product that is less comfortable for passengers.

There are already forced transfers in Toronto and Montreal. You cannot go from Windsor to Quebec City without at least 1 transfer.
 

Urban Sky

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There are already forced transfers in Toronto and Montreal. You cannot go from Windsor to Quebec City without at least 1 transfer.
Indeed, but unlike London and Kingston, Toronto and Montreal are VIA’s two busiest stations and thus either the origin or destination of the vast majority of VIA passengers in the Corridor...
 
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ManyQuestions

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There are already forced transfers in Toronto and Montreal. You cannot go from Windsor to Quebec City without at least 1 transfer.

This is one of the areas where, hopefully, HFR could have the most benefit. Transfer become much less disruptive when trains are both reliable and frequent. One of the most notable features I observed when using the Swiss rail network is that there were relatively few direct long distance trains. While most major cities were indeed linked by direct trains, many smaller ones were not. However, these transfers were generally timed very well and often conveniently arranged as cross platform connections. I imagine that this was designed to both improve system reliability and simplify the network into a smaller number of direct routes versus providing more connection-free routes at lower frequencies.
 
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roger1818

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Indeed, but unlike Toronto and Montreal, London and Kingston are not VIA’s two busiest stations and thus either the origin or destination of most VIA passengers in the Corridor...

Agreed! One also has to ask what would be the benefit of doing such a thing? Prior to COVID, there was only 1 train a day between Toronto and Sarnia (via London) and the London-Sarnia leg only took less than 75 minutes each way. Switching that to a DMU would mean having a piece of equipment that is only for about 2.5 hours a day. VIA would have to at least quadruple the frequency of service to get a reasonable amount of service use out of the DMUs. It isn't as if VIA can teleport the DMU from London to another city that might be able to use it, so it would end up sitting idle most of the day.
 

micheal_can

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Agreed! One also has to ask what would be the benefit of doing such a thing? Prior to COVID, there was only 1 train a day between Toronto and Sarnia (via London) and the London-Sarnia leg only took less than 75 minutes each way. Switching that to a DMU would mean having a piece of equipment that is only for about 2.5 hours a day. VIA would have to at least quadruple the frequency of service to get a reasonable amount of service use out of the DMUs. It isn't as if VIA can teleport the DMU from London to another city that might be able to use it, so it would end up sitting idle most of the day.

Are the RDCs doing that?

Sarnia - Toronto may be one of those things that could stay as is.
 

kEiThZ

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I’m not too sure what is so arbitrary about how communities who are connected to the rail but not road network are served: those communities along lines formerly served by federally regulated railroads get funded by the federal government (and in most cases served directly by VIA Rail), whereas the provincial governments are responsible to fund passenger rail services to roadless communities along their respective provincially regulated railroads (which seems to only be the Polar Bear Express in Northern Ontario and the Koaham Shuttle along the former BC Rail line).

It isn't arbitrary, it is based on which communities already have tracks.

That is a rather arbitrary distinction to draw when deciding what service is provided to a community. How many indigenous communities on a provincially regulated railroad get the level of service that VIA provides to these communities on federally regulated railroads? If there is a difference, how exactly do you justify it to the community that gets worse or no service?

And with a negative contribution of only $20 million (i.e. $0.50 per Canadian per year), this is simply a rounding error compared to the wealth we’ve derived from the lands which belonged to First Nations like those which are most dependent on remote passenger rail services...

It's not the cost I am concerned about. I get that the cost is minimal (though arguably will rise when fleet recapitalization is considered). What I am opposed to is the arbitrary nature on policies like this that get post-facto justification solely because they are an artifact of history. And absent a strong policy justification/framework, it becomes very easy to target them for future cuts. This is why I argue that all services without national strategic implications should be funded by the provinces, since local and regional transportation falls within their bailiwick. VIA can still run them. Or the province in question can designate another operator.
 

kEiThZ

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Just because a DMU could be setup for sleeping, doesn't mean it should.

I would assume that any sleeper car operating as part of a DMU consist would not be a DMU but simply a sleeper car linked in.

That said, I think DMUs would really only come in to play on the Senneterre, Jonquiere and White River trains, where only 2-3 pax (DMU) cars and a (unpowered) baggage car may be needed. And those could have commonality with DMUs used out of the Kingston hub after HFR, where using Chargers may prove to be overkill.

In theory you could, but to what benefit? It would decrease VIA’s operational flexibility and force a transfer in London for those in Sarnia (and points in between) to provide a product that is less comfortable for passengers.

Depends what we're talking about. In a scenario where HFR is extended to London, it absolutely make sense to have a transfer at London. Probably on to a coach bus that is timed to meet those trains. Or if demand warranted it, a 2-car DMU that runs hourly to/from Sarnia.
 
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roger1818

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Are the RDCs doing that?

No. They are currently only being used on the Sudbury - White River route, which is between 8 an 9 hours each way, not 2.5.

Sarnia - Toronto may be one of those things that could stay as is.

Exactly! IMHO, the idea of VIA using DMUs is a solution looking for a problem.
 

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