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VIA Rail

lenaitch

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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?

In Ontario, the only First Nations Community (i.e. 'Reserve') that I can think of that is served by a provincially-regulated railroad is Moose Factory (indirectly - it's on an island). I am aware that there are First Nations-operated roads in other provinces but I don't know how they are regulated. All other First Nation communities in Ontario are serviced by road connected to the provincial road network or an airport operated by the MTO. It was a decision made by the Ontario government years ago to build and operate airports in remote FN communities in lieu of building year-round roads.


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.

To me, a configuration that accommodates sleeping implies eating and likely baggage. In remote service, baggage service includes the need to accommodate canoes, ATVs, MSVs, large game, etc. I suppose that could all be woven into DMU layout. DMUs are, by their nature, self-propelled, but I'm assuming there are limits to how much unpowered weight they can haul.
 

micheal_can

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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.



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

My mistake. For some reason I thought I read they were using them there.
 

kEiThZ

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To me, a configuration that accommodates sleeping implies eating and likely baggage. In remote service, baggage service includes the need to accommodate canoes, ATVs, MSVs, large game, etc. I suppose that could all be woven into DMU layout. DMUs are, by their nature, self-propelled, but I'm assuming there are limits to how much unpowered weight they can haul.

I don't think the trains that go to Senneterre, Jonquiere and White River have sleepers. Sudbury-White River train is 2-3 coupled Budd RDCs. That could easily be replaced with a 2-3 car DMU with a luggage car. The Churchill and Prince Rupert trains would need locos.
 

ManyQuestions

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My mistake. For some reason I thought I read they were using them there.

I think that was proposed a few years ago but never implemented...


It looks like it was proposed to Kitchener, but I can't read the article because I'm not subscribed to local news away from where I live.

 
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roger1818

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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.

You are forgetting the dinning car. Eating in your seat is fine for short trips that happen to cross a single meal but people won't want to do so for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some (but not all) DMUs have the power to tow an extra coach, but AFAIK, they can't tow 2 or more coaches. Then there is the potential for seasonal demand for multiple sleepers. All this begs the question, what is the benefit of using a DMU?


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.

So you are looking at 3 routes. VIA would end up needing to buy almost as many spares trains as active units. At that cost they might as well buy a couple extra Siemens trainsets which they will already have spares available.

And those could have commonality with DMUs used out of the Kingston hub after HFR, where using Chargers may prove to be overkill.

Between Kingston and Toronto I suspect demand will be high enough that a conventional train will be more appropriate. While east of Kingston, demand could be low enough that a DMU might work (though in peak ridership periods, demand might still be high enough to make DMUs less efficient), there are reasons not to.

First of all, similar to the Sarnia situation, it would be preferable for some trains to continue past Kingston to avoid the need for a transfer when traveling between either Ottawa or Montreal and the Lakeshore. Yes the first train(s) in the morning will originate in Kingston and the last train(s) of the day will end there, but most trains will continue on to/from Ottawa or Montreal. The difference from today is that the schedule will be optimized for the Lakeshore, not travel between Toronto and Ottawa or Montreal.

Secondly, even if all trains did start/end in Kingston, trains to either Ottawa or Montreal would likely only be every 2-3 hours. That is about the same as the travel time, so VIA would only need about 4 or 5 extra trains for that service. Even when combined with the trains used in Northern Ontario and Quebec, that still isn't very many trains, and it would be cheaper and easier just to order extra trains from Siemens.

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.

If demand warranted hourly DMUs to/from Sarnia (which I highly doubt considering there is currently only 1 train a day) why not extend HFR to there?
 

kEiThZ

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Between Kingston and Toronto I suspect demand will be high enough that a conventional train will be more appropriate.

Depends what frequencies we are talking about here. I think if there are 6-8 departures in each direction per day, they may only end up filling a 2-3 car DMU on each run.

First of all, similar to the Sarnia situation, it would be preferable for some trains to continue past Kingston to avoid the need for a transfer

That would defeat the entire purpose of the Kingston hub; avoiding cascading delays and optimizing schedules for Kingston. Given that Kingston will still on a freight corridor, the only way to do that is to have train service originate and terminate in Kingston.

If demand warranted hourly DMUs to/from Sarnia (which I highly doubt considering there is currently only 1 train a day) why not extend HFR to there?

Good point. Mostly I was just trying to point out that a connecting service coordinated with HFR would be needed. I don't think they'll even have enough to fully fill a coach bus to Sarnia hourly from London. But a coach service is a lot cheaper and easier to run. Especially in a future of electric coach buses in the future.
 

crs1026

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^There’s nothing that a DMU hub in Kingston can achieve that a Charger layover hub in Kingston can’t. A Kingston hub should be premised on differing volumes of ridership on each of the three directional legs, and on the need for overnight layover to enable late arrivals into and early morning departures from Kingston. Timekeeping and schedule adherence should not be a consideration.....if we can’t solve that......

The volume differences are not well served by through trains alone, because doing so would require empty seats (or empty coaches, in the extreme) for too much of the run....poor equipment utilization. DMU or short Charger trainsets turning at Kingston can take up the slack. I can envisage VIA easily filling 2 coaches a day minimum with early morning Ottawa commuters, and likewise and more westward towards Toronto. So those early morning runs might well grow beyond DMU size.

West of Toronto, I can see HFR leading to a service plan where the hourly trains arriving from the east run through, alternating between the two current routes. That puts London on effectively an hourly service, and 2-hourly headways for both Kitchener and Brantford If either corridor needs an hourly headway, fill in with DMU, or Chargers as needed, turning at London. I can see perhaps three trains running straight through to Sarnia, again using turnarounds to fill in schedule gaps east of London. No reason that HFR to London can’t carry on to Windsor.

Last time I was in Italy, we rode a single train from Naples to Firenze, with a brief (10 or 15 minute, I forget) pause in Rome. Likewise, London to Inverness through Edinburgh. This is not so difficult to manage, and (unlike, perhaps, a subway-LRT transfer paradigm) it’s a real benefit to travellers who may be schlepping luggage. I never agreed with VIA’s 1980s move to a Kitchener RDC service that had zero through trains to London or Sarnia. It’s all in a creative and careful service plan. That’s even more true now, because the population growth along the Kitchener line since then may give it the more important revenue potential. One-train options are a good thing.

- Paul
 
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kEiThZ

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^There’s nothing that a DMU hub in Kingston can achieve that a Charger layover hub in Kingston can’t. A Kingston hub should be premised on differing volumes of ridership on each of the three directional legs, and on the need for overnight layover to enable late arrivals into and early morning departures from Kingston. Timekeeping and schedule adherence should not be a consideration.....if we can’t solve that......

The volume differences are not well served by through trains alone, because doing so would require empty seats (or empty coaches, in the extreme) for too much of the run....poor equipment utilization. DMU or short Charger trainsets turning at Kingston can take up the slack. I can envisage VIA easily filling 2 coaches a day minimum with early morning Ottawa commuters, and likewise and more westward towards Toronto. So those early morning runs might well grow beyond DMU size.

Depends how we're defining optimal demand for DMUs. Is it to fill 2 cars or 3 cars? Kingston, to my amateur eyes, looks a lot like the smaller European cities which get regular DMU service. Hence, why I think DMUs would work there. Especially off-peak where demand is bound to be substantially lower. But I guess there are cost tradeoffs with fleet commonality that might justify using Chargers to push around 2-3 car trains, even if substantially emptier off-peak.


West of Toronto, I can see HFR leading to a service plan where the hourly trains arriving from the east run through, alternating between the two current routes. That puts London on effectively an hourly service, and 2-hourly headways for both Kitchener and Brantford...

I don't think there's a good case to split service west of Toronto. Pearson needs hourly service from both directions. And GO can serve Hamilton and GTA West really well. They'd be only folks transferring. I imagine that HFR simply becomes a cheaper version of the proposed Ontario HSR routed Toronto-Pearson-Kitchener-London.
 

robmausser

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Depends how we're defining optimal demand for DMUs. Is it to fill 2 cars or 3 cars? Kingston, to my amateur eyes, looks a lot like the smaller European cities which get regular DMU service. Hence, why I think DMUs would work there. Especially off-peak where demand is bound to be substantially lower. But I guess there are cost tradeoffs with fleet commonality that might justify using Chargers to push around 2-3 car trains, even if substantially emptier off-peak.




I don't think there's a good case to split service west of Toronto. Pearson needs hourly service from both directions. And GO can serve Hamilton and GTA West really well. They'd be only folks transferring. I imagine that HFR simply becomes a cheaper version of the proposed Ontario HSR routed Toronto-Pearson-Kitchener-London.

IMO for HFR I think split service can happen.

For successful HSR, I think that a one-seat Windsor to Quebec City train needs to be possible.

Once you get into 300kmh range you will start to see people wanting to go from London to Montreal, from Kitchener to Quebec City, etc etc.

If you tell them they need to get off the train and have a 1 hour layover in Toronto etc, they will decide to take a plane.
 

roger1818

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I think that was proposed a few years ago but never implemented...



From what I gather, they tested the lines (in 2016) using existing RDCs (from the former Victoria-Courtney service) but implementation required the purchase of the RDCs from DART. As mentioned earlier, VIA lost the bid for them (in 2017).

It looks like it was proposed to Kitchener, but I can't read the article because I'm not subscribed to local news away from where I live.


The latter article says, "Via intends to deploy them to launch a third daily train between Toronto, Kitchener and areas west..." The CBC article also says, "He wants to see Via stick to its plans to increase the number of trains between Sarnia and London. Sarnia lost its midday trains back in 2011 and 2012 and are down to just one train a day." It isn't clear what the exact plan was, but if I had to guess, it was to bring back trains 86 and 89 (between Toronto and London) and extend trains 85 and 87 to Sarnia (like they were previously), though there may have been plans for other trains.
 

kEiThZ

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IMO for HFR I think split service can happen.

A split can be done. The question is whether this is optimum. Because split service means half the frequencies on each branch defeating the whole purpose of "HIGH FREQUENCY Rail". Moreover the only way to enable the cutting flights to Kingston and London is to have hourly service to Pearson. Anything less and the airlines will keep their shuttles.


For successful HSR, I think that a one-seat Windsor to Quebec City train needs to be possible.

Literally not possible given the disconnection in Montreal. What will be possible is a one-seat ride from Windsor to Montreal.

I don't think full coverage is necessary for HFR to be successful given that the bulk of traffic in the Corridor will be covered by the London to Montreal portion.

Once you get into 300kmh range you will start to see people wanting to go from London to Montreal, from Kitchener to Quebec City, etc etc.

If you tell them they need to get off the train and have a 1 hour layover in Toronto etc, they will decide to take a plane.

HFR is not HSR. So it will never by running at 300 km/h. HFR won't be competitive with air for Toronto-Montreal, let alone London-Montreal or Kitchener-Quebec City. HFR will be competitive with driving those trips. So vacation travel would probably move to rail.

The layovers aren't going to be an issue. Higher frequencies on both GO RER and VIA HFR would mean minimal layover times. I can see more than 30 mins layover being necessary. And most likely, depending on modernization of the boarding processes, and which GO RER lines get 15 min service, that can probably be brought done to a 10-15 min layover.
 

crs1026

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Depends how we're defining optimal demand for DMUs. Is it to fill 2 cars or 3 cars? Kingston, to my amateur eyes, looks a lot like the smaller European cities which get regular DMU service. Hence, why I think DMUs would work there. Especially off-peak where demand is bound to be substantially lower. But I guess there are cost tradeoffs with fleet commonality that might justify using Chargers to push around 2-3 car trains, even if substantially emptier off-peak.

Well, I fall back on my long-standing projection that once HFR is moved to the Havelock line, VIA's use of the Kingston route will face even more constraints beyond what's there today.

We need to remember that VIA's post-HFR Lakeshore service plan is an early morning train originating in Kingston in each of three directions. Then, 4-ish through trains each way during the day. And then the three layover trains returning in the evening. (Maybe, in the best of cases, there is a very early departure to get people to the end points by the start of the business day, and a second departure a couple hours later for those who don't need to rise so early - casual shoppers, day trippers, medical appointments, etc.)

If your vision of "regular DMU service" is any more frequent service than that, I would say you are ignoring the facts of VIA's being only a tenant on CN's line.

That service pattern may keep Kingston on VIA's map, but whatever ridership there is will be concentrated on those 4 or 5 daily trains - which will be making all stops along the Lakeshore corridor, by the way, so will have additional riders beyond those boarding in Kingston. Kingston riders will no longer be spread across the very frequent service that we see today.

If your vision for Kingston is ridership loads on those 4-5 trains that can't fill a 3-car Charger every few hours, I'd say you are admitting that Kingston is getting cut out of service and ridership is actually being discouraged rather than grown. I'm sure hoping that isn't the ridership vision..... rather, if there are fewer trains, I'm optimistic that the loads will be sufficient that we will cross the threshold from DMU to standard Charger train, whatever that threshold may be.

If the sole purpose of those layover trains is to handle peak one way in the morning and handle peak the other way in the afternoon, then I'd say there is enough flex in the Charger fleet to utilise turnbacks of through trains.... similar to how GO trains that lay over in the burbs at night are used for 2WAD service during the day, then become layover trains at the end of the day. Why duplicate the capital cost by creating a DMU fleet when there are already enough Chargers to take up the slack?

I don't think there's a good case to split service west of Toronto. Pearson needs hourly service from both directions. And GO can serve Hamilton and GTA West really well. They'd be only folks transferring. I imagine that HFR simply becomes a cheaper version of the proposed Ontario HSR routed Toronto-Pearson-Kitchener-London.

I totally agree that the focus should be on the Kitchener line, with a good integrated service with GO. With some fairly low cost track upgrading west of Kitchener, the Stratford route could be about as fast end to end as the Brantford route... nothing fancy, simply as good as the Smiths Falls and Alexandria lines today. Still, I would argue that through trains along that line towards Windsor and Detroit would be a good business move. The transfer at London has always been problemmatic, and I don't know why Brantford/Woodstock would get the Windsor advantage over Kitchener and Pearson in a new service plan. Perhaps Brantford needs to mirror Kingston.

- Paul
 
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kEiThZ

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We need to remember that VIA's post-HFR Lakeshore service plan is an early morning train originating in Kingston in each of three directions. Then, 4-ish through trains each way during the day. And then the three layover trains returning in the evening. (Maybe, in the best of cases, there is a very early departure to get people to the end points by the start of the business day, and a second departure a couple hours later for those who don't need to rise so early - casual shoppers, day trippers, medical appointments, etc.)

I am assuming something like 4-6 departures per day to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal each. Assuming the fleet is sized for the 1-2 peak departures, I would bet around needing 3 coaches (2 economy + 1 business). I'll leave it the more knowledgeable to judge whether that is best delivered by DMU or a loco pulled train.
 

kEiThZ

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I totally agree that the focus should be on the Kitchener line, with a good integrated service. With some fairly low cost track upgrading west of Kitchener, the Stratford route could be about as fast end to end as the Brantford route... nothing fancy, simply as good as the Smiths Falls and Alexandria lines today. Still, I would argue that through trains along that line towards Windsor and Detroit would be a good business move.

The premise of Ontario HSR was that it would connect the urban centre for Southwestern Ontario, one of the major tech innovation hubs of the country, the largest airport in the country and the commercial capital of the country inside a single 1.5 hr train ride. That still applies to a 2 hr train ride.

With GO RER providing 15 min 2WAD to Aldershot and hourly 2WAD to Hamilton, the case for hourly service on Toronto-Aldershot-London and Toronto-Aldershot-Niagara Falls is limited. Both of those could probably be bi-hourly, with short 3-4 car trains, and schedules arranged for hourly service on the overlapping Aldershot-Toronto stretch. Or maybe turn over the whole thing to GO. Heck, the mayor of Niagara Falls, NY wants GO service extend to his town.
 

innsertnamehere

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The solution to Niagara Falls NY getting GO service is allow walk-overs across the bridge, even without NEXUS. Americans could park at the Amtrak station and cross the bridge.

The logistics of clearing trains at the border is too complicated otherwise, especially since the US station is literally across the bridge from the Canadian one.
 

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