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VIA Rail

kEiThZ

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It is not a shocker. However, the government is willing to give money to the private corporations and let all government owned enterprises struggle. That is where I have a problem. Maybe it is time for some of those companies to fail. Maybe it is time that shareholders learn what it is like to loose big. Maybe it is time that people learn that if the company is doing shady things, or cannot balance their books, they shut down.I know that will never be allowed to happen, but it would help everyone realize the mess we are in.

You seem to think there's no consequences to the economy or actual survival in some parts of the country, if we let our airlines fail. You may believe this. Most of the country, economists and politicians don't. And again, aviation brings in far more money to the government that whatever they have paid out in subsidies and bailouts, which is exactly why there's bipartisan consensus across the political spectrum on supporting the sector.

Comparing us to Europe is a straw man argument. We have much less population, and move more freight over rail, and really only have 2 freight operators.

I don't think you understand what a strawman argument is. It is highly relevant that our two major freight operators move more cargo in a country of 38 million than all of the freight operators in the European Union (~446 million) COMBINED. And it's not even close. They move substantially more. And this is something that has a massive environmental benefit for this country. Moving that much freight by trucks as the Europeans do would be massively expensive and extremely polluting. As much as we fantasize about European passenger rail, they are desperately trying to build a freight rail network like ours, both to be economically competitive and to reduce emissions. We have a better shot of providing decent rail services in our dense population corridors than they will ever have of building freight rail networks like what we have.

Most of Canada's rail lines are not at capacity.

Source? Freight traffic is up substantially over the last few decades. Tracks have also been removed and lines decommissioned. So capacity utilization is most definitely higher than it has been in the past.

The issue is that freight operators prioritize their cargo over passengers.

Which is exactly why we should build a rail network exclusively for passengers. So we don't have to rely on CN and CP to move passengers. As a bonus we get rail corridors that are actually designed for faster passenger operations instead of the carnival ride that is most freight rail corridors. Trying to run trains on freight rails is always going to be a compromise solution, that where possible we should avoid.

People need to understand that moving cargo by rail is far more profitable, economically vital and environmentally friendly than moving people by rail. In no small part because there's no need to move freight quickly. As such, there is no government (of any party) in power that is going to start demanding that CN and CP take massive financial hits to facilitate VIA. We will have to spend more money to pay for the track we need for passengers. In dedicated passenger rail corridors, or in CN and CP's corridors. It's just that simple. And once everyone finally gets around to accepting this reality, we can get around to building more dedicated passenger rail corridors where it makes economic sense, finally leaving sharing freight rail corridors to tourist trains and infrequent regional services.
 
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kEiThZ

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$7-$8 billion to get Montreal to 4 hours - slow that VIA can already do it if it wasn't for the freight issues?

Unless you're willing to end freight services completely, you would never get both the speed and frequency on a shared rail corridor that $7-8 billion spent on a dedicated passenger corridor. That money isn't just buying speed. It's buying capacity for service. Given enough passing tracks, or double tracks, VIA could run half hourly service if they wanted to.

Of course, the Federal government has the means to depress that valuation;

Ah yes killing all foreign (and substantial domestic) investment by telling investors you're willing to apply rules targeting their assets specifcally is going to do wonders for our economy.

You know what would be cheaper and less appropriate to a banana republic? Simply raising taxes a little bit and paying for the infrastructure we need, like the rest of the developed world.
 

lenaitch

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The issue is that freight operators prioritize their cargo over passengers.

That is the business they are in; to move the product of their customers on their own property, and turn a profit. VIA is a tenant when operating on their property. This condition will exist unless some legislation changes that, and it would be interesting how any hypothetical legislation would square prioritizing (or increasing the priority) of passenger over their core business without subsidy. Dragging up the argument that they were built with public money or backing 150 years ago won't carry much weight. We got our money back in settlement and economic activity years ago.
 

Northern Light

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Unless you're willing to end freight services completely, you would never get both the speed and frequency on a shared rail corridor that $7-8 billion spent on a dedicated passenger corridor. That money isn't just buying speed. It's buying capacity for service. Given enough passing tracks, or double tracks, VIA could run half hourly service if they wanted to.



Ah yes killing all foreign (and substantial domestic) investment by telling investors you're willing to apply rules targeting their assets specifcally is going to do wonders for our economy.

You know what would be cheaper and less appropriate to a banana republic? Simply raising taxes a little bit and paying for the infrastructure we need, like the rest of the developed world.

Did you notice I started that post by saying 'this is not to endorse'?

I simply put out a hypothetical; and to be clear it is a realistic one........we're doing right now in discussing taxing digital services like Netflix.

The only difference is no one is suggesting the government purchase Netflix stock if their announcement impacted stock prices.

****

I endorse @crs1026 idea as a more realistic scenario.
 

kEiThZ

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we're doing right now in discussing taxing digital services like Netflix.

Before someone like Michael gets excited....

Big difference between applying taxes to collect revenue to a service that may not have been taxed appropriately (or at all). And putting on a tax aimed at specifically sinking the market capitalization of a company to enable a government takeover. The Government of Canada isn't trying to devalue Netflix to buy it out. And I'm going to guess that any such unfairly targeted tax on freight, aside from severely damaging the economy, is most assuredly going to end up at the Supreme Court, who I'm sure won't look that kindly on an attempt at targeting a private enterprise for solely public benefits that could be done in many other ways.
 

kEiThZ

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Here's what I'd love to see (but it unlikely to happen):

1) VIA defers Montreal-Quebec City to Phase 2.

2) VIA spends $5-6B on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal segment building a twin tracked corridor with as much straightening as they can afford and grade separations limited to where necessary and mostly urban areas. No electrification. Toronto-Ottawa 3 hrs max. Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal 4.5 hrs max. 45 min headways.

3) Phase 2 of $3-5B launched as most major construction on Phase 1 finishes. Montreal-Quebec City and Union-Pearson-Kitchener-London. Built by 2030. Coincides with the upgrades of GO Kitchener, REM Dorval station extension, Quebec City's LRT, London's Shift BRT and hopefully the first phase of the Pearson transit hub. As in Phase 1, twin tracked, maximum straightening, minimal grade separation and no electrification.

3) Phase 3. London-Windsor. Work with CN for dedicated passenger tracks in their corridor or a new corridor. $2-3B. Same as the other phases. No electrification, twin tracks, max straightening, minimal grade separation and no electrification. Done by 2035.

4) Phase 4. Conversion to higher speed electrified rail. Electrification. Grade-seaparation. New rolling stock. Something like GO RER but for the VIA network. $5-7B. Done by 2045. Travel Times for any trip of less than 500km competitive with air on trip times and single occupancy petrol driving on fares.
 

robmausser

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Here's what I'd love to see (but it unlikely to happen):

1) VIA defers Montreal-Quebec City to Phase 2.

2) VIA spends $5-6B on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal segment building a twin tracked corridor with as much straightening as they can afford and grade separations limited to where necessary and mostly urban areas. No electrification. Toronto-Ottawa 3 hrs max. Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal 4.5 hrs max. 45 min headways.

3) Phase 2 of $3-5B launched as most major construction on Phase 1 finishes. Montreal-Quebec City and Union-Pearson-Kitchener-London. Built by 2030. Coincides with the upgrades of GO Kitchener, REM Dorval station extension, Quebec City's LRT, London's Shift BRT and hopefully the first phase of the Pearson transit hub. As in Phase 1, twin tracked, maximum straightening, minimal grade separation and no electrification.

3) Phase 3. London-Windsor. Work with CN for dedicated passenger tracks in their corridor or a new corridor. $2-3B. Same as the other phases. No electrification, twin tracks, max straightening, minimal grade separation and no electrification. Done by 2035.

4) Phase 4. Conversion to higher speed electrified rail. Electrification. Grade-seaparation. New rolling stock. Something like GO RER but for the VIA network. $5-7B. Done by 2045. Travel Times for any trip of less than 500km competitive with air on trip times and single occupancy petrol driving on fares.

100% agree, and I rarely agree completely with anyone on here.

....are you single? haha
 

Jeff Morgan

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Here's what I'd love to see (but it unlikely to happen):

1) VIA defers Montreal-Quebec City to Phase 2.

2) VIA spends $5-6B on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal segment building a twin tracked corridor with as much straightening as they can afford and grade separations limited to where necessary and mostly urban areas. No electrification. Toronto-Ottawa 3 hrs max. Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal 4.5 hrs max. 45 min headways.

3) Phase 2 of $3-5B launched as most major construction on Phase 1 finishes. Montreal-Quebec City and Union-Pearson-Kitchener-London. Built by 2030. Coincides with the upgrades of GO Kitchener, REM Dorval station extension, Quebec City's LRT, London's Shift BRT and hopefully the first phase of the Pearson transit hub. As in Phase 1, twin tracked, maximum straightening, minimal grade separation and no electrification.

3) Phase 3. London-Windsor. Work with CN for dedicated passenger tracks in their corridor or a new corridor. $2-3B. Same as the other phases. No electrification, twin tracks, max straightening, minimal grade separation and no electrification. Done by 2035.

4) Phase 4. Conversion to higher speed electrified rail. Electrification. Grade-seaparation. New rolling stock. Something like GO RER but for the VIA network. $5-7B. Done by 2045. Travel Times for any trip of less than 500km competitive with air on trip times and single occupancy petrol driving on fares.

Curious, why do you believe electrification will be delayed?
 

robmausser

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Curious, why do you believe electrification will be delayed?

The Siemens fleet can go 125mph, and until all grade separations are removed, and many sections straightened out, we won't see the fleet hit that speed very often. Corners reduce the speed and grade crossings limit the top speed to 110mph.

You really don't get the full benefits of electrification on long haul journeys until you hit speeds above 125mph, even if its in short stretches.

So while VIA CAN electrify the existing route/track, it would make more sense to do the curve straightening and grade crossing removals first, which is a big capital cost. Especially because doing electrification first would mean you would have to redo it in these areas over again.
 

kEiThZ

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Curious, why do you believe electrification will be delayed?

Not so much why it will be delayed, so much as should be delayed. Mostly, the return on investment for the cost of electrification is lower. Let's take the current projected cost of the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal for HFR with rolling stock (exercised options for Siemens Chargers). It's about $3B. The cost of electrification is about $1.5B. With only 1-2 trains running per hour in each direction, the fuel cost savings (for these brand new highly efficient trains) is going to probably take decades to justify, once your include the cost of maintaining the electric infrastructure. On the other hand, $1.5B can buy plenty of straightening, twin tracks and grade separation which will help increase average operating speed, improve passenger comfort (less curves) and increase capacity (for more trains), which will all contribute to bolstering ridership.

If we're really worried about emissions, simply have VIA sign a contract to get biodiesel. Let's not forget that the alternative is those passengers driving and flying, so more emissions. And let's not forget that these trainsets will be substantially more efficient than what VIA is running today. And I don't see all that many people upset about their emissions today.

In short, building the network should take precedence over electrification. Because that has the best benefit to passengers and the environment.
 

kEiThZ

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Electrification of HFR would be more about carbon footprint reduction than it would be about increasing speed or efficiency.

There's cost savings to running electric. But that's minimal when you're running one train per hour in each direction out of each terminus. It's not enough to justify passing up all those nice negotiated options we have on the Siemens Chargers. In 2040, when HFR is built from Windsor to Quebec City (possibly beyond), and the Charger fleet is 15-20 years old, it'll be a great time to do a full fleet replacement and electrification. Maybe by then were also building other dedicated passenger rail corridors (Saint John-Moncton-Halifax!) the we can send the old Chargers to. Also, in 20 years ridership will be up, frequencies will be up and fuel prices will be up. The business case will look substantially better.
 

roger1818

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If we're really worried about emissions, simply have VIA sign a contract to get biodiesel. Let's not forget that the alternative is those passengers driving and flying, so more emissions. And let's not forget that these trainsets will be substantially more efficient than what VIA is running today. And I don't see all that many people upset about their emissions today.

Biofuels (like biodiesel) are greenwashing. People use the argument that it has a lower carbon footprint because the carbon dioxide that is produced during burning is balanced by the carbon dioxide that is absorbed when growing the crops. The reality is regardless of the fuel source, you are taking carbon that is in captured form and releasing it into the atmosphere as CO2 along with other pollutants. For recycled biofuel (fuel from waste products), depending on the source, significant energy is often required to convert it into a useable fuel and we would be better off composting the waste and trapping the carbon in the humus. For virgin biofuel, we would be better off using the land to either produce food or grow trees (which are more effective at capturing CO2).

I wouldn't want an argument of electrifying HFR to get in the way of its construction as there are environmental benefits of reducing the number of cars on the road even if the train is diesel powered, but I do feel it is important to electrify our transportation and the construction of a new line is a good opportunity to move the yardsticks in this direction.
 

nfitz

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You are forgetting the cost of having to add 4 lanes to the 401/A20 (among others to allow them to get to their origin/destination) to accommodate all the extra trucks to compensate for the reduced rail freight capacity (plus the hit to the economy stemming from the extra cost required to transport goods by trucks).
It's a thought exercise ... and also, that's not a federal cost.

What I'd actually expect to happen, is increased usage of the CP corridor - but also a reconnection and/or reacquisition of the old northern route from Hearst to into Quebec.
1607714775935.png
 

roger1818

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It's a thought exercise ... and also, that's not a federal cost.

The provinces would love that sentiment I am sure. 😆

What I'd actually expect to happen, is increased usage of the CP corridor

East of Belleville, the CP corridor would be good for freight (at least as far as Saint-Polycarpe). Through Belleville, the Belleville sub cuts through the middle of town at grade, isolating parts of town from emergency services when a train is passing through. It wouldn't be so bad with VIA trains as they are shorter and wouldn't cause as much of a delay (though it would be slower for VIA).

East of Saint-Polycarpe I would like to see trains not bound for Montreal as a final destination use the Alexandria and Valleyfield Subs to cross over onto the south shore, removing unnecessary rail traffic from the island.

- but also a reconnection and/or reacquisition of the old northern route from Hearst to into Quebec.
View attachment 288278

That would be one option. Another would be to rebuild CP's Ottawa Valley line (from Smiths Falls to Coniston, just east of Sudbury), to bypass Toronto.
 

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