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micheal_can

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I wonder, would building an elevated line along the median of the 401 work? Maybe even a wye for the 416 as well. Then you have a visible, dedicated HSR ROW to showcase how fast it is, and it hits enough major points. It is also fairly straight.
 

Urban Sky

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I wonder, would building an elevated line along the median of the 401 work? Maybe even a wye for the 416 as well. Then you have a visible, dedicated HSR ROW to showcase how fast it is, and it hits enough major points. It is also fairly straight.
Building railway lines into a Highway median looks like a smart idea - until you realize that neither their horizontal nor vertical alignments make Highway medians particularly suitable for such a use:

Intercity Rail

The reasons favoring highway alignments intercity rail in the US are somewhat different. Tellingly, HSR in Europe is frequently twinned with motorways. It is not about integration with cars, since those alignments are rarely if ever meant to have major stops in their middle. Instead, it’s about picking a pre-impacted alignment, where there are fewer property takings and fewer NIMBYs. This logic is sound, but I often see Americans take it to extremes when discussing HSR.

The first problem is that roads are almost never as straight as HSR needs to be. The design standards I have seen after briefly Googling give the radius of a motorway capable of about 120 km/h as, at a minimum, 500-700 meters. With these curves, trains, too, are capable of achieving about 120 km/h – less at 500 meters without tilting, more at 700 meters with tilting. The most recent high-speed lines are built with a minimum curve radius of 7 km; about the absolute minimum that can be done, with design compromises and tilting trains, is 4 km. This implies that the trains have to deviate from the motorway alignment whenever it curves. In flat regions the road curves are much gentler than the minimum, but still too sharp for full-speed running. Both Florida HSR and Xpress West noted that the trains would have to slow down whenever the Interstate curved, because the need to run in the median would prevent them from curving gently enough to maintain full speed.

Of note, the European examples of HSR running in motorway alignments have it running alongside the roads, not in the medians. I invite the reader to spend a few minutes following French LGVs on Google Maps and seeing this. This is because there invariably have to be small deviations from the road, which in a rural area are trivial when one runs next to the road but require viaducts when one runs between the road’s two carriages.


Have a look at Brightline’s future greenfield alignment between Cocoa and Orlando International Airport and you will also see that it follows along the Southern edge of Highway 528 rather than its median...
 
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roger1818

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I wonder, would building an elevated line along the median of the 401 work? Maybe even a wye for the 416 as well. Then you have a visible, dedicated HSR ROW to showcase how fast it is, and it hits enough major points. It is also fairly straight.

What would be the advantage of doing this? In addition to the excellent reply by @Urban Sky, having a wye at the 416 doesn't make any sense. The 416 was built as the cheapest way of connecting Ottawa to the 401 and has many compromises which makes it a toss up when driving as to which is the better route (the shorter but lower speed Hwy 7 or the longer but higher speed 416 to 401). A wye there wouldn't be any better than the existing route VIA uses.
 

micheal_can

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What would be the advantage of doing this? In addition to the excellent reply by @Urban Sky, having a wye at the 416 doesn't make any sense. The 416 was built as the cheapest way of connecting Ottawa to the 401 and has many compromises which makes it a toss up when driving as to which is the better route (the shorter but lower speed Hwy 7 or the longer but higher speed 416 to 401). A wye there wouldn't be any better than the existing route VIA uses.

I am thinking of how a HSR could connect Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal. The problem is that there is no straight and flat route that goes to all of them in 1 line. That is why my suggestion is a compromise, but a reasonable one. Maybe adding a length down 417 to Montreal might make it work better.
 

Urban Sky

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I am thinking of how a HSR could connect Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal. The problem is that there is no straight and flat route that goes to all of them in 1 line. That is why my suggestion is a compromise, but a reasonable one. Maybe adding a length down 417 to Montreal might make it work better.
Inserting a ROW for a design speed of 300 km/h into a narrow (maybe 20 meter wide) strip of a ROW with a design speed of 120 km/h is not a reasonable suggestion...

@roger1818, please quote my messages when referring to them towards Micheal...
 

crs1026

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So you feel it is important for VIA to compromise operational costs in the long run to save on initial capital costs?

I think you have what I said backwards, but....If the three-sided option can't run in the black, it's a non-starter in current environment.

What I feel is, it's incumbent for Ottawa to put more money on the table, now, than the basic VIA HFR can justify within the CIB-bound constraints, in the interest of not confining HFR to the low-potential long term scenario. HFR should not become a stranded asset, which it will become if the next iteration requires a new route and another round of construction.

Ottawa doesn't feel that way, so my opinion won't buy a small coffee, but that doesn't mean Ottawa is taking the most far-sighted path through this.

I think you are underestimating the cost of a greenfield route between Portalnd and Kingston. The region is flooded with lakes and finding an affordable route would be challenging and would likely be filled with compromises.

I accept this point may be valid - but it cuts both ways. If 30 miles of new line is prohibitive, then so is any upgrading of the Havelock line, and so is any new HSR routing connecting the same points. It's 90 miles from Glen Tay to Havelock.... the amount of rock that will need to be blasted and moved just to ease curves would be of similar magnitude.

While I'm a little more optimistic about the base case for Havelock, having digested the curvature thing a little more, that line is wound around two many rock outcrops and alongside (or through) too many marshes. To get greater speed/time savings, one would have to straighten a fair bit of it. There is little option to straighten much of it, and certainly not at low cost.

The Top map is a bit friendlier south of Portland, although I agree it's no easy feat.

The earlier HSR studies did seem to express a preference for the CP route. It could be expropriated today, in close to move-in condition suitable for base HFR, for a price that's likely within the range of what VIA will pay to rehab the Havelock line. So even if we decide Kingston is not to be served, my pay-me-now, pay-me-later challenge to Havelock being "less costly" remains. Any incremental cost is effectively "buying futures" in HSR.

My guess is that they plan to have Phase 1B of the Elevated Passenger Platforms plan, which will have wider platforms with escalators running in both directions (important since many passengers are carrying luggage). This will help speed up boarding and alighting process.

Even so, the time to debark arriving Ottawa passengers and then board departing Toronto/Montreal passengers will not be insignificant. Is any in-car cleaning and grooming required? Will outgoing passengers be held in the main concourse until the arriving passengers have left the platform?

I'm ena minimum 10 minute dwell in Ottawa, with 15 not unrealistic.

When we get to the point where separate Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto are not only feasible, but necessary to handle the passenger demand, an upgraded Havelock Sub (combined with an upgraded Winchester Sub) would make an excellent long distance, shared, dedicated freight ROW that could be given to CN and CP as part of a deal to obtain the CN's Kingston Sub and the eastern part of CP's Belleville Sub to provide a better route from Ottawa to the Kingston Sub (though it would bypass Kingston, so reginal service would still be needed).

I can't imagine any scenario where the Havelock returns to being a freight line. Grades, for one thing - VIA will not need to level the line, but the slack action would destroy today's 14,000 foot land barges. And, as above, the curves will not have been smoothed. Even VIA's use of the line is predicated on banking, which freight can't tolerate. I'm also not sure that VIA will rehab to the same weight capacities as freight would demand.

Any plan that assumes freight would be completely removed from one of the ROWs 24/7 would be a non-starter. A Havelock sub that has been upgraded to HFR standards would be significantly more valuable than it is today, especially if the freight railways retain access overnight to the passenger ROWs for local trains.

I agree that any scenario which constrains the freight throughput or velocity between the end points is unacceptable. It's a question of how much capacity there is today, and how long before it fills up, and who then pays to expand it. I'm not sure that the railways would object to a plan that monetizes some of their excess capacity today (beyond a prudent margin for growth). The case study for this is the west side of Montreal - regardless of scenario, all today's freight will fit on the existing trackage with enough room for all the passenger VIA intends to run, plus AMT.....provided we don't think of it as two separate two-track railways.

I am not arguing for bringing all the investment needed for HSR forward to today. That clearly won't sell. I am arguing for a solution that might run $1B-$2B more than HFR, that would offer more options and clear a bit more of the HSR path. The business case would not be that much less favourable.

- Paul
 
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jamincan

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Even so, the time to debark arriving Ottawa passengers and then board departing Toronto/Montreal passengers will not be insignificant. Is any in-car cleaning and grooming required? Will outgoing passengers be held in the main concourse until the arriving passengers have left the platform?

I'm ena minimum 10 minute dwell in Ottawa, with 15 not unrealistic.

VIA is upgrading the platforms at the Ottawa station to allow level boarding and more space. I believe the intent is to allow quicker boarding, but I don't know that for sure.
 

Bordercollie

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A lot of the stations like port Hope and Cobourg sit between the CN and CP lines. There could be some added capacity there if you could utilize the CP tracks with sidings at the station. But it would be a patchwork type of solution and wouldn't really solve the problem.
 

robmausser

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A lot of the stations like port Hope and Cobourg sit between the CN and CP lines. There could be some added capacity there if you could utilize the CP tracks with sidings at the station. But it would be a patchwork type of solution and wouldn't really solve the problem.

My suggestion years ago was for VIA to create some switchover tracks where the CN/CP lines meet at various points from Toronto to Kingston.

Then, if there was a freight delay on the CN line, the train could negotiate to use the CP line to bypass the stalled or slow freight train.

However it would require a lot of coordination and probably some kind of advanced center to coordinate things.

CP is also hesitant to allow VIA and other passenger service on their lines, but maybe they would be more forgiving if it was just seen as a backup to the CN service.
 

Bordercollie

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My suggestion years ago was for VIA to create some switchover tracks where the CN/CP lines meet at various points from Toronto to Kingston.

Then, if there was a freight delay on the CN line, the train could negotiate to use the CP line to bypass the stalled or slow freight train.

However it would require a lot of coordination and probably some kind of advanced center to coordinate things.

CP is also hesitant to allow VIA and other passenger service on their lines, but maybe they would be more forgiving if it was just seen as a backup to the CN service.
The issue would be that you would need to have crews trained for a situation that might happen once a year? Plus the maintenance of the platforms, snow clearing, etc. It would just make sense to Split the number of trains that use the track.

Plus that wouldn't work between Belleville and Smith Falls, since you would bi-pass Kingston and Brockville.
 

roger1818

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I think you have what I said backwards, but....If the three-sided option can't run in the black, it's a non-starter in current environment.

What I feel is, it's incumbent for Ottawa to put more money on the table, now, than the basic VIA HFR can justify within the CIB-bound constraints, in the interest of not confining HFR to the low-potential long term scenario. HFR should not become a stranded asset, which it will become if the next iteration requires a new route and another round of construction.

Ottawa doesn't feel that way, so my opinion won't buy a small coffee, but that doesn't mean Ottawa is taking the most far-sighted path through this.

HFR may seem near-sighted, but it is better than doing nothing, which is the only other realistic outcome.

I accept this point may be valid - but it cuts both ways. If 30 miles of new line is prohibitive, then so is any upgrading of the Havelock line, and so is any new HSR routing connecting the same points. It's 90 miles from Glen Tay to Havelock.... the amount of rock that will need to be blasted and moved just to ease curves would be of similar magnitude.

I guess it all depends how much they plan to straighten out the Havelock sub. My guess is they will make small improvements that result in significant benefits, but won't make any major changes.

While I'm a little more optimistic about the base case for Havelock, having digested the curvature thing a little more, that line is wound around two many rock outcrops and alongside (or through) too many marshes. To get greater speed/time savings, one would have to straighten a fair bit of it. There is little option to straighten much of it, and certainly not at low cost.

Which is why I don't think it will be the HSR route, if that ever happens.

The Top map is a bit friendlier south of Portland, although I agree it's no easy feat.

Are you sure about that? Below is a map of the former Canadian Northern Railway line with a section of the Kingston and Pembroke Railway and the CNR Kingston Sub added for fun (map data from "The Ontario Railway Map Collection"). There are lots of lakes in the way. it could follow Hwy 15 I guess, but if you have ever driven that section of it, it is full of twists and turns.

Portland-Kingston.png
Click to see in Google My Maps


The earlier HSR studies did seem to express a preference for the CP route. It could be expropriated today, in close to move-in condition suitable for base HFR, for a price that's likely within the range of what VIA will pay to rehab the Havelock line. So even if we decide Kingston is not to be served, my pay-me-now, pay-me-later challenge to Havelock being "less costly" remains. Any incremental cost is effectively "buying futures" in HSR.

By CP route, I assume you mean their Bellville Sub? Do you really think it could be expropriated "for a price that's likely within the range of what VIA will pay to rehab the Havelock line?" The value of the land alone would be likely be more than the entire HFR project.

Even so, the time to debark arriving Ottawa passengers and then board departing Toronto/Montreal passengers will not be insignificant. Is any in-car cleaning and grooming required?

Ottawa would be a major, midway stop like Kingston. Do they do any in-car cleaning and grooming there?

Will outgoing passengers be held in the main concourse until the arriving passengers have left the platform?

With the new, wider platforms with separate up and down escalators, that shouldn't be necessary.

I'm ena minimum 10 minute dwell in Ottawa, with 15 not unrealistic.

There currently is a 3 minute layover in Kingston. Ottawa might have more passengers boarding and alighting than Kingston, but I don't believe Kingston has high platforms like Ottawa does/will which will help compensate. I can't imagine the layover would need to be more than 5 minutes.

I can't imagine any scenario where the Havelock returns to being a freight line. Grades, for one thing - VIA will not need to level the line, but the slack action would destroy today's 14,000 foot land barges. And, as above, the curves will not have been smoothed. Even VIA's use of the line is predicated on banking, which freight can't tolerate. I'm also not sure that VIA will rehab to the same weight capacities as freight would demand.

Have you seen the grades in BC? They make the Havelock Sub seem like it is in Saskatchewan and yet the railways run trains as long if not longer out there. As for the banking, that could be undone relatively easily.

I agree that any scenario which constrains the freight throughput or velocity between the end points is unacceptable. It's a question of how much capacity there is today, and how long before it fills up, and who then pays to expand it. I'm not sure that the railways would object to a plan that monetizes some of their excess capacity today (beyond a prudent margin for growth). The case study for this is the west side of Montreal - regardless of scenario, all today's freight will fit on the existing trackage with enough room for all the passenger VIA intends to run, plus AMT.....provided we don't think of it as two separate two-track railways.

The thing is, CN might not mind working with CP to get VIA off of its tracks, but what would be in it for CP? They would want to be rewarded dearly for sharing a ROW.

I am not arguing for bringing all the investment needed for HSR forward to today. That clearly won't sell. I am arguing for a solution that might run $1B-$2B more than HFR, that would offer more options and clear a bit more of the HSR path. The business case would not be that much less favourable.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree regarding the cost of what you have in mind. I don't think it will be as affordable as you think.
 

jayme2016

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Ottawa has 2 stations the main one close to downtown and Barrheaven in the south end it might make sense to skip Barrheaven on some tripe to speed things up.
 

roger1818

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Ottawa has 2 stations the main one close to downtown and Barrheaven in the south end it might make sense to skip Barrheaven on some tripe to speed things up.

According to VIA Rail's 2018 Passenger Boarding and Deboarding stats, Fallowfield (in Barrhaven), was VIA's 8th busiest station (233,893 passengers), just behind Quebec City and Windsor (324,037 and 268,543 respectively), and ahead of Oshawa and Dorval (207,037 and 200,158 respectively).
 

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