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VIA Rail

roger1818

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Much would depend on an analysis of commute pattern, if there in fact is much, from these communities as well as Carleton Place. If they are to the tech hub (and now NDHQ) in Kanata/west end, it is closer, but I still can't see many people schlepping down from Pembroke/Petawawa on a daily basis.

The Carleton Place Sub was completely torn up in 1985. Given that it has always ended in Carleton Place (intersecting the perpendicular Chalk River Subdivision), it would end up being a rather short line (Carleton Place is only about 55km from Ottawa Station). With the population of Carleton Place, Stittsville and Bridalwood, trains could return to it one day, but I am not holding my breath.

As far as I know, the Beachburg sub is torn up west of the junction with the line to Renfrew.

Yes, they were removed in 2013 and 2014, but the part that connects the Renfrew Sub to Ottawa is still intact. A couple years ago, CN put on its 3 year plan that it intends to discontinue the remaining section of the Beachburg Sub, but I expect there will be a similar deal as the Renfrew Sub whereby the City of Ottawa buys the ROW and the ANR buys the track.

Another complicating feature for use of the Beachburg ROW is it would have to be federally regulated since it hops into Quebec.

Or at least it did until all of the track in Quebec was discontinued. I am not sure how much of a complication that is though. The O-Train's Trillium line runs on federally regulated track (it continued across the Prince of Wales Bridge into Quebec, until the track was torn up without properly applying for discontinuance :oops:).
 
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Urban Sky

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As of 1970, there was capacity for both freight and passenger in Canada, and the two coexisted reasonably well. Technological change combined with railways' pruning their assets is what has made passenger service more difficult. The perfect example is the Kingston Sub - when CN procured the Turbos, they also installed CTC with sidings every 20-30 miles, specifically to allow the faster passenger trains to overtake freights by shifting the freights into the sidings. Over the last 50 years, freight trains outgrew the sidings, so CN removed them.... and then CN walked back its commitment to expedite the Turbo and its LRC successor.

The article makes a valid point that European freight has been constrained by a rigid passenger train template. Here, the pendulum was swung in exactly the opposite direction, and just as far over..... freight productivity has been pursued without regard for preserving passenger capability. That's an equally harmful result. There is no reason to believe that we will make the same mistake if we try to land somewhere in the middle.

Some of the promotion of freight productivity was appropriate and probably unavoidable - for example, removing cabooses from freight trains changed operating procedures in ways that impacted passenger operations.... and no one is arguing to put back the caboose. Safety standards have demanded investment - moderate to heavy passenger train operation over unsignalled lines is not longer acceptable. The point is, the people who have been overseeing the infrastructure for the last 50 years have not taken an evenhanded approach to expediting passenger and freight. They have allowed the passenger side to be sacrificed for the freight side. And they allowed the railways to remove assets that should have been left in place and expanded as freight business grew. VIA is hamstrung by this lax regulation.

As for capacity, between Montreal and Toronto there is still plenty, but it is not leveraged in the most win-win manner. Leaving this alone, while spending public money on a sub optimal HFR configuration, is not the right solution.

- Paul
It really strikes me how you can write an elaborate comment in which I could put my signature under almost every single word and yet end up with a completely different conclusion. Yes, with the same capital cost of the present HFR proposal you might be able to get the travel time between Montreal and Toronto back to the magical 4 hours, but to get much lower than that you will basically have to rebuild large parts of the Montreal-Toronto corridor to HSR standards, which is so expensive that it is only economically sensible to do it on one consolidated route between the two cities (and eventually across the entire Quebec-Windsor Corridor) and all routing maps in the various HSR studies have shown very little overlap with the Kingston Sub.

In short, spending further public money on the Kingston Sub is an even more short-sided (i.e. suboptimal) HFR configuration and an even less right solution. But maybe I'm just failing to see the strategic plan behind your argument, which somehow shows a way to make the billions of investment into the Kingston Sub you propose future-proof and HSR-ready...
 
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jelbana

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It really strikes me how you can write an elaborate comment in which I could put my signature under almost every single word and yet end up with a completely different conclusion. Yes, with the same capital cost of HFR you might be able to get back the magical travel time of 3:59 between Montreal and Toronto, but to get lower than that you will basically have to rebuild the entire corridor to HSR standards, which is so expensive that it is only economically sensible to do it on one consolidated route in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor and all routing maps in the various HSR studies have shown very little overlap with the Kingston Sub.

In short, spending further public money on the Kingston Sub is an even more suboptimal (because: short-sided) HFR configuration and an even less right solution. But maybe I'm just failing to see the strategic plan behind your argument, which somehow shows a way to make the billions of investment into the Kingston Sub you propose future-proof and HSR-ready...

Out of curiosity, what are the routes that HSR studies have proposed for Toronto-Montreal?
 

nfitz

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Out of curiosity, what are the routes that HSR studies have proposed for Toronto-Montreal?
Gosh ... what routes haven't been proposed.

What have there been ... about a dozen corridor studies in the last 45 years? Some with multiple options. Some studies had many sub-studies.

Were there any pre-VIA studies (though some weren't VIA, I'm not aware of any before VIA was created ... though that may speak more to my ignorance than reality.
 

Urban Sky

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Out of curiosity, what are the routes that HSR studies have proposed for Toronto-Montreal?
Have a look at Deliverable 5 ("Review of Representative Routing Options") of the Ecotrain Study. You can also find an even more detailed map of the Ecotrain alignment at the end of Appendix 9 ("Analysis of Environmental and Social Impacts").
 

nfitz

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Have a look at Deliverable 5 ("Review of Representative Routing Options") of the Ecotrain Study. You can also find an even more detailed map of the Ecotrain alignment at the end of Appendix 9 ("Analysis of Environmental and Social Impacts").
There's a list of 24 studies at https://www.highspeedrailcanada.com/p/all-canadian-hsr-studies.html - many of which are available online.

In particular, one of the 1990 studies, has a lot of information on the previous studies - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mnL4D_rYR2hzRxa9rLy6HLxPU7PVtT51/view - though is lacking a good figure. The VIA 1984 report has up to 5 options (in addition to Edmonton-Calgary), while the 1980 CIGGT report has at least 3, one being Maglev.
 

roger1818

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Those interested in debating the history of the Ottawa Valley lines might be interested in this decision by the CTA with respect to a proposed joint operation by CN/CP from North Bay to Coteau, using (among other lines) the Alexandria Sub, which VIA occupies.

The proposal was also written up in Branchline magazine, page 17, with reference to the Ottawa Journal also.

It happens that at the moment I'm doing some work to scan some old rail enthusiast periodicals. I came across a shot from the 1960's of CP's Dominion, detouring through Brent on CN because of a derailment on the CP line. Yep, back then the detour needed its own backup routing. ironical.

Certainly interesting, but according to Tracing the Lines, page 13, "The Partnership seems to have sunk almost immediately, but its end was officially announced by the parties in 1995, just as CN was being sold to private investors." It would be interesting to know why the partnership failed. Of course there was nothing forcing them to work together and any little disagreement could have sunk the entire joint operation.
 

roger1818

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There's a list of 24 studies at https://www.highspeedrailcanada.com/p/all-canadian-hsr-studies.html - many of which are available online.

In particular, one of the 1990 studies, has a lot of information on the previous studies - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mnL4D_rYR2hzRxa9rLy6HLxPU7PVtT51/view - though is lacking a good figure. The VIA 1984 report has up to 5 options (in addition to Edmonton-Calgary), while the 1980 CIGGT report has at least 3, one being Maglev.

You have to love that there were 7 studies between 1989 and 1991 with another in 1992. Of particular interest is that a private study was done by Air Canada/CP Rail. The cynic in me can't help but wonder if they were trying to gain ammunition fight HSR.
 

Darwinkgo

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From the 1984 VIA Rail Study
700DBE16-EB90-4884-8E29-146809C31A64.png
090DC689-BCC4-4621-A067-1AE0641175D8.png
F867CB1F-6C6F-4B3B-9737-CA6C2BA20AB8.png
C16824E2-8BE3-4084-8447-4C73C568AF34.png
 

crs1026

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In short, spending further public money on the Kingston Sub is an even more short-sided (i.e. suboptimal) HFR configuration and an even less right solution. But maybe I'm just failing to see the strategic plan behind your argument, which somehow shows a way to make the billions of investment into the Kingston Sub you propose future-proof and HSR-ready...

To be clear, I am not arguing for the Kingston line as the choice for HSR. I am arguing it is a better interim solution for now, recognising that whatever we build now will be an interim network that will be abandoned as a “stranded asset” once there is an appetite for a “next step” advance.

My preference to stick with that route is because
- The timing of “what comes next” is uncertain and may be further away than we believe. So the “interim” solution has to be good enough to serve us for a generation, or more.
- I do not see the proposed interim Montreal-Toronto service as adequate for up to 40 years, and indeed may burn a bridge by removing appetite and reinforcing the use of other alternatives for travel on that route. That elusive 4-hour timing is a dealbreaker in my view, we need it now. These end point are Canada’s two largest cities, after all.
- The “next step“ after HFR may only be 200km/hr UK-ish non electric HST. We may be 40 years or more away from a 300km/hr TGV-ish solution. The UK is outgrowing HST, but it served them well. Our vision should not fixate on high end HSR as the next step.
- While the Kingston is not 300km/hr capable, I see it as 200 km/hr capable....., whereas the Havelock line is clearly not, for the same money. So it’s a better mid term investment.
- There is stranded public investment already in the Kingston line. Its current level of grade separation (which the parallel CP line does not enjoy, let alone the Havelock). was predicated on the frequency of higher-speed passenger use. And there is the $400M trip,e tracking, which CN might not use after HFR.
- The Lake Ontario corridor requires a transportation infrastructure that is not merely de minimus or sufficient for 2020, but adequate for growth in population and enabling substantial movement away from highway travel. Eastern Ontario is the logical place for Ontario to develop as the west-of-GTA areas fill up. An assurance that VIA will not abandon those towns is not sufficient commitment to grow that service commensurate with those communities’ needs.
- All the arguments that the Lake Ontario local service can be assured on CN tracks assume resolution of the very freight conflicts that are forcing VIA to move away. What if in 25 years, CN’s freight business has doubled? At the same point where population is growing along the Lakeshore? The local service can only encounter more restrictions over time. Investment now in the Kingston line might bridge the gap.... after all, VIA’s 2008 capital plan wasn’t wrong, it just didn’t deliver enough of the additional tracks that were planned. Co-production can be a constructive part of that, with no adverse impact to freight or CN/CP investors.

There are two opposing realities in my argument that I can’t overcome, I will admit
- Public, investor, and political appetite for investment in rail passenger is so weak that we have to grasp at any attainable proposition that attracts investors, regardless of how much of the overall transportation needs of the Ontario-Quebec region are served.
- The desire to remain hands-off to freight railways is apparently immovable, so VIA has to find its own path somewhere else. Those options are limited and costly, some are out of reach.

So long as these realities remain, then VIA is better served to just get on with HFR. But that’s not a good transportation strategy.

- Paul
 
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roger1818

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You have to love that there were 7 studies between 1989 and 1991 with another in 1992. Of particular interest is that a private study was done by Air Canada/CP Rail. The cynic in me can't help but wonder if they were trying to gain ammunition fight HSR.

The High-Speed Rail Story says the following about the Air Canada/CP Rail study. This study explains why HSR has struggled to get funding. It also seems to be the foundation of the HFR plan to focus on getting cars off the road instead of planes out of the air. After all, they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Following the publication of the Ontario-Quebec Task Force report in May 1991, Air Canada and CP Rail initiated a joint study of the market for high-speed service in the Quebec-Windsor corridor to assess the impact on other modes. The goal was to take the work of the Task Force to a higher level of confidence by seeking a finer calibration of demand, based on consumer preference. The difference is that it used a forecasting model which maximized high-speed rail revenues by finding the best combination of ridership and fare. The research confirmed that high-speed rail would attract many business travellers away from planes. It would not, however, achieve a significant diversion of auto travellers. The study concluded that 30% of the HSR ridership would be diversions from existing air trips, representing a market share loss of 45% and revenue loss exceeding $200 million for air carriers on the major points of origin and destination in the Quebec-Windsor corridor. These diversion estimates were, in fact, at the lower end of the projections generated during the demand forecasting process. The results of this study created considerable concern among the airlines, given the huge public investment required to implement high-speed rail. It is believed that the ensuing lobby was a major factor in the lack of support for follow-up action on HRS proposals.
 

crs1026

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Certainly interesting, but according to Tracing the Lines, page 13, "The Partnership seems to have sunk almost immediately, but its end was officially announced by the parties in 1995, just as CN was being sold to private investors." It would be interesting to know why the partnership failed. Of course there was nothing forcing them to work together and any little disagreement could have sunk the entire joint operation.

The onset of the CN IPO, and the changes in leadership within that organization, certainly seems like an interesting coincidence.

The quote from the ruling that I found especially interesting was

The Agency stated that it considers this application to be one of national importance in as much as it may serve as a model for future similar transactions, and that all persons, nationally, should be given an opportunity to comment on it.

That, and the considerable detailing of the commercial terms. I doubt that either railway would be happy to see that much informatoon divulged going forward.

- Paul
 

lenaitch

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I may not have said it before on this forum. I do think that in the last few decades, CN and CP have been doing things only in the pursuit of higher profits. Yes, they are private corporations. Let's say that coal power plant that is regulated to put out a certain level of emissions. decides that that limit is hurting their bottom line? Should they just ignore it? No, what they will do is make it so that what they are doing becomes acceptable. Tearing up rail lines is the same idea. I had heard that OVR wanted to buy one of the lines between Mattawa and Ottawa. They were told No, as it would cut into the major carrier's bottom line for a shorter and faster connection between the west and Montreal.

The current system does not work well for all Canadians. Maybe it is time to start doing something to make it better instead of just reactivating a winding ROW that was abandoned in thee 1980s.



You mean the governments of the past are noble and wise?



There has to be a way to keep industry in Ontario, while increasing space for passenger trains. Maybe it is time to double track all mainlines.



They did block the 401 at times.

Why does commuter rail have to exist to make a line needed?

It would be easier to build a larger yard in Northern ON to handle the marshaling needed to split trains going to Montreal and further east. Imagine building another MacMillan Yard in the GTA. Now, take the ones in Capreol, Sudbury and Cartier. They could be expanded, or, if needed, there could be a new yard built before the wye going south. In fact, there has been some plans to relocate the Sudbury CP Yard to allow the downtown to expand where the yard is.

If the government forced CN and CP to ensure Via, and all other passenger trains were kept on schedule, CN and CP would have to do something. This is where the lines in the Ottawa Valley become viable again.



One thing that really hurt the rail freight has been the race to the bottom with the various trucking companies. I have trucker friends who have been saying more companies are paying their drivers less per km than they did in the past. The problem also is, immigrants who need a job to support their family will work for those low wages, which only pushes the wages lower.

Sadly, as you dig to figure out why we are left in this mess, it seems that the race for more profit at all costs are the underlying reasons.

That's how capitalism works. You clearly favour a more command-and-control model or outright socialization. I suppose the government could try to regulate-but-not compensate and see how it shakes out, politically and legally. Maybe it could order daily direct AC flights from Toronto to Hornpayne and see what happens. Would be fun.

The claim that OVR was denied the ability to purchase the CP Ottawa Valley line is curious and a reference would be helpful. I'm not sure that's within the authority of the government to deny a sale, and I'm sure CP would have rather received an 'intact' price vs the cost of ripping it up. Owning a line doesn't guarantee customers but CP wouldn't have cared how flawed a purchaser's business case is once they get the cheque.
 

micheal_can

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That's how capitalism works. You clearly favour a more command-and-control model or outright socialization. I suppose the government could try to regulate-but-not compensate and see how it shakes out, politically and legally. Maybe it could order daily direct AC flights from Toronto to Hornpayne and see what happens. Would be fun.

The claim that OVR was denied the ability to purchase the CP Ottawa Valley line is curious and a reference would be helpful. I'm not sure that's within the authority of the government to deny a sale, and I'm sure CP would have rather received an 'intact' price vs the cost of ripping it up. Owning a line doesn't guarantee customers but CP wouldn't have cared how flawed a purchaser's business case is once they get the cheque.

I am not a fan of "outright socialization", but I am a fan of regulating businesses out of monopolizing a sector. I would feel the same if Bell decided to shut down services in areas they currently serve to make a higher profit. CN and CP weren't broke when the ripping happened. If it were done to prevent bankruptcy, or to get them out of bankruptcy, I would understand and respect it.

As far as the claim, I do not know if there is any public document that would state that as if it ever got out, it would sound like a predatory business practice, and might even be illegal in Canada.

The fact still remains that even without Via on their lines, the mainlines across Canada, including the one between Toronto and Montreal are nearing capacity and something will need to be done.
 

Urban Sky

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As far as the claim, I do not know if there is any public document that would state that as if it ever got out, it would sound like a predatory business practice, and might even be illegal in Canada.
Okay, so pure and unsubstantiated speculation^^

The fact still remains that even without Via on their lines, the mainlines across Canada, including the one between Toronto and Montreal are nearing capacity and something will need to be done.
There certainly is no rail corridor anywhere in Canada where freight train volumes alone would exhaust the capacity offered by multiple-tracking (as is present along CN’s entire Montreal-Toronto-London route)...
 

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