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VIA Rail

ssiguy2

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The biggest challenge for VIA over the next 30 years will not be the introduction of HFR as that's really not much of an accomplishment but rather the financial and logistical challenges of de-carbonising the entire network.

VIA must plan to have, at a minimum, the entire Corridor running emissions-free trains by 2040 which is only 19 short years away. The longer routes can be phased out by 2050 as they are so infrequent. Talking about trying to reduce their footprint means squat, the reality is that it must be done and done quickly and VIA has no real plan in place on how to achieve it. As Ottawa expects all transportation to meet zero emissions by 2050, there is no way in hell that they will let a Crown Corporation, of all things, off the hook.
 

Urban Sky

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The biggest challenge for VIA over the next 30 years will not be the introduction of HFR as that's really not much of an accomplishment but rather the financial and logistical challenges of de-carbonising the entire network.

VIA must plan to have, at a minimum, the entire Corridor running emissions-free trains by 2040 which is only 19 short years away. The longer routes can be phased out by 2050 as they are so infrequent. Talking about trying to reduce their footprint means squat, the reality is that it must be done and done quickly and VIA has no real plan in place on how to achieve it. As Ottawa expects all transportation to meet zero emissions by 2050, there is no way in hell that they will let a Crown Corporation, of all things, off the hook.
19 years sounds like a realistic time frame to electrify Corridor operations with a combination of catenary electrification and Hydrogen or batteries, while cascading the Siemens diesel locomotives to other parts of the network. However, the question of how to electrify VIA’s non-Corridor routes is for the host railroads to figure out (as VIA will have little choice than to adopt whatever solution CN and CP implement for their own operations and infrastructure)...
 
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micheal_can

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The biggest challenge for VIA over the next 30 years will not be the introduction of HFR as that's really not much of an accomplishment but rather the financial and logistical challenges of de-carbonising the entire network.

VIA must plan to have, at a minimum, the entire Corridor running emissions-free trains by 2040 which is only 19 short years away. The longer routes can be phased out by 2050 as they are so infrequent. Talking about trying to reduce their footprint means squat, the reality is that it must be done and done quickly and VIA has no real plan in place on how to achieve it. As Ottawa expects all transportation to meet zero emissions by 2050, there is no way in hell that they will let a Crown Corporation, of all things, off the hook.
If the freight companies don't do it, it will take the electrification of GO to push Via to do their owned ROW Go back a few pages for the mess of that discussion.
 

nfitz

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However, the question of how to electrify VIA’s non-Corridor routes is for the host railroads to figure out (as VIA will have little choice than to adopt whatever solution CN and CP implement for their own operations and infrastructure)...
There's no way that CN is going to let them put catenary down the Kingston subdivision. Or has VIA backed away from their promise about continuing frequent Kingston-Ottawa, Kingston-Montreal, and Kingston-Toronto services?
 

crs1026

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19 years sounds like a realistic time frame to electrify Corridor operations with a combination of catenary electrification and Hydrogen or batteries, while cascading the Siemens diesel locomotives to other parts of the network. However, the question of how to electrify VIA’s non-Corridor routes is for the host railroads to figure out (as VIA will have little choice than to adopt whatever solution CN and CP implement for their own operations and infrastructure)...
VIA is flexible enough, and their capital needs modest enough, that it can adapt to whatever CN and CP decide.

The challenge is for CN and CP (and the industry generally) to get their heads out of the sand and find a path forward. They are resting on their laurels so far, but that can’t last forever. I can’t fault them for going slow and not sticking their necks out, but they will have to find a non-carbon solution eventually.

- Paul
 

Bordercollie

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I'm sure that battery powered trains will become more efficient. You could charge the locomotives during layovers at the end of the route.

Putting additional batteries in the passenger cars might add additional power capacity.
 

2transpo

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The biggest challenge for VIA over the next 30 years will not be the introduction of HFR as that's really not much of an accomplishment but rather the financial and logistical challenges of de-carbonising the entire network.
The biggest challenge of VIA will be HFR because it will break a 70 year trend of declining passenger rail in Canada. I hope we see a commitment soon but I'm not holding my breath.
 

afransen

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I'm sure that battery powered trains will become more efficient. You could charge the locomotives during layovers at the end of the route.

Putting additional batteries in the passenger cars might add additional power capacity.
You don't even need to charge the locomotive per se. You could just have battery car(s) that could be swapped every so often at charging stations, and connected to power the locomotive or traction cars.
 

Urban Sky

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There's no way that CN is going to let them put catenary down the Kingston subdivision. Or has VIA backed away from their promise about continuing frequent Kingston-Ottawa, Kingston-Montreal, and Kingston-Toronto services?
I have to admit that even after almost 8 years on this side of the Atlantic, I still follow European politics and transport policy closer than what’s going on here (probably because I understand their institutions and processes better), but provided that electrification is really expected to span from Halifax to Prince Rupert by 2050, I don’t think that CN will be able to demonstrate its commitment towards that target without having somehow electrified its busiest intercity corridor ten years before that deadline.

And with India having opened its first electrified line with double-stack freight operations, North America’s Class I railroads are starting to run out of excuses why electrification would undermine their operational efficiency:

Yep, that’s 360 TEUs (transported on 18 quintuple cars) passing by in just over a minute...
 
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roger1818

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Electrification doesn’t necessarily mean catenary. It could also be batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. Most likely VIA will use a combination of all 3, depending on the route.

As for the freight railways, there is little incentive for them to electrify yet. They are currently 4 times more fuel (and thus carbon) efficient than trucks and it will likely be over a decade before long haul trucks will electrify (short haul will be sooner, but they aren’t in competition with the railways). Once long haul trucks start to electrify, the railways will need to follow suit and then VIA can let them influence their choice of technology.
 

crs1026

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Electrification doesn’t necessarily mean catenary. It could also be batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. Most likely VIA will use a combination of all 3, depending on the route.

As for the freight railways, there is little incentive for them to electrify yet. They are currently 4 times more fuel (and thus carbon) efficient than trucks and it will likely be over a decade before long haul trucks will electrify (short haul will be sooner, but they aren’t in competition with the railways). Once long haul trucks start to electrify, the railways will need to follow suit and then VIA can let them influence their choice of technology.

Yes. It’s one thing to have a sense of urgency about curtailing carbon, but it’s another to have developed and tested alternatives to the point where one has enough data to select a specific replacement and know it makes the most economic sense.

The sheer amount of energy consumed by the freight railways means that whatever mode they select, the change will be a big-ticket item. Even a small per-unit price differential between, say, hydrogen and battery, will be material when multiplied across the millions of horsepower expended. So I can see their thinking long and hard, and insisting on extensive and fully validated data before they make a choice. I would be very suspicious of anyone claiming there is an obvious answer....the data just isn’t there yet.

VIA is clearly the tail and not the dog in this.It will have to react in pace with the freight railways.

- Paul
 
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MisterF

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It seems to me that batteries and hydrogen will always perform poorly compared to catenary because of the weight penalty - they need to carry their fuel with them while trains powered by wires don't. So even with batteries getting lighter and cheaper over time, my guess is that for low traffic routes we could see hydrogen or batteries but for high demand lines catenary will always be preferred.

Cars are another story. They need to carry their "fuel" with them so batteries make a lot more sense.
 

roger1818

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while cascading the Siemens diesel locomotives to other parts of the network.

While VIA could certainly use some of the Chargers elsewhere on the network, according to Wikipedia, VIA is buying the VIA is buying the SCB-40 variant for intercity rail service not the ALC-42 variant for long haul rail service (and thus has a larger diesel fuel tank). I am not sure how easy it would be to convert an SCB-40 to an ALC-42, but the smaller tank could make it harder to use on long distance routes.

North America’s Class I railroads are starting to run out of excuses why electrification would undermine their operational efficiency:

I think you are missing the point. The railways have been gradually increasing the clearance on their ROWs over the years. Since most of the ROW has blue sky overhead, they only need to fix the specific places where the clearance doesn't meet their new desired specification (tunnels, underpasses, sheds, etc). With a catenary overhead, they would need to raise it along the entire line, not just those few limiting places. Maybe they have reached the maximum clearance they will ever want, but maybe not. We don't know what the future holds. When the railways were first built, they didn't know that double stacks and auto racks would become a thing. This is yet another reason why having separate freight and passenger ROWs along the corridor is a good thing.

Interestingly, GE and BNSF have been working together to produce a battery-powered locomotive that will work in conjunction with a diesel-electric locomotive. I gather the two locomotives share power back and forth, with the diesel-electric locomotive giving power (either from the diesel generator or the wheels) to charge the battery when there is extra power available, and the battery locomotive can give extra power to the diesel-electric locomotive when accelerating or climbing a hill. They claim that adding one battery-powered locomotive to a consist can result in up to 15% fuel savings. If the railways switched to hydrogen, this locomotive would still be useful (if not even more useful) for balancing out the power requirements (fuel cells aren't as good as batteries with huge surges in power demand).

There is no reason why a passenger version of this locomotive couldn't be built for long distance passenger trains (which typically have multiple locomotives anyway). Obviously VIA wouldn't be have enough buying power to influence this, but if Amtrak ordered some, VIA could piggyback on the order.
 

roger1818

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It seems to me that batteries and hydrogen will always perform poorly compared to catenary because of the weight penalty - they need to carry their fuel with them while trains powered by wires don't. So even with batteries getting lighter and cheaper over time, my guess is that for low traffic routes we could see hydrogen or batteries but for high demand lines catenary will always be preferred.

Cars are another story. They need to carry their "fuel" with them so batteries make a lot more sense.

We are getting off topic again, but weight isn't the evil thing to trains that it is for cars and trucks (within reason). Locomotives need to be heavy, to gain enough traction, to haul the cars behind it. An electric locomotive will have an appropriate amount of weight added to it to allow it to haul the maximum load the locomotive is designed for. This could be in the form of ballast, but is usually designed into the locomotive within its structure instead. A battery-powered locomotive will be designed to use the weight of the batteries to increase traction. EMUs get around this by putting the traction motors in the cars, so it uses the entire train's weight as ballast. I have never heard of an EMU freight train though.
 

micheal_can

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We are getting off topic again, but weight isn't the evil thing to trains that it is for cars and trucks (within reason). Locomotives need to be heavy, to gain enough traction, to haul the cars behind it. An electric locomotive will have an appropriate amount of weight added to it to allow it to haul the maximum load the locomotive is designed for. This could be in the form of ballast, but is usually designed into the locomotive within its structure instead. A battery-powered locomotive will be designed to use the weight of the batteries to increase traction. EMUs get around this by putting the traction motors in the cars, so it uses the entire train's weight as ballast. I have never heard of an EMU freight train though.

Europe and Asia has them.
 

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