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VIA Rail

kEiThZ

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... or run a much lighter train with a modern locomotive. I have no doubt that a train could move passengers from Winnipeg to Churchill with less CO2 emissions than an ATR72 aircraft if that was a goal. Running trains made up of two older locomotives from the 1980s pulling steel train cars from 1950s isn't going to give you impressive numbers. They built those rail cars back when they were manufacturing the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. If VIA Rail was to set goals of carbon footprint reduction and was given the money to make the fleet replacements necessary to achieve that goal they would be in a good place to deliver because the one clear truth is that the rolling resistance of rail (properly maintained), the typical low gradients on rail lines, and the scalability to add and remove cars as required make it easier to green than most modes.

On the economics side... they probably need to run the restaurant, lounge cars, sleepers, etc to make the train more profitable (really less loss because they don't break even) than if they ran the services with a few coach cars. Still, the train to Churchill with a sleeper is cheaper than the plane... suffer in coach and save a month in rent in Winnipeg.

Railfans are like a man with hammer who sees every problem as a nail. Not every single city pair needs rail service. And given how fast short haul electric passenger planes are coming along, the business case for a lot of these Western Canadian routes that are thin on demand, will be gone in about 15 years. Capital needs to be focused on the highest demand and some strategic corridors.
 

smallspy

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Are you talking about the gross weight of the rolling stock we use today and what is available on the market?
More or less, yes.

Like-for-like, railcar weights haven't changed substantially since the advent of the lightweight passenger car design in the 1930s. Even bearing technology hasn't changed substantially in that same timeframe, so the cost to move a single railcar in terms of force is more-or-less the same.

(I use the term "like-for-like" as I'm trying to show the comparison of a hypothetical average 85 foot long single-level coach from then and now. Want to compare with a two-story coach like a Superliner or a BiLevel car, and the comparisons get murky because you now have to start figuring out things like seats-per-tonne and factoring the additional drag and weight of a physically bigger car.)

One thing that has changed is the electrical requirements - modern railcars need more electrical power for all of the additional services that they are required to have as passenger amenities, such as wifi, electrical outlets, etc. And this power is being provided from the leading loco, either using a separate diesel engine or by increasing the parasitic load on the main diesel engine (where the locos are powered by diesel).

Dan
 

Bordercollie

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More or less, yes.

Like-for-like, railcar weights haven't changed substantially since the advent of the lightweight passenger car design in the 1930s. Even bearing technology hasn't changed substantially in that same timeframe, so the cost to move a single railcar in terms of force is more-or-less the same.

(I use the term "like-for-like" as I'm trying to show the comparison of a hypothetical average 85 foot long single-level coach from then and now. Want to compare with a two-story coach like a Superliner or a BiLevel car, and the comparisons get murky because you now have to start figuring out things like seats-per-tonne and factoring the additional drag and weight of a physically bigger car.)

One thing that has changed is the electrical requirements - modern railcars need more electrical power for all of the additional services that they are required to have as passenger amenities, such as wifi, electrical outlets, etc. And this power is being provided from the leading loco, either using a separate diesel engine or by increasing the parasitic load on the main diesel engine (where the locos are powered by diesel).

Dan
But a Bombardier Bi-level is a similar weight to a BUDD car and can carry almost double the number of customers. Is that not a gain in efficiency? Again you would need to convert it to long distance seats but that's still a 1.5 times increase in passenger count.
 

Urban Sky

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But a Bombardier Bi-level is a similar weight to a BUDD car and can carry almost double the number of customers. Is that not a gain in efficiency? Again you would need to convert it to long distance seats but that's still a 1.5 times increase in passenger count.
Thanks to the very low rolling resistance of steel-on-steel, weight matters much less for energy efficiency in railroading than it does in aviation (with gravity as its perpetual enemy) or road transport. Again, we are focusing on the extreme fringes of the actual issue (i.e. how to decarbonize Canada's intercity travel sector)...
 

crs1026

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Thanks to the very low rolling resistance of steel-on-steel, weight matters much less for energy efficiency in railroading than it does in aviation (with gravity as its perpetual enemy) or road transport. Again, we are focusing on the extreme fringes of the actual issue (i.e. how to decarbonize Canada's intercity travel sector)...

Exactly.... the difference in energy consumption between different types of passenger railcars is trivial compared to other factors affecting total energy consumption and carbon output in operating a train. A train made of heavy railcars may use less fuel and produce less carbon than one made of light railcars, depending on duty cycle, terrain, wind, weather and other factors. Choosing among existing railcars is one of the last places to look for a greener train.

- Paul
 

roger1818

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One thing that has changed is the electrical requirements - modern railcars need more electrical power for all of the additional services that they are required to have as passenger amenities, such as wifi, electrical outlets, etc. And this power is being provided from the leading loco, either using a separate diesel engine or by increasing the parasitic load on the main diesel engine (where the locos are powered by diesel).

Very true! Back when VIA's stainless steel cars were first built, they were steam heated (historically from a steam locomotive, but later requiring a steam generator either in the locomotive or in a separate steam generation car). This wasn't very efficient, so in the late 80's and early 90's, VIA converted them to use electrical Head-End Power (HEP). HEP1, was primarily ex. CP rolling stock from "The Canadian," though also included 24 cars acquired from American roads (such as NYC, RF&P and UP). HEP 2 included more rolling stock acquired from American roads (SP, et al.).

 

OCCheetos

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VIA is transferring ownership of the old M&O Subdivison to the Prescott-Russell Trail Corporation, though only the 74km of it that are located within Prescott-Russell.

I think VIA was holding onto this in case of a high-speed rail plan?
 

Bordercollie

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VIA is transferring ownership of the old M&O Subdivison to the Prescott-Russell Trail Corporation, though only the 74km of it that are located within Prescott-Russell.

I think VIA was holding onto this in case of a high-speed rail plan?
So I guess this part is not needed as part of their HFR plan?
 

ShonTron

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VIA is transferring ownership of the old M&O Subdivison to the Prescott-Russell Trail Corporation, though only the 74km of it that are located within Prescott-Russell.

I think VIA was holding onto this in case of a high-speed rail plan?

Yes it was, to preserve the corridor. As VIA now owns the ex-CN Alexandria Sub, and there is very limited freight traffic left, I guess they feel there's no advantage of a M&O alignment over the existing route.

With a few grade separations (particularly with the CP Winchester Sub) and upgrades, the Alexandra Sub should suit their needs for more frequent and higher speed service.
 

roger1818

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Yes it was, to preserve the corridor. As VIA now owns the ex-CN Alexandria Sub, and there is very limited freight traffic left, I guess they feel there's no advantage of a M&O alignment over the existing route.

Even then, according to CN's 2019 Three-Year Rail Network Plan, they plan to discontinue operations on the Alexandria (and Smiths Falls) Subs. Of course someone will have to take over the delivery of caprolactum to Nylene in Arnprior (apparently train is the only feasible way to deliver it). The only remaining tracks to Arnprior are via Ottawa. That is only about 1 train a week I think (I tend to see/hear it go by in the distance from my office on Thursdays).

With a few grade separations (particularly with the CP Winchester Sub) and upgrades, the Alexandra Sub should suit their needs for more frequent and higher speed service

There is still the possibility that VIA will run parallel to the Winchester Sub and take a shortcut to Montreal.
 
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ShonTron

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There’s also the occasional train to L’Original, handled by a short line operator. I suspect CN will simply handle whatever’s left in Ottawa and Arnprior to a contractor; VIA of course will keep the rails in top shape for its trains; only the OLO and ex-Renfrew Sub track will need to be kept in minimal condition.
 

smallspy

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But a Bombardier Bi-level is a similar weight to a BUDD car and can carry almost double the number of customers. Is that not a gain in efficiency? Again you would need to convert it to long distance seats but that's still a 1.5 times increase in passenger count.
Sure, but that's only one option for two-story cars. And depending on how the specs are written, it may not even be an available option for any hypothetical tender.

That's why I specified "like-for-like". To do otherwise just overly complicates the issue.

Dan
 

roger1818

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There’s also the occasional train to L’Original, handled by a short line operator. I suspect CN will simply handle whatever’s left in Ottawa and Arnprior to a contractor;

I gather that while CN did at one point spin off operations to the Ottawa Central, they later bought back the Ottawa Central and took over operations. CN has also indicated that they want to discontinue service on the Vankleek and / L'Orignal Spurs of the Alexandria Sub in their Three-Year Rail Network Plan. Someone else (like a short line) could come along and purchase the track from CN and continue providing the service, but CN is washing their hands of it.

Regarding Nylene, back when they were BASF, they formed the Arnprior-Nepean Railway (ANR) to maintain the track on the Renfrew Sub that CN was going to be abandoned by CN (the ROW is owned by the City of Ottawa). I expect a similar arrangement will be made for the Beachburg Sub (the city obtains ownership of the ROW and the ANR maintains the track) as well as CN's portion of the Walkley Yard. The question is if CN is no longer running trains to Ottawa, will it be worth running specials from either Smiths Falls or Montreal.

VIA of course will keep the rails in top shape for its trains;

Of course. As I said in a previous post, VIA owns all the track from Ottawa Station to both Smiths Falls and Coteau. While they might get a bit of revenue from CN operating trains on it, it is inconsequential to the maintenance of the track.

only the OLO and ex-Renfrew Sub track will need to be kept in minimal condition.

Not sure what the former Ontario L'Orignal Railway has anything to do with this (unless you are talking about trains to L’Original). I think you might be confusing it with the Beachburg Sub, which was built by the CNoR.

Edit: This discussion should probably be moved to the General railway discussions thread.
 
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Urban Sky

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The following video was posted today on Paul Langan's "High Speed Rail Canada" page on Facebook:


While the irony of someone who boasts of having created "the only national educational resource on high speed rail, TGV, trains, past studies and current information" posting a video by a Youtuber who seemingly hasn't heard of any of the HSR studies for which Canadians are supposedly famous for was obviously lost on poor Paul, one table caught my attention:

1636599299151.png


For quite a while, I have been looking for a formula to somehow compare the ridership potential of different rail corridors, this is the first time I've actually seen one and it makes sense that you multiply both cities' population figures (as the demand between two cities of 5 million people each should be much higher than between a city of 9.9 million and one of 0.1 million, even though in both cases both cities have a combined population of 10 million) and to divide it by the square of the distance by which they are apart.

I've therefore made a list of 30 (often overlapping) rail corridors, of which 11 are located in the Quebec-Windsor corridor (highlighted in yellow), 3 in Atlantic Canada (blue) and the remaining 16 in Western Canada. I also used a slightly paler color for all corridors which are not currently served by passenger rail services, which applies to 3 out of the 11 rail corridors in the Quebec-Windsor corridor, 1 out of 3 in Atlantic Canada and 13 out of 16 in Western Canada:

1636664037253.png

Compiled from: CMA/CA population figures provided by the 2016 Census, distances (in km) provided in various historic VIA/CN/CP schedules and frequencies from VIA's last pre-Covid schedule


The methodology used above has some obvious shortcomings (like using distance-by-rail rather than Euclidean distance), but while it's time for me to go to bed, I'll curiously check tomorrow what reactions and reflections this quick-and-dirty table will provoke... :)
 
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