Why should two passenger rail services provide overlapping services in the same area, still using third party rail (or should VIA run on GO trackage)? Should VIA provide Toronto-area commuter service? Should GO provide inter-city service to Ottawa? Makes little sense to me.
It’s complicated, I agree… but even if it’s hard to create a bright line, and even if the two do overlap in spots, I do believe there are two or three different system and service roles that have totally different business models and funding bases and clientelles and governance needs.
It’s possible that a single Oncorr type operator could run them all (Amtrak has won commuter operation contracts, for instance, as well as 403b services, as well as federally mandated services) …. but ultimately it is hard for one organization to ride that many different types of ponies simultaneously.
I would be horrified if Ottawa volunteered to run GO, because the responsiveness to local interests would be sacrificed and “national” agendas would inevitably creep in. And VIA lacks a legal mandate to fend off the federal bureaucracy..
Conversely I suppose GO could absorb longer distance runs, but these demand different amenities and infrastructure and equipment. Funding models would be completely different. Inevitably, the operating organization would be set up with siloes suited to each type of business… and for many purposes it would be three organizations under one roof. There’s wisdom in having a single infrastructure for integrated Ontario-Quebec intercity service, all the way to Detroit.