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VIA Rail

crs1026

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At least Corridor passenger rail could be substantially electrified with HFR (even if it's not under VIA). Given that the Corridor is over 90% of VIA's ridership, even half of that ridership moving to an electrified corridor would be a massive improvement. And if the other half is on biofuels, VIA's net emissions could be an order of magnitude lower than today.

And if that Corridor ridership represents a modal shift away from air or road, the reduction in carbon will count somehow.

- Paul
 

kEiThZ

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The problem is that ssiguy and others of his ilk don't understand the difference between "net zero" and "zero emissions". They are not the same thing. If they were, there's no way airlines and freight rails would sign up. There's not a hope in Hades they will stop burning hydrocarbons by 2050. And just one of Air Canada's long haul routes probably has higher total emissions in a month than a long haul VIA route might have all year.
 

ssiguy2

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Yes but the goal is to reduce or offset that pullution by using alternative fuels.

Think of a 20% efficiency gain in every single internal combustion engine we have today. That's a huge impact especially if the fuel used is less harmful.

Baby steps. Better than doing nothing.

I completely agree that baby steps are better than doing nothing. VIA's new purchase of these Tier 4 trains is an excellent example of that. VIA and Ottawa should be commended for purchasing them. They are a great leap forward and I never said, nor even implied, that they weren't.

Personally, I am glad VIA went with Tier 4 diesel locomotives. Catenary would have cost a fortune in new infrastructure and would have taken at least a decade to build on government time. Batteries are a proven technology and while battery tech has grown exponentially spurred by the auto sector, they still have a long way to go before being practical for long distance travel. Canada's cold climate makes batteries even more challenging. Fuel cells are the same made worse by a lack of infrastructure, high fuel costs and, while a very promising technology, is still in its infancy.

Biofuels and hydrogen locomotives are also in their infancy but that will change quickly as the technology advances and the infrastructure is built out. Unlike the other electric options however, they can be phased in more quickly as opposed to basically being all or nothing. They are also much easier and VASTLY cheaper to transform from standard diesel than any of the electric alternatives.
 
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TerryJohnson

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Catenary on the lines owned by CP and CN is not a fortune, its impossible. They explicitly have said NO to both Metrolinx and VIA repeatedly.

HFR will have electrification but thats the best we can hope for for the foreseeable future.
There are some areas of the economy where we don't have the technology yet to completely eliminate pollution, but railways are easy. I won't say OCS is 100+ year old tech, because it has moved on a lot since the Milwaukee Road extension, but it is off-the-shelf, scalable, and proven.
The c-suites at CN and CP must know the math on this, which is that hydrogen is only ~50% efficient and so only suitable for lightly-used lines where the cost of OCS would outweigh that. I find it strange they aren't already lobbying for incentives to get started, and our governments need to stop taking no for an answer on main line freight electrification. A one-line amendment to the CTA so public passenger services can require electrification would put a stop to the foot-dragging.
 

crs1026

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There are some areas of the economy where we don't have the technology yet to completely eliminate pollution, but railways are easy. I won't say OCS is 100+ year old tech, because it has moved on a lot since the Milwaukee Road extension, but it is off-the-shelf, scalable, and proven.
The c-suites at CN and CP must know the math on this, which is that hydrogen is only ~50% efficient and so only suitable for lightly-used lines where the cost of OCS would outweigh that. I find it strange they aren't already lobbying for incentives to get started, and our governments need to stop taking no for an answer on main line freight electrification. A one-line amendment to the CTA so public passenger services can require electrification would put a stop to the foot-dragging.

CP and CN have locomotive fleets of 1500-1700 untis each. It’s pretty obvious why VIA has to wait and see what they decide to do before changing its own much smaller fleet.

Actually, CP’s Alberta hydrogen experiment is very much government-incented. I suspect for broader application, it’s a wait and see proposition. There is a lot of opportunity for both railroads just in Alberta - the number of locos in industrial service adjacent to the petro patches where it’s possible to produce hydrogen commercially is substantial. Perhaps one locomotive will become twenty. Then the challenge becomes making it worthwhile to fit out an entire mainline to somewhere. There may well be government incentives once the technology proves itself.

Personally, I can’t understand why the mainline solution doesn’t include recapture braking energy. Trains climb a fair distance just to reach Calgary ( 3284 feet above sea level, vs Winnipeg at 784 feet) let alone reaching the summit (5300ish). I’m sure CP and CN have all those numbers close at hand, but hydrogen will be a long time paying for itself so will not be a “cheap” fuel in our lifetimes. Reducing fuel use will remain a priority enen with a zero-carbon energy source available.

- Paul
 

Bordercollie

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CP and CN have locomotive fleets of 1500-1700 untis each. It’s pretty obvious why VIA has to wait and see what they decide to do before changing its own much smaller fleet.

Actually, CP’s Alberta hydrogen experiment is very much government-incented. I suspect for broader application, it’s a wait and see proposition. There is a lot of opportunity for both railroads just in Alberta - the number of locos in industrial service adjacent to the petro patches where it’s possible to produce hydrogen commercially is substantial. Perhaps one locomotive will become twenty. Then the challenge becomes making it worthwhile to fit out an entire mainline to somewhere. There may well be government incentives once the technology proves itself.

Personally, I can’t understand why the mainline solution doesn’t include recapture braking energy. Trains climb a fair distance just to reach Calgary ( 3284 feet above sea level, vs Winnipeg at 784 feet) let alone reaching the summit (5300ish). I’m sure CP and CN have all those numbers close at hand, but hydrogen will be a long time paying for itself so will not be a “cheap” fuel in our lifetimes. Reducing fuel use will remain a priority enen with a zero-carbon energy source available.

- Paul
Didn't Amtrak invest in building trainsets with battery cars?
Connect that to Hybrid locomotives could result in up to 50% savings in fuel.

For freight trains one additional battery car that can take regenerative braking into energy and then use that energy to assist the train during starting or climbing hills would provide savings in fuel. It's energy being lost to heat otherwise, so capturing it is a no brainer.
 

Bordercollie

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The problem is that ssiguy and others of his ilk don't understand the difference between "net zero" and "zero emissions". They are not the same thing. If they were, there's no way airlines and freight rails would sign up. There's not a hope in Hades they will stop burning hydrocarbons by 2050. And just one of Air Canada's long haul routes probably has higher total emissions in a month than a long haul VIA route might have all year.
Actually modern aircraft are very efficient, on my flight to Cancun on a 737-400 the pilot said that per passenger the amount of fuel required was like 30gallons per passenger. That might be less than what a train would use considering the distance. Trains are more efficient in the 100-500km range. After that it makes more sense to fly.
 

lenaitch

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A one-line amendment to the CTA so public passenger services can require electrification would put a stop to the foot-dragging.
All that would do is cause CN & CP to say 'cool, VIA (and GO and all the other heavy rail carriers, I suppose) can pay for it'. Also, it would have limited impact on CP..

What the heck, it's only ~30,000 miles of trackage.
 

Bordercollie

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All that would do is cause CN & CP to say 'cool, VIA (and GO and all the other heavy rail carriers, I suppose) can pay for it'. Also, it would have limited impact on CP..

What the heck, it's only ~30,000 miles of trackage.
For some corridors that see 6 trains per week....for only a cost of a measly 10 billion dollars.
 

Frank_Lee

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Actually modern aircraft are very efficient, on my flight to Cancun on a 737-400 the pilot said that per passenger the amount of fuel required was like 30gallons per passenger. That might be less than what a train would use considering the distance. Trains are more efficient in the 100-500km range. After that it makes more sense to fly.
I think their fuel efficiency and carbon advantage goes a lot further; what prevents longer distance rail travel from being feasible is the time and passenger demand for amenities like sleeper berths for trips longer than 6 or 8 hours. More than that, it's just not economically viable because people would rather take a 1 hour flight plus attendant hassles than a 4 hour rail journey.
 

kEiThZ

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Actually modern aircraft are very efficient, on my flight to Cancun on a 737-400 the pilot said that per passenger the amount of fuel required was like 30gallons per passenger. That might be less than what a train would use considering the distance. Trains are more efficient in the 100-500km range. After that it makes more sense to fly.

Trains are probably more efficient up to 800 km. But this is not the discussion we had. ssiguy keeps mixing up net zero with zero emissions and every 3 months rants about how Air Canada having net zero goals means VIA needs to eliminate all emissions. I am pointing out that on the order of emissions to offset, VIA is going to be lower on the list simply because they aren't the huge. A few inefficient long haul train routes aren't driving emissions policy as much as all the auto and aviation traffic in the country.

Here's the breakdown of emissions by sector in Canada:

1649105027651.png


And here's the emissions breakdown of the transport sector:

1649105261979.png


Based on the above, does anybody seriously believe decarbonizing long distance rail is or should be a priority? Yet, every 3 flipping months, we have the same discussion with the same characters who refuse to acknowledge their ignorance on basic policy terms.

As I've pointed out before there's real issues for VIA with climate policy. Notably the emerging difference between the variable operating cost of an EV and an increasing carbon tax that makes operating diesel trains more expensive every year. Electric coach buses will add to this problem. The carbon tax is $50/tonne right now. The government has a target of $170/tonne in 2030. Even with a more efficient fleet, VIA could be facing a situation where a whole lot of Corridor services are massively uncompetitive on cost compared to an electrified bus or car. This should be the real concern. Not wondering how to decarbonize the Canadian, which doesn't aim to operate on a competitive basis.
 

ssiguy2

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KeithZ....................I DO know the difference between zero emissions and net-zero.

The problem with your logic of saying that VIA shouldn't have to become zero emissions by 2050, is that then everyone will start to say the same and Canada will hardly reduce its emissions at all. If VIA {which gets its funding from Ottawa} gets a pass then how could one in good conscience tell the other transportation systems that they can't do the same?

What about other sectors? If Ottawa won't spend the money to reach net zero in the guise that it really doesn't matter because net-zero is a national goal and hence doesn't need everyone to be carbon-free then everyone else can start saying the same. From mining to oil sands to manufacturing to freight to buses to airlines to agriculture to electrical production to other levels of government operations.............................the list is endless.

This notion that we can somehow reach net-zero without individuals {personal or business} having to actually make any sacrifices themselves is what has gotten this planet into the dire situation is in know. If we keep giving everybody a pass, then this planet is a write-off.
 

crs1026

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This notion that we can somehow reach net-zero without individuals {personal or business} having to actually make any sacrifices themselves is what has gotten this planet into the dire situation is in know. If we keep giving everybody a pass, then this planet is a write-off.

Good grief. Nobody ever boils an ocean. You can however eat an elephant, if you do it one steak at a time.

Driving change is a matter of shrewd prioritisation, selecting leverage points, prioritising effort and resources, picking battles. Timing is everything. Seizing momentum and exploiting it. Recognising obstacles and addressing them. Identifying prerequisite conditions and tackling these first, to make the following steps easier. Building momentum.

VIA should decarbonize when it can be done at the point that offers minimal investment with maximum result. Via is not in a good position to be the “low hanging fruit”.

There are carts and there are horses. And ducks that need to be aligned.

And probably other cliches to apply.

- Paul
 

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