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Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 3:05 PM
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Via rail

I'm sorry if there is another thread for this, and you can merge it, but I think the VIA Rail should buy up tracks, improve marketing, and the system made availible to any city over that is significant and remove service to small towns.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 4:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Ottawaresident View Post
I'm sorry if there is another thread for this, and you can merge it, but I think the VIA Rail should buy up tracks, improve marketing, and the system made availible to any city over that is significant and remove service to small towns.

They are already trying to do that but need federal and provincial funding.

Source: https://nationalpost.com/news/politi...ll-under-study
Via has pitched the government on what it calls high-frequency rail between Toronto and Quebec City, where trains would hit top speeds of 177 km/h and avoid having to share track with freight trains, which currently get priority at bottlenecks. The project would require building sections of new track, including on a potential new route between Ottawa and Toronto that runs through Peterborough. Via estimates trip times would drop by as much as 25 per cent.


This was from one year ago.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 4:27 PM
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What is Via Rail? lol never seen one here...
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  #4  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 4:46 PM
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What is Via Rail? lol never seen one here...
Yeah, VIA rail is not doing the Federal government any favours in dispelling the notion that power mostly resides in Southern Ontario and Quebec.

On the other hand, even between “The Laurentian Seats of Power”TM VIA runs a threadbare service.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 5:50 PM
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I prefer Via to be business oriented when it comes to providing service and keep subsidies to a minimum than to approach expansion or contraction with a sense on nationalism appeasing Canadians. I don't know if it makes sense to extend coverage across Western Canadian or along key corridors such as between Edmonton and Calgary. The densities and distances suggest no.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 6:31 PM
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Yeah. Whereas with HFR, there's a definite business case. Increased ridership between Toronto and Ottawa in the past decade has increased the farebox recovery rate of that route, even as fares have risen slower than inflation.. and that increased ridership was achieved even as reliability and travel times worsened due to increased freight traffic on the rails.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 6:49 PM
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Isn't Greyhound abandoning Western Canada? Seems as though time would be ripe for a return of VIA to Calgary and to other Western Canadian cities that it abandoned during the austerity budgets of the 80s/90s.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 7:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Ottawaresident View Post
I'm sorry if there is another thread for this, and you can merge it, but I think the VIA Rail should buy up tracks, improve marketing, and the system made availible to any city over that is significant and remove service to small towns.
Via has said before that a surprisingly large % of its total ridership actually comes from smaller towns and cities, not the major hubs. That's why it isnt' interested in high speed rail, which would have few stops, and rather high frequency rail on its own tracks.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2019, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SaskOttaLoo View Post
Via has said before that a surprisingly large % of its total ridership actually comes from smaller towns and cities, not the major hubs. That's why it isnt' interested in high speed rail, which would have few stops, and rather high frequency rail on its own tracks.
Not too surprising. A big part of the reason HSR can be so successful in other parts of the world is because of the extensive local networks of rail feeding into it, HSR on its own likely would be unfeasible.

While I wish for passenger rail in the west, it isn't a daily VIA train to Regina that we need, but frequent trains between the medium/large cities and tourist destinations.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by SaskOttaLoo View Post
Via has said before that a surprisingly large % of its total ridership actually comes from smaller towns and cities, not the major hubs. That's why it isnt' interested in high speed rail, which would have few stops, and rather high frequency rail on its own tracks.
Although what's strange about that remark is that the HFR route they are promoting bypasses the small towns they currently serve and something like 1/2 as many total stops. Therefore, it doesn't see as if the small towns on the current route see much (any?) improvement in frequency as that route will still be owned by CN and crippled by freight traffic. Great for people traveling between major centres through because fewer stops means higher average speed and the major centres will be on the new route even if many small ones won't be.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
Isn't Greyhound abandoning Western Canada? Seems as though time would be ripe for a return of VIA to Calgary and to other Western Canadian cities that it abandoned during the austerity budgets of the 80s/90s.
This would be a ripe time to return passenger rail service to Calgary and Regina. Right now the only two ways to get from Vancouver to Calgary are either driving or by air.

There are many underserved parts of Canada when it comes to passenger rail service. Thunder Bay is another city without service.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 1:09 AM
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Originally Posted by manny_santos View Post
This would be a ripe time to return passenger rail service to Calgary and Regina. Right now the only two ways to get from Vancouver to Calgary are either driving or by air.

There are many underserved parts of Canada when it comes to passenger rail service. Thunder Bay is another city without service.
It's a nice idea, but not very cost effective in reality. You wouldn't be able to fill the trains, so service would be terrible, further cementing the lack of ridership. And even if you could justify an acceptable number of trains, CP will take priority on the lines so without upgrading them, reliability will also be poor. Calgary - Regina might be OK, but upgrading the CP mainline through the mountains is a non starter.

In Alberta, we need to identify a manageable size line is that has the most bang for buck and greatest chance of success and build that first. IMO, it's likely a Calgary - Lake Louise line and/or a Calgary - Airdrie line, possibly with a link to the airport. Once something like that is built, as long as it's not a complete financial disaster, then building extensions and additional branches becomes a much more attractive proposition, as you are able to leverage network effects. An Edmonton - Red Deer - Calgary line has a much better business case if there's also a line to the mountains at the other end.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 4:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
Although what's strange about that remark is that the HFR route they are promoting bypasses the small towns they currently serve and something like 1/2 as many total stops. Therefore, it doesn't see as if the small towns on the current route see much (any?) improvement in frequency as that route will still be owned by CN and crippled by freight traffic. Great for people traveling between major centres through because fewer stops means higher average speed and the major centres will be on the new route even if many small ones won't be.
The intermediate communities, especially Kingston, will see a significant improvement, for several reasons:

1) Lower fares. VIA uses a YM system to maximize fare revenue. This means that fares for trips to the intermediate stations can be quite expensive, because a seat sold to someone at an intermediate station is a seat that can't be sold to a through traveller. Prices from Kingston to Ottawa are often about the same as from Toronto to Ottawa! With the big haul intercity travel moved to the HFR line, the local services along the Lakeshore route don't have to compete for seats like this anymore.

2) Better scheduling for the needs of local communities. If you look at the train schedule between Toronto and Kingston, or Ottawa and Kingston, you'll note there is a large number of trips, but very badly spaced. There's 6 trains a day from Kingston to Ottawa, but the first trip of those 6 gets you into Ottawa for... 11am. So anyone from Kingston who wants to get into Ottawa before start of business day literally can't take the train. The existing trips are also poorly spaced; lots of situations where two trains to Toronto leave Kingston within 30 minutes but then a 2.5 hour gap.

3) Reliability will still improve, even with CN/CP track sharing. Because trains will start and end at Kingston, there's fewer distance for each train to cover, reducing potential for delay. Right now a Toronto-Montreal train will be 20 minutes late by the time it gets to Kingston and then 40 minutes late by the time it gets to Montreal; with the local service, that train would at least start on time in Kingston and then only be 20 minutes late by the end. Also, with clockface scheduling around the day, in theory it should be easier to coordinate scheduling with CN.

One thing that I do note though is that from Kingston to Toronto; current travel times vary from about 2 hours 20 minutes for express trains that go straight from Kingston to Toronto or have only one or two stops (typically Belleville or Oshawa), to 2 hours 40 minutes for milk runs that stop in Port Hope, Cobourg, Napanee, etc. The chart says 12 trips a day per way on the new Kingston-Toronto local line; that translates to a frequency of 1.5 hours. I hope those trips alternate between all-stops trips and express trips (that stop only at Belleville & Oshawa along the way), so that Kingston residents still get some express trips; also, 1.5 hour service would be an insane improvement for the smaller stations, even 3 hour service would be huge for the likes of Napanee and Trenton which now only get a handful of trips per day.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 5:09 PM
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VIA’s ‘Ocean’ is a convenient overnight service operating 3 times a week from Halifax and Moncton to Montreal. Sleeper traffic out of Halifax has dropped off probably due to airline competition. Coaches are still busy especially on weekend…..but once the train reaches Moncton and as it makes its way west...sleepers and coaches begin to fill not only at the lager communities of Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbellton Rimouski but also at the villages of Prtit Rocher, Jacquet River, Amqui etc.

Halifax – Moncton and possibly onto Saint John could be a viable ‘intercity’ type service but it would have to operate more frequent than 3/week. Cut the 'Ocean' back to Montreal-Moncton only where the majority of its passengers are riding…..and feed connecting passengers to/from an ‘intercity’ service between Halifax and Moncton (and maybe Saint John!)

And looking at this tidbit from an old Transport 2000 Bulletin with tentative the LRC routes when they first entered service back in the 1980s…...Halifax-Moncton-Saint Johan was a proposed route along with:

-Quebec City to Ottawa on CP except for Montreal Central Station
-Prairie Intercity
-And even a Halifax-Montreal daytime run across Maine.



Last edited by ghYHZ; Jan 24, 2019 at 5:30 PM.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 5:52 PM
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The Halifax-Montreal train is not what it seems. It follows a circuitous route via Rimouski and takes 22.5 hours. It's like running a Toronto-Montreal train via North Bay. The drive is officially just under 12 hours according to Google Maps, and that's with the detour around Maine (i.e. driving 800 km of highway to get from Fredericton to Montreal when they are separated by 500 km of territory). The distance as the crow flies is under 800 km.

It's only a reasonably direct transportation connection for the people living in places like Amqui.

A while back I posted the history of these routes, which was apparently heavily political in the 80's and 90's. The Progressive Conservatives proposed keeping the Saint John route and the Liberals proposed this route through Northern NB.

The Maritimes got seriously shafted by land transportation connections by their neighbours and politics. When you get to edge of NB in the west or north you are on a controlled access divided highway, but cross into Quebec or Maine and you end up on a 2 lane country road. And there is no decent east-west route at all in Maine because they don't care about Canadian traffic. The Maritimes should offer to subsidize better highway routes through Maine.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 6:10 PM
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Digression

Will Québec and Maine be on board though? We’re basically talking about a freeway from Sherbrooke, QC to Saint Stephen, NB via Bangor, ME.

On that note, I’m glad that QC 185 will still be twinned. Now we seriously digress.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 6:15 PM
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Originally Posted by WhipperSnapper View Post
I prefer Via to be business oriented when it comes to providing service and keep subsidies to a minimum than to approach expansion or contraction with a sense on nationalism appeasing Canadians. I don't know if it makes sense to extend coverage across Western Canadian or along key corridors such as between Edmonton and Calgary. The densities and distances suggest no.
I think it would be better if the Feds reconceived VIA as a transportation provider, rather than a train operator. I like trains as much as the next person, but our rail network is so far gone in some places that it doesn't make much sense to invest immense sums of money to get the rail line to actually handle frequent passenger trains. It would be better to just run or subsidize private operators to operate a network of coach buses at decent frequencies.

Bus connections should already be part of the business plan for VIA in the Corridor; it's silly that trains should stop in places like London, ON without offering a connecting bus service to relatively big towns that aren't served by public transit at all like St. Thomas.

There are some places where trains could make a difference outside of "Central Canada". These are routes that already have decent track conditions for freight operators. You'd have to negotiate with the likes of CP - which is like pulling teeth - but you could probably get at least 3 trains between Calgary and Banff in the summer (somebody already mentioned this). A semi-frequent train (like 4X a day/direction) from Moncton to Halifax is also low-hanging fruit.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 6:23 PM
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There are some places where trains could make a difference outside of "Central Canada". These are routes that already have decent track conditions for freight operators. You'd have to negotiate with the likes of CP - which is like pulling teeth - but you could probably get at least 3 trains between Calgary and Banff in the summer (somebody already mentioned this). A semi-frequent train (like 4X a day/direction) from Moncton to Halifax is also low-hanging fruit.
It seems like the structure of how the railways in Canada are managed and the services are operated is completely messed up.

The actual right of ways themselves, the natural monopoly, should be publicly controlled and preserved even if they don't seem useful today (i.e. it's okay to let track fall apart, but the government will not sell off portions of the land or lease it for some other purpose). The development and maintenance of the rail lines themselves should not be subject to tax, i.e. there should be no tax incentive to tearing up old rail lines.

The services that run on the railways should be private. There should be some kind of schedule bidding process that expires every so often (5 or 10 years), and there should be penalties for operators that don't stick to their schedule. This should all be transparent.

Under this system if you wanted to start up a passenger rail service between two cities or commuter rail within a metro area you'd bid for a schedule. Also, the freight operators would have an incentive to ship more stuff during the cheap times. As it is right now we basically have a couple of regional rail monopolies that see themselves as freight operators, plus a passenger rail operator that has to work around them while also being subject to a bunch of arbitrary government stipulations about what places need to be served (e.g. the MP for the St-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! region lobbied for this in 1982 so now we have to provide this service until the end of time).
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 6:42 PM
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The Halifax-Montreal train is not what it seems. It follows a circuitous route via Rimouski and takes 22.5 hours. It's like running a Toronto-Montreal train via North Bay. The drive is officially just under 12 hours according to Google Maps, and that's with the detour around Maine (i.e. driving 800 km of highway to get from Fredericton to Montreal when they are separated by 500 km of territory). The distance as the crow flies is under 800 km.
My solution would be to reroute the "Ocean" via the CNR mainline from Moncton to Grand Falls and Edmundston, rather than up the east coast of NB, Baie des Chaleur and Matapedia Valley. The mainline is better maintained allowing for higher speed and is more direct. I'm sure you could shave six hours off the trip from Halifax to Montreal by doing this. By using this routing, then the "Ocean" ceases being a milk run route and as such, perhaps the current 3x weekly service might make more sense.

I would supplement this mainline service however by creating daily local service (maybe 2x daily) between Halifax, Moncton and Saint John, and also provide a daily service along the current VIA route from Moncton serving Miramichi, Bathurst and Campbellton. Both of these services could feed the Ocean at the VIA station in Moncton.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2019, 7:10 PM
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Noooooo bad idea. We dont want to loose the train !
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