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  #41  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 9:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hipster duck View Post
VIA is a lost cause and should be dismantled.

Other bonus: now Albertans can decide if they want to run their own Edmonton-Calgary service and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia can decide if they want to run a Halifax-Moncton service without feeling alienated by a Federal agency that essentially only “serves” Ontario and Quebec.
It is not Via that has cut services, it is the government of the day that has ordered Via to cut services. There is nothing stopping provinces from subsidizing passenger rail services now. In fact, Ontario once paid for several frequencies that were operated by Via in SW Ontario at one time. Ontario also subsidized the Northland and the Northlander for many years and may do so again. The problem comes when the railways want to abandon lines and the federal government has no interest in maintaining the lines because the abandonment is often partially caused by the cut backs forced upon Via Rail. The government of the day's position is if there are no tracks then the problem of providing rail service or listening to the public goes away.

The provinces will not provide intercity rail funding, especially when the route is an interprovincial route. The provinces have to maintain the roads even though the federal government cannot find money for Via but it can still find money for interprovincial roads. What is missing is a balance in funding for different modes.
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  #42  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by gunnar777 View Post
Mm yes great, just what Canada needs, even more decentralization

I suppose that replicating the administrative side of VIA several times over would also help? Look at Australia - their suburban rail is excellent and generations ahead of Canada's. Their state-run intercity rail services, not so much.
Yes, Canada needs more decentralization... but not in the case of VIA Rail. This is a perfect example of a pan-Canadian infrastructure that needs to be manages at the federal level.
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  #43  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:13 AM
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Why should VIA keep focusing on the Corridor? It is well served.

What needs to happen is all services go to a daily service both ways. This will make scheduling with CN/CP, etc simplier as they know it is coming the same time every day.

The next thing they need is to start servicing places they don't, like Calgary and Regina to name a few.

The federal government needs to change thee TC laws to make passenger service have priority over freight. This would mean that all trains would have to take the siding and the passenger train just keeps on going. They would also need to make it law that the companies must allow passenger service on all their lines.

I know we are dreaming, but with the focus on climate change, and a minority government, this could be something that the majority of parties would support.
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  #44  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:39 AM
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I don't know why it's so hard. We have a government that wants to spend money on infrastructure, wants to be seen to be doing stuff on climate, wants to be seen as not hating Alberta and other provinces outside the corridor, owns a railway that operates at the whims of the federal government, and can borrow money at will. Why not actually start spending money on VIA? These would be decades long investments, if you amortize a few billions over that time it's basically nothing anyway.
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  #45  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 4:12 AM
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I don't know why it's so hard. We have a government that wants to spend money on infrastructure, wants to be seen to be doing stuff on climate, wants to be seen as not hating Alberta and other provinces outside the corridor, owns a railway that operates at the whims of the federal government, and can borrow money at will. Why not actually start spending money on VIA? These would be decades long investments, if you amortize a few billions over that time it's basically nothing anyway.
My sentiments exactly.
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  #46  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 4:22 AM
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
Why should VIA keep focusing on the Corridor? It is well served.

What needs to happen is all services go to a daily service both ways. This will make scheduling with CN/CP, etc simplier as they know it is coming the same time every day.

The next thing they need is to start servicing places they don't, like Calgary and Regina to name a few.

The federal government needs to change thee TC laws to make passenger service have priority over freight. This would mean that all trains would have to take the siding and the passenger train just keeps on going. They would also need to make it law that the companies must allow passenger service on all their lines.
It is not as easy as this since not all sidings are of equal length so not all freight trains will fit on a particular siding. Sometimes the crew runs out of hours and has to park the train on a siding so then the distance between sidings is doubled until a new crew is available. What we need is the older smaller sidings that were ripped out to be re-installed so the distance between sidings is shortened so at least a passenger train doesn't have to wait so long.

The other problem is that sometimes fleets of trains are dispatched one behind another which increases the waiting time for trains travelling the opposite direction.

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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
I know we are dreaming, but with the focus on climate change, and a minority government, this could be something that the majority of parties would support.
I agree.
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  #47  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 5:58 AM
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
Why should VIA keep focusing on the Corridor? It is well served.
No it isn't. The schedules are at irregular intervals and speeds are barely competitive with driving. But most importantly, reliability is atrocious. Via's market share on the Corridor routes is very low compared to most similar regions. The HFR plan is designed to address these problems, dramatically so in the case of on time performance.

I get that other parts of the country have effectively no rail service at all, but that doesn't mean that further investments in the Corridor aren't worth supporting. If HFR is successful that makes investments in the rest of the country more likely.
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  #48  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 9:30 AM
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Originally Posted by GoTrans View Post
It is not as easy as this since not all sidings are of equal length so not all freight trains will fit on a particular siding. Sometimes the crew runs out of hours and has to park the train on a siding so then the distance between sidings is doubled until a new crew is available. What we need is the older smaller sidings that were ripped out to be re-installed so the distance between sidings is shortened so at least a passenger train doesn't have to wait so long.

The other problem is that sometimes fleets of trains are dispatched one behind another which increases the waiting time for trains travelling the opposite direction.



I agree.
The real problem is over siding trains. There are trains that operate between terminals that do not fit in any sidings. So, they must keep going.

This is why I said that the regulation needs changing. It would force trains to be shorter, or have longer sidings built, or have double track built.


This CN strike is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to real problems on the railways.
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  #49  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:28 PM
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
The real problem is over siding trains. There are trains that operate between terminals that do not fit in any sidings. So, they must keep going.

This is why I said that the regulation needs changing. It would force trains to be shorter, or have longer sidings built, or have double track built.


This CN strike is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to real problems on the railways.
Forcing trains to be shorter would increase train starts which in turn increases locomotive needs, fuel expenses and labour costs. The problem is that the railways think they can keep the same network fluidity with fewer train starts and decreasing track capacity. Add increasing volumes to that and you have a real mess with clogged mainlines and yards.

in the 1980's CN gradually expanded all sidings across northern
Ontario to 125 car train capacity. Some sidings have been expanded but others have been ripped out to save maintenance costs resulting in sidings being further apart. There needs to be some regulation concerning ripping out sidings or double track. The double track CP mainline from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay is now a series of extended sidings.
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  #50  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:34 PM
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Interesting fragment:

https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebs...ations/201555E

"In 1945, Canadian railways carried 55.4 million passengers, accounting for about 20% of railway revenues."

The population of Canada in 1945 was 12 million.

Sweden's population is currently 10 million and Swedish passenger rail carries 256 million per year.

Given that Canadian passenger rail currently carries about 4.4 million passengers/year, the depth of the underperformance compared to Sweden, the most comparable European country, and historical Canada is clear: 58x and 11x.

Looking at the 2018 annual reports of VIA and SJ was a little weird, as a lot of the numbers were far more on par than the actual performance of the companies would imply; I assume the difference has to do with much greater federal involvement in passenger rail as a whole on the infrastructural level, beyond the main public operator.

Still, a few issues did emerge. VIA, for instance, is currently punctual on 75% of corridor services while SJ is punctual on 95%. Clearly, 75% is so low as to preclude effective use for commercial travelers.

In many senses, though, the two reports were more similar than different despite one being for a well-performing and essential piece of national infrastructure and one being for a red-headed stepchild eking out a precarious existence on the margins of life. One thing both firms emphasized was the environment and climate, which is a solid angle in this age of Greta frowning at planes.

Could our new Liberal government and its extreme climate focus spell opportunity for sad-sack VIA? I doubt it, because that would be bold and visionary rather than timid and next-to-useless, but one can hope.

The more that I look into this, though, the more I am convinced that Ottawa just doesn't have a passenger rail strategy at all.

It's a little sad given our history.

Edit: I am increasingly doubtful regarding the Wikipedia number of 256 million pass./year for Sweden. SJ reported 32 million/year in 2018 and 33% market share; this would imply a total around 96 million/year, or about 22x Canada, not 58x

Last edited by kool maudit; Nov 26, 2019 at 2:19 PM.
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  #51  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:36 PM
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Does this all come down to the track ownership issue? It seems like a real possibility.
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  #52  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:39 PM
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Interestingly, Canada ranks #1 in the world in terms of freight modal share for rail with 68%; Sweden is at 40% and the US is at 44%.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...share_for_rail
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  #53  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:42 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Does this all come down to the track ownership issue? It seems like a real possibility.
It is, or the Feds should just give priority to passenger trains and force the rail barons to expend their networks.
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  #54  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:48 PM
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Sweden has 12,821 km of rail of which 3,594 km is privately owned, whereas Canada has 49,422 km, all privately owned.

It seems like we could go with partial nationalisation in strategic areas to rectify the performance shortfall (and make libertarians yelp). That or build new track, of course, but I have to assume the ROW issues are killer.
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  #55  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:52 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Does this all come down to the track ownership issue? It seems like a real possibility.
There's a host of other problems that have been touched upon in this thread, but in terms of reliability, that's most of it. Part of the reason GO has become an increasingly decent commuter rail system is the Metrolinx strategy of purchasing trackage in corridors whenever possible. It's a long and frustrating process, unfortunately. They were smart to do most of it behind the scenes because it can take some time before seeing tangible returns. IIRC they currently own about 70% of the GO network, though some unfortunate gaps remain.

Of course barring construction of new trackage, we would have to decide whether or not passenger rail should be prioritized over freight. There are probably some compelling reasons to maintain our freight network in addition to passenger capacity.
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  #56  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:57 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Interestingly, Canada ranks #1 in the world in terms of freight modal share for rail with 68%; Sweden is at 40% and the US is at 44%.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...share_for_rail
Interesting factoid that provides some helpful context here. So would we be OK with a massive increase of trucks on the road to make way for more passenger trains? Because it would appear on the surface that our railway tracks are maxed out... something would have to give before there can be any serious discussion about shifting a large portion of the intercity travel pie to passenger rail. Either capacity would have to be added, or freight traffic would have to be displaced.
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  #57  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 1:59 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Sweden has 12,821 km of rail of which 3,594 km is privately owned, whereas Canada has 49,422 km, all privately owned.

It seems like we could go with partial nationalisation in strategic areas to rectify the performance shortfall (and make libertarians yelp). That or build new track, of course, but I have to assume the ROW issues are killer.
For what it's worth, CN was a crown corporation until 1995 and it's not like things were really appreciably better for passenger rail in those days.
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  #58  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 2:01 PM
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Canada screwed itself by not owning the track themselves from the start. I'd support going full commie on this and expropriating neccesary track and upgrading it so that it fulfils the needs of both operators. But this isn't realistic with the politics here, the rail operators are more powerful than the federal government. So the next best thing is to build new passenger only lines, and buy lines from the other operators where possible.
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  #59  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 2:02 PM
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Another interesting country to look at is Brazil, which is to the other side of Canada from Sweden. In Brazil, services have decayed to the point that essentially all inter-city rail is gone; prior to its departure, it was a pitiful relic system of trains travelling at 50 kph or less, so it was easy to kill as nobody used it or cared about it by that point.

There were proposals in 2008 to connect Sao Paulo, Rio and Capinas with a USD 15 billion high-speed network but this was halted due to the financial crisis and ensuing political volatility.

My point is that Canada might prefer to be closer to its Nordic livability index peers on this one, but the reality is nearer Brazil. We should fix this.
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  #60  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2019, 2:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Interesting fragment:

https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebs...ations/201555E

"In 1945, Canadian railways carried 55.4 million passengers, accounting for about 20% of railway revenues."

The population of Canada in 1945 was 12 million.

Sweden's population is currently 10 million and Swedish passenger rail carries 256 million per year.

Given that Canadian passenger rail currently carries about 4.4 million passengers/year, the depth of the underperformance compared to Sweden, the most comparable European country, and historical Canada is clear: 58x and 11x.

Looking at the 2018 annual reports of VIA and SJ was a little weird, as a lot of the numbers were far more on par than the actual performance of the companies would imply; I assume the difference has to do with much greater federal involvement in passenger rail as a whole on the infrastructural level, beyond the main public operator.

Still, a few issues did emerge. VIA, for instance, is currently punctual on 75% of corridor services while SJ is punctual on 95%. Clearly, 75% is so low as to preclude effective use for commercial travelers.

In many senses, though, the two reports were more similar than different despite one being for a well-performing and essential piece of national infrastructure and one being for a red-headed stepchild eking out a precarious existence on the margins of life. One thing both firms emphasized was the environment and climate, which is a solid angle in this age of Greta frowning at planes.

Could our new Liberal government and its extreme climate focus spell opportunity for sad-sack VIA? I doubt it, because that would be bold and visionary rather than timid and next-to-useless, but one can hope.

The more that I look into this, though, the more I am convinced that Ottawa just doesn't have a passenger rail strategy at all.

It's a little sad given our history.
Other than Canada and Sweden are both countries with trains what else is comparable? Sweden is tiny geographically compared to Canada. Distance and travel time are big determinants on whether passenger trains are successful versus planes and cars. In Canada our train system is most effective as a freight moving system not a people moving system. This isn’t going to change by throwing more money at Via. Much smarter to fund high volume intra-city passenger train service like LRT and metro heavy rail.

https://www.mylifeelsewhere.com/coun.../canada/sweden
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