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  #1421  
Old Posted May 13, 2020, 3:43 AM
Truenorth00 Truenorth00 is offline
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
I don't blame you for thinking that as government projects never seem to go right and end up making things more expensive. But in theory a frequent rail service should have lower ticket prices, although it matters a lot who is paying the bill for the infrastructure. If you can use a train for 4 trips a day instead of 2 (arbitrary numbers), then your utilization cost of the equipment is much lower, and your marginal cost of the equipment just becomes fuel, maintenance and staffing. If there is still demand to fill the trains, then it would make sense to run more trains at lower ticket prices.

And if ticket prices don't fall, that just proves the need for HFR as demand was so high that the additional supply is just absorbed. In that case, more capacity would easily be justified until the point that additional trains don't demand a high enough ticket price that it covers the marginal cost.
Thank you.

This is exactly what I'm getting at. We even have numbers from VIA: Ottawa-Toronto. At 4.5 hrs today, in 13.5 hrs, a train and crew can do 3 runs. At 3:15 with HFR, in 13 hrs, the same train and crew can do 4 tuns. A 33% boost in output for a 3% reduction in crew time. And this gets repeated throughout the corridor. Obviously there are other factors like restocking and turns at the end. But that rough math should show how what a massive boost this is.

I don't get why swimmer_spe and some other folks have such a difficult time with this stuff. It's basic math. Some people just want to be skeptics for the sake of it I guess....

And yes costs should drop. VIA's last CEO who launched the concept said he wanted to compete with cars and lure drivers away. I think they can and will get to bus fare level in some fare categories. There will be no business case for anyone to drive alone from that point.
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  #1422  
Old Posted May 14, 2020, 3:00 PM
swimmer_spe swimmer_spe is offline
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
I don't blame you for thinking that as government projects never seem to go right and end up making things more expensive. But in theory a frequent rail service should have lower ticket prices, although it matters a lot who is paying the bill for the infrastructure. If you can use a train for 4 trips a day instead of 2 (arbitrary numbers), then your utilization cost of the equipment is much lower, and your marginal cost of the equipment just becomes fuel, maintenance and staffing. If there is still demand to fill the trains, then it would make sense to run more trains at lower ticket prices.

And if ticket prices don't fall, that just proves the need for HFR as demand was so high that the additional supply is just absorbed. In that case, more capacity would easily be justified until the point that additional trains don't demand a high enough ticket price that it covers the marginal cost.
I do understand this, but, as you mention, I am skeptical that it will be implemented right.

The Renaissance fleet is a prime example of that. Or our subs. The government seems to bungle things up. Or maybe it is Via's bureaucratizes that do.

Needless to say, I look forward to being pleasantly surprised.

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Originally Posted by Truenorth00 View Post
Thank you.

This is exactly what I'm getting at. We even have numbers from VIA: Ottawa-Toronto. At 4.5 hrs today, in 13.5 hrs, a train and crew can do 3 runs. At 3:15 with HFR, in 13 hrs, the same train and crew can do 4 tuns. A 33% boost in output for a 3% reduction in crew time. And this gets repeated throughout the corridor. Obviously there are other factors like restocking and turns at the end. But that rough math should show how what a massive boost this is.

I don't get why swimmer_spe and some other folks have such a difficult time with this stuff. It's basic math. Some people just want to be skeptics for the sake of it I guess....

And yes costs should drop. VIA's last CEO who launched the concept said he wanted to compete with cars and lure drivers away. I think they can and will get to bus fare level in some fare categories. There will be no business case for anyone to drive alone from that point.
If we were using existing fleet, on existing track, then I would not be so skeptical. Those 2 things will balloon, which when added into the cost of the route will cause it to be more expensive, at least till it is paid for. But, I look forward to being wrong.

It'll be the first time things were done right with government projects.
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  #1423  
Old Posted May 14, 2020, 3:17 PM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
If we were using existing fleet, on existing track, then I would not be so skeptical. Those 2 things will balloon, which when added into the cost of the route will cause it to be more expensive, at least till it is paid for. But, I look forward to being wrong.

It'll be the first time things were done right with government projects.
I think you have the wrong way of thinking here. I agree that cost ballooning is possible, even likely. But it has been the fact that VIA has had to use other companies' equipment until now that has handicapped them. Once they get a line which is owned by them the level of bullshit they have to endure goes down immensely. They can choose to spend money on things that benefit the service without worrying about another operator. And building a fresh line is actually much simpler than upgrading an operating one, especially one owned and operated by someone else.

As for the trains, I don't think there was much controversy with the first batch of trains they just ordered, and they have options to build more. Or, as long as they repeat that same level of competence, they should be able to order different trains about as easily. As long as they're not making some weird special order request (like the Canadian replacement will be), the trains should be essentially off the shelf orders, like if they were ordering a fleet of Ford F150s.
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  #1424  
Old Posted May 14, 2020, 4:55 PM
Truenorth00 Truenorth00 is offline
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
As for the trains, I don't think there was much controversy with the first batch of trains they just ordered, and they have options to build more. Or, as long as they repeat that same level of competence, they should be able to order different trains about as easily. As long as they're not making some weird special order request (like the Canadian replacement will be), the trains should be essentially off the shelf orders, like if they were ordering a fleet of Ford F150s.
It's not even an unproven train fleet. Brightline in Florida had the same set in service. Amtrak has the same locomotives in service. The Austrians have the same passenger cars in service. They've proven themselves in service. And in similar climatic conditions.
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  #1425  
Old Posted May 14, 2020, 9:49 PM
swimmer_spe swimmer_spe is offline
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
I think you have the wrong way of thinking here. I agree that cost ballooning is possible, even likely. But it has been the fact that VIA has had to use other companies' equipment until now that has handicapped them. Once they get a line which is owned by them the level of bullshit they have to endure goes down immensely. They can choose to spend money on things that benefit the service without worrying about another operator. And building a fresh line is actually much simpler than upgrading an operating one, especially one owned and operated by someone else.

As for the trains, I don't think there was much controversy with the first batch of trains they just ordered, and they have options to build more. Or, as long as they repeat that same level of competence, they should be able to order different trains about as easily. As long as they're not making some weird special order request (like the Canadian replacement will be), the trains should be essentially off the shelf orders, like if they were ordering a fleet of Ford F150s.
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Originally Posted by Truenorth00 View Post
It's not even an unproven train fleet. Brightline in Florida had the same set in service. Amtrak has the same locomotives in service. The Austrians have the same passenger cars in service. They've proven themselves in service. And in similar climatic conditions.
I agree that this will be a good thing, but, can you name me one project that the federal government has been a part of where the costs did not come in over budget?

Over time, say 10 years, this will prove to have been a good project, regardless of cost overruns.
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  #1426  
Old Posted May 14, 2020, 11:51 PM
Truenorth00 Truenorth00 is offline
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
I agree that this will be a good thing, but, can you name me one project that the federal government has been a part of where the costs did not come in over budget?

Over time, say 10 years, this will prove to have been a good project, regardless of cost overruns.
Meh. If we listened to this kind of pessimism nothing would ever get built. Indeed, this is exactly the kind of talk airline lobbyists use for their FUD campaigns against rail investments.
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  #1427  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 12:06 AM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
I agree that this will be a good thing, but, can you name me one project that the federal government has been a part of where the costs did not come in over budget?

Over time, say 10 years, this will prove to have been a good project, regardless of cost overruns.
Well I don't recall hearing of any of the road upgrades on the TCH in provincial or national park jurisdictions going over budget, they seem to be pretty routine contracts. The government says what it wants, puts out an RFP, a company says how much money they want to do it and then they sign a contract.

And what about the corridor fleet order? Everything seems fine there.

And besides, you're right that lots of projects go over budget, but they're still worth it. The benefits are often undercounted and based on too short a timescale. Look at the Pacific railway, that was a huge boondoggle, full of scandal, over budget, late, massively too generous to the private sector. But 150 years later does anyone think Canada would have been better off had they not spent the money on that infrastructure?
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  #1428  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 5:43 AM
swimmer_spe swimmer_spe is offline
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Originally Posted by Truenorth00 View Post
Meh. If we listened to this kind of pessimism nothing would ever get built. Indeed, this is exactly the kind of talk airline lobbyists use for their FUD campaigns against rail investments.
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
Well I don't recall hearing of any of the road upgrades on the TCH in provincial or national park jurisdictions going over budget, they seem to be pretty routine contracts. The government says what it wants, puts out an RFP, a company says how much money they want to do it and then they sign a contract.

And what about the corridor fleet order? Everything seems fine there.

And besides, you're right that lots of projects go over budget, but they're still worth it. The benefits are often undercounted and based on too short a timescale. Look at the Pacific railway, that was a huge boondoggle, full of scandal, over budget, late, massively too generous to the private sector. But 150 years later does anyone think Canada would have been better off had they not spent the money on that infrastructure?
I am not being pessimistic. I am being realistic.
Even if it came in double the bid, it would still be worth doing.

Remember, I am the one who argues for more rail. I just know that it will cost more than what is reported publicly.
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  #1429  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 1:24 PM
Truenorth00 Truenorth00 is offline
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
I am not being pessimistic. I am being realistic.
Go on the airport thread here or in the Ottawa subforum. You sound exactly like aviation fans who don't want this project.

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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
Even if it came in double the bid, it would still be worth doing.
If it came in double, it would be close to the 2010/2011 study on High Speed Rail. If all we're going to get is HFR at the price, we would need to reconsider.

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Remember, I am the one who argues for more rail.
You come off as someone who is only interested in rail projects that you prefer and benefit you, don't really care about the rest and don't think a business plan is important.
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  #1430  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 2:11 PM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by Truenorth00 View Post
If it came in double, it would be close to the 2010/2011 study on High Speed Rail. If all we're going to get is HFR at the price, we would need to reconsider.
But that price for HSR would likely have ballooned too. I don't think he is wrong here, the price for any infrastructure project invariably increases as the project is developed. This is often due to scope creep, which isn't necessarily bad as it might mean that we end up with a better product. But all sorts of expensive unknowns can pop up. Maybe they'll find a burial ground, maybe some village or farmer gets the route diverted etc, maybe VIA just fucks it up. All these things are perfectly possible, even expected.

I don't expect the price VIA quotes for HFR today is the price we'll pay, it will be more. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth it.
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  #1431  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 3:27 PM
Truenorth00 Truenorth00 is offline
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
I don't expect the price VIA quotes for HFR today is the price we'll pay, it will be more. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth it.
I'd agree with this if the starting point wasn't, "It's going to double!".

Also there are so many more knowns with this project than most. The corridor exists. The price for the rolling stock is known (because of the options VIA holds). A lot of this stuff would be variables in any other similar effort.

Lastly, they are spending $70M on an EA and business case, mostly done with outside consultants, that is supposed to at least enable them to pitch to institutional investors. The idea that this is just some loose government project and will therefore double in price is extremely ignorant.


That's just nonsense from people who want to whine incessantly. Heck, swimmer_spe was just telling us a few posts back how he'd be fantastic at VIA but he's clearly too good for them. Why should bluster and bullshit like that be taken seriously?
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  #1432  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 3:38 PM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by Truenorth00 View Post
I'd agree with this if the starting point wasn't, "It's going to double!".

Also there are so many more knowns with this project than most. The corridor exists. The price for the rolling stock is known (because of the options VIA holds). A lot of this stuff would be variables in any other similar effort.

Lastly, they are spending $70M on an EA and business case, mostly done with outside consultants, that is supposed to at least enable them to pitch to institutional investors. The idea that this is just some loose government project and will therefore double in price is extremely ignorant.
Extremely ignorant is a bit strong. When someone says it will double in price it can be shorthand for "increase in price significantly" and I don't think it's fair to call someone ignorant just because the exact cost increase wasn't 100%. If the final price of HFR ends up being $8B instead of $5B (or whatever the estimate is), then I don't think the spirit of what swimmer is saying would be incorrect. And to be honest, I'm with swimmer on this one, the cost probably will double, it always does. If it doesn't, I'll be pleasantly surprised and happy to be wrong.

I agree that this project is a relatively low risk one. I would predict the biggest chance of cost escalation would not be in the mainline portion or the trains but in its connections to the cities.
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  #1433  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 3:45 PM
Truenorth00 Truenorth00 is offline
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We better pray it doesn't go up to $8B. The current estimate is $4B with $2B for electrification. If it goes up to $8B the government is probably scrapping the idea and cutting all future rail investment beyond replacing rolling stock.
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  #1434  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 3:58 PM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by Truenorth00 View Post
We better pray it doesn't go up to $8B. The current estimate is $4B with $2B for electrification. If it goes up to $8B the government is probably scrapping the idea and cutting all future rail investment beyond replacing rolling stock.
Meh, I would simultaneously be more pessimistic and more optimistic. I could easily see the cost going up significantly, perhaps not double but a lot. But the cost increase will have little impact on whether it gets built, especially if the project is already underway. What's more important is it actually being good in the end and providing the promised ridership increase. If it doesn't do that, then yeah VIA will be doomed.

The Green Line in Calgary went from being $4.5B for 42km to probably more money for 20km or less. It has more than doubled in price. But it will likely still be built. TMX has gone up in price and the reaction was simply "well obviously that would happen". It's par for the course with big infrastructure.
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  #1435  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 7:24 PM
swimmer_spe swimmer_spe is offline
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Originally Posted by Truenorth00 View Post
We better pray it doesn't go up to $8B. The current estimate is $4B with $2B for electrification. If it goes up to $8B the government is probably scrapping the idea and cutting all future rail investment beyond replacing rolling stock.
From $6B to $8B is not double. But, there is what I mean. If it got to $8B, I wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't say it was a waste. I would say "oh, look another government project over budget". For the longest time, the reason for things going over budget is due to picking the lowest bid, not the best bid. Things are starting to change from that.
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