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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 12:48 AM
Urban_Sky Urban_Sky is online now
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Could daily intercity passenger rail service be revived across Western Canada?

Given that the discussions in the main thread (VIA Rail) keeps circling around the question whether daily intercity passenger rail could (and/or should) return to Western Canada and since certain contributors (myself included) are getting increasingly frustrated and exasperated that this topic suffocates all other topics, I am now creating a new thread dedicated exclusively to this topic, so that we can hopefully quarantine this topic from the main thread.

Therefore (and in absence of moderator/admin rights), I am moving this discussion here by quoting (rather than moving) just today's posts which touch this topic:

Quote:
Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
The problem for some of the routes is that they are too long with no good place to cut them. For example, the Canadian; between Toronto and Vancouver, Winnipeg would be the closest to Toronto to stop it at. As per their current schedule: https://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/fil...-Vancouver.pdf It takes a day and a half to go there. That means that someone going the entire route would be in a chair for 36 hours.
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
So, using the example of a 36 hour trip between Winnipeg and Toronto, what do you suggest to get rid of the sleepers?
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
The Ocean really would be hard to split it up. Some might suggest Moncton, but that is too close to Halifax, and too far from Montreal. Maybe if other routes were added, it might make sense, but a thru train Montreal-Halifax makes the most sense.

If other services between Vancouver-Toronto were ever added, where those additional services meet, having a split might also make sense. It might be the same train that just continues but breaking it up might make things better for the schedule and the overall on time possibility, Right now, the Canadian leaves an hour after it arrives. Maybe it is extended to 4 hours. Give them different train numbers, but a passenger would stay on it. It would all depend on how it was done.
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
That was the argument for the Canadian, and if it is the case for The Ocean too, fine. However, when the time comes for an expensive replacement or refurbishment of equipment, that calculus may change. And the loss of that turnaround must affect the decision too.
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
As I understand it, the current setup of the Canadian is the cheapest way to fulfill VIA's mandates. I have no reason to question Urban_sky on this - I'm not going to re input all his data into spreadsheets to double check, as everything he has said is logical and sourced. If there were glaring errors, it would be easy to go down a rabbit hole and pick it apart, but I have seen no evidence of errors.

I personally have little opinion on the continued existence of the Canadian - I don't think it is valuable for public transit, but if it brings in tourism money, fine. It's such a small amount of money that it's not worth spending too much time discussing. But its existence is also irrelevant to future public transit. If you had a blank slate and were designing a passenger rail network from scratch, you wouldn't put any trains on that route until all the other more deserving routes got rail first.
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Originally Posted by swimmer_spe View Post
I agree that much of the Canadian route isn't the best for much more than tourists. That is why adding the CP route, plus going through SSM might be better. Mind you, that would be much longer of a route.

I feel adding a route between Calgary and Edmonton would be the best thing to go after next. The challenges are to make it safe and efficient and frequent enough to be useful.

I do think that all routes should be looked at and improved so they are no longer useful for just tourism.
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
Eventually, the lower priority routes should be looked at. However if you start with them, rather than the routes that have the greatest chance of success on their own merits, then everything will end in failure. What VIA is trying to do is both to get a firm financial footing, so that it is less at the mercy of the federal government, and to become important to enough users that cutting it back becomes politically unfeasible.

This is why all their effort has to go towards making HFR successful - without HFR there can be no Calgary - Edmonton route, no CP route etc. HFR will give ~10+ million Canadians access to intercity passenger rail that is actually good, and they might then actually support expanding it.

Anywhere outside of the corridor will remain with a raw deal when it comes to VIA for quite some time, but short of a political revolution, there is not enough political capital (or money) to push for VIA service in Alberta and HFR at the same time. I think VIA have the right plan here - all in on HFR.
This topic has long deserved its own, dedicated thread. Here it is!
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Last edited by Urban_Sky; Apr 3, 2020 at 10:38 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 1:27 AM
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In a world where we didn't care about carbon emissions, it would be mostly pointless. But unless we embrace direct air capture of CO2 or run planes off biofuel, I wonder how we will replace air travel with something as good.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 1:30 AM
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We used to have it from Edm-Cal... but now, without HSR and 7million more people, not viable.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 4:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
In a world where we didn't care about carbon emissions, it would be mostly pointless. But unless we embrace direct air capture of CO2 or run planes off biofuel, I wonder how we will replace air travel with something as good.
Trains only offer a reduction in CO2 emissions if they are transporting a large number of people. For a smaller number of people, trains are more polluting than single occupant vehicles.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 5:59 AM
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No, absolutely not. The demand is not there, distances are too great, and the travel time is too long. Certainly there maybe room for privately run tourist trains but for regular passenger travel, not a chance. The service is useless to 99% of people. It's as much of a transportation option for Westerners as the Maiden of the Mist is for commuting Niagarans.

They should bring it to an unceremonious end right now and use those precious operation funds should go to shore up the Windsor/Quebec City Corridor and reintroduce the only place it makes sense in Western Canada...………….the Calgary/Edmonton Corridor.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 6:05 AM
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Hmmm...I believe it could be done but there are a few basic requirements that must be met to make it viable.

The biggest one is price. Rail is slower than air. To make it the least bit viable as an option, you must lower the price to something that at least makes it seem like a better idea than taking a plane. If you can fill plane full of people numerous times daily, you can fill a train once a day.

Speed. It doesn't have to be as fast as a plane but it has to be faster than a car. That's it.

These are just things I notice that make taking the trains in China versus air travel an equally attractive option.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 11:36 AM
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Plane Pros: Quicker than a train
Plane Cons: Must arrive 1 hr prior to departure, Line up to go through security, line up to get on the plane, seats tightly spaced, wait to get off the plane, wait to get your luggage (if it doesn't get lost)

Train Pros: Show up 5 minutes before train arrives, no security BS, lots of room on the train to get up, stretch your legs, take a nap, Free Wifi, Room (and time) to do work, You can see where your luggage is and you grab it as you get off the train.
Train Cons: Not nearly as quick as a train.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 7:54 PM
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Originally Posted by VANRIDERFAN View Post
Plane Cons: Must arrive 1 hr prior to departure, Line up to go through security, line up to get on the plane, seats tightly spaced, wait to get off the plane, wait to get your luggage (if it doesn't get lost)
Totally agree and air travel has become a pain in the ass and significantly slower than it was 30 years ago. That said, despite all these drawbacks, it's a matter of degree. It takes 1.5 hours to fly from Vancouver to Edmonton while the train takes 27 hours and that assumes it's running on time which is a bad assumption.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 8:01 PM
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I would support HSR to Jasper.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldrsx View Post
I would support HSR to Jasper.
Because we all know that tourists want is to zip through the Rockies as fast as possible and would easily generate the pattern of frequent, repeated and year-round trips, which HSR so crucially depends on...
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Last edited by Urban_Sky; Apr 5, 2020 at 4:40 PM.
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roger1818 View Post
Trains only offer a reduction in CO2 emissions if they are transporting a large number of people. For a smaller number of people, trains are more polluting than single occupant vehicles.
We do have planes flying between prairie cities though. So if air travel was stopped or the carbon price set high enough, those passengers could be displaced to rail.

But in reality, an electric bus would be simpler to install. The Trans Canada has plenty of space to stick some dedicated lanes down the middle, running theoretical autonomous, electrified buses at 130km/h down those would be more attractive than a VIA diesel clunker stuck behind a CP train.
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 9:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VANRIDERFAN View Post
Plane Pros: Quicker than a train
Plane Cons: Must arrive 1 hr prior to departure, Line up to go through security, line up to get on the plane, seats tightly spaced, wait to get off the plane, wait to get your luggage (if it doesn't get lost)

Train Pros: Show up 5 minutes before train arrives, no security BS, lots of room on the train to get up, stretch your legs, take a nap, Free Wifi, Room (and time) to do work, You can see where your luggage is and you grab it as you get off the train.
Train Cons: Not nearly as quick as a train.
Hmmm....just one thing: The security issue is something that we're overlooking here. The truth is that a train disaster can be just as horrible as any plane crash. I think it would be a very bad idea to not apply airport style security to any rail travel such as this.
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spocket View Post
Hmmm....just one thing: The security issue is something that we're overlooking here. The truth is that a train disaster can be just as horrible as any plane crash. I think it would be a very bad idea to not apply airport style security to any rail travel such as this.
I challenge you to name a single train disaster where the majority of passengers on board died (which would be a typical outcome of an airplane disaster). Take the 1998 Eschede derailment (as the worst intercity train accident I recall in recent years): out of 287 passengers and 8 crew members on board the ICE train, 101 people died and a further 88 were injured, meaning that 65.8% of all people on board the train survived the accident and 35.9% even without any injuries. If I somehow believed that I would inevitably have to encounter a serious accident on any mode of transport, I would pray that it will be on a train...
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 12:58 PM
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I saw a documentary about a crash between VIA and freight back in the 80’s, which killed a lot of passengers. Does anyone here know what I’m talking about? Maybe those who know can elaborate a bit more (because I watched the video probably 8 years ago).
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 1:06 PM
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As far as BC goes, a couple areas that should have it at least in commuter rail form are the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island between Victoria and Nanaimo (or preferably to Campbell River).

For HSR I do support Vancouver to Seattle.

In the future commuter rail could also work for the Okanagan between Vernon and Penticton.

Vancouver to the Rockies is a good tourist setup though I can see some true rail passenger use between Metro Van and Kamloops, even if quite small.
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 1:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dengler Avenue View Post
I saw a documentary about a crash between VIA and freight back in the 80’s, which killed a lot of passengers. Does anyone here know what I’m talking about? Maybe those who know can elaborate a bit more (because I watched the video probably 8 years ago).
You're thinking of the Hinton train collision in 1986. It killed 23 people with many more hurt. It was a disaster for sure but to Urban Sky's point, most of the 118 passengers and crew on the two trains (one was a freight with only 3 crew members on it) survived. A much different scenario than what you'd see in a plane crash.
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 3:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spocket View Post
Hmmm....just one thing: The security issue is something that we're overlooking here. The truth is that a train disaster can be just as horrible as any plane crash. I think it would be a very bad idea to not apply airport style security to any rail travel such as this.
A 100,000 times no. Airport style security is useless and is a colossal waste of money and time. All that money tagged to be spent on security would be more wisely spent in aircraft maintenance and training for pilots, crew and ground staff. If you want better security, this interviewee has much better suggestions.

https://www.airspacemag.com/as-inter...aum-180959776/
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 3:12 PM
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Railways around the world including HSR systems operate safely with security measures that are nowhere near what is used in aviation. I think we're fine.
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 3:19 PM
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I agree with all the people who don't want security, 100%. If we put that in then you instantly, needlessly, take away one of the biggest advantages of rail vs air travel.
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  #20  
Old Posted Apr 4, 2020, 3:22 PM
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I think the simple formula for feasible passenger trains is that it has to be at least double the speed of what a car can do but short enough of a distance where a plane doesn't make more sense...

In other words connecting large cities with HSR that are not more than a few hundred km's apart.

You'd think Calgary - Edmonton might be an option but maybe they are not large enough. How many people fly between these cities daily?
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