Monday, March 29, 2010

“Slow Route to a Fast Train”

Barbara Yaffe compares Canada’s slow rail system to the high-tech ones of Europe, Japan, China and now the US. Our most important mode of transport for the future is not improving; in fact it’s probably degrading. The “Renaissance” cars used on some Via routes are actually old carriages from England. Cutting travel time, high speed rail improves the economy by creating jobs now, and ensuring the easy business of tomorrow. I don't agree with her that no politicians are supportive of high speed rail. Ignatieff supports the idea as heard in one of his speeches but he could be more enthusiastic about this issue. More support for fast trains from the Official Opposition can only be a good thing.
Politicans have jawboned for years about a high speed rail corridor between Quebec City and Windsor, spending money on studies but never actually advancing the project.
"We are light years behind," sighs Paul Langan, head of a citizens' advocacy group known as High Speed Rail Canada, formed in 2008.
With Canada now fighting a large deficit, this worthy project probably will not be undertaken any time soon.
She is right that it will not be started any time soon. My prediction is that upgrading our tracks and trains so that they can go over 200 km/h will be finished in 2025.


  1. With federal, provincial, and municipal assistance to upgrade those tracks, we should be allowed to "requisition" time for usage of said tracks for increased public transport. Currently, in the Lower Mainland of BC, CP and CN control tracks which are not allowed to even be considered for public rail links which may make commutes much, much, much greener. CP is the major culprit, and won't even talk about the much needed public transit links. If we could do a little Federal arm-twisting, we could link communities as far out as Chilliwack with effective rail connections to save commuters hours, and keep everything "green". CP/CN will claim that "track space" is limited - but that is just where the Federal and Provincial assistance would help (laying down secondary tracks, passing lanes, signal systems, and controls to ensure decent flow)...

    Great post (I love any post encouraging rail transit).

  2. CBC July 16, 2009

    Canada's busiest rail corridor is set to get much quicker with the help of $300 million in federal cash.

    Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear was at Toronto's Union Station on Thursday to spell out the details of previously announced spending initiatives to improve the train network between Windsor, Ont., and Quebec City.
    Gary Goodyear, the federal minister of state for science and technology, unveils details of Ottawa's $300-million infusion to an Ontario-Quebec rail corridor in Toronto on Thursday.Gary Goodyear, the federal minister of state for science and technology, unveils details of Ottawa's $300-million infusion to an Ontario-Quebec rail corridor in Toronto on Thursday. (Peter Evans/CBC)

    "It gives me great pleasure to unveil this investment," Goodyear said. "Three hundred million dollars is a big piece of the puzzle for one of the most heavily used rail networks in North America."

    The money will go toward station upgrades to accommodate passengers with special needs, a rebuild of Via Rail's locomotives to make them more fuel-efficient, and a major track expansion in the Kingston area to allow trains to overtake each other and eliminate bottlenecks.

    The two-year project will begin in the next few weeks and continue through 2011. It will create more than 2,600 person-years worth of employment, Goodyear said, and allow both Via and CN, the freight carrier that also uses the line, to move more trains and more quickly.

    The money was part of $407 million earmarked for rail renewal and expansion in the government's January budget, but the details of the project were only released Thursday.

    By the time the project is completed, it will mean the addition of two daily round-trip trains between Toronto and Montreal, and Toronto and Ottawa, Via chair Donald A. Wright said, and will shave roughly 30 minutes off the travel time along the 539-kilometre rail line that links Toronto and Montreal.

    Read more:

  3. Having lived in South Korea where rapid train service is available I can say it is wonderful to get from point A to B in several hours rather than six. However, it was interesting to listen to a local program out of Calgary several days ago regarding fast train service. One lady complained while travelling in Spain that she could not look out the window because she felt sick and does not recommend this kind of transportion also saying, rapid train service by passed smaller communities. She felt also too many tunnesl would have to be built. This is not so in South Korea. The rail lines there still keep their slower moving train service between smaller communitties. But then, Koreans use public transportation much, much more than we do and it is a much smaller country. This country never blasts through mountains but builds double lane tunnels in both directions for both vehicles and trains. We in Canada don't have much concern for scaring the landscape nor respect for nature...just tear through it. I don't think existing rail lines in Canada will be sufficent in carrying fast moving trains. The lines have to be much wider to carry the speed. I'd love to be able to take trains to travel from one end of this country to the other. However, the way the system is now, it isn't very convenient nor economical.


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