Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Canada Needs High Speed Rail

Heather Mallick writes about the sale of the high speed rail lines in the UK and that Canada needs high speed rail. With high speed rail, everyone wins. It creates jobs, both temporary and permanent and will protect the environment. It's a faster way of travel than the car, yet it doesn't come with all the inconveniences of flying. he UK shouldn't be selling off its high speed rail lines. They will prove useful for the future. It's much better if passenger rail transport is watched over by the government. That's as long as it does a good job. In Canada, Via Rail has gone through a series of heavy budget cuts which forced it to close down many train routes. With many countries seeing the benefits of high speed rail, it is obvious that it's the way of the future. Canada must invest now. By the way, Canada is the only country of the G8 that doesn't have a high speed rail system and one of four in he G20 that doesn't have a high speed rail system. (h/t)
It is ironic to hear Brits bemoaning the possible sale of their one rather dishy fast railway track – High Speed One from St Pancras International to the Channel Tunnel – to a bunch of retired Canadian teachers. It's too late for Britain now. Any society that would allow the sale of its phone, electricity, gas and water to private companies, particularly foreigners, decades ago and then complain about losing Cadbury chocolates... well, your values are skewed.
So are Canadian values, which is where the irony comes in. We'd love it if our teachers bought a high-speed rail line from us. If we had one to sell, which we don't.
Read more at the Guardian.


  1. Feel free to start. There are pickaxes on sale at Canadian Tire.

    It is all a great idea but it is going to cost a lot of money; far more than any one imagines. Our low population and enormous size makes the project unfeasible in the short term.It would take decades and will never go beyond the Tor/Mont.

    Platitudes are worse than useless.

  2. Bullwinkle J Moose30 June 2010 at 09:30

    Re: Anonymous: Southern Ontario and Quebec has the density characteristics and transportation requirements to make high speed rail a success. Road transportation is heavily subsidized at present. If real-cost tolls were implemented as cars traveled the 401 the competitiveness of high-speed rail would become more evident.
    Obviously, passenger rail across the continent will never be a realistic scenario.

  3. The original concept was that gasoline tax would go back to the roads. Road transportation is heavily subsidized but only because it is heavily taxed.

    I do believe high speed rail will happen.I am less hopeful it will happen any time soon. We seem to agree that it will only happen in Ont and Que.

    The investment needed from the two provincial, federal and perhaps various municiple gov't is extraordinary. It won't be easy to get these gov'ts to agree with the cost of there share and it will be equally difficult for them to figure out who will pay for the unavoidable overcosts.

    I was very thrilled to be able to visit Paris for a day. I took the high speed rail from Lon-Par-Lon all on the same day and for about $100 CDN return.

    It would be great to see something like that happen here. If it is to happen it will take decades not years. Don't believe any politician who tells you otherwise. They would be lying.

  4. The LPC should announce infrastructure plans as part of policy that would have Quebec-Mtl-Toronto and Calgary- Edmonton as the major HSR routes.

    That is true infrastructure investment that makes long term sense. No HSR in a country the size of Canada is embarrassing.

  5. I was at a very mediocre train museum in St Thomas Ont last week and was amazed that they had an old steam engine that could do 100 mph on display, yet today we still plod along on Via or GO transit at maybe 80 Kph. This isn't about building something new or wonderful its about utilizing tech most advanced western society demand as the norm.

    We are pitiful dinosaurs, led by dinosaurs despite knowing what happened to dinosaurs.

  6. Go for SLOW speed rail30 June 2010 at 11:13

    to much money! Build slow speed rail instead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Boris the Bear30 June 2010 at 11:16

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. The Sad Wanderer30 June 2010 at 11:21

    High speed rail will LOSE job! LOSE! Why don't you understand? Mudfortunately you did'nt. Unand vanillaman thinks everything is a scam.

  9. We need it. We also need lots of LRT (light rail transit) in fast-growing cities like Surrey, Mississauga, etc. More public transit will get us "un-hooked" from our gas-guzzling dinosaurs. I guess the explosion in gas prices (coming very soon) will help drive this project along.

    Imagine: electric/wind/solar powered LRT. Calgary has alternative powered LRT... It's doable if it's doable in Calgary of all places... home of Canada's "anti-environment".

  10. You're absolutely right. It's both an economic and environmental imperative for this country, one that, in 2009, ought to have been the backbone of the Harper-Ignatieff stimulus/recovery budget. That was the time for great government infrastructure investment but instead those two clowns went for the "throw a deck on the cottage" option. Proper infrastructure programmes are intended to return a benefit to the state for years while taxpayers carry the burden of repayment. Our Clown Princes simply had neither the vision nor the courage to meet that challenge.

    Peak Oil is coming and, with it, Canada's dependence on long haul trucking will become unviable. The latest generation of rail engines that employ three separate engines one or two of which can be shut down when not needed, are five times as fuel efficient as semi-trailer trucks at moving freight.

    In a country Canada's size with our small population, rail trumps truck every time. Too bad we're burdened with small minded political leadership. Oh yeah, about that decaying electrical power grid...

  11. @ Carter Apps. The speed of our trains today isn't governed by the locomotives but the sad state of the railbeds.

    High speed rail, bullet train style, can make sense but only through Canada's eastern population corridor. The cost of extending a high-speed railbed to Vancouver would be prohibitive.

    That said we do need a modern, dual-tracked rail line connecting the country.

  12. The cost is enormous and the country is big... blah, blah, blah. These are all the same objections we would have heard from the original peanut gallery when the trans-continental railway was built. It takes some ingenuity and elbow grease to make it happen but the benefits are obvious.

    Perhaps we should privatize rail again and stop being so quick to throw billions away on road maintenance year after year. Perhaps re-aligning some of this spending could help offset the cost?

    There are plenty of old railway lines that cut through southwestern ontario which were bought up and removed in monopolistic fashion by CN and CP years ago which has left many communities raped of their railway heritage. Yes the tracks will cost money but if we consider using pre-existing lines then you wouldnt have to front nearly as much of the engineering or at least ground works cost.

    There have been talks about a ferry from Port Stanely to Cleveland. There is an old rail line running from Port Stanely to London. There is an old rail line from Chicago to New York that cuts through SW Ontario (through St. Thomas, ON which is just south of London, ON. With London Ontario now getting an upgrade to haul much more freight out of their air port it seems as though the logical solution would be to integrate as many of these transportation modes as possible and eliminate as many trucks as possible from our highways. Therefore, reducing road maintenance costs.

    Oh and did I mention one rail car is the equivalent to 40 some odd trucks?

    How quick we are to point to Via or CN. Why don't we let the private sector decide where and when is best and put legislation in place to guide that development properly? This is not something that needs to be fronted by the government but merely supported.


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