Guest Post by James Cobban - Improving Efficiency at VIA Rail

Improving Efficiency at VIA Rail 

Guest Post by James Cobban - One of the features of the current implementation of passenger rail in Canada that significantly increases travel time and the operational costs of VIA Rail is the time which it takes at each station to disembark and board passengers because the platform is about a metre lower than the entrance to the passenger rail car.

This metre gap is also contrary to the goal of eliminating physical mobility barriers. At a few stations, most notably Union Station in Toronto, this barrier is only addressed by the use of passenger lift devices which require that the train be ready well before departure time so that disabled passengers can be pre-boarded.

These lift devices are only available at a few stations, and require that VIA rail have additional staff on hand to assist with boarding, which is demeaning to disabled passengers. It is a fact that outside of North America almost all passenger stations have entry-level platforms, even in 3rd world countries, and that entry-level platforms are integral to public transport in all systems that are under exclusive Provincial administration.

Guest Post by Marc Lemieux Supporting VIA Rail's High Frequency Rail Proposal

GUEST POST by Marc Lemieux - An Letter to Transportation Minister Marc Garneau

Dear Mr. Garneau:

While I am pleased with the government of Canada's decision to finally approve the purchase of modern train sets as a first step in bringing this country into the 21st century in terms of passenger rail, I find it quite puzzling and disconcerting as to why Via Rail's HFR project still hasn't been approved!

The benefits resulting from this project would be tremendous in regards to initiating the process of a societal shift away from our car culture and, most importantly, improving the quality of life of Canadians living in or near the affected areas where HFR is constructed by dramatically increasing travel options pertaining to personal mobility.

One of the largest impediments to the growth of small towns and cities located outside of large, metropolitan areas such as the GTA and Montreal, for example, is the almost total absence of public transportation in order to provide timely mobility and connectivity.

As such, these small towns and cities are seeing very little economic growth and, in some instances, an actual decrease in population largely due to the lack of opportunities for employment for young people, resulting in a migration to large, urban areas.

Province to fast-track high-speed rail assessment Waterloo Region to Toronto

CTV News - Kitchener - Part of the proposed high-speed rail line along the Highway 401 corridor will undergo a sped-up environmental assessment process.

Environmental assessments are mandatory for public infrastructure projects in Ontario. They often take years.

When it comes to the province’s high-speed rail line, though, part of the assessment could be done in as little as six months.

Transportation Minister Kathryn McGarry says the high-speed rail line will use existing rail tracks between Toronto and Waterloo Region, allowing for an expedited planning process.

That won’t be the case past Waterloo Region, as at least part of the London portion of the route will require new tracks being laid over what is currently farmland.

McGarry says the difference in EA processes won’t stop the line from being ready to run by 2025 with stops at Union Station in Toronto, Pearson International Airport, Guelph Central Station, the new transit hub in Kitchener and in London. An extension to Chatham-Kent and Windsor is planned to be ready by 2031.

The province has estimated travel times of 48 minutes between Kitchener and Union Station, and 32 minutes between Kitchener and Pearson International Airport.

The cost of the high-speed rail line has been estimated at $21 billion, with construction starting in 2022. The province is expected to seek funding help from the federal government and the private sector.

It was announced last month that David Collenette, the former federal transport minister who had been advising the province on high-speed rail, had been named the chair of a new planning advisory board for the project.

VIA Rail will probably not stop in Kaladar Ontario

Kaladar Station Road today. We think VIA Rail will not stop in Kaladar!

VIA Rail will probably not stop in Kaladar Ontario

It was good news in the budget that VIA Rail has been given the green light to buy much needed new equipment. You can learn all about it on their page.

The other part of  the VIA Rail renewal is their misguided High Frequency Rail idea. This billion dollar boondoggle has VIA trains, travelling at 1975 era speeds, through sparsely populated areas on an abandoned Ontario-Quebec Railway line. (Toronto - Tweed - Peterborough to Ottawa). The idea is ridiculous and the business case and proposed route would be a cruel joke if we could see them.

Sadly taxpayers who would fund it, cannot comment or see the proposal before the Liberal government approves it.

 We at High Speed Rail Canada love rail history so it has been fun finding all the old station stops and following the winding route the line used to follow. It is now part of the Canada trail system.

Ironically one of our articles was on the challenges of a station stop at Sharbot Lake .  VIA has  announced they will stop at Sharbot Lake! We continued doing history articles on other possible stops on the line.

Today we want to introduce you to another stop on the old line, Kaladar Ontario. Kaladar, like others on this abandoned rail line,  was once a booming community.

Kaladar Station 1925

Kaladar Railway Station 1925

When the Canadian Pacific Railway came to Kaladar in 1884 the community grew as their were jobs in lumber and loading cars. The post office opened up in Kaladar.

A 1892 schedule showed the once a day Toronto Express train leaving Toronto at 8:45am, arriving in Kaladar at 2:00pm and arriving in Montreal at 7:55pm.

Then in 1915 when the CPR decided to move their main line down to the lakeshore the demise of this rail community began.

Hopefully VIA Rail's HFR plan will not be approved but if it is when going through Kaladar you will probably be able to see the auto wreckers and this housing unit below.

Housing unit you can see as you travel through Kaladar by train.

VIA Rail Canada Gets Money for New Trains

The federal budget came out today and in it was proposed funding to replace VIA Rail’s cars and locomotives for use in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, though amounts were not released due to “an upcoming procurement. Good news for VIA Rail.

Thankfully there was no decision on their High Frequency, Sharbot Lake Express Rail idea. It is hard to imagine a government approving this regressive non solution plan to VIA Rails continuing ridership debacle. Consider that VIA Rail has lost more than half of its ridership since 1981 from 8 million to 3.97 million riders in 2016.

Can Canada Build High Speed Trains Again Like in 1967

Turbo Train Being Built Montreal Locomotive Works 1966-67 - Canada's first and only high speed train.