Thursday, April 20, 2017

Time to Get Bombardier Off the Gravy Train

Opinion Column - I have blindly supported Bombardier for decades in hopes they would lead a passenger rail renewal in Canada. Sadly recent events have lead me to the conclusion that it may be time to look outside of Canada for passenger rail companies. These companies are willing to lobby the government for modern passenger rail service, build their trains here and deliver them on time.

Here are a couple events in Bombardier's past..

In 2002, I advocated strongly for Bombardier and their Jet Train. They made the large financial decision to actually build a demonstration vehicle. They promoted the Jet Train for corridor use in several locations in Canada and the USA. Sadly the timing was wrong as both the Canadian and USA governments were being run by anti-passenger rail leaders in 2003 and funding was never given to buy any Jet Trains.

I even supported Bombardier in 2004 when their Canadian made Las Vegas monorail had parts fall off the monorail vehicles to the ground during service. This caused the line to be shut down on two occasions.

Bombardier Las Vegas Monorail
After the failed Jet Train promotion it seemed Bombardier turned their backs on Canada as a place to lobby, invest and build modern high speed trains in. Yet around the world Bombardier had become a leader in building high speed trains and lines even competing and cooperating with China on their vast high speed rail system.

As mentioned previously on this site, high speed rail manufacturers from around the world are hesitant to even lobby in Canada, let alone invest, as they feel Bombardier will win the bid even if they do not have the capacity in Canada to build them.

Today the situation with Bombardier in Canada can only be described as despicable. As widely publicized the Quebec government gave Bombardier $1.3 billion to help in their CSeries Jet problems. Then in 2016 the Canadian government gave Bombardier a $372 million loan again to fix their ailing aerospace problem.

So what do executives in Bombardier receive for taking so much taxpayer money? They are given bonuses… I will not dwell on this fact as it has been widely reported in the papers. Suffice to say there is not a Corporate ethics policy at Bombardier.

Over on the train side of Bombardier, there is the Toronto LRV debacle. Bombardier have failed to deliver their LRV on time and this has led Metrolinx trying to cancel the contract with Bombardier. Unfortunately a recent court order prevents Metrolink from getting out of the contract until a dispute resolution process has taken place. This may take months/years to resolve as Bombardier will appeal any decision against them.

In conclusion, what is good for Bombardier may not be what is good for Canadians or the future of passenger rail in Canada. It is time for our government and the public to welcome and encourage other passenger rail manufacturers into this country.

Paul Langan

Monday, April 17, 2017

All Day Service on North Mail Line from Kitchener to Toronto is Complex

Go Trains Interior

I give full credit to rookie Liberal MPP Daiene Vernile, the provincial MPP for Kitchener Centre for sponsoring a recent forum at the Kitchener Library with Metrolinx officials.

People in the Waterloo Region want the answer to a simple question. When will there be all day GO Transit service in this area? Metrolinx have stated they hope this will happen by 2024.

This quote from the Cambridge Times coverage of the meeting shows just how challenging some of the improvements are.

“The first step is a new 30-kilometre corridor (between Bramalea and Milton) to bypass CNs existing track, so that we can build capacity,” said Gord Troughton, Metrolinx director of corridor infrastructure.

That work alone will require up to 35 new bridges for road and water crossings, including significant crossings of Highways 401 and 410, the modification and/or relocation of up to 17 hydro towers and up to 3.4 kilometres of major gas lines, as well as the construction of 60 km of new track.

Add in the fact that the government does not have an agreement with CN yet and there are still lots of challenges still ahead.

I am supportive of the provincial and federal governments trying to solve the existing problems on the line to bring more convenient, faster trains from Kitchener into Toronto. For decades the North Main Line has been neglected by CN and it is time for passenger rail renewal. We need to support this massive project regardless if it is GO Transit, VIA Rail or a private company offering higher speed rail delivering passenger rail service in the future on the line.

Paul Langan


There are two recent articles to read on the subject.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Federal Government Gives VIA RAIL Money for a Study Only in New Budget

Well the Trudeau Liberal budget has continued the trend of past Conservative and Liberals governments by giving VIA Rail Canada $3.3 million over three years for an “in-depth assessment of Via Rail’s high-frequency rail proposal."

Somehow VIA Rail management thought they should be given billions of dollars for an idea. It is a reality check for the crown corporation.

This new study being done by VIA Rail will be according to our records, the 21st study done on high speed trains (although technically VIA Rail's plan is for slow trains).

Rick Mercer's classic parody on the death by study segment on his TV show needs to be viewed again after today's news.

Monday, March 6, 2017

B.C. supports feasibility study of high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver

Globe and Mail - British Columbia’s Transportation Minister says the province supports Washington State’s decision to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has allotted $1-million (U.S.) from his 2017-19 state budget to examine the costs and benefits of building a system to carry travellers 400 kilometres an hour with stops in Seattle and Bellingham. A report is due in December.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

All aboard? As VIA Rail turns 40, questions about its future remain

Yahoo Canada Finance - This month marks 40 years since the federal government under former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau spun passenger rail services out from under the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways to the newly minted banner VIA Rail.

At least partially inspired by the 1971 creation of Amtrak to the south, the Liberal government had promised to create its own iteration during the 1974 election campaign. Federal Transport Minister Otto Lang announced the crown corporation in February 1977 and by April 1978, VIA Rail took over the Quebec City to Windsor corridor that to this day still represents the highest ridership of its train lines.