WELCOME TO HIGH SPEED RAIL CANADA

Ontario High Speed Rail Could Arrive Faster

Guest Post by Terry Johnson, Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance

Ontario is moving forward with its much-needed project to halve journey times across Southwestern Ontario by bringing 250 km/h High Speed Rail to London and Windsor. However, the government has published a timetable suggesting that the earliest dates for implementation could be 2025 and 2031 respectively. This timetable appears to have more than doubled since the original announcement in London just before the 2014 election.

Ontario needs to work to a more ambitious timetable that delivers meaningful improvements in travel times much sooner, and for more communities.

 While 2031 doesn’t sound quite as futuristic as it once did, a few things will have happened by then. There will have been two full economic cycles and four elections, any one of which could derail the project. Fifteen more cohorts of students will have passed through our universities. Computers will be more than fifty times faster than today. Many countries will have ended or be close to ending gasoline car sales, and self-driving technology will be commonplace.

 More practically, the entire VIA Rail passenger fleet that Southwestern Ontario services depend upon today simply isn’t going to last that long. The trains that bring today’s students and researchers to study artificial intelligence at Waterloo or the inner workings of the human brain at Western are already as much as 70 years old, and there are only so many miracles that can be worked to keep legacy equipment fit for daily 160 km/h service. Safety always comes first, so if equipment wears out before replacements arrive then services will be cut.

 If the objective of the project is to support the emerging innovation corridor in our region, action is already well overdue and what’s needed is an agile, incremental approach that delivers results at every step. This also happens to be the approach that’s worked for other rail networks around the world, and it costs less overall because farebox revenues flow sooner.

Step one would be for Ontario to sit down with the federal government and green light the passenger rail fleet replacement that is already being studied by the federal Liberals. By ordering a modern fleet of 250 km/h trains that meets the future needs of the whole corridor from Quebec City to Windsor, we’ll avoid the long-term maintenance cost problems that plague small fleets; be ready to use each upgraded or new section of track as it is ready; end the lawsuits over the shortage of wheelchair spaces on obsolete equipment; and overcome the equipment shortage that is holding back VIA Rail’s previously promised service expansion in our region. If an order is placed soon, the first of the new trains could be on the rails by 2020.

VIA RAIL CANADA ACT Introduced Again In Parliament


Another VIA RAIL CANADA ACT is proposed in Parliament

Irene Mathyssen , NDP MP for London—Fanshawe, ON on October 16th, 2017 has moved for leave to introduce Bill C-370, An Act to continue VIA Rail Canada Inc. under the name VIA Rail Canada, to amend the Canada Transportation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

NDP MP for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Philip Toone had previously tried to have a VIA Rail Canada Act Bill C-640 passed unsuccessfully in 2015.  This was after other unsuccessful attempts By MP Olivia Chow Bill C-577 and Philip Toone C-614.

We appreciate the effort the NDP has put into this sensible idea to help solve the continuing downward slide at VIA Rail.

The attempts to get a VIA Rail Act passed are not new. Former Liberal Federal Minister of Transport David Collenette also tried to have Bill C-26 passed in 2003.

All eyes are on the Trudeau government to see if VIA Rail we will be revived or if other options to provide passenger rail service in Canada will be pursued.

Comment pouvons-nous solutionner la crise des trains de passagers au Canada?

Il semble que depuis la création de VIA Rail en 1977, la dure réalité et
les même problèmes perdurent.

Sans réglementation satisfaisante pour en supporter l’existence VIA Rail est pratiquement mort-né. Puis on a décidé en 1995 de privatiser le Canadien National (CN) en omettant de garantir la qualité du service passager et l’existence de VIA Rail. Le CN n’a pas perdu de temps et a pris le contrôle des rails en faveur du service marchandise tout en repoussant le service passager au rang de second violon.

Et les libéraux, tout comme les conservateurs, sont aussi coupables d’avoir graduellement coupé les vivres à VIA Rail.

Et VIA Rail n’a pas su aider sa propre cause en maintenant des tarifs trop élevés et un style de direction sans reddition de compte et en ne tenant pas compte des besoins du public. Le rapport du vérificateur général du Canada en a précisé les déficiences en gestion de projet et différentes pratiques.

Le situation actuelle de VIA Rail au Canada est considérée en grand
danger. Il aurait besoin d’un milliard de dollars pour remplacer ses
wagons vieillissants. Le « Canadien » fleuron de VIA Rail est un
désastre avec des retards récurrents de 10 à 24 heures et une
ponctualité à 25 %.

En désespoir de cause, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano a proposé un plan de 4
milliards $ pour réutiliser une emprise inutilisée depuis 50 ans avec
des trains trop lents. Plusieurs des petites communautés traversées par
cette ligne se sont vues promettre une gare active, comme Sharbot Lake.
D’autres, comme Pontypool, Perth et Tweed veulent obtenir une gare sur
cette voie ferrée.

Le mauvais service donné par le CN aux trains de VIA Rail roulant sur
les rails du CN sont un énorme problème pour VIA mais ce projet de faire
renaitre la ligne Ontario-Québec apporte sont lots de problèmes aussi.

Les canadiens qui rêvent d’un train à grande vitesse moderne sont
continuellement déçus depuis 50 ans alors que 22 études ont été faites,
seulement en Ontario, sans qu’aucun gouvernement n’agisse vraiment.

En Alberta, 4 études dorment sur les tablettes alors que le lien rapide
entre Edmonton et Calgary pourrait être réalisé facilement. La Colombie
britannique a lancé sa première étude ( 1 million $ ) pour la
réalisation du lien rapide entre Vancouver et Seattle.

Le gouvernement libéral d’Ontario a démontré son engagement envers un
train rapide entre London-Kitchener-Toronto. Ce trajet a été suggéré
lors d’une étude réalisée en 1995 à destination de Toronto. Cette
proposition est maintenant étudiée à fond.

D’une façon positive, les concepts de partenariat public-privé (PPP)
sont étudiés sérieusement pour la construction et l’opération de la
ligne Toronto-London.

L’opposition conservatrice en Ontario n’a pas appuyé ce projet. Leur
chef Patrick Brown et le parti conservateur ontarien semblent incapables
de proposer un quelconque plan de transport passager.
L’amère réalité c’est que après 40 ans, VIA Rail a toujours les mêmes
problèmes fondamentaux que lors de sa création. Le gouvernement Trudeau
fera-t-il ce qu’aucun gouvernement n’a pu faire à ce jour ?


Le gouvernement fédéral canadien doit :

1-    Établir clairement le mandat confié à VIA Rail par une loi appropriée.

2-    Créer un corps de règlements qui :

°    Prioriser les droits des passagers qui utilisent les voies ferrées
des transporteurs de fret, en y incluant une procédure de résolution de conflits à ce propos
imposant des amendes conséquentes pour les entreprises ferroviaires de fret qui y
contreviennent.

°    Assurer un financement adéquat pour créer un véritable service de
train passager  pour tous les canadiens, d’un océan à l’autre.

3-    Rechercher un approche basée sur des partenariats publics-privés
(PPP) afin de créer et opérer  des infrastructures modernes et
réservées aux trains qui roulent à 250 km/h et plus...

4-    Assurer un financement suffisant pour que VIA Rail acquière de
nouveaux trains et qu’un   gestionnaire compétent soit nommé afin
de réaliser ces projets et que VIA Rail prenne les  décisions utiles
et nécessaires qui profiteront à l’ensemble des contribuables canadiens
de la   classe moyenne.

Restons modérément optimistes quant aux espoirs de renouvellement
du train passager au Canada en 2018.

Is there any solution for the current passenger rail crisis in Canada?

It seems that ever since VIA Rail Canada was formed in 1977 the same problems and grim realities
continue to exist.

Without any legislation to support their existence, VIA Rail seemed doomed from the start. Then came the disastrous decision to privatize our national railroad  CN Rail in 1995. There were no safeguards in place to protect VIA Rail our passenger rail service provider.  CN wasted no time in ensuring VIA was treated poorly: running second fiddle to freight operations.

It did not matter if it was the Liberals or the Tories in power federally. Each party has made draconian cuts to VIA's funding.

VIA Rail has done little to help its cause over the years with ridiculous high pricing and an arrogant management style that has made them unaccountable and out of touch with the public. The auditor general report identified deficiencies in VIA's project management systems and practices.

Today the status in Canada of our national passenger rail company VIA Rail must be considered as critically endangered. They need over $1 billion dollars to update their aging fleet. Their flagship train The Canadian has become a punching bag for CN with on time performance around 25% and delays between 10 and 24 hours do occur.

In desperation, VIA Rail's lawyer turned CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano has resorted to a $4 billion plan to run slow trains along a half a century old abandoned passenger rail corridor. Small communities like Sharbot Lake have been told by VIA Rail they will get passenger rail service returned. Other communities like Pontypool, Perth and Tweed are fighting for a stop along the route.

Poor treatment by CN of VIA trains running on CN tracks has been a serious problem for VIA but this extreme move to the former Ontario-Quebec Railway line has a myriad of its own problems.

Transport Futures: Intercity Travel Conference


Transport Futures: Intercity Travel Conference November 27, 2017 – DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Toronto, Ontario www.transportfutures.ca/intercity

Can Ontario’s intercity bus and rail services compete with car and air travel? Find out at the Transport Futures Intercity Travel Conference where international and local experts will discuss challenges and opportunities from several perspectives: history and culture; planning and infrastructure; technology and interoperability; customer service and demand; modal competition and safety; finance and funding; risk and delivery; governance and politics.

Together we'll explore how multiple services can coexist efficiently, fulfil different functions, build a cohesive transportation network and make effective use of limited tax dollars.

With provincial and municipal elections taking place in 2018, the time to discuss intercity travel is now!

Our confirmed speakers include: ·

  • Michael Schabas, Partner, First Class Partnerships UK 
  • Hon. David Collenette, Ontario Advisor for High Speed Rail and former Federal Transport Minister 
  • Corina Moore, President and CEO, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission 
  • Doug Switzer, President and CEO, Ontario Motor Coach Association and Motor Coach Canada
  • Carsten Puls, President, Deutsche Bahn Engineering and Consulting USA 
  • Peter Crockett, Chief Administrative Officer, Oxford County 
  • Derrick Toigo, Executive Vice-President, Civil - Roads and Transit, Infrastructure Ontario 
  • Paul Nimigon, Vice President – Rail, WSP 
  • Paul Langan, Founder, High Speed Rail Canada
  • Murtaza Haider, Associate Professor, Ryerson University · ... others to be announced soon! 


 As a High Speed Rail Canada supporter, you are eligible for a 10% discount – use code (DC) HSRC8 when registering. Seating is limited and early bird rates are in effect until October 23. For details, please visit www.transportfutures.ca/intercity or email info@transportfutures.ca.