WELCOME


Welcome to High Speed Rail Canada. Canada's only national advocacy group on high speed rail. We have over 25 years of passenger rail advocacy experience. This blog will educate and keep you current on high speed rail information from Canada and the rest of the world.

The MEDIA or interested parties can use our CONTACT page to get in touch with us for interviews.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Liberals say transit funds will be first-come, first-serve

The Ontario government is looking to push transit money out the door quickly, saying that “shovel-ready” projects will get first crack at the billions announced this week.

Transportation Minister Glen Murray went into more detail about the $15-billion spending plan, which will require opposition support in the budget next month. He pledged that local needs would be taken into account and that “the experts” would determine the sequence of projects.

Read the rest of the article at this link.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/liberals-say-transit-funds-will-be-first-come-first-serve/article18050908/

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

High Speed Rail - Toronto to London via the North Main Line

Premier Wynne announced the plan to have high speed rail Toronto - Georgetown-Bramption-Kitchener-London. Read this excellent primer on the line at Toronto Transit. http://transit.toronto.on.ca/gotransit/2102.shtml

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Unifor - Getting on Board or Running off the Rails?



From November 2013 from Unifor good report on the present state of VIA Rail plus some historical data. Part of Unifor's campaign to get the public to pressure the government to invest in VIA Rail. http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/713-via_rail_english.pdf

Monday, April 7, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bill C-577 - VIA Rail Canada Act - Can MP Olivia Chow's Private Member Bill Survive?

Full credit to MP Olivia Chow for her introduction of private members BILL C-577 - An Act respecting VIA Rail Canada and making consequential amendments to another Act. Here is her statement in the house March 4th introducing the bill.

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present the VIA Rail protection bill. The bill presents a vision for the future of VIA Rail. It lays out a clear mandate and government structure. It gives it a larger say in determining its funding needs and frees the railway board from patronage appointments. By strengthening VIA Rail's position vis-à-vis CN and CP, delays for passenger trains would also be reduced.

Currently VIA Rail has no clearly delineated rights, powers, obligations, or mandated targets. Without legislative protection, it has suffered years of neglect and devastating service cuts. It is time to secure VIA Rail's role and responsibility through a federal law. (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed).

Her point that VIA Rail merely exists as a Standing Order in Council and has no legislative existence has long been a concern to passenger rail advocates. Can her private members bill ever become law in the extreme anti-passenger rail majority government of Prime Minister Harper remains to be seen.

Trying to get VIA Rail it's own act and regulations has failed before. Most recently in 2003 when pro passenger rail Minister of Transport David Collenette presented a Bill C-26 that actually made it to 2nd reading before dying.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail carrier in the USA has long enjoyed the benefits of having its own legislation.

Legislation is not a magic bullet for saving VIA Rail and the future of passenger in Canada. The development of an Act and subsequent regulations will give strength and stability to VIA. Secure funding mechanisms will have to be developed to support the new act and regs.

Just how tough of a battle MP Chow faces with her new private members bill can be gauged by a recent question Chow asked Minister Raitt about cuts to funding to VIA Rail. Raitt's response,to paraphrase, was if it is losing money it could be cut.

This simplistic approach to VIA rail funding is wrong and shortsighted. What if the Harper government and provincial and lower tier governments used that same rationale for funding for our hospitals, roads, sewers, policing? They would all be cut as none make a profit. There are things we do as a society for the "public good" and providing passenger rail services is one of them.

Now the contents of the bill will be closely analyzed over the coming days and weeks but we at High Speed Rail Canada strongly support the concept VIA Rail Canada having it's own legislation.

Portland to Montreal Passenger Rail Update

With passenger rail lines on the verge of extinction with the Ontario Northland Service from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst Ontario and VIA Rail service in the Maritimes, it may seem awkward to be writing about the big dream of restoring passenger rail service from Portland to Montreal. I do feel that updates are worthwhile.

A February 26th article from the Portland Express Herald has stated that, The federal Surface Transportation Board on Tuesday granted permission to the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad to discontinue freight service on 24 miles of track between the Auburn city line and Portland. The decision – to be effective on March 27 – means B&M, the railroad’s only customer on the line, will lose the train service unless the bean plant is willing to subsidize it. Read the rest of the article HERE.

B&M, which has been making baked beans in its five-story brick factory on the waterfront since 1913, currently gets nearly all of its small pea beans delivered by rail from the Midwest and Manitoba, Canada. The bean shipments amount to several million pounds per year, or about 30 rail carloads per year.

While this is tragic news for the future of the plant, does it have an affect on dreams of restoring passenger rail service? Since the state owns the rail line between Portland and Auburn, the tracks will not be tore up therefore the short term future of the line is secure.

In 2011 the State of Maine released a study, now added to our All Canadian Studies and Map Page on this site, about the feasibility of restoring passenger rail service between Montreal to Portland. Essential reading to understand the truly daunting task ahead.

On a positive note in April 2013 the State of Maine passed Bill LD-999 that directs Maine's Department of Transportation to take a look at developing a new rail corridor between Portland and Auburn along the existing St. Lawrence & Atlantic rail lines.

So for now it is status quo in the quest for Portland to Montreal passenger rail dreams.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

GREEN PARTY SUPPORTS PASSENGER RAIL INVESTMENT



The Green Party of Canada has started a campaign to get more funding for VIA Rail. As the Harper government continues to cut VIA Rail services across Canada, VIA's very survival is at risk. To the credit of the Green Party their support for passenger rail renewal has been consistent over the years.

Elizabeth May travelled by train on her Whistle Stop Tour in 2008. In the last federal election the Green Party announced their support for high speed rail in a VIDEO.

Now they have an on-line petition"Get back on Track" you can sign to support renewal of passenger rail.

Here are some good graphs on the Green Party Site regarding Harper government passenger rail declining investment in VIA. http://www.greenparty.ca/back-on-track

Also Bruce Hyer, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Superior North and Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada embarkedon a rail trip from Halifax to Montreal this past Sunday, in order to push for a national transportation strategy and to raise awareness of funding cuts which could mean the end of passenger rail in the Maritimes as early as this summer. Read more here. Save Martime Rail Tour.

Congrats to the Greens for committing to passenger rail investment in Canada.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Plans For New England Rail Network Continue



Despite difficulties of an ambitious national high-speed rail proposal, transportation planners in four states and the province of Quebec are busily promoting something similar — though probably more modest — to link Boston, New York and Montreal.

The project will take the cooperation of Massachusetts and the five railroads that own tracks along three corridors that need extensive construction or upgrades: New Haven to Springfield, Springfield to Boston, and Springfield to Montreal. Read the complete story in the Hartford Courant.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How Florida Lost High Speed Rail



By Zulkar Khan - Driving across Florida is expensive. With gas prices rising, commuting is getting costlier each semester, and unless you’re game for the God-awful shuttle buses, you’re out of luck. But does it have to be this way? What if there was a cheaper, quicker way to travel?

Imagine high-speed bullet trains — like those in Japan or Europe — cruising from Tampa and Orlando to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. This idea came close to becoming reality. But then something happened.

. America’s first high-speed railroad was to be in Florida, ready by next year, whisking passengers for as low as $30 roundtrip from Orlando to Tampa. The federal government was ready to pay $2.4 billion out of the estimated $2.6 billion project cost.

With such huge benefits — rapid, futuristic transportation, reduced pollution and a boost in the economy with new jobs — how do we still not have this much-needed public service?

A month into his term as governor of Florida, Rick Scott canceled the project. After two extensions, the federal government got tired and doled out the $2 billion originally marked for Florida to 15 other states in 2011. Critics blamed partisan politics: As a believer in “small government,” Scott didn’t want bullet trains funded by the public, no matter the payback. This “small government” story seems far-fetched; politicians often use that line to justify their decisions but rarely believe in it.

It’s not about Democrats versus Republicans, since even Republican senators were outraged by the project’s cancellation. Rather, the mystery lies with the frustration of a few folks — small in number, but with significant wealth — who didn’t join the rest of the state’s delight of having an improved infrastructure. With every change and innovation, there is someone who stands to lose. Usually, we go ahead if the losers aren’t too many. That’s the rule of progress.

But what happens if the losers are extremely influential? That’s how Florida lost America’s first bullet trains. The road-based transportation industry had much to lose. But unlike other isolated groups, since petroleum and highway construction companies have deep pockets, their views — even if they’re harmful to the public-at-large — are taken seriously.

The governor’s transportation adviser at the time, Robert Poole, is a director of the Reason Foundation. The foundation receives funding from the billionaire Koch brothers and lobbies for “petroleum, asphalt and rubber-tire manufacturers” according to one Sun-Sentinel columnist. When the governor canceled the high-speed rail project, he cited a Reason Foundation study, which happened to be authored by a consultant for — surprise, surprise — the American Highway Users Alliance.

With the $100 million Scott plans to spend on his re-election campaign this year, there’s little chance the public will see the link between his corporate alliance and his decisions that hurt Florida amid the publicity craze. Contrast our situation with that of California. Both states have bald governors with two first names — really, their facial resemblance is uncanny — but at least Jerry Brown is supporting the public initiative to build a high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians in Florida cared more for the public’s benefit than that of highway companies?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ideas Still Strong for Boston to Montreal Passenger Rail Links

More action on the return of a passenger rail link connecting Boston again to Canada by passenger rail. Here are two recent articles on two different options.



BOSTON - PORTLAND - MONTREAL

Advocates of an overnight passenger train that would connect Montreal with Boston, Portland and Old Orchard Beach have about two months to reach an agreement with freight railroads that own the route if they want the service to start next summer.

If the group misses that deadline, it will try for the summer of 2015, said Francois Rebello, the Montreal entrepreneur behind the project, called the “hotel train” or “night train.”

“We hope we can still do it by next summer, but it’s not the end of the world if we have to wait,” Rebello said Thursday after meeting in Montreal with more than 30 supporters.

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Montreal-to-Boston_night_train_gains_steam_.html?pagenum=full

Here is a link to a schedule when there actually was passenger rail between Portland and Montreal.



BOSTON - SPRINGFIELD - MONTREAL

Despite the collapse of President Barack Obama's ambitious national high-speed rail proposal, transportation planners in four states and the province of Quebec are busily promoting something similar — though probably more modest — to link Boston, New York and Montreal.

The project will take the cooperation of Massachusetts and five railroads that own tracks along three corridors that need extensive construction or upgrades: New Haven to Springfield, Springfield to Boston, and Springfield to Montreal.

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-hartford-new-haven-rail-0127-20140126,0,2433836.story

Friday, January 24, 2014

Moscow to Sochi Double Decker Passenger Trains



This has nothing to do with high speed rail but the new Moscow to Sochi passenger service is interesting. The most interesting part is who will ride it once the Olympics are over. http://www.russiantrains.com/en/page/moscow-sochi-train

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Globe and Mail High Speed Rail Article Flawed



It does get depressing hearing the same old diatribe espoused from people who suggest non-solutions to our current, abysmal, passenger rail situation in Canada.

A recent poorly written article by Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail forced to me to wait, not 24 hours, not 48 hours, but 5 days after it was written to respond.

Mr. Mason starts off with the usual rant that high speed rail is too expensive and the province cannot afford it. What he fails to realize is that every large infrastructure project would also include the federal government and high speed rail projects would involve a public-private partnership. Mr. Mason ignores this basic fact.

Can the federal government afford it? It is all about priorities. Somehow they found $20 billion to fight a war in Afghanistan or the recent $25 billion for ship building in Nova Scotia.

The federal government spent $1.6 billion to build the Confederation Bridge in PEI and will pay a shocking $44 million subsidy to the company running the bridge for the next 33 years to pay the debt on it. Basically taxpayers are paying the mortgage.

Mr. Mason then uses the outdated argument that we do not have the population for higher speed passenger trains.

This argument reflects the same flawed logic that happens when we try and put light rail in our cities in Canada. Critics say we do not enough population to support it. Thankfully, then Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein ignored those critics when he installed their light rail system that began in 1981. I shudder to imagine what the traffic gridlock would be in Calgary today if that line had not been built.

Next Mr. Mason uses California’s troubles in putting in high speed rail as a reason not to put one in Calgary. For some reason, he chose to ignore the 24 other countries in the world who have built successful systems. Some of these countries have had them for over a half a century. The comparison between a potential Alberta high speed rail and the present situation in California is erroneous.

It is the solution that Mr. Mason suggests that clearly shows how, in Canada, we are so tragically behind the rest of the modern world in using higher speed rail to move people.

With no passenger rail at all between Calgary and Edmonton in over 25 years, Mr. Mason’s non- solution is to build another lane on the highway! It is this archaic thinking that has made Canada’s existing national passenger rail system stagnant, leaving great cities like Edmonton and Calgary with no passenger rail connection.

Mr. Mason, have a look at Toronto. It has 18 lanes of highway running through it. The result is gridlock. More highways are not the solution. We need alternatives, like higher speed passenger rail, to move people in this country.

Paul Langan

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Smarter Solutions To Traffic Congestion in 2014 - Todd Litman

If you do not know who Todd Litman is, it is time to educate yourself about his large body of work. Well researched and respected worldwide this Canadian's publication often promote public transit and passenger rail. His latest is about Smarter Solution to Traffic Congestion in 2014.

Most people can agree that traffic congestion is wasteful and frustrating, but that is where the consensus ends. There are often contentious debates concerning which solution is best: whether to expand roads, improve public transit services, price road use, or implement transportation demand management strategies. These debates are often simplistic, based on incomplete and biased analysis.

A new article, "Smarter Congestion Relief In Asian Cities: Win-Win Solutions To Urban Transport Problems" (http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TPTS_pubs/bulletin82/b82_Chapter1.pdf ) published December 2013 in the United Nation’s "Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific," describes better ways to evaluate traffic congestion problems and select congestion reduction strategies. These principles apply to any urban area, not just Asian cities.


To read the paper go here: http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TPTS_pubs/bulletin82/b82_Chapter1.pdf

To learn more about Todd and his Victoria Transport Policy Institute go here: http://www.vtpi.org/

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Why Travel on ItaliaRail High Speed Rail is Increasing



“Ridership on Italian trains is on the rise with travelers reporting ease, comfort and the ability to book discounted fares well in advance as the reasons they opt for trains over cars and air travel,” said Mike Fuller, President and CEO of ItaliaRail. It’s no surprise. A recent poll by ItaliaRail revealed that customers enjoy the opportunity to view the beautiful scenery as the most compelling aspect of train travel through Italy, with not having to drive being a close second.

Void of the hassles of long airport security lines when flying, or parking and navigating when driving, train travel is simply easier. Plus, it offers a vacation within a vacation, as you sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacular countryside enroute to your next destination. Make your resolution to travel by train through Italy in the new year. Here our are top five reasons why:

1. Train travel is more relaxing – While driving offers passengers a chance to chill out, rarely is it relaxing for the driver. Consider directions, keeping an eye on gas and mileage, expensive tolls on Italian highways, finding parking in cities like Rome and Venice - with Italian signs and parking restrictions thrown in - it’s stressful. The train offers a chance for everyone to read, listen to music, or just glance out the window at the breathtaking Italian vistas. Upon arrival, most major Italian train stations are conveniently located in the center of town close to attractions and hotels, no parking involved. In addition, train seating and private cabins are typically more spacious and comfortable than the smaller seating offered in automobiles and airplanes. Modern trains offer seats with an ample amount of leg room and they recline further back than airplane seats.

2. Train travel can be cheaper – With gas prices continuing to rise and the Euro still dominating the dollar, the cost of renting, fueling and parking a car is high. The cost to rent a mid-size car, during peak season, for two weeks from Rome, is upwards of $1,000. One car trip from Rome to Venice costs around $250, which includes gas, tolls and parking in Venice. A second-class Super Economy fare on the high-speed Frecciargento train from Rome to Venice, during the winter, can be as low as $42. Plus, cars and planes are at the mercy of fluctuating fuel prices. Trains are not. High-speed trains offer a range of stable fares throughout the year.

3. Train travel is greener – High-speed trains are more energy efficient. On average and per passenger, they produce 80% less C02 than a plane traveling the same distance. A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology suggests large cars can be as harmful to the climate as planes.Travelers who are concerned about the carbon footprint they are leaving, opt for train travel.

4. Train travel saves time – The trip from Rome to Venice is 330 miles and takes roughly 6 ½ hours by car, while the high-speed train, traveling at a speed of 180 mph, will get you there in almost half the time at 3 hours and 45 minutes. Car trips usually take even longer than you think, when you factor in stops for food, gas and time getting lost.

5. Train travel is a better travel experience – Overall, train travel affords an opportunity to get immersed in the local culture. Friendships are formed, ideas for what to see and do are exchanged, word-of-mouth restaurant recommendations are shared, and most importantly lifetime travel memories are made.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11444274.htm

Friday, December 20, 2013

Standing Committee on Alberta's Economic Future "High-Speed Rail" Meeting 12/02/13



Well Calgary- Edmonton last saw regular passenger rail service in 1985 when the Rail Diesel Car were used on the route. Fast forward to now and more talk about bringing rail back to that corridor.

Well the Standing Committee on Alberta's Economic Future discussed high-speed rail at their Thursday, December 12, 2013 meeting. The committee moved forward and decided to solicit written submissions from a large draft stakeholder list on high speed rail, and then the oral presentations would only come from those on the more restrictive list of panelists.

Read the whole meeting minutes: http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/committees/ef/legislature_28/session_1/20131212_1000_01_ef.pdf

We will keep you informed on these future developments.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nevada Intercity Passenger Railroad Co., LLC Wants to Use the Jet Train!



There is a new group out of Nevada called Nevada Intercity Passenger Railroad Co., LLC that wants to use Bombardier's Jet Train. Here is their website. http://www.niprr.com. But the best part is they found another 1 minutes worth of Jet Train video!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is Alberta Moving Out of Prehistoric Times. Discussions at the Provincial Standing Committee about High Speed Rail.

On November 25th, 2013 the Standing Committee of Alberta's Economic Future passed a motion that stated "Given the rapid and continual growth in the population of Alberta, in the interest of maximizing the economic impact of that population growth, the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future undertake a study of the feasibility of establishing a high-speed rail transit system to be built for Alberta in phases.”

You can listen to the audio from that meeting here:

http://assemblyonline.assembly.ab.ca/Harmony/ContentEntityDetailView.aspx?ContentEntityId=1805

Listening to the audio, it is clear that some members of the committee understand the urgency for Alberta to have high speed trains. Others minimize this urgency, and talk about high speed rail as if it may be possible 30-40 years from now.

On December 3rd, committee will receive a briefing from the Ministry of Transportation on the subject. The committee will then decide how consultation will take place between the public and stakeholders. 

The lack of any passenger rail in Alberta reflects Canada's dire state of passenger rail nationally. It has been 28 years since passenger rail existed between Calgary and Edmonton.

In 2003, Bombardier showcased their JetTrain in Alberta. Unfortunately the timing was not right and Bomardier failed to get orders for the JetTrain.

Previous Alberta studies on high speed rail that were completed in 2004 and 2008 resulted in no action taken by the government. Even Alberta High Speed Rail (http://www.albertahighspeedrail.com), a private company interested in building the project has been unsuccessful in convincing the government to take action in this regard.

Polls have routinely showed that the citizens of Alberta and Canada want high speed rail. So, is the time finally right for the people of Alberta to have passenger rail like the rest of the modern world has had for the last four decades?

In the case of high speed rail, public/private partnerships are the norm. Almost all major infrastructure projects require substantial input from the federal government. Herein lies the problem. In Canada, I have often stated that the lack of any vision on passenger rail by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is killing any hopes for passenger rail resurgence in Alberta or anywhere else in Canada.

If Harper has no vision for passenger rail, one might hope that maybe he would, for political gain, invest in the future of high speed rail in Alberta. It could be suggested that many votes were gained by Harper's government $30 billion ship-building strategy in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, in Alberta, Harper needs no votes so the chance of a political reason for a major rail infrastructure commitment is slim.   

What about partnerships with other countries that have high speed rail? If Prime Minister Harper stated the Government of Canada was open for business relating to investing in a partnership in high speed rail, the companies would come. In 2008, when President Obama announced the USA were spending $8 billion to modernize their passenger rail system, Germany's Siemens, Spain's Talgo, Japan's Central Railway Company, and even Canada's Bombardier wanted to do business.

If the Alberta government is truly committed to returning passenger rail to Alberta they have to get the federal government on board.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Alberta Government Standing Committee on Economic Future to Discuss High Speed Rail

AGENDA of the STANDING COMMITTEE ON ALBERTA’S ECONOMIC FUTURE

DATE: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 TIME: 6:15 pm to 7:15 pm LOCATION: Committee Room A 4th Floor – Legislature Annex

1. Call to Order

2. Approval of Agenda

3. Approval of Meeting Minutes: November 25, 2013

4. Presentation on the feasibility of high-speed rail transit within Alberta a) Ministry of Transportation Mr. Rob Penny - Deputy Minister Ms Sara Wong - Director, Multi-Modal Transportation Policy

b) Questions from the Committee

5. Other Business

6. Date of Next Meeting

7. Adjournment

http://www.assembly.ab.ca/committees/docs/EF-1181-agenda.pdf

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

High Speed Rail Canada Releases Canadian National Railways 1966 Turbotrain Historical Documents



http://www.wireservice.ca/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=11234

High Speed Rail Canada is releasing to the public for free the Canadian National Railways 1966 press releases and background material relating to the introduction of the Canadian National/United Aircraft high speed Turbotrain.

Media Release - November 19th, 2013 - High Speed Rail Canada is a national non profit organization dedicated to educating Canadians on the benefits of modern passenger rail in Canada. They do it through their blog, youtube video channel, Facebook site and public symposiums.

High Speed Rail Canada has the largest audio and video collection of the United Aircraft and Canadian National Turbotrain. This train ran from 1968 through to 1982. It was Canada's high speed train with speeds over 200km/h.

These 1966 CN and UAC Press Releases and background material, including diagrams and models of the Turbotrain, are being made available for the first time in over four decades.

Paul Langan, Founder of High Speed Rail Canada states, " If you read these documents, and also listen to the 1967 press conference on the Turbotrain, you will be taken back to a time when our country had a vision for modern high speed passenger rail travel. Unfortunately 45 years later under Prime Minister Harper's government, passenger rail is on the verge of extinction throughout many parts of Canada."

For the links to the 1966 Canadian National Press Releases/Backgrounder, 1967 Press Conference go to our Turbotrain Archive page http://www.highspeedrailcanada.com/p/uac-cn-turbo-train-archives.html

For more information on High Speed Rail Canada - http://www.highspeedrailcanada.com, Twitter - @HSRCanada highspeedrailcanada (at)yahoo.ca

Sunday, November 17, 2013

High Speed Rail Canada Maps Located on One Site

High Speed Rail Canada is utilizing the Internet Archive as a place to store its archives. Although we have used them before, we will move forward to storing all our archive there.

Here are 4 maps from studies of the possible high speed rail lines in Canada. New York-Montreal, Boston-Montreal, Quebec City- Windsor, Calgary-Edmonton.

These maps are not new but making them easily accessible for future generations is important. Here is the link - https://archive.org/details/HSRCanadaMaps

Monday, November 11, 2013

Obama’s high-speed rail hopes stalled



Well there is a lot of similarities between the Republicans refusing of money to reinvest in passenger rail and the Harper governments slow kill of passenger rail in Canada. This article is a good summary of the ridiculous attitude of the Republican politicians south of our border towards improving passenger rail.

Republican governors’ rejection of funding frustrates efforts in key regions of the country. By Juliet Eilperin The Washington Post

MILWAUKEE — The gleaming red-and-white trains sit motionless in a cavernous warehouse in Century City, an industrial neighborhood that cranked out 100 million car and truck frames in its heyday. The seats are draped in plastic; an electronic screen on one reads, “Quiet Car. 11:10 a.m. 000 MPH.”

President Barack Obama once hoped that these high-speed trains would be transporting passengers from Milwaukee to Madison, Wis., part of a broader system crisscrossing the Midwest and the nation.

But Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, rejected $823 million in funding that the federal government was offering, and the Transportation Department transferred the funds to California. The two trains now sit idle, with five employees of a Spanish manufacturer left behind to tend them

High-speed rail was once a central part of Obama’s vision for government – one in which the nation’s infrastructure, schools and health-care systems would be modernized to meet the challenges of globalization and expand the middle class.

EFFORT SIDETRACKED

But the abandoned Wisconsin rail project, and several others around the country, illustrate just how difficult – and incomplete – the effort has been. Even as he managed to get the federal government up and running again this past month, Obama’s larger project of redefining what government should do has been stymied by steady Republican opposition and public disenchantment with political leaders. And chronic problems with the rollout of provisions of the new health-care law have made Obama’s sales pitch even harder.

While the high-speed project has made a tangible difference already in some parts of the country, key regions will be left out. In both the upper Midwest and Florida – two key planks of the president’s initial vision – residents find themselves without a viable high-speed option – and the manufacturing jobs that come with it.

“In terms of urban revitalization, this is the type of activity that would have generated good American jobs, and that would have provided work for people who needed work to support their families,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat and Obama ally who ran unsuccessfully against Walker in 2010 and 2012.

While Obama has framed the question in different ways over the past five years, he has consistently sought to convince Americans that well-run government is uniquely positioned to help secure their economic prosperity. After the 16-day shutdown ended last month, he argued that the impasse had affirmed the principle that “smart, effective government is important. It matters.”

“So let’s work together to make government work better instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse,” Obama said.

One of the biggest ideas was Obama’s high-speed rail initiative, which since 2009 has invested $12 billion in 32 states and the District of Columbia. More than one-third of that total went to California; much of the rest went to projects that Transportation Department spokeswoman Meghan Keck described as “laying the foundation for high-speed rail,” which Congress defines as 110 mph and above.

When he launched the high-speed rail push in early 2010, Obama called it “the infrastructure of the future.” “I mean, it’s important to repave our roads; it’s important to repair our bridges so that they’re safe,” Obama said that year in Tampa, Fla. “But we want to start looking deep into the 21st century, and we want to say to ourselves, ‘There is no reason why other countries can build high-speed rail lines and we can’t.’ ”

But three key states rejected the funding altogether. Florida, for example, was in line to receive $2.4 billion for a rail project. But Republican Gov. Rick Scott turned down the offer, as did Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and Walker, dooming the initiative in those three states. The Transportation Department later gave more than $2 billion from Florida’s share to 15 states and Amtrak.

In a recent interview, Walker said he determined it was cheaper to drive his 1998 Saturn to Madison, Wis., from his home in suburban Wauwatosa, Wis., than it would be to drive to downtown Milwaukee, park and take a fast train.

“Typically the reason people take mass transit is because it saves them time and/or money. This did neither,” he said, noting that he ran an ad touting his opposition to the project during his 2010 gubernatorial bid. “It was one of my well-received popular ads out there, because so many people shared that sentiment.”

Barrett – who has made reviving Century City one of his central missions – and many other Wisconsin Democrats feel differently. The city bought 84 acres of land in the industrial area in 2009 and razed 1.5 million square feet of buildings to make way for new development. A.O. Smith built car frames there from 1910 to 1996; Tower Automotive took over the plant in 1996 and built Dodge Ram trucks there for a decade before moving its operations to Mexico.

“As a little boy, I remember driving by there with my parents, and it was row after row of car frames. ... The stacks got smaller and smaller,” Barrett said. “You can see America’s history all in this one plot of land.”

Talgo USA, the American subsidiary of a Spanish train manufacturer, agreed to pay $29,000 a month to occupy half of the 300,000-square-foot Building 36, which the city refurbished with two rail spurs and maintenance pits. The firm sourced many of the train’s components from local manufacturers and it hired 80 workers to assemble and test the trains.

The company produced two trains that went to Oregon for service in the Pacific Northwest Cascades Corridor passenger rail line; the other two sit amid boxes of spare parts here in Milwaukee. Talgo filed a lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin this week seeking $66 million for unpaid bills, lost business and other damages.

Talgo spokeswoman Nora Friend said the firm had envisioned the facility as a launching pad to supply high-speed projects across the United States. But a boom never materialized, as Obama’s stimulus rail initiative fell victim to political pushback.

Unlike those in Europe or Asia, existing U.S. rail lines are unequipped to handle high-speed trains and are expensive to upgrade. Oregon is the only state where high-speed trains have been manufactured and delivered with stimulus funding, but the line from Eugene, Ore., to Vancouver, B.C., can only accommodate speeds of up to 79 mph.

BRIGHT SPOTS

Stimulus funding is also being used to upgrade tracks, build trains and improve electrification on four routes in the East and Midwest: Boston to Washington, Washington to Charlotte, Detroit to Chicago and Chicago to St. Louis.

The Chicago-to-St. Louis route – where trains will run at 110 mph along 75 percent of the route by 2015, lopping an hour off the commute – stands out as one of the bright spots. The Japanese firm Nippon Sharyo, which won a $352 million federal contract to provide passenger cars to the Midwest and California, helped revitalize Rochelle, Ill., by opening up a factory there last year that now employs 330 people.

The biggest project of all is slated for California, where a $68 billion line is envisioned to run from Los Angeles to San Francisco at up to 220 mph. But the effort has been beset with delays, and officials project the full line won’t be open until 2029.

Japan, South Korea, China All Compete for Thailand High Speed Rail

The auction for the construction of the first high-speed rail in Thailand, worth approximately 154.2 billion yuan (US$25.31 billion), has drawn competitive bids from China, Japan and South Korea.

According to our sister paper, China-based China Times, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's mid-October visit to Thailand has been described as a diplomatic trip for promoting China's high-speed rail technology.

The total length of the high-speed rail network in China is more than 10,000 kilometers. The Chinese government now aims to build a pan-Asia railway that connects Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Located in the central area of the pan-Asia railway, Thailand plans to release bids for its first high-speed rail line in the second half of 2014. It is speculated that China's chances of winning the auction are high, owing to China's commitment to importing more rice from Thailand.

However, Thai officials have hinted at competitive bids for the construction from Japan, South Korea and France as well. Among the competitors, Shinkansen by the East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) may be China's strongest contender. China has an advantage, in that its high-speed rail is supported by the government, which implies that in order to win the bid, China can sweeten the deal with other concessions to Thailand.

However, in recent years, Japan has increased its investment in Thailand, with its total investment reaching 74.6 billion yuan (US$12.2 billion) in 2012. JR-East has previously won an urban railway construction in Bangkok earlier, worth US$400 million.

Compared to China's railway technology, JR-East, which has expanded exports of railway infrastructure, has an edge in terms of quality.

Following the corruption case against Liu Zhijun, former minister of the Ministry of Railways, and the June 23 Wenzhou train collision in 2011, China has become more conservative in terms of exporting its rail technology. However, as Chinese top leaders have proactively promoted their high-speed rail technology overseas on various occasions, the Chinese government appears to have decided to strengthen its efforts to promote high-speed rail export

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SAVING THE NORTHERN MAINLINE RAIL RECENT HISTORY

The case for saving the North Main Line which runs Sarnia London Stratford through Kitchener, Guelph into Toronto has been going on for decades. About a decade ago there was suggestion from VIA that they were going to add RDCs on the line. Then the funding was cut from the line and moved elsewhere.

This website I did at the time provides some historical information including:

1. Northern Mainline Rail Alliance Business Case Development Increased Passenger Rail Service along the North Main Line Report
2. Proposed 20 Train schedule for the North Mainline (this is from a different report)
3. CTA Ruling Against Goderich-Exeter Railway vs VIA Rail - Insight into the war between the USA owned short line railway company and VIA Rail.

I hope there is some information on it that will help the groups out fighting this cause. CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Support Passenger Rail in Lambton and Surrounding Area.

New website and more passenger rail advocacy to promote Sarnia and the whole North Main Line. Visit the website here. Get involved. Photo by Richard Berry.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Xiamen-Shenzhen High Speed Railway to Have 34 Pairs of High Speed Trains



It is always refreshing to see what the Chinese are doing in high speed rail.

he Xiamen-Shenzhen high-speed railway, which is an important section of the coastal railway artery in China, is expected to start trial operation by the end of 2013.

According to reports, 34 pairs of trains will run on the railway, including 3 ‘G’ (300km/h) and 31 ‘D’ (200km/h) trains.

After its opening, 4 pairs of trains will run from the Shenzhen North Railway Station to Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, 1 pair to Nanjing South, 1 pair to Hangzhou East, 1 pair to Wenzhou South, 6 pairs to Fuzhou South, 5 pairs to Xiamen North, 2 pairs to Longyan and 9 pairs to Chaoshan, and another 2 pairs will run between Guangzhou South and Fuzhou South.

With a designed speed of 250 kilometres per hour, the travel time from Xiamen to Shenzhen by train will be shortened to less than 3 hours from the current 14 hours.

Ticket information revealed suggests prices will be RMB190 or RMB160, for a first-class and second-class seat respectively, from Xiamen North Station to Shenzhen North Railway Station.

There will be a total of 20 stops along the railway, starting from Xiamen North Station, at Qianchang, Xin Jiaomei, Zhangzhou South, Yangkui, Zhangpu, Yunxiao, Zhao'an, Raoping, Chaoshan, Chaoyang, Puning, Kuitan, Lufeng, Shanwei, Houmen, Huidong, Huidong South, Longgang and finally Shenzhen New Railway Station.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Spain to increase rail spending by 21% in 2014

Rail will remain Spain's top transport priority in 2014 according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's draft budget published last week, accounting for 51% of the total planned investment of €8.98bn. Rail spending will increase by 21% from €3.78bn this year to €4.58bn in 2014.

The bill, which requires parliamentary approval before the end of the year, will allow the government to invest €3.2bn in the high-speed rail network. There is more than 1200km of new lines still under construction in Spain.

University of Illinois study: 220-mph high-speed line from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana

The University of Illinois has released a final report on a preliminary feasibility study of a 220-mph high-speed rail (HSR) service between Chicago, Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and St. Louis and/or Indianapolis.

The study concluded that a 220-mph HSR service from O'Hare International Airport, through downtown Chicago to Champaign-Urbana and on to St. Louis or Indianapolis is feasible and likely would be able to cover its operating costs without subsidies, according to a report released by the university.

The report recommends that public-private partnerships, which have successfully been used to finance HSR projects overseas, should be explored.

"An incremental or blended approach completed over a longer time period would reduce initial capital costs and provide other nearer-term transportation benefits, while simultaneously improving intercity transportation and quality times," the report states.

To read the report's executive summary CLICK HERE

Friday, October 4, 2013

High Speed Rail Canada Opens Flickr High Speed Rail Photostream :: Wire Service Media

High Speed Rail Canada Opens Flickr High Speed Rail Photostream :: Wire Service Media



High Speed Rail Canada has started a Flickr Photostream to further their mandate to educate people about the benefits and history of high speed rail in Canada.
WireService.ca Press Release - 10/04/2013 - Toronto - High Speed Rail Canada is proud to announce the newest addition to their web presence. They have started a Flickr High Speed Rail Photostream.
High Speed Rail Canada was formed in 2008, to educate Canadians about the benefits of high speed trains through their website, public forums, YouTube channel, Facebook and twitter accounts. The creation of their own Flickr photostream is another positive step in this process.
Paul Langan, Founder High Speed Rail Canada states, " We have started our Flickr photostream by adding over 65 images of the iconic CN, UAC Turbo Train. The Turbo ran at faster speeds 40 years ago then current VIA trains today. These photos are a reminder that Canada was once at the forefront of modern passenger rail travel."
The photostream also includes 2012 drawings by Vincent Graviere about what a modern Turbo Train could look like.
To view the High Speed Rail Canada Flick site - CLICK HERE.
To learn more about High Speed Rail Canada go to thier BLOG.
Or call Paul Langan, 519-654-0089, highspeedrailcanada(at)yahoo.ca,
Twitter - @HSRCanada

Thursday, September 19, 2013

High Speed Rail for Saudi Arabia



Always interesting to see what Bombardier projects are going on in the world.

Saudi Gazette - JEDDAH – Two model Haramain trains for test-run arrived at Jeddah Islamic Port, according to sources.

The trains belonging to the Bombardier Saudi Arabian Company Limited will be used for trial-run between Jeddah and Madinah before the official opening of the Haramain train route by the end of the next year.

The propulsion and bogies are being made at Bombardier factories in Spain for the 449.2-km high speed inter-city rail transport system. Bombardier Transportation Company, which specializes internationally in railway technology, announced the signing of contracts with Talgo Spanish Company to develop and supply the basic components for 36 high speed trains for Al-Haramain Train Project.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

HYPERLOOP, MAGLINE AND THE JETSONS



We have serious passenger rail problems in Canada and the USA. We are almost half a century behind in the development of modern high speed trains.

To his credit, President Obama realized this problem and in 2009 announced his vision for modernizing the outdated U.S. passenger rail system. Perhaps they should have used the phrase "higher speed rail" instead of high speed rail, since most money would go to upgrading existing rail infrastructure. The President knew the economic, social, and environmental benefits that could happen.

While progress has definitely been made, the current political quagmire of American politics has made acceptance and implementation of his plan difficult.

The national passenger rail carrier Amtrak is carrying record ridership. In June 2013 more people rode Amtrack that month than in its history: 2.9 million people. Its signature high speed train the Acela Express has done very well.

In Canada the situation is very grave for the future of any passenger rail train service.

Prime Minister Harper has no vision for passenger rail service and VIA Rail, our National carrier, is cutting routes and ridership is decreasing.

Both countries suffer from a cultural vacuum when it comes to understanding that high speed passenger rail can be an effective way of moving people in a sustainable fashion. Why? Since we have let our passenger rail system fall so far behind the rest of the world we think traditional high speed rail is still futuristic. This belief despite the fact high speed trains have been running in many countries for decades. In the case of the Japan, the HSR has been running safely since 1964.

In Canada in the 1970s the UAC Turbotrain routinely traveled over 200 kph. Yet, in Canada and the USA in 2013 we fight for the most basic of passenger rail services.

So this brings me to the subject of the futuristic Hyperloop and Magline transportation proposals that are being flaunted.

Quick questions:

Why support technologies that do not exist and that lack factual data to support their safe use (Hyperloop - vacuum tube) or

Why support a technology (Magline - maglev) that despite being around for 40 years only has two commercial systems in operation? One of these systems (China) has decided not to extend their existing system and has used conventional high speed rail instead.

A consideration of how these ideas are even allowed to get media attention and review harkens back to our cultural abyss for what modern passenger rail systems are.

HYPERLOOP

When Billionaire Elon Musk, Telsa (electric cars), SpaceX (space transport) talks people take notice.

Mr. Musk sees high speed rail as a no go. He bases his opinion on the California high speed rail experience in implementing America's first true high speed rail system instead of basing his views on the over 40 years of experience in 20 countries with over 21,365 km of high speed rail track.

Unfortunately, the HYPERLOOP document that Mr. Musk proposes his futuristic idea of moving people by a vacuum tube of air seems critically short on details. When he talks about cost comparison his cost analysis is primitive, overly simplistic, and lacking in a comprehensive analysis. He doesn't even bother with the total lifecycle cost of the project.

Vacuum tube travel has been proposed as long as ago as 1954 when Dr. Robert Goddard, famed rocket scientist, had designed a VacTrain early in his career.

The Hyperloop idea also suffers from a cursory overview of safety and its tube design has the potential to cause catastrophic loss because the person could be trapped in the pod and tube during an emergency. No detailed Risk Assessment has been done so one cannot make statements like. "Hyperloop is intrinsically safer than airplanes, trains, or automobiles."

Many have suggested that this idea is similar to The Jetson cartoon TV show. The comparisons are fair since both are fantasy. But the Jetsons lasted 25 years on TV where has the Hyperloop is already a non-starter.

MAGLINE TRANSIT

Next up in Fantasyworld of transit systems is the Edmonton-based Magline Transit concept that basically will shuttle pods of people by way of magnetic levitation (maglev). This idea suggests people will move between Calgary and Edmonton in 45 minutes. A reality check is in order.

Let us look at the existing 3 maglev type systems in the world. The one in service in Japan now is only 6km long and speeds along at only 100km/h and loses approximately $22 million a year.

In Korea, there is an airport people mover maglev that will be running this year. It will go a maximum of 110 km/h. Here is a video showing it: http://youtu.be/F-bZTyzsNbg

The only fast maglev train runs in China from Shanghai airport and connects to Shanghai metro. The 30km line takes about 7 minutes and travels at an amazing 430 km/h. Sounds like a success, correct? Look a little closer and you will see that the Chinese have abandoned the technology.

The Chinese were going to run a line from Shanghai to Hangzhou. Citizens complained along the line about noise and radiation fears. The Chinese decided to use traditional high speed rail lines and maglev was abandoned. Now if a mass transit powerhouse like China says no to maglev in favour of traditional high speed rail, we should be listening.

It is an absolute tragedy in Alberta that there is no passenger rail between Calgary and Edmonton. Alberta High Speed Rail is a private company that has tried to convince politicians of the importance of HSR along the corridor. http://www.albertahighspeedrail.com/.

The MAGLINE is just another fantasy. Albertans should be talking about how to connect the two communities with proven higher speed passenger rail technologies.

What Hyperloop and Magline have in common is that both continue perpetrating the North American myth that modern high speed trains are futuristic and not realistic. The reality is that high speed rail has run reliably for over half a century in other parts of the world.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Do High Speed Rail Lines Make Money?

Perhaps the most often asked questions to me is, "Does High Speed Rail make money?". Unfortunately the anti passenger rail folks who love asking this question, do not ask the same question of other infrastructure projects.

Do roads make money? Car ownership and the building, maintaining and use of the roads is one of the largest financial and environmental costs to Canadians. One example to illustrate the cost of roads is the PEI Confederation Billion dollar bridge. We as taxpayers are paying a staggering $44 million a year for the next 33 years to in effect pay the mortgage on it.

Does providing policing, sewage treatment and health care make money? Of course not, these are things that are done for the public good.

We also seem to ignore the cost overruns associated with the building and maintaining nuclear power plants. An example: Just one plant, the Darlington Nuclear Plant original cost in 1993 was estimated to be $3.95 billion. The final cost was a staggering $14.4 billion. Now repairs are necessary at the plant and the cost is estimated at $6-10 Billion. Most assume this repair cost estimate will rise dramatically. That does not even address the question of how to deal with the costs associated with storing the thousands of tons of dangerous radioactive nuclear waste. This waste stays radio active for 250,000 years.

I found an excellent article on the subject of high speed rail lines and if they make a profit. It was written by Noel T. Braymer. READ IT HERE.

So in the future, when you are asked the question about high speed rail profitability, you can respond with existing things we do as a society for the public good and have the facts about high speed rail costs.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The State of High Speed Rail in Canada | media!

The State of High Speed Rail in Canada | media!

It’s not hard to describe the current state of high speed rail in Canada. It’s pretty much non-existent. That is apart from Bombardier who is busy building high speed trains for countries around the world. The ZEFIRO by Bombardier is capable of speeds up to 380 kilometres per hour. Yet you won’t find any of them in Canada.

Around the world many countries are expanding existing high speed rail infrastructure; yet Canada it seems is intent to sit on the sidelines. media! News Magazine asked the founder of High Speed Rail Canada, Paul Langan, about the state of high speed rail in Canada.

Here is what he had to say. How did you get involved with High Speed Rail Canada?

I had been doing passenger rail advocacy for about 25 years in Canada. Grassroot groups that were mostly about fighting to keep VIA Rail service going in a community. I found myself often in conflict with VIA RAIL management on how the organization was run. I decided to do something different but still passenger rail advocacy related.


In 2008, I started up the national non-profit advocacy group High Speed Rail Canada to educate Canadians on high speed rail. I found there definitely was a lack of knowledge about high speed rail in Canada and on the subject in general. Describe the current state of high speed rail in Canada

In Canada the state of passenger rail now is at one it’s lowest points in Canadian history.

Prime Minister Harper has no vision for passenger rail at all. This has resulted in Canada having a passenger rail system that is about 50 years behind the rest of the modern world. High Speed Rail Canada’s Paul Langan

Canada had faster passenger trains in the 1970s than they do now. The CN Turn train had speeds over 200km/h in the early 1970s. So Canada already had high speed rail. Four decades later and passenger rail in Canada is in shambles. Could we be doing better?

You cannot do better if you do not invest in it. The Harper government continues to cut funding to VIA Rail and VIA keeps cutting routes. Why should Canadians care about high speed rail?

It is no secret that automobile exhaust is big contributing factor for global warming and the resulting climate change we are experiencing. The true social and financial cost of our auto-dependency is staggering. If you care about the future and the quality of life for the next generation we have to make significant changes in how we life. Using higher speed passenger rail is one of those options. What are some current viable routes in your opinion?

Siemens Velaro China high speed trainEdmonton to Calgary – The easiest route that should be done first is Edmonton to Calgary. How can Alberta’s tow largest cities not even have passenger rail service.

I cringe every time I read about traffic accidents on that highway between the two cities.

Windsor-Montreal Corridor – Over twelve studies have been done and still no action.

Without the political will, there will never be high speed rail in Canada. ~ Paul Langan

You can learn more about High Speed Rail Canada and Paul Langan by visiting www.highspeedrailcanada.com. There you will find past Canadian high speed rail studies, CN Turbo Train videos and much more.

Should the Canadian federal and provincial governments be investing money in high speed trains or could it be better spent elsewhere? Are there better options? Let us know what you think about high speed rail by leaving a comment below.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

VIA Rail ferme plusieurs gares

http://www.lapresse.ca/le-soleil/actualites/transports/201307/24/01-4673910-via-rail-ferme-plusieurs-gares.php#

SKY NEWS - Spain Crash Caused by Speeding and Could Have Been Prevented

http://news.sky.com/story/1120432/spain-train-crash-caused-by-speeding

Train in Spanish crash was 'travelling at more than double the speed limit'

The train that derailed in Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday evening killing 79 people and leaving more than a hundred injured was reportedly travelling at more than twice the speed limit. See below for video.

Police sources told Spanish newspaper El Pais that, moments after the crash, the traumatised driver made another call to the operator.

"It derailed!" he said. "What am I going to do, what am I going to do? We are all humans – we're humans. I hope there are no fatalities because it will all be on my conscience."

Both the drivers escaped the crash with minor injuries.The carriages careened off the tracks at a curve approaching the station at Santiago where the limit is set at 80 km per hour (50mph).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/10201311/Train-in-Spanish-crash-was-travelling-at-more-than-double-the-speed-limit.html

Monday, July 22, 2013

"You Can't Organize Unless You Socialize".- The Future of High Speed Rail in Canada



Over the next few months. I would like to organize some meet and greets. The events will be called, "You Can't Organize Unless You Socialize".- The Future of High Speed Rail in Canada.

We can discuss strategies on how to get improved higher speed passenger rail on the political agenda in the next federal election in Canada.

Basically we would meet in a bar/restaurant and network. A Saturday 1-4pm type of thing.

If you have a fun place in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and want to help get the word out let me know.

I can do an Events page on Facebook. I can also do a poster and send it out to our 300 email list and our media list.

So lets start in Toronto in August. Send suggestions on where and if you can help get the word out to highspeedrailcanada(at)yahoo.ca . It is time for Harper to go. Paul Langan, High Speed Rail Canada

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lac Mégantic Derailment - Never Again



It is hard to imagine how the tragedy in Lac Mégantic could have happened. A comprehensive investigation will reveal that it was not only the human errors at the time of the incident that caused the accident. A systematic failure in the safety program at the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway occurred.

Reading the Globe and Mail article on their reporting of the accident suggested many questions needed to be asked.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-equation-of-a-disaster-what-went-wrong-in-lac-megantic/article13214911/

Questions regarding training, competency, inadequate safe work procedures, maintenance standards of locomotives, staffing policies will be asked.

What I hope will happen from this tragedy is that regulations will be put in place, and enforced, to ensure railway companies make safety a priority in how they do their business.

Mexico to Ge High Speed Rail?

The Mexican government announced plans Monday to invest about $100 billion in rail, road, telecom and port projects over the next five years, including Mexico's first high-speed rail links.

Among the projects are the modernization or building of four airports, seven seaports and about 3,350 miles (5,410 kilometers) of highways. The government will strengthen fiber optic networks and expand broadband internet access, and speed up freight train service.

"Mexico can be the great logistics platform for Latin America," Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said. "We have to create significant savings in the time and cost of transporting goods."

But in announcing the plan, President Enrique Pena Nieto emphasized the goal of reviving passenger trains in Mexico.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/mexico-sets-100-billion-rail-ports-roads-plan-19671823#.UeaCDdinfpc

Friday, July 12, 2013

Challenging times on 'high-speed Silk Road'



Workers on new 1,776-km rail link no strangers to tough conditions, reports Cui Jia in Urumqi.

It was just after midnight in Hami prefecture in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the construction workers on the Lanzhou-Urumqi high-speed railway had just started work.

The men work at night to avoid the intense heat of the day that causes the water in the concrete mix to evaporate too quickly and could compromise the strength of the bridge being built, making it too fragile to meet stringent safety and engineering standards.

The stifling summer heat is just one of the challenges facing the 30,000 workers on the Xinjiang section of the project.

The 1,776-km-long railway, which on completion will link the capitals of Gansu province and Xinjiang, crosses the desolate and inhospitable Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the arid sands of the Gobi Desert and a number of high-wind areas. These features make construction of the rail link a difficult and risky task.

The project, dubbed the "high-speed Silk Road", is the longest high-speed railway under construction in the world and the first in China to be built partly across a plateau.

After five years' work in Gansu, Xinjiang and Qinghai province, the line is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2014. The team in Xinjiang expects to finish laying the tracks by November.

Currently, only one railway carries passengers and cargo in and out of Xinjiang, the old Lanzhou-Urumqi railway, which connects Xinjiang with the rest of China and also provides a link to Central Asia and Europe.

Continue reading http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2013-07/12/content_16765644.htm

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TSB Report into VIA RAIL Train 92 Deadly Crash on CN Oakville Subdivision

Sorry I did not post this earlier. Not high speed rail but this VIA tragedy is worth reading about. Hard to understand how 3 experienced engineers missed the signal.

The crew of Via train No. 92 in Burlington, Ont., misperceived a warning signal to slow down before their locomotive and five passenger cars were involved in a deadly derailment in February 2012, according to a report released today by Canada's Transportation Safety Board that recommends "fail-safe" train controls. Here is the report.

http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/712062/via-derailment-report.pdf

Monday, July 1, 2013

High-speed rail a solution

BY ALAN CORMIER re: Toronto Star Editorial

Pickering: Remember Mirabel? Letter June 22

We are told that Toronto will be short of airport capacity in the near future and that a second major airport is needed in Pickering.

Not that many years ago, major airport renovations and expansions were carried out in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal at the cost of billions of dollars. Analysts with a broad vision said at the time that nearly one-third of all flights at these three airports were indeed travelling between these three cities only and that a high-speed rail corridor serving these three cities would cancel the need for the airport expansions and the dollars needed for expansion would be sufficient to pay for the high-speed rail. Alas, this was not to be, and the airport expansions went ahead.

Looking at the arrivals/departure boards at the three airports these days suggests still that a high-speed rail service would significantly reduce the airport capacity needs. It is time for Transport Canada do cross modal planning and promote environmentally sustainable ground transportation instead of air travel.

Rail travel is much less affected by inclement weather and can have stops at downtown locations as well as airport locations.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bullet train party of Australia tracking down candidates



The Bullet Train for Australia Party is urging people passionate about high-speed rail to stand as candidates in the electorates of Indi and Farrer in September's federal election.

As part of its campaign to establish a high-speed rail link between Melbourne and Newcastle, it wants to field candidates in the electorates along the proposed railway route which crosses Victoria, the ACT and New South Wales.

It is looking for everyday people from Shepparton and Albury-Wodonga to nominate.

Party president Tim Bohm says it has received huge support from regional communities.

"We've launched Facebook pages in all the regional cities along the route and we've had a huge take-up, even more support than the capital cities," he said.

"So the Albury-Wodonga page has more than 1,000 people and it's only two weeks old."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-26/bullet-train-party-tracking-down-candidates/4780626

Scott Walker's high-speed fail: Train service would have started now

I try only to update the site with significant news around the world about high speed rail. This opinion article by Dave Cieslewicz, former mayor of Madison, about the ill fated decision to cancel higher speed rail contracts in Wisconsin USA is a good one. You can read the full story HERE.

Friday, June 21, 2013

$157 BILLION for High Speed Rail in Russia

Think Russia - Russian Railways announced plans recently to build more than 5 trillion rubles ($157 billion) worth of new high-speed rail links between Russia’s major cities, part of a larger push to make travel more convenient and comfortable in the country.

As the world’s largest nation by land mass, and one that historically loves trains, Russia hopes rail development represents the perfect solution to help meet growing demand on the country’s travel infrastructure as it gears up to host international events like the Sochi Olympics and 2018 World Cup.

Under the Strategy for Developing Rail Transport, signed by President Putin in June 2008, the amount of high-speed rail track in Russia will grow almost 17 times over, from the current 650km of track to 10,887km. The new high-speed routes will connect Moscow to St. Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan, with an extension to Yekaterinburg.

Russian Railways says the new trains will significantly reduce passenger journey times, improve journey conditions and comfort, and ultimately boost passenger travel by as much as 30 percent.

Fast passenger-train travel is considered not only the most comfortable and safe form of transport, but also the most environmentally friendly.

Russian Railways stated that the initiative to connect Russia with modern high-speed trains was prompted by rising demand for fast and comfortable travel throughout the country, as well as economic development that has boosted cargo transfers.

In addition to benefits for passengers and cargo operators, Russian Railways claims the initiative will create jobs in manufacturing and spark technological development.

“Building high-speed rail links is a brand new trend for the development of our economy,” Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin told reporters in Sochi. The company called its work a revolutionary project that will not only make travel more enjoyable, but will also help bring economic development to the regions beyond Moscow.

Russian Railways is approaching the ambitious project with important lessons learned from the implementation of high-speed rail transit throughout Europe, where experts found that high-speed trains require tracks to be in top condition, and also benefit from the latest in automatic, centralized control systems. Russian Railways has committed itself to meeting these standards to ensure a world-class modern transportation system.

High-speed rail first appeared in Russia in 2009 with the debut of the “Sapsan” train between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Later, lines were added between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod and between St. Petersburg and Helsinki.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Train Crash Standards in USA will Help High Speed Rail Implementation

THE Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) has voted unanimously in favour of implementing new crashworthiness standards for high-speed trains that will operate in the United States.

The standards, which the FRA expects to publish later this year, will provide baseline safety requirements for high-speed trains operating at up to 350km/h on dedicated lines, and up to 200km/h on conventional infrastructure. Once finalised, the new standards will be applied on the Washington DC – New York – Boston Northeast Corridor and in California.

http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/north-america/us-approves-new-crashworthiness-standards-for-hs-trains.html?channel=535

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cheap tickets boost high-speed AVE sales

Spanish train operator Renfe has seen passenger numbers increase by 14 per cent after introducing new discounted services.

Between February 8 and June 2, Renfe cut the price of AVE trains by 11 per cent in an attempt to reverse a decline in sales for high-speed services.

Since the introduction of the new pricing structure, sales have increased by 18 per cent on last year.

Train occupancy has also risen from 2012 levels to an average of 75 per cent.

Friday, June 7, 2013

SHIPPING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES CARGO BY HIGH SPEED RAIL!

BANGKOK, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Thailand will be connected with China via a high-speed railway running through northern Laos within the next seven years, assured Thai Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt.

Delivering a key-note speech on Thursday at a seminar and exhibition entitled "Thailand 2020" in the Thai northeastern province of Nakorn Ratchasima, the transport minister said the government has planned to build a 625 km rail system to link Bangkok with the northeastern border province of Nong Khai, across Mekong River from the Lao capital of Vientiane while Chinese high- speed trains will arrive from southern China.

During the initial stage of a 730-billion-U.S.-dollar rail and logistical program, designed for reconstruction of major rail routes in all regions of Thailand, a 250 km Bangkok-Nakorn Ratchasima route will be built first.

Then, the next phase will see a 375 km Nakorn Ratchasima-Nong Khai route built up for the Thai high-speed train to shuttle passengers and cargoes, especially including fruits and vegetables, between Thailand and Laos, which will be connected via the high- speed train with southern China, Chadchart said.

Given such a modernized rail system, Thai food will be delivered fresh and daily to China, according to the transport minister.

"Nakorn Ratchasima is not only the economic hub of the entire northeastern region of Thailand but a gateway to welcome an ASEAN Economic Community, which will open in 2015," he commented.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

JAPAN LO MAGLEV 500km/h trains VIDEO



The first successful tests have been carried out for Japan's new generation of L0 trains, maglev bullet trains designed to travel at speeds of 500km/h.

The trains are currently on schedule to be deployed on the Tokyo-Nagoya line in 2027, with the first five cars (including the aerodynamic long 'nose' on the front carriage) displayed on a test track in Yamanashi Prefecture.

The new trains use magnetic levitation (maglev) technology in place of wheels, allowing for much smoother moment than traditional wheeled systems.

The lack of friction means acceleration and deceleration are faster and they are unaffected by weather conditions.

The first commercial maglev service was opened by China in 2004.

The Shanghai maglev can travel at speeds up to 425km/h through the average is closer to 241km/h.

In the UK the average train speed is closer to 200km/h.

The new train has been designed by the Central Japan Railway Co (JR Tokai) and will consist of 16 carriages, carrying up to 1,000 passengers at a time. The new train will cut the current travel time for the by more than half, from 90 to 40 minutes.

Japan's reputation for high-speed rail started in 1964 with the unveiling of its first bullet train coinciding with the Summer Olympics.

The central line in Japan - the Tokaido Shinkansen - is the world's busiest high-speed rail, carrying 151 million passengers each year.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Russian Railways Plans to Build $157 Billion of High-Speed Links

OAO Russian Railways is planning more than 5 trillion rubles ($157 billion) of high-speed rail links as the world’s largest country by land mass plans to host the 2018 soccer World Cup.

“Building high-speed rail links is a brand new trend for the development of our economy,” Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said in Sochi, the Black Sea city that will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Russia’s ambitions to hold world sporting events is forcing the government to expand the national transportation system. The country doesn’t have a single high-speed rail line, while Japan introduced the world’s first service in the 1960s, according to data from OAO High-Speed Rail Lines, a unit of RZD as the Russian rail monopoly is known.

State-owned Russian Railways plans the routes from Moscow to St. Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan, with an extension to Yekaterinburg near the border of Europe and Asia. The company is trying to start the pilot link to Kazan in time to race soccer fans to stadiums in four of the 11 cities hosting World Cup matches.

Russian Railways may require another 1.5 trillion rubles to build tracks for trains that can travel about 200 kilometers an hour (124 miles an hour), Yakunin said in the May 31 interview. High-speed trains can go twice that fast.

World Cup

“If everything goes according to plan, we could be in time for the World Cup,” Yakunin said. This year, RZD expects to receive 16 billion rubles of budget funds for engineering under the Moscow-Kazan project, after which it could start building the railroad in late 2014 or early 2015, Yakunin said.

Moscow-Kazan is estimated to cost 928 billion rubles, Yakunin said during a conference with President Vladimir Putin last week. Transportation Minister Maxim Sokolov said the link would span 800 kilometers, cutting travel time to 3 1/2 hours from as current 11 1/2 hours.

The plans are drawing interest from large foreign companies including Siemens AG (SIE) and Alstom SA, Yakunin said.

Yakunin said the project should be 70 percent financed from the budget, with the remaining 30 percent to be provided by RZD itself and investors.

The government and RZD are discussing the possibility of investing state funds in the construction, Yakunin said.

“The state, the Pension Fund and the National Wellbeing Fund could all contribute to the implementation of global long-term projects,” Yakunin added.

Story Source BLOOMBERG - Ekaterina Shatalova i

Thursday, May 23, 2013

High Speed Train Accident Emergency Exercise - Lincolnshire



Excellent idea to practice for train accidents. More needs to be done in Canada. Yes these exercises are costly to put on but they do save lives.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rail Still At the Heart of Russian Economy



At a time of development planning and uncertainty over the country's future economic direction, the rail system retains a centrality in Russia's security and economic position.

Despite developments in transportation over the 20th century - the evolution of modern vehicles and airplanes, and the increasing access of the world's population to inexpensive car ownership and flight - sea and rail are still the most efficient ways to carry large quantities of goods over long distances.

Passenger rail is also essential to economic growth - not just for travel and tourism, but also for mobility of the labor force, said officials and analysts at last month's Passenger Forum at RIA Novosti. For urban development in particular, integrated "intermodal" transportation systems are necessary to relieve Moscow's notorious congestion.

"The main thing is access, quality and comfort of passenger services, toward which the developed transportation strategy project is directed," said Alexander Misharin, first vice president of state rail monopoly Russian Railways. "We have good examples of the development of a passenger network in [other] countries - China first of all - and we should unconditionally take [them] into account in our own programs."

http://themoscownews.com/business/20130422/191459818/Rail-still-at-the-heart-of-Russias-economy.html

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

VIA RAIL ANNUAL REPORT

In case you have not seen it yet. Page 30 and 31 say it all. For twenty years I have told them their fares are too high. Finally they are starting to listen. Of course cutting routes ( frequency adjustments!)is a swell way to decrease ridership.

http://www.viarail.ca/2012annualreport/docs/via-annual-report-2012.pdf

Dreaming of a Modern High Speed Rail Service in Europe

They are already a hundred years ahead of North America. Watch this pitch for even more high speed rail in Europe.

The optimal setup of a rail system – Lessons learned from outside Europe

This study on the structure of major rail systems outside Europe analyzes rail structures in the US, Canada, Japan, Russia and China, which together account for 80% of global freight transportation by rail and 50% of passenger rail travel.

The major railroads in these countries are all integrated systems: infrastructure operator and railway undertaking are combined in a single company. The study finds that these rail systems have significantly improved their traffic volumes, asset and personnel productivity and investments over the last ten years.

Our analysis of international rail systems took place in the run-up to the Fourth European Railway Package. The study was trigged by the current debate about potential complete separation of infrastructure operators and rail transportation companies in Europe.

http://www.rolandberger.com/media/pdf/Roland_Berger_Railways_Outside_Europe_20121015.pdf

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

High Speed Rail for Australia - ABC Radio Broadcast


High speed rail spread around the globe from the 1960s when the first bullet trains took off in Japan. Rear Vision looks at why previous attempts to introduce high speed rail in Australia have failed.

Japan opened the world's first high-speed rail line - between Tokyo and Osaka - in time for the 1964 Olympics. Japan’s ‘Bullet Train’ was the first to run on a dedicated line – a high speed service for passengers only. Over the last 30 years, millions of dollars have been spent in Australia on studies and proposals but is a fast train service on the east coast any closer?
LISTEN HERE TO BROADCAST

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Maple leaves on the line

by Tyler Brûlé - If you’ve had the misfortune of travelling through some of the US’s bigger, busier airports this week, you’ll no doubt have noticed that all of those threatened cuts to the country’s creaking transport infrastructure have started to bite – and rather hard.

As if the situation wasn’t painful enough at the conveyor belt and X-ray machines, it’s now lurched to a sputtering halt. Already we had the comical scene of normally sensible people lining up in stocking feet (the seriously daft are the ones who go barefoot in airports that haven’t seen their floors get a proper cleaning since 1972), and toting multiple plastic bins full of the contents of their travel bags.

This has now deteriorated from being a process that moved along with the jerky pace of a stop-motion sketch to something that resembles a frozen frame from a manga comic chronicling the collapse of civil society circa 2013. Read the rest of the article here.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/04c06b86-ad94-11e2-82b8-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2Reucmgzz

Sunday, April 14, 2013

BOMBARDIER JET TRAIN - Even More Footage!

It always makes our day when we find footage of Bombardier's Jet Train. We still hold out a slim hope that this engine will be introduced some day. For background on the Jet Train go to this good summary on the TRAINoftheWEEK BLOG .We have also added a Bombardier JET TRAIN PLAYLIST on are very popular Youtube Channel.