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

We can build rail cars in Capreol!

Capreol rail building

Nickel Belt Green candidate Stuart McCall says that only the Green Party is talking about rail issues during this election – and Nickel Belt voters should take note.

“Only the Green Party has a comprehensive plan to revitalize our rail networks,” says McCall. “Canada was linked together by rail, yet successive Liberal and Conservative governments have left our rail systems to whither. Communities like Capreol, which provided for the needs of our rail systems, have been forgotten. I want to change that.”

The Green Party is calling for a national transportation strategy which includes significant new reinvestment in rail, including expanding VIA rail through an infusion of $600 million in 2016-17, investing in high-speed trains in corridors where they make sense, and supporting facilities to build more made-in-Canada rail cars to transport goods.


Always love when I can post a great Turbo Train photo from when Canada had high speed trains. This photo from Dale Wilson from June 8, 1977, is of the spare Turbo Engineman, taken from the passenger compartment of a westbound Turbo dome approaching Kingston.

High-speed rail creates robust growth in property markets in Japan

TOKYO -- A new bullet train line and the prospect of further extensions of Japan's ultrahigh-speed rail network have created pockets of robust growth in property markets beyond the capital.

     A property near Nagoya Station logged the biggest gain of any commercial site in the nation's latest official land price survey, jumping more than 40% in the year to July 1. Several high-rises are going up in the neighborhood, including a rebuilt Dainagoya Building, a local landmark. A magnetic-levitation train line connecting Nagoya with Tokyo, slated to open in 2027, will only add to the station's appeal.

     With some local manufacturers relocating their offices close to the hub, demand for area real estate is holding up well, says the head of Sanko Estate's local agency.

     The survey also shows an unmistakable impact on land prices from the Hokuriku Shinkansen, the country's newest bullet train line. Open since March, it connects Tokyo with the city of Kanazawa in two and a half hours. The biggest gain in residential land prices anywhere in Japan -- 16.8% -- was in Honmachi, a five-minute walk from Kanazawa Station. New bars and restaurants began opening up in the neighborhood about two years ago in anticipation of increased bustle.

     "Not only residential but also storefront demand has risen" a local real estate agent says. "We're getting a lot of calls asking for empty store space."

      In Toyama, another stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, commercial land saw a second straight year of price growth, while residential land prices leveled off after a 0.1% decline in the previous survey. Municipal governments in Kanazawa and Toyama have helped with subsidies and other measures meant to encourage people to move to the city center, according to the land ministry, which conducts the survey.

      In the city of Fukui, which lies at the end of the next planned section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, prices of commercial land fronting the main train station rose 0.3%. This marked the first appreciation in commercial land anywhere in Fukui Prefecture in 13 years. Although tourists still have to ride slower trains between Kanazawa and Fukui, more of them have been making the trip since the new bullet train line opened.

     But the boost from the new line only goes so far. Outside the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya metropolitan areas, just 12% of sites in the survey showed higher prices. In Akita, Tottori and Yamaguchi prefectures, not a single site, residential or commercial, went up in price in the year to July 1.

(from Nikkei Asian Review)


The Green Party of Canada released their party platform and here is the section outlining their commitment to passenger rail renewal.

Strict new rail safety laws and new investment for Canada’s rail system

Restore Canadian railways with new funding and stronger rules to ensure efficient rail travel and safe movement of hazardous industrial goods including oil and gas.

Canada’s national rail systems are in decline. In much of Canada, rail routes that once moved thousands of people are abandoned. Edmonton to Calgary, Saskatoon to Regina, Halifax to Sydney have all been axed, despite their profitability.

Green MPs will re-invest in our national rail systems, building more train cars in Canada, increasing train speeds, phasing in high-speed rail where feasible, and creating green transportation and energy infrastructure corridors in key regions. An improved rail system will make Canada more economically competitive, create thousands of new jobs, reduce traffic congestion, and provide a fast, inexpensive and safe mode of transport in key commuter corridors.

We will develop a national transportation strategy investing in local public transit and expanding VIA Rail to provide more modern, efficient, and frequent passenger rail service. We will invest $600
million in 2016-2017, building to $764 million by 2020 in VIA Rail.

Rebalancing the relationship between passenger trains and freight cargo will begin with a
comprehensive plan to limit the burden on our rail system that has been created by exporting
unprocessed oil by rail.

Further, in order to reduce the risk to our communities and ensure that a tragedy like Lac Mégantic can never again occur, we will strengthen Canada’s rail safety rules and give regulators the tools they need to protect our neighbourhoods from train derailments, especially those involving hazardous materials. We will fund the re-routing of tracks for freight and rail yards away from populated areas.
PHOTO BY - Walter Pfefferle

China Railway Corp orders Bombardier Zefiro380 high speed trains

Railway Gazette International - CHINA: China Railway Corp has ordered a further 15 eight-car CRH380D high speed trainsets from Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation for 2·4bn yuan.

Announcing the order on September 2, the BST joint venture of Bombardier and CSR Sifang Rolling Stock Co said it had begun delivering an initial batch of 70 CRH380D trainsets in the first quarter of this year, and the early follow-on order showed CRC’s confidence in the product.

The CRH380D has eight aluminium-bodied cars, with three classes of seating and a dining car. It is designed for a maximum operating speed of 380 km/h, with Bombardier Mitrac propulsion and control systems supplied by the Bombardier CPC Propulsion System Co joint venture.

Ontario Pension Plan Giants Look to Buy More Airports in England

Ontario Pension Plan Giants, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (their investments are managed by Borealis Infrastructure) are going up against Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) in a battle to buy a London city airport. Both these funds already own the Channel  Rail Tunnel.

In 2014 the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan snapped up 48% of Birmingham Airport. It had already owned airports in Bristol, Brussels and Copenhagen.

Read the whole article HERE. 

Montreal to Boston Passenger Rail Service Gains Momentum

With the final route selection on the Boston Montreal high speed rail study due out in the fall and increased ridership on the Amtrak Vermonter things are looking very positive for the return of a cross border connection. An overview of the project is available here.

Here is the latest article on the subject.

Officials laud local increase in Amtrak Vermonter ridership, paving the way for future rail projects. By Chris Lindahl at

From January to May 2014, 5,870 passengers used the now-closed Amtrak station in Amherst. During that same period this year, 7,014 passengers used the Northampton station and 2,820 used the one Greenfield. Moreover, the Northampton and Greenfield stops are on track to generate nearly 25 percent of the annual ridership of the entire Vermonter line, according to Amtrak data supplied by Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz.

The 67.5 percent increase in Valley ridership makes a solid case for continued investment in rail infrastructure, namely the completion of the New Haven-Springfield commuter service, increased Vermonter service, extending that line to Montreal and what is widely considered the crown-jewel of local rail travel — a high-speed train linking Springfield to Boston, said Narkewicz and other officials.
Narkewicz said the former Vermonter route was perceived by the public as too slow and convoluted. 

The route stopped in Brattleboro, Vermont, then snaked away from the Connecticut River to make stops in Amherst and Palmer before arriving in Springfield. The route was realigned in January with the upgraded Connecticut River railroad line, making for a faster trip, when stations in Northampton and Greenfield opened.

“I think you can see in the first five months people really embraced it,” Narkewicz said. “That’s what’s exciting — it’s working. People are riding it.”

VIA Rail Renaissance rail cars to be modified and investments in Ottawa-Montreal rail upgrades made

The Canadian Government is set to invest C$102.5m ($77.6m) over the next two years to improve the safety and efficiency of passenger operations on the Ottawa-Montreal rail corridor.

The announcement was made by Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Via Rail president and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano.

The investment will support several infrastructure projects which aim to increase the reliability of the service by reducing delays for users.

"This investment will keep our rail transportation system safe and efficient for Via's Rail customers."

The funding follows Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper's C$5.8bn ($4.4bn) announcement for infrastructure investments in November last year.

Following completion of these projects, travel time between Ottawa and Montreal will improve as these infrastructure improvements will reduce delays.

Over the next two years, these infrastructure projects are expected to create more than 2,000 jobs.
The government provides more than C$300m ($228m) in annual funding to support Via's operations.

The funding will be used by Via Rail to modify Renaissance car fleet for use on Ottawa-Montreal services to provide a consistent level of service, improve access for passengers with disabilities, and replace older equipment.

 The Renaissance rail cars were originally from the United Kingdom. They were built  for a proposed, "Nightstar" overnight service between the United Kingdom and continental Europe via the Channel Tunnel.

The video above is from VIA Rail in 2002 of the Renaissance equipment, still in "Nightstar" colours, when the train entered service in Canada.

The project will also see track and structures upgraded, with continuous-welded rail replacing jointed track at various locations, while a new passing loop will be built at Barrhaven to improve operations at the Ottawa end of the line.

In order to improve the efficiency and safety of operations, signalling and centralized traffic control will be modernized, while Ottawa station will be repaired with increased platform heights to improve access for passengers.

Specifically the funding will be used for:

  • Enable the Renaissance car fleet for use on the Ottawa-Montreal line and thus, provide customers with a consistent level of service west of Montreal while replacing older equipment. 
  • This fleet will also enhance the accessibility service for travelers in wheelchairs and/or with service animals‎.
  • Upgrade tracks and bridges between Montreal and the Ottawa area.
  • Build new track siding and make changes to the turnout to allow more fluid movement of trains in the Barrhaven area (Ottawa).
  • Repair Alexandria piers and abutments to avoid the risk of compromising the structural capacity of the bridge and to ensure the safe passage of freight and passenger trains.
  • Upgrade centralized traffic control signals to improve the efficiency and safety of operations.
  • Upgrade signal systems to improve reliability, efficiency and safety of operations.
  • Repair Ottawa Station infrastructure (main electrical power supply and distribution), and build high level platforms to improve customer safety, travel experience, and accessibility, as well as eliminate some delays.
  • Repair rail bridges in the Ottawa area.
  • Replace culverts between Ottawa and Montreal to ensure structural integrity.
  • Change/upgrade mechanical & electrical systems at the Ottawa Station to safely keep the trains ready to go without having to run a generator.
  • Replace bolted rail with continuous welded rail in the Beachburg, Alexandria and Smith Falls subdivisions and other track upgrades within the city limits of Ottawa.

Who are the Passenger Rail Advocacy Groups in Southwestern Ontario

It is not easy being in the passenger rail advocacy business in Canada. For most Canadians, VIA Rail has not been a viable alternative to the automobile. Crippling federal government cuts, lack of investment and travelling on tracks owned by a private company, has left VIA Rail struggling to survive.

Recent announcements that VIA may restore a train to Sarnia  was greeted with cautious optimism by passenger rail groups fighting to get  service or improved service in their community.

For communities from Kitchener, Cambridge into Toronto the Wynne government continues to push with local governments for more GO Rail transit. There is a new study in progress looking at ways to get off the CN freight railway for quicker, more reliable rail service.

For fans of high speed rail travel in Canada, it is definitely still a waiting game. Perhaps the elections in October will bring a government in that is pro-high speed rail. Both main opposition leaders Mulcair and Trudeau have been quiet on the topic. High Speed Rail Canada will continue to promote and educate Canadians on high speed rail travel.

We feel it is time to recognize the groups that are working so hard to get improved VIA Rail and bus service in Southwestern Ontario. Please feel free to join these groups listed below in their fight.

Rail Advocacy in Lambton - RAIL

Is a dedicated group of citizens & community leaders affected by the continuing loss of passenger rail service, primarily between Sarnia and London, Ontario. RAIL was established in June 2013 to advocate for better VIA Passenger Rail Service in Sarnia-Lambton and Southwestern Ontario. The concept of a National Rail Policy is, in their view, a necessary step in supporting a sustainable passenger rail system for all Canadians.

Contact them via their website:

Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance

 An integrated, sustainable, passenger transportation system for Southwestern Ontario securing the prosperity of our communities; connecting citizens to centres of excellence in education, healthcare and innovation; connecting to adjacent regional networks; and feeding into a fast, reliable, well-serviced Chicago—Quebec City corridor.

 To connect community groups, government stakeholders, and businesses working towards the integration and enhancement of rail, bus, and local transit services across Southwestern Ontario; and to work toward the creation of a regional transportation agency for Southwestern Ontario. The Southwestern Ontario region is comprised of the cities, counties, and municipalities in the area bounded by the Detroit River in the west and Wellington County in the east

Contact them via their website:

Transport Action Ontario 

Is a non-government organization advocating for sustainable public and freight transportation.We are part of a federation of 5 regional associations across Canada, each concerned with local and regional issues. The umbrella organization is Transport Action Canada, a registered charity.

Contact them via their website:

Getting There   

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Stratford is a voluntary non-profit organization of women dedicated to education and to positive change for a peaceful, sustainable future. They currently have 74 members.

Contact them via their website:

Save VIA Rail Committee St. Marys

Started as a grassroots response to the VIA Rail cuts announced in 2012 (Save VIA Train86), this collective is supporting a national dialogue on building an integrated transportation system for Canada with regional solutions.

Contact them via their website   (sign the petition there) or perhaps a more current link is their facebook page -

Greg Gormick

A transportation guru in Ontario with many years of experience, who has been hired by some of these groups and has produced a report recommending a new passenger rail, bus framework for Ontario.

Contact Greg via email: