Saturday, February 25, 2017

VIA Rail Canada - Take a Ride Through Tweed Ontario

Thanks Lesley Bernard for this photo journey through Tweed on the abandoned rail line. Good Luck VIA Rail Canada on their new route.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Washington State to weigh up $30bn Seattle-to-Vancouver high-speed link

GCR News -   The US state of Washington has announced that it will spend $1m on a feasibility study into a 230km high-speed rail link between Seattle, Portland in Oregon, and Vancouver in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The idea of a high-speed line to link northwestern cities is not new – the Pacific Northwest Corridor is one of 11 possible high-speed routes identified by the US government in 1992 – but no steps have been taken to set such a project in motion.

The issue is back on the agenda partly because of increasing congestion on the region’s roads and airports, and partly because Bill Gates and Satya Nadella, his successor as chief executive of Microsoft, have teamed up with politicians and other business people to support the idea. Read the rest here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Guest Blogger: VIA RAIL Plan For Tweed Can Be Done!

Somewhere near Tweed ON,
photo by Greg Gormick

by Lesley Bernard - As a Tweedite, I have been following this plan closely. Like with many of the other communities on the proposed route, representatives from VIA have been here too to meet with our mayor and council.

The Chamber of Commerce asked council to support the plan. The mayor and council's official position is "wait and see if anything actually happens".

The Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance had been under the mistaken belief that they owned the ROW but CP has always retained ownership. A fibre-optic trunk line was buried under the ROW about 15 years ago. Locals and tourists could be opposed but ownership having been retained by CP, the tracks can go back down whenever they want.

In town, the ROW is intact but with some encroachment by some of the adjacent neighbours with fences and plantings. The ROW runs right thru the local lumber yard but they are in the process of getting permits to build a new facility on the south edge of town. I think likely all in-town road crossings would removed with the roads dead ending at the track. A few locals might be inconvenienced but nobody would get trapped.

The exception is Victoria (Hwy 37), have to be a crossing there. The steel bridge across the Moira R is intact and in good shape.

One bridge that was removed is over the Crowe R south of Marmora. It was replaced with a pedestrian/ATV grade bridge.

Stations are proposed for Perth, Tweed and Peterbrough with 5 of 15 trains/day each way making local stops. Tweed would become the hub for the Quinte/Hastings area.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

VIA Rail - Sharbot Lake Challenges

Sharbot Lake Ontario - Ontario/Quebec Rail line - Now a Trans Canada Trail 

Since VIA Rail still has not released detailed routes of their proposed high frequency rail route, yet want billions of taxpayer dollars to build it, we will continue to offer comments on their idea to use the old Ontario/Quebec Railway (CPR) line.

Sharbot Lake was on the old railway line. It is now part of the Trans Canada trail. A quick look at the google earth map above suggests there may be some difficulties for VIA if they choose this route through Sharbot Lake! CLICK HERE to see a large version of the map.

Even before you enter Sharbot Lake, across from Ryders Island you have an old wooden bridge that would have to be replaced.

Old O&Q Railway Wooden Bridge - photo by Steve Manders

The challenges multiply has you cross into Sharbot lake. Here is another photo of a small bridge that would need to be replaced. VIA Rail stated plan to go 160 kilometres per hour is simply not going to happen along this part of the route.

Another old rail bridge on the trail 

Travelling through Sharbot Lake by rail cannot be done safely unless the train speeds are less than 5 kilometres per hour. Frequent trains through this area would not be tolerated by locals tha t live there and the tourists that visit there.

When leaving Sharbot Lake you cross under Hwy.#38. Here is a photo of cyclists using the trail.

Rail line travels under Hwy.#38

It is our opinion that the VIA Rail High Frequency Rail Plan cannot use the old rail line through Sharbot Lake. We doubt Sharbot Lake will ever have trains again.

Sharbot Lake Railway Station

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Passenger Rail Advocacy in Canada - We Need You!

It is interesting when I look at all the forums, social media and wonder to myself, why in this modern era of information technology is there such a low number of people advocating on a national level for better inter-city passenger rail service?

There are groups that fight locally to bring back/improve passenger rail service. Here are a few examples: Southwestern Ontario groups, Algoma Passenger Rail and Passenger Rail for Vancouver Island.

Nationally there are just two groups.

Transport Action Canada (and its chapters) have been around since 1977 fighting for improved passenger rail service. They are long time supporters of VIA Rail Canada. The group is aging and are in need of new members so they can carry out more advocacy. Join them. It only costs $30. a year.

High Speed Rail Canada is the group I formed in 2008. It was formed to educate people on high speed rail. So many Canadians think HSR is futuristic. Yet HSR has been around for over a half a century in other parts of the world.

Another reason I chose to start HSRC is I could also no longer support VIA Rail Canada whose fares were ridiculously high and their arrogant management style (see VIA Rail vs Hon. Herb Gray and Paul Langan  fight to get them to make the CAN RAIL Pass available to Canadians)

We currently do not charge a membership fee. Our social media and e-newsletter are the main ways we communicate with the public. I also try and do visits to cities for Lets Talk Trains meet and greets in a restaurant/bar. Please sign up for our e-newsletter, follow us by email, subscribe to our posts, visit our twitter,facebook and youtube page. Even better write a guest blog post for us. These have been popular on our website.

People always ask me why Canada does not have better passenger rail service. You can blame CN, VIA Rail Canada and the Politicians.  The real reason for our dismal national passenger rail system is the people of Canada have not risen up and demanded better passenger rail service. Get involved, we need you.

Paul Langan,
Founder High Speed Rail Canada

Britain's Network Rail Subsidary Opens Office in Toronto

Railway Age/HSRC - Network Rail Consulting is opening up an office in Toronto. Network Rail Consulting is a wholly owned subsidiary of Britain Network Rail.

Britain Network Rail (BNR) owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway infrastructure (20,000 track-miles, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and thousands of signals, grade crossings and stations.

Susanne Manaigre as  been appointed asVice President in charge. Manaigre, who will be based in Toronto and report to President-North America Ron Hartman, is a native Canadian whose career in the railway industry spans 30 years. Most recently she was chief of operations for GO Transit/Metrolinx, the regional public transportation system in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

This is good news as BNR must see the future potential of growth for rail infrastructure in Canada and decided to open the office.