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. Please sign up for our free newsletter and stay engaged through our social media.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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:  http://e-rail.ca/

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: http://www.swota.ca/

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: http://transport-action-ontario.com

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:  http://www.gettingthere.ca/

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   http://www.savevia.ca/   (sign the petition there) or perhaps a more current link is their facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/AnIntegratedPublicTransportationSystemforCanada

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: greg.gormick@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Vermont to Montreal Passenger Rail Service Within Two Years?

I have had a passion for restoring Canada/USA passenger rail services for as long as I can remember. Having seen cross border trains disappear that I had rode on such as at the Detroit/Windsor and Sarnia/Port Huron borders, I want to support increased reliable passenger rail between Canada and the USA.

No this has nothing to do with high speed but it has all to do with providing options to travel by train.

The former Amtrak train The Montrealer ran from 1972 to 1995. Now a determined effort is being made to extend The Vermonter train to Montreal.  The recent draft 2015 State of Vermont Rail Plan states;

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Participants Needed to Complete Canadian High Speed Rail Survey for Graduate Student

Below is a request for participants to complete a HSR in Canada survey for a graduate student in England. I appreciate it if you could take the time to complete the study. 

 My name is Giacomo Vecia and I am currently studying my MSc. in Transport and City Planning at University College London, UK. I am currently preparing part of my Master's research dissertation on the sorts of discussions and perspectives that professionals, politicians, journalists, and lobbyists have regarding the development and implementation of high-speed rail in Canada in the hopes of better understanding its current climate and future prospects.

 The study involves two phases together taking less than one hour to complete. The first phase is a short questionnaire which aims to generate statements related to the Canadian high-speed rail discourse.

 The second phase is a survey which asks participants to rank statements regarding Canadian high-speed rail on agreeability with personal understandings and opinions. All responses are held and assessed confidentially and the study is subject to University College London's Code of Research Ethics.

 Here is the link to the survey - http://tinyurl.com/q8nre9m 

 If you have any questions regarding my research or this study please feel free to contact me at giacomo.vecia.13@ucl.ac.uk.

 I look forward to hearing back from you, Giacomo Vecia MSc. Transport and City Planning Candidate University College London giacomo.vecia.13@ucl.ac.uk

High Speed Rail - CHINA to CANADA

Any stories in the media related to high speed rail and Canada we try and circulate. This one is a bit of a stretch. This is about an underwater high speed rail between Canada and China.

A lone report in China's state-run Beijing Times claims the nation is already in discussions to build an 8,000+ mile railroad connecting China, Russia, Canada, and the U.S.—including a 125 mile undersea tunnel spanning the Bering Strait. Forget taking this with a grain of salt, you're gonna need the whole shaker. Read the rest of the story.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Study to Look at Relocating Freight Trains Away from Milton and Kitchener GO Lines

The City of Mississauga, City of Toronto, City of Cambridge and the Town of Milton are each requesting support from their Council Members to partner on a study that could result in a transformation of the rail network in the western GTA.

“Improving rail transit in the western GTA would provide long-lasting benefits for our city. It would stimulate economic growth by attracting new talent, businesses, employers and students to the city while increasing innovation, growth opportunities and prosperity,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “We share the same vision as our municipal partners and Mississauga is taking the lead, to bring about convenient and effective transit solutions to move people across the GTA and beyond. Similar to Mississauga’s LRT, there’s a strong foundation that supports the need for a regional rapid transit system.”

The federal government has indicated its intent to invest in transit infrastructure, including rapid transit. Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced $2.6 billion in funding for Toronto's SmartTrack transit plan, as a commitment ahead of October’s federal election.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Turbotrain, Zerotrain, Ecotrain: The Ecological Political Economies of High-Speed Rail in Canada

We have added to our HSRC Google Drive the dissertation of  Ryan Maurice Katz-Rosene titled,  Turbotrain, Zerotrain, Ecotrain: The Ecological Political Economies of High-Speed Rail in Canada from 2014 from Carleton University. Enjoy reading it. 347 pages. http://tinyurl.com/nkmcjvv

Monday, June 22, 2015

Will the Harper government hand out money to CP Rail for new Detroit/Windsor Rail Tunnel?

I, like many others, dream of seeing the return of passenger rail between Canada and the USA. Specifically the Sarnia/Port Huron or Windsor/Detroit Border.

The proposed $400 million CP Rail new double freight tunnel between Windsor and Detroit does not include any mention of passenger rail only freight.

The tunnel project known as the the Continental Rail Gateway project. It involves mainly CP Railway and Borealis Transportation — a division under the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System along with the Windsor Port Authority.

$200 million comes from the partners and $200 million is needed from the USA/CANADA governments. Then the construction of the tunnel, which will be built next to the existing tunnel, can begin.

This is not the first time the new tunnel idea has been tried. The Detroit River Tunnel Partnership spent around $100m on engineering. It also acquired 20 acres of land for the project from Detroit in 2007. The project could not kick-start due to funding problems.

So there are a couple questions that need to be asked.

1. Where is the $200. million in government funding coming from to make this project happen? The state of Michigan announced $10 million in funding, which proponents say is significant but falls far short of the needed amount.

2. The Harper government, who have been in discussion with the project leaders about tapping into the Build Canada fund. Should they fund a project that primarily benefits a private rail company and a pension fund?

3. Can passenger trains once again connect Detroit and Windsor? Yes this could happen. But it would be challenging for a variety of reasons. Especially since  VIA chose to build their new station where the old station is in Walkerville. Had they picked a new station location, as suggested in the Community Based Strategic Rail Study (pg 15) connections to the tunnel would have been easier.

Can the Harper government demand passenger rail service in the new tunnel in exchange for money? Yes they can. Ensuring passenger rail service in the tunnel would make the project beneficial to Canadians and not just CP Rail.

We will keep you up to date on this issue. For now we included a great video of the rail tunnel from 1994 when it was expanded a the top of this article.

Santa Cruz County Passenger Rail Transit Study

This report studies the feasibility of passenger rail transit service between Santa Cruz and Watsonville, CA. Interesting reading - http://www.sccrtc.org/projects/rail/passenger-rail/ 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Making the Most of High-Speed Rail in California: Lessons from France and Germany

Eric Edllin - The Germand Marshall Fund of the US

This report argues that in order for high-speed rail (HSR) to deliver on its promise to 38 million Californians and investors, the project must be designed as the backbone of a comprehensive system for sustainable passenger mobility in California.

If HSR is to serve as the backbone of sustainable intercity mobility in the state, the project's definition must extend beyond HSR route planning to include sustainable local transportation connections and careful station area planning.

Cities across France and Germany demonstrate how HSR can be a powerful tool for strengthening cities and towns along HSR corridors in economic, social, and cultural terms. With careful planning, the same can be achieved in California.

This is why the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CAHSRA) is funding planning efforts in most of the cities that will have HSR stations, to ensure that each station area is designed to maximize HSR-supportive development within station areas. This report highlights best practices from Europe that can help inform these CAHSRA-funded planning efforts.