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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:

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;

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 - 

 If you have any questions regarding my research or this study please feel free to contact me at

 I look forward to hearing back from you, Giacomo Vecia MSc. Transport and City Planning Candidate University College London

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.

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.