Excitement Builds Anticipating the Release of the Vancouver to Seattle High Speed Rail Study

We do like the hype that is happening regarding the release of the Vancouver to Seattle High Speed Rail Study.

Here are some media highlights:

1. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is optimistic about creating a high-speed train to connect Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. LINK

2. Washington state is exploring whether Canada's new infrastructure bank could help finance a multibillion-dollar proposal for high-speed rail between Vancouver and the U.S. northwest. LINK

3. Premier John Horgan talks about high-speed rail connecting Vancouver and Seattle and some potential issues. LINK

4. A blog asking the question, Crossing the Border: Is The High-Speed Rail A Good Idea For Vancouver? LINK

We at High Speed Rail Canada are supportive of modernizing the Seattle to Vancouver passenger rail route. A few salient points that would have to be addressed are:

  • Cross Border Crossing Times - It killed the Toronto-Sarnia-Chicago train and would have to be resolved.
  • Cost - Early estimates suggest a $27-$42 billion price tag. That amount eclipses the total amount of money available from the new Canada Infrastructure Bank.
  • Route and NIMBY - The Not in My Backyard movements are increasingly strong due to the electronic age we live. They can mobilize quickly. The proposed route will surely face a tough road ahead from our litigious neighbours to the south. Look at the example in Florida with the new privately financed Brightline passenger rail line and the hostility it faced.
  • The Trump Factor - There is an uneasiness on both sides of the border about doing anything collaborative between our two countries with the current USA president.

Let us not tell our British Columbia high speed rail supporters that are over 20 Ontario HSR studies  sitting on the shelve. We can only hope they will not have to wait as long to modernize their cross border passenger rail service.

Can Ontario’s intercity bus, train services compete with cars, planes?

Reminder that Transport Futures is proud to announce that their 20th learning event will focus on Ontario's intercity rail and bus service and whether they can compete with car and air travel. Taking place in Toronto on November 27, 2017
 With a provincial election taking place in June 2018, the time to have a meaningful conversation about intercity travel is now. As detailed in our interactive agenda, the conference will feature Canadian and international experts discussing rail and bus systems from several perspectives: history and culture; planning and infrastructure; technology and interoperability; mobility hubs and first/last mile options; customer service and demand; modal competition and safety; finance and funding; risk and delivery; governance and politics. We'll explore how multiple rail and bus services can co-exist efficiently, fulfil different functions, build a cohesive transportation network and make effective use of limited tax dollars.

To achieve these intercity travel objectives, Transport Futures has invited 13 speakers to share their experience and insights:
  • Hon. David Collenette, Special Advisor for Ontario High Speed Rail and former federal Minister of Transport
  • Peter Crockett, Chief Administrative Officer, Oxford County
  • Corina MoorePresident and CEO, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission
  • Carsten Puls, President, Deutsche Bahn Engineering and Consulting
  • Doug Switzer, President and CEO, Ontario Motor Coach Association and Motor Coach Canada
  • Derrick Toigo, Executive Vice-President, Civil - Roads & Transit, Infrastructure Ontario
  • Paul Nimigon, Vice President - Rail and Transit Division, WSP Canada Group
  • Tim Hoeffner, Director, Office of Rail, Michigan Department of Transportation
  • Jim Richards, Director, Rail Market Leader, Steer Davies Gleave
  • Michael Schabas, Partner, FCP Rail Consultants
  • Mark Platteel, General Counsel, ACS Infrastructure Canada
  • Murtaza Haider, Associate Professor, Ryerson University
  • Paul Langan, Founder, High Speed Rail Canada
Along with great food to keep you energized all day, our packed agenda provides you with ample time to ask questions and network with 100 delegates. Be sure to register today as seating is limited!

NOTE; Interesting conference  not sure if there is any room to register in it still. Paul Langan, Founder High Speed Rail Canada will be on a panel at. We need more of these conferences in Ontario.

VIA RAIL Canada Act Bill C-370 has been added to High Speed Rail Canada site

MP Irene Mathyssen Private Members Bill C-370 VIA RAIL Canada Act has been added to our list of previous VIA Rail Acts in our archives. To view the act CLICK HERE

It is interesting to note as the size of this Bill is the smallest so far on VIA RAIL. Previously, Bill C-26 was 122 pages, Bill C-614 was 37 pages and this Bill C-640 is just 8 pages. What could it all mean?

Enjoy reading the bill and we wish MP Mathyssen the best of luck with her bill.

Ontario High Speed Rail Could Arrive Faster

Guest Post by Terry Johnson, Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance

Ontario is moving forward with its much-needed project to halve journey times across Southwestern Ontario by bringing 250 km/h High Speed Rail to London and Windsor. However, the government has published a timetable suggesting that the earliest dates for implementation could be 2025 and 2031 respectively. This timetable appears to have more than doubled since the original announcement in London just before the 2014 election.

Ontario needs to work to a more ambitious timetable that delivers meaningful improvements in travel times much sooner, and for more communities.

 While 2031 doesn’t sound quite as futuristic as it once did, a few things will have happened by then. There will have been two full economic cycles and four elections, any one of which could derail the project. Fifteen more cohorts of students will have passed through our universities. Computers will be more than fifty times faster than today. Many countries will have ended or be close to ending gasoline car sales, and self-driving technology will be commonplace.

 More practically, the entire VIA Rail passenger fleet that Southwestern Ontario services depend upon today simply isn’t going to last that long. The trains that bring today’s students and researchers to study artificial intelligence at Waterloo or the inner workings of the human brain at Western are already as much as 70 years old, and there are only so many miracles that can be worked to keep legacy equipment fit for daily 160 km/h service. Safety always comes first, so if equipment wears out before replacements arrive then services will be cut.

 If the objective of the project is to support the emerging innovation corridor in our region, action is already well overdue and what’s needed is an agile, incremental approach that delivers results at every step. This also happens to be the approach that’s worked for other rail networks around the world, and it costs less overall because farebox revenues flow sooner.

Step one would be for Ontario to sit down with the federal government and green light the passenger rail fleet replacement that is already being studied by the federal Liberals. By ordering a modern fleet of 250 km/h trains that meets the future needs of the whole corridor from Quebec City to Windsor, we’ll avoid the long-term maintenance cost problems that plague small fleets; be ready to use each upgraded or new section of track as it is ready; end the lawsuits over the shortage of wheelchair spaces on obsolete equipment; and overcome the equipment shortage that is holding back VIA Rail’s previously promised service expansion in our region. If an order is placed soon, the first of the new trains could be on the rails by 2020.

VIA RAIL CANADA ACT Introduced Again In Parliament

Another VIA RAIL CANADA ACT is proposed in Parliament

Irene Mathyssen , NDP MP for London—Fanshawe, ON on October 16th, 2017 has moved for leave to introduce Bill C-370, An Act to continue VIA Rail Canada Inc. under the name VIA Rail Canada, to amend the Canada Transportation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

NDP MP for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Philip Toone had previously tried to have a VIA Rail Canada Act Bill C-640 passed unsuccessfully in 2015.  This was after other unsuccessful attempts By MP Olivia Chow Bill C-577 and Philip Toone C-614.

We appreciate the effort the NDP has put into this sensible idea to help solve the continuing downward slide at VIA Rail.

The attempts to get a VIA Rail Act passed are not new. Former Liberal Federal Minister of Transport David Collenette also tried to have Bill C-26 passed in 2003.

All eyes are on the Trudeau government to see if VIA Rail we will be revived or if other options to provide passenger rail service in Canada will be pursued.