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High-Speed Rail and the Canadian Constitution

Guest Blog by By James Cobban,

The implementation of High-Speed Rail in Canada is necessarily subject to politics.  Canada is the most decentralized federal state in the world. This has had a major impact on inter-provincial trade, which is still shackled by prohibitions such as restrictions on carrying alcoholic beverages across provincial borders despite Section 121 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1867, which says, “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.”  
Also Canada is the only country in the world which does not have a national highway system, an accidental result of the fact that in 1867 all long distance travel was by railway and roads were only used to get people to and from the railroad.
For the deployment of High-Speed Rail in Canada the central issue is that there is only one route where   economic factors clearly justify implementation, based upon density of population, the Windsor to Quebec City corridor.  But implementing High-Speed Rail for the benefit of just two provinces is politically insupportable. The other eight provinces will demand either an equivalent deal or compensation equivalent to the $30 million per km construction cost of HSR.

Texas and Central Japan Railway - The Time has Come for High Speed Rail Dallas to Houston

WFAA Channel 8 ABC TV from Texas recently went to Japan to view and understand the Shinkansen high speed trains there. This video hits on some excellent points about high speed rail. Highly recommended for Canadians to watch to help understand the basic differences from our current antiquated passenger rail service and modern passenger rail.


The CN Freight Rail Bypass and two way all day GO Rail service through Guelph and Kitchener

 The above video is excellent as a local resident asks Metrolinx why we do not have all day two way GO Rail service. The answer shows you just how difficult it is to deal with CN. Question starts at 59:40.

The CN Freight Bypass Rail Corridor is key to unlocking two way all day GO Rail service along Canada’s Innovation Super Corridor. It will add additional rail capacity (i.e., tracks) along the Toronto Kitchener/Waterloo Corridor.

In 2015 the IBI group released the Missing Link Report, that suggested combining CP and CN freight lines in a certain area in Ontario to free up space for more GO passenger trains. A good analysis of that report was done by Andrew Johnson in 2015.

Fast forward to now and the problems associated with bringing CP and CN rail together seem to be leaning toward a CN freight bypass corridor only. This is good news still for people in Kitchener,Guelph, Waterloo but not for those who were fighting for GO train service into Cambridge.

Proposed Freight Bypass - Brampton Focus


Here is a link to the last update from Metrolinx on the topic. As mentioned in the update Metrolinx would:
Continue working with CN and Hydro One on further developing the previously announced a 30 kilometre freight bypass as one option for separation of freight and passenger service. This would mean up to 35 new bridges, relocating 17 hydro towers and constructing new track all along the 30 kilometre route.

It is not known how much money it will take to complete this CN Freight Bypass project (the original Missing Link Report which included CP also was $5 billion). It will be less than the original report but who will fund this critical infrastructure project?

The future of passenger rail improvements along the  Canada’s Innovation Super Corridor (formerly known as the North Main Rail line) depends on it.


Ontario considers alternative options for high-speed rail

No surprise that Doug Ford will cut high speed rail in Ontario. The only question that remains is what other passenger rail will be cut. Expect more highway building and buses in the Doug Ford era of non solutions to our passenger rail crisis in Ontario. GO Rail service will be next.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/high-speed-rail-1.4915058

Back to 1892 - The VIA Rail Canada Plan to Run Trains on the Abandoned Ontario & Quebec Railway Line

High Speed Rail Canada continues to review possible stops along the proposed VIA Rail Canada $4 Billion abandoned rail corridor plan


VIA Rail Canada is so desperate to get their trains off CN owned rail lines that they have spun this idea of using an abandoned CPR, former Ontario Quebec railway line.

In previous posts we have examined communities along the line that once had service or are getting service in the proposed VIA Rail Canada plan before parliament. We examined the communities of Pontypool, Sulfide, Ungava, Kaldar, Sharbot Lake and Tweed. They are all along the abandoned route which is now part of the Canada trail system.

We all know about the VIA Rail High Frequency Rail Plan ( A phrase they made up)  The plan is better known now as the VIA Rail Sharbot Express Train due to the fact VIA Rail has stated they are stopping in Sharbot Lake and will be travelling at speeds from 50 years ago, to pick up and drop off the happy campers. (bringing tents on the train will cost more!)

More updates on the proposed Sharbot Lake, Tweed Ontario stops in a future post.

We will just deal with their original plan to have their trains start in Toronto and run through Peterborough, Sharbot Lake, Tweed, Ottawa to Montreal, Quebec City . The VIA Rail Canada website,states that the trip times will be 25% faster than the timetable now.  That is a simply ridiculous to think, that the new route from Toronto  through the outback of Ontario and through Ottawa to Montreal, will be 25% faster than the  existing Toronto to Montreal service now.

Is VIA RAIL Canada using a 1892 rail map of the line to justify their business case?


The business case for this line has never been released by VIA Rail. Why? We think because the average person could assess it and see the critical flaws in it.

We at High Speed Rail Canada love history and this rail line has a lot of history. Over a 125 years ago the then Ontario & Quebec (O&Q) railway line was busy.  Here is a LINK to a map of the line in 1892 when there actually was a lot of economic vibrant  towns along the line. Maybe VIA Rail does not realize things have changed in the last century. .

Here is a few more historical updates about communities along the line for VIA Rail to adjust their dubious business plan for returning passenger rail service to it.

Ardendale Station back in the day!

Arden (Ardendale) (population 968)

 Now known for its proximity to provincial parks, camping, beautiful scenery and artisan community, Arden is not like it was in its heyday when the O&Q rail line went through it. The blacksmith shop, sawmill, grist mill, planning mill, sash and door factory are all gone. The railway station was dismantled in 1967 the same year the last train went through Arden.

On a positive note, the Legion is open and it is just up the road where the former rail line, now Canada trail, is.

Mountain Grove Ontario - former rail line and abandoned church and Mountain Grove Rowers Club