High Speed Rail Support from the Young Liberals of Canada - Jeunes libéraux du Canada

The Young Liberals of Canada released their 2020 Policies. The prioritized High Speed Rail in the Ontario-Quebec corridor as a priority.

The Young Liberals spelled out their rationale for fast tracking high speed rail in Canada. Nice to see young people recognizing that proven technology like high speed rail is needed in Canada.

Hyperloop and the Sci-Fi Fantasy

Reality Check for Hyperloop 

With the latest news that the Alberta government was interested in the Transpod Hyperloop, we felt it was time for an update on our previous story.

What are some of the critical problems in trying to make hyperloop become a reality?


It’s easy to destroy this system by making a small dent in the tube. Yes, it’s one inch thick steel, but there are easily attainable ways to dent one-inch steel. When you hit a small bump protruding inside the tube while going at 1,000 km/h nothing good can possibly happen regardless of capsule suspension design. As proposed the system is impossible to secure - Clem Tillier

Sudden Decompression 

The whole thing about hard vacuum versus partial vacuum is academic This is a 99.9% vacuum. In a sudden decompression the passengers cannot survive, regardless of whether oxygen masks are available. This is unlike an airliner where there is always sufficient residual pressure and oxygen to survive even the worst-case decompression event. - Clem Tillier

Thermal Expansion

 Due to changes in  temperature, the steel would change in structure. In bridges there are expansion joints to allow it to expand and shrink without compromising the structural integrity. The Hyperloop will require thermal expansion joints to function. Installing the joints on bridges is easy enough, however, they do not need to maintain a seal holding back billions of kilograms of force.

Phil Mason predicts the Hyperloop will require a joint every 100 meters. Over the entire distance, it would accumulate 6000 moving vacuum seals - all of which are a significant point of failure."A failure on any one of them would be disastrous to everyone inside"  Phil Mason - The Hyperloop Busted Video.


A proposed Hyperloop of 600 km with a diameter of about two meters,  will maintain a surface area of about four million meters squared. Given one square meter will experience 10,000 kg of force, the Hyperloop will have to endure nearly 40 billion kilograms of force over its entire surface.

A small compromise in the structure of the tube would result in a catastrophic implosion. If the tube became punctured, external air would tear into the tube, shredding it apart as it violently rushes in to fill the void. - Interesting Engineering - June 29th, 2017

Emergency Exits

Emergency exits in some form are required for the hyperloop. There are always emergencies that could occur in the tube and people must be evacuated. However, designing an emergency exit system that both accommodates sufficient safety and acceptable costs is complex.  What emergencies are critical and to what emergencies the system needs to be designed, is unclear.

A hyperloop has never been built and operated before, so practical experience and data is not readily available. It is hard to determine what is acceptable in terms of safety. Hyperloop Connected - Challenges for the Hyperloop, May 16, 2019

Transpod Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Province of Alberta


It seems unbelievable that Government of Alberta would support the Transpod, and their yet to be developed 1000 km/h technology, over high speed trains. Yet the governement has signed a memorandum of understanding 

The province is not putting any taxpayers money into the project but will identify suitable test track for the project. The company has raised some money for the test track project.

What is Transpod?

Since their are no existing Transpod systems in the world and the technology has not been proven we can only speculate on this Jetsons style dream plan.

According to their website the Transpod is: The TransPod vehicle is built like an airline jet fuselage, containing rows of seats inside. Passengers board from platforms at each station. Powered by electrically-driven magnetic propulsion, the vehicle departs, gently accelerates to full speed inside the TransPod tube infrastructure, and decelerates on approach to the final destination station.The TransPod tube system will carry passenger and cargo vehicles on the same route at the same time.

Interestingly when you go to their website and click on the Download button on the Infrastructure page you get an error message "404 page not found". You would think on the company website they would want to show you details of the infrastructure part of the Transpod plan. But then again letting us know the details would open up the technology to be scrutinized. 

Perhaps Transpod is no different than the Hyperloop schemes. Lots of money being spent with not one example of the technology working as the manufacturers have stated.

Why is the Alberta government not open for business for high speed rail expertise of countries like, Japan, Italy, France and China? High speed trains have been running for  a half of century around the world.

Déjà vu All Over Again - 1982 TranSyt

It seems like déjà vu all over again for long time supporters of any modern link between Calgary and Alberta. In 1982, TranSyt proposed to build a high speed 240km/h monorail between the two cities. Unfortunately the province could not come to terms with the company about building the test track and the dream ended..

Time will tell if the Government of Alberta is being taken for a ride....

The Return of Calgary to Banff Passenger Rail Dreams Continue

Banff Railway Station Alberta
Banff Railway Station Alberta - Buses or Trains - The Government is Reviewing Options

In 2014, High Speed Rail Canada reported that Vancouver businessman  Greg Dansereau’s had a plan for high speed rail between Calgary - Banff. Greg founded HSBanff.

HSBanff was a private not-for-profit group aimed at building a rail line that would take travellers from Calgary’s airport to the mountain town in as little as 26 minutes on a train going up to 400 kilometres per hour. The group aimed to raise $300,000. by crowdfunding to pay for the feasibility and environmental studies.

Fast forward to 2020, the HSBanff website is gone and their twitter page has not been updated for three years.

Calgary - Banff Passenger Rail Service Feasible

On February 28th, 2019, the Calgary Herald reported that Calgary to Banff passenger rail service was feasible . A new report stated it would cost $660M price tag.

The preliminary study, paid by municipal governments,stated that the two options, buses and trains, were examined. According to the study, the bus scenario is the most cost-effective (with capital costs of between $8.1 million and $19.6 million. It would be $660 million to $690 million for rail), a rail link would move more people and be a bigger boost for tourism in the long run, said City of Calgary Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra.

The passenger rail service would require construction of a new parallel track along the Canadian Pacific Railway right-of-way.

On June 9th, 2020, it was reported that Canada’s Infrastructure Bank would pay for a more detailed study for Alberta and the federal government about the feasibility of operating a passenger rail service between downtown Calgary, Calgary International Airport, and Banff. The study would look at a public-private partnership to build and potentially operate the rail line.

The CBC reported that Adam Waterous approached the infrastructure bank representatives about the idea. Adam, along with his wife Jan, owns the long-term lease to the Banff Train Station. The couple have been outspoken advocates of Calgary-Banff passenger rail.

Calgary - Banff Not High Speed Rail

Unfortunately some media and politicians started using the word “high speed” when describing the proposed Calgary-Banff passenger rail system. On July 2nd, 2020 an article in the Calgary Herald clarified the issue. Canada Infrastructure Bank officials stated in the article it would not be high speed rail.

Hopefully future discussion on the topic will not mention the words “high speed rail”. True high speed rail costs would be significantly higher, due to bridges, tunnels, grade separations, new alignments etc.

A true high speed passenger rail between Calgary and Edmonton ( $5 billion) which is realistic and the most practical line that can be done in Canada, was last rejected in 2014. The two cities wanted transit money for their own inner city transit proposals not for intercity passenger rail.

The cities of Calgary and Edmonton continue to work in isolation of each other. Their failure to cooperate on intercity issues such as connecting the cities by high speed passenger rail will result in the status quo continuing with no passenger rail between them.

In conclusion, time will tell if the latest passenger rail study between Calgary-Banff will result in any action being taken to return passenger rail service.

Magnovate - Maglev for the Toronto Zoo - Part II Engineering

Magnovate Maglev

This is our second part in a series of the Magnovate Company Maglev that has been approved to be put into the Toronto Zoo. The implementation of the Maglev at the Zoo will show to the world the potential of this technology.We will focus on the engineering benefits of the Maglev.

Maglev Engineering

Magline’s patented powertrain technology uses magnetic levitation (or maglev); a system of magnets to suspend and propel vehicles along a guideway. Maglev trains in Germany and Japan safely operated at speeds near 500 kph for decades, but are too expensive and lack high-speed switching capability. These existing systems long ago proved the enormous performance benefits of replacing conventional wheels-on- axles with frictionless maglev drives

Levitation eliminates the pounding of steel wheels on tracks as well as friction and rolling resistance and enables high speeds and unparalleled energy efficiency with minimal wear. Maglev vehicles cost less to build and make much less noise both inside and outside and have low maintenance costs. Versatile ground transport at substantially high speeds creates new opportunities for travel between distant cities, not mere incremental improvements as with HSR. Data from two different maglev systems with over a decade of daily passenger operations proves the engineering benefits of maglev. 

The engineering benefits are:

High Speed: Since lift, guidance, and propulsion occur without physical contact, speeds over 500 km/hr per hour are well within the technological limits. Magnetic drag is small at high speeds, and only aerodynamic drag consumes appreciable energy. Limiting the top speed of maglev is a cost trade-off decision, not a physical or engineering limit.

High frequency service: Maglev has the potential for high frequency of service and the ability to serve central business districts, airports, and other metropolitan area nodes.

Faster trips
: Maglev offers superior acceleration rates and curving performance to high-speed rail, both of which serve to lower trip times. Door-to-door trip time is even lower than air travel for trips under 500 kms due to better access to maglev's smaller stations and to the taxi and idling time inherent in air travel. Maglev is competitive with nonstop flights for trips up to 800 kms.

Low energy consumption: The basic physics of magnetic lift and electrical propulsion provide high energy efficiency. Maglev can offer trip times competitive with air travel for a small fraction of the energy consumption. Even with the electrical conversion efficiencies typical of modern power plants factored in, maglev consumes only 25-50% the energy per seat-mile of a 737-300 for a 125 to 620 mile trip.

Low operating costs: Maglev's low energy consumption, low maintenance needs, and fully automated operation (in ATN configuration) combine to offer a potential for very low operating costs. In addition, while maglev's guideways require substantial initial investment, they offer enormous capacity. Operators could set low incremental ticket prices that would, nevertheless, exceed incremental costs. That could lead to very large traffic volumes, amortizing the original capital investment and making the economic performance of the system attractive in the long term.

High reliability: Maglev is less susceptible to congestion and weather conditions than air or highway.

Dedicated guideways,
excellent sensing and control features, and redundant braking enable vehicles to operate safely under more extreme conditions. Fog, rain, heavy snow, and high winds pose fewer safety concerns. Non-contact propulsion and braking render maglev less susceptible to the restrictions snow, ice, and rain place on other transportation systems.

No friction:
High-speed rail in Europe and Japan, and air travel in general, have outstanding safety records. However, both technologies require extensive maintenance (inspections and adjustments) to achieve such safety. Maglev propulsions is free from vehicle on track friction, so it avoids the financial burden of a speed/maintenance penalty which conventional HSR is subject to. Guideway maintenance for maglev systems is practically non-existent, regardless of speed, representing a huge benefit to inter- city lines.

Excellent System Control: Dedicated, powered guideways provide maglev with decisive control advantages over air and highway travel. A fully automated system with precise sensing and positioning control is possible. Such control capability, coupled with redundant braking modes, enables the use of very short vehicle headways.

High capacity: Maglev can transport 65,000 passengers per hour at a cost of $25 million per kilometer. An equivalent air capacity would be 60 Boeing 767's per hour departing in each direction at 1-minute intervals. Such a rate would tax even the most efficient airports. Comparable highway traffic would require 5 lanes per direction.

Safety: Design features make maglev vehicles inherently safe. Maglev offers exceptional derailment protection. Large-gap maglev systems, in particular, are much more tolerant of guideway displacements than high-speed rail. Elevated guideways help avoid accidents and automobile traffic while conserving land and integrity of farms.

Lightweight elevated guideways: Stations require little space to accommodate narrow maglev vehicles. Elevated guideways have small footprints and can be located along existing rail and highway rights-of-way, bringing maglev vehicles directly into inner-city terminals. With such access/egress advantages, maglev offers much lower access times and better intermodal connections than air travel.

Low noise: Maglev eliminates wheel-rail and pantograph-catenary contact, the major noise sources of high-speed rail at low speeds. Their absence allows higher speed and/or smaller buffer areas than other modes along noise-limited routes such as urban areas. At high speeds maglev produces half the noise as high-speed rail, providing benefits along rural route sections.

Freight transport:
Maglev offers the potential for fast, fully automated freight transport, with goods arriving within seconds of their scheduled time – perfect for "just-in-time" manufacturing.

For more information on Magnovate go to their website. http://magnovate.com