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Globe and Mail High Speed Rail Article Flawed

It does get depressing hearing the same old diatribe espoused from people who suggest non-solutions to our current, abysmal, passenger rail situation in Canada.

A recent poorly written article by Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail forced to me to wait, not 24 hours, not 48 hours, but 5 days after it was written to respond.

Mr. Mason starts off with the usual rant that high speed rail is too expensive and the province cannot afford it. What he fails to realize is that every large infrastructure project would also include the federal government and high speed rail projects would involve a public-private partnership. Mr. Mason ignores this basic fact.

Can the federal government afford it? It is all about priorities. Somehow they found $20 billion to fight a war in Afghanistan or the recent $25 billion for ship building in Nova Scotia.

The federal government spent $1.6 billion to build the Confederation Bridge in PEI and will pay a shocking $44 million subsidy to the company running the bridge for the next 33 years to pay the debt on it. Basically taxpayers are paying the mortgage.

Mr. Mason then uses the outdated argument that we do not have the population for higher speed passenger trains.

This argument reflects the same flawed logic that happens when we try and put light rail in our cities in Canada. Critics say we do not enough population to support it. Thankfully, then Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein ignored those critics when he installed their light rail system that began in 1981. I shudder to imagine what the traffic gridlock would be in Calgary today if that line had not been built.

Next Mr. Mason uses California’s troubles in putting in high speed rail as a reason not to put one in Calgary. For some reason, he chose to ignore the 24 other countries in the world who have built successful systems. Some of these countries have had them for over a half a century. The comparison between a potential Alberta high speed rail and the present situation in California is erroneous.

It is the solution that Mr. Mason suggests that clearly shows how, in Canada, we are so tragically behind the rest of the modern world in using higher speed rail to move people.

With no passenger rail at all between Calgary and Edmonton in over 25 years, Mr. Mason’s non- solution is to build another lane on the highway! It is this archaic thinking that has made Canada’s existing national passenger rail system stagnant, leaving great cities like Edmonton and Calgary with no passenger rail connection.

Mr. Mason, have a look at Toronto. It has 18 lanes of highway running through it. The result is gridlock. More highways are not the solution. We need alternatives, like higher speed passenger rail, to move people in this country.

Paul Langan


  1. Well written, Paul! The cooperation of a certain train manufacturer in authorizing the use of one of their designs to quicken the implementation of high-speed rail would be extremely helpful as well. It would be the spark that would light the North American high-speed passenger rail revolution on fire.

  2. StatsCanada 2005 Social Costs of Driving $187.5 Billion per year

  3. I don't think it's fair to compare the economic effects between LRT (subway and bus as well) and HSR. They have different purposes. Calgary and Edmonton can start off with a regular passenger/cargo rail service if the demand justifies the cost. Also, we can proceed with HSR if the passenger fare is competitive against airlines and if proven in a higher-demand corridor such as Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal. In case of South Korea where the demand is actually there, the fares are almost at the same level and sometimes the airlines (2 flag carriers & 5 LCC) offer cheaper fare.
    In addition, the list of how much money our government has wasted shouldn't be the reason why we need to build HSR.

  4. I heard the report on high speed rail. You need to know the real reason why VIA rail passenger service was removed between Calgary and Edmonton is the train had gotten involved in railway crossing accidents. I know that it is not VIA's fault, it's the car driver's fault. Also, to connect bigger high speed rail we need feeder trains. Remember what happened back in 1964 when the CN ran passenger trains and Mr. Jack Pickerskill didn't like trains so he put money into airplanes and that is why VIA rail is where it is now. The governent just doesnt want to make the most efficient use of tax payer's dollars. You don't have to ask me how that makes me feel. Your friend, Robbie Gibson.

  5. I totally agree with Paul Langan. Canada needs High Speed Rails.
    We cannot rely on highways roads with growing number of cars and other traffic. In next 5-6 years these roads will be highly insufficient to handle the current population. If Canada doesn't start planning its infrastructure right now, commuting will become next to impossible. Canada's is way behind in infrastructure as compared to most countries in Europe and Asia. The usual problem is, investment is too high. Well, investment has always been very high for all the countries who have invested in infrastructure, but this infrastructure has always led to improvements. Although the investment is high, this investment will for sure reap its fruit. We need to stop making things impossible and start thinking towards improving our future.

  6. Long term, it's probably chaper to maintain train tracks than 4-6 lane highways!


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