VIA High Frequency Rail Project

Discussion in 'VIA Rail Canada Discussion' started by cbustrains, Jun 27, 2019.

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  1. Aug 2, 2019 #26

    Urban Sky

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    You seem to forget that this project is primarily pitched towards private investors and if these deem the business case for Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal as superior to that of the same route but extended beyond Montreal, then that Eastern segment won’t be built unless the taxpayer steps in to narrow the gap between the investor’s estimated ROI for this segment and that of the T-O-M core. And given that that segment is entirely interprovincial, it’s much more likely to be the provincial than the federal taxpayer who will have to absorb at least part of the capital costs for that segment...
     
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  2. Aug 2, 2019 #27

    jiml

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    Welcome to Canadian politics. The current federal government's survival depends on votes from this portion of the route. VIA knows they will never "sell" the proposal to them unless QC is front and center. Windsor and the rest of southwestern Ontario are irrelevant, hence their exclusion.
     
  3. Aug 2, 2019 #28

    MikefromCrete

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    All politics is local .
     
  4. Aug 2, 2019 #29

    jiml

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    The other "elephant in the room" when it comes to politics is that the Canadian federal government and the Ontario provincial (state) government don't like each other at all. Before they began sinking into a swamp of other controversies, the Ontario government had proposed taking over the Toronto - Windsor portion of the corridor with a view to track and other improvements, including a potential connection to Detroit. The yield would have been Higher Speed Rail on that portion, which is entirely within Ontario. (This subject was covered in a thread on another forum and may have been touched on elsewhere here.) It was part of a larger focus on rail infrastructure throughout the province. VIA was well aware of this - another reason why the southwestern leg may have been excluded from the proposal in the first place. It was unclear who the train operator would be on the route - continuing with VIA or taken over by GO. I have to admit that 3-4 hours in an uncomfortable GO seat without food or beverage service would not be a major attraction. (VIA currently does a nice Business Class similar to the rest of the corridor - often with two BC cars on Fridays and Sundays.)
     
  5. Aug 4, 2019 #30

    Anderson

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    Of course, mentioning that I wonder if the plan might not be to entangle Amtrak somehow. Amtrak's talk of putting a large amount of money into that corridor in a presentation in Richmond a few months ago (I would need to check my notes but I think it was $1.5bn) suggests the possibility of something being afoot. Taking the context of these two things, I suspect that if Amtrak invested in such an operation it would be in the context of a contract with the province.

    I can't speak to the politics or the logic really lining up, but the possibility of there being some sort of a deal to have Amtrak run a higher-speed corridor in the lurking makes sense in the context of a provincial/federal pissing match. Now, if only we could get an annoyed state to bring VIA in under contract...
     
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  6. Aug 4, 2019 #31

    Anderson

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    So, I checked my notes. It was $1.8bn, not $1.5bn. As I said, it was an oddball proposal and it struck me as very odd, but if Ontario doesn't want to deal with VIA for some reason (and TBH I don't know why anyone would want to deal with Amtrak over VIA) Amtrak is well-positioned to jump in here.
     
  7. Aug 4, 2019 #32

    bretton88

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    I feel like there's some misunderstanding with that Amtrak corridor idea. Amtrak is looking at upgrading the US sides (NY and Michigan) of the corridor. The Canadian side is either VIAs or the provincial responsibility. Especially in the Toronto to Montreal corridor where VIA owns a lot of the proposed trackage, so you can't exactly cut VIA out of the picture.
     
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  8. Aug 4, 2019 #33

    bretton88

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    That whole Amtrak involvement thing reminds me of a scheme floated years ago to have Amtrak "acquire" VIA. As all crazy ideas, there was a grain of sense to it. The idea was that a committed entity would have the scale to decrease costs, especially in the purchasing department, where VIA is just to small to get any good pricing. It was also seen as a good way to develop the Corridor since Amtrak has expertise in house for developing and running a corridor. Politically in the USA this was a non starter and quietly dropped.
     
  9. Aug 4, 2019 #34

    jis

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    Amtrak seems to have the ability to evoke all sorts of crazy brain activity among us railfans and even advocates from time to time. :D

    I suspect that politically in Canada would be as much a non starter as it was in the USA. There is often not much love lost between the US and Canada. The situation is probably considerably worse now with tariff wars and what not.
     
  10. Aug 4, 2019 #35

    bretton88

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    This came from VIAs side of things. I think we forget how close VIA was to completely dying under the Harper government. There was no hope of acquiring new equipment, and operating funds where extremely limited. Since VIA is not created by legislation, it would have been extremely simple politically on the Canadian side, the Harper government would have loved to unload it. On the US side, politics, the fact that Amtrak wasn't exactly thriving at the time, and the fact that VIA had very little to bring to the table guaranteed it was going to be DOA. I have a friend who worked in VIAs management at the time. These where the kind of ideas they came up with when they weren't even sure if they'd be operational the next year. In the end, prestige class, a doubling down on the corridor service, and a decent amount of debt is The solution VIA made happen.
     
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  11. Aug 4, 2019 #36

    jis

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    Yeah, I don't think that would have flown in the US (as it didn't) unless VIA came with enough money to cover its cost of operation, which is of course the very thing they lacked. When Amtrak is unable to fulfill its stated mission in the US due to lack of funds it would have been mind boggling for it to spend money to prop up operations in Canada.
     
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  12. Aug 5, 2019 #37

    jiml

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    Other than portions of Brockville - Ottawa, what corridor trackage east of Toronto does VIA own? It's all CN.
     
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  13. Aug 5, 2019 #38

    jiml

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    This is unfortunately true. I am older and retired, but have lived through many generations of US - Canada relations. Historically we've been great friends, allies and trading partners. Heck, I even studied American history in high school. Lately the situation has deteriorated to the lowest level I can remember. As I posted on another thread, the respective governments have a lot to do with the current situation and as people with longer memories become less relevant, we can only hope that saner heads prevail on both sides of the border and things return to "normal".
     
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  14. Aug 5, 2019 #39

    jiml

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    There are not a lot of real facts in this post. While your speculation that the Harper government would have preferred to reduce costs in every area (including VIA) is correct, they actually made significant investments in the railroad. Most initiatives that are successful today were undertaken during their tenure - locomotive and rolling stock refurbishments, increased frequencies and the acquisition of trackage facing abandonment by the freight railroads. In the past 3 years the current government has shown little real interest in VIA. The current proposal being discussed in this thread is not going to happen - everyone knows it and it's little more than a fun subject to speculate on. The new equipment purchase was intended as a "bone" thrown to Bombardier that backfired when VIA did the smart thing and chose Siemens. Let's not give too much credit until those trains actually materialize and go into service (and let's see how many of the original order get delivered).
     
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  15. Aug 5, 2019 #40

    jis

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    That $1.8 billion has nothing to do with Canada or VIA. It is a fraction of what is needed for the Empire Corridor/Adirondack and Michigan. There will not be a penny left to spend on anything to do with running trains in Canada. Another example of crazy brain activity evoked by Amtrak perhaps? LOL! :eek:
     
  16. Aug 5, 2019 #41

    Michigan Mom

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    Granted I've only ridden VIA from Windsor-Toronto in the summer (and will be again shortly) but it's always seemed that the trains are packed and there would be demand to fill a fourth roundtrip.
     
  17. Aug 5, 2019 #42

    Urban Sky

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    In addition to Windsor-Chatham (i.e. the Western part of the otherwise still CN-owned Chatham Sub), VIA owns Brockville-Smiths Falls (ex-CP Brockville Sub), Smiths Falls-Federal Jct. (ex-CN Smiths Falls Sub), Federal Jct.-Ottawa (ex-CN Beachburg Sub) and Ottawa-Coteau (ex-CN Alexandria Sub).

    Except for Saturdays (when train 75 terminates as train 81 in London) and Sunday (when train 70 originates as train 80 in London), there are already four roundtrips offered every day, with trains 70/71, 72/73, 75/76 and 78/79.
     
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  18. Aug 5, 2019 #43

    jis

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    That is basically the loop through Ottawa/Fallowfield, connecting to the Toronto - Montreal main line at Brockville and Coteau, right?
     
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  19. Aug 5, 2019 #44

    Anderson

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    The $1.8bn figure seems high for the Michigan side of "just" Detroit-Toronto (versus Chicago-Toronto), though as an all-in cost including funding from Ontario (and possibly limited kick-in from Amtrak in exchange for a long-term operating contract and/or equipment leasing) it probably makes sense (even if the figure would probably grow). $1.8bn was the starting figure for Washington-Richmond, so I can buy into that being what's covered.
     
  20. Aug 5, 2019 #45

    jis

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    Yeah that makes slightly more sense, as long as it is Ontario pitching in. Though I still find it hard to believe since I can see a royal fisticuff over Union rules in Canada. Amtrak may have to contract with CN and VIA crew for operating in Canada, which throws in an additional twist. If Amtrak is operating with Canadian crew using Canadian rules etc., what is Amtrak about it at that point?

    Which raises the question in my mind, does Rocky Mountaineer have their own T&E crew or doe they simply use CP? I don't know how things work in Canada, but I do know Amtrak is having a bit of an issue with extending the Vermonter to Montreal, and it looks like they won;t be able to use their own T&E crew and will have to shell out the bucks to use CN crew.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  21. Aug 6, 2019 #46

    jiml

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    You just confirmed my point, there is no VIA-owned trackage east of Toronto except Brockville - Ottawa. I was simply disputing the previous comment: " in the Toronto to Montreal corridor where VIA owns a lot of the proposed trackage".
     
  22. Aug 6, 2019 #47

    jiml

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    RM was CP-operated at first, but are now advertising for locomotive engineers (among other positions). Do Amtrak engineers/conductors operate the Adirondack all the way into Montreal?
     
  23. Aug 6, 2019 #48

    jis

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    Yes. The Adirondack is Amtrak crewed the whole way.
     
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  24. Aug 6, 2019 #49

    jiml

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    Thanks, I did not know that. Presumed a CN crew took over at some point, similar to the Montrealer back in the day.
     
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  25. Aug 6, 2019 #50

    Urban Sky

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    There is no VIA-owned trackage east of Toronto except Brockville - Ottawa - Coteau.
     
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