Via Rail "Corridor" Upgrades/HFR

Jozhua

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6 Jan 2019
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1,566
Not seen a thread on this project, but essentially it seems VIA are looking to upgrade what is essentially the Canadian equivalent of the NEC. That seems pretty good, eh?

It is involving de-segregation of passenger and freight trains as unlike the NEC, the route shares tracks with freight operators, creating many the same problems at their buddies to the south, Amtrak, have on Southern/Western routes.

Liberals announce plans for new 'high frequency' rail lines from Toronto to Quebec City

The federal government is moving forward with a plan to build an all-new high frequency rail line connecting Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.

The proposed lines would reduce travel times between the cities and make trains more reliable, according to plans for the project.

Trains on the proposed line would run at higher speeds than are currently possible. The government is not describing the project as "high speed" rail, however, since vehicles would still fall short of the speeds typically associated with high speed rail networks in Europe and Asia.

"Up to 90 per cent of the new service would run on electricity, contributing to a green economy and creating good jobs," Alghabra said.

VIA Rail says reliability, speed and frequency would improve
According to VIA Rail, a high frequency rail line operating on dedicated tracks would cut travel times by 25 per cent and improve on-time performance by 95 per cent.
Trains on the line would travel at speeds of up to 177-200 km/h, according to a government news release. The government says that could reduce travel times by up to 90 minutes on some routes, such as Ottawa to Toronto.
Those speeds are faster than the current maximum of approximately 160 km/h for VIA Rail trains. Modern high speed rail lines are capable of at least 250 km/h.

My Thoughts
BIG IF TRUE - A recurring theme through the Anglosphere is the announcement and then shadow cancelling of these projects. While full HSR would be nice, this plan arguably meets the lower requirements for high speed rail anyway and seeing a 90 minute reduction between two of Canada's biggest cities is seriously big news. Current journey times are just less than 5 hours to cover 400km (250mi). That's probably just about equivalent to flying downtown-downtown and about 30-45 minutes slower than driving (assuming you don't stop, so probably about equal). A 90 minute reduction will take that down below 4 hours to 3hr 15m, which is actually pretty competitive, even on an international scale.

From looking at the VIA site the three a day services seem to be pretty booked up, so I can imagine there is a lot of room for growth, even with services being run every two hours and within fairly sociable hours. In many ways, HFR will likely reduce VIA's overheads as rolling stock and staff can make more journeys in the same day (easily being able to make 1x return trip, so no hotel expenses, etc.) alongside electrification reducing fuel costs, which is a big positive considering Canada's Hydro/Nuclear energy supply.

I hope the success of this project helps build more public and bi-partisan political support, as Canada does generally better than their neighbours to the south in terms of city public transportation, but worse in terms of inter-city rail. The high quality metro/bus services should feed a fair few riders in to the system!
 
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Gag Halfrunt

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23 Jul 2019
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In 2018 VIA ordered 32 Siemens diesel push-pull sets for Corridor services, similar to the ones used by Brightline. Perhaps they will now order electric locomotives to replace the Charger diesel locomotives and cascade the Chargers on to other services...

 

Jozhua

Established Member
Joined
6 Jan 2019
Messages
1,566
In 2018 VIA ordered 32 Siemens diesel push-pull sets for Corridor services, similar to the ones used by Brightline. Perhaps they will now order electric locomotives to replace the Charger diesel locomotives and cascade the Chargers on to other services...

I would expect HFR won't break ground for another 12-24 months, if the project progresses quickly. It will probably take at least 5 years to complete, so I'd say 2027/8 for completion of HFR, at which time VIA should have had 5/6 years of use out of the Siemens kit. Obviously that's still pretty small in terms of its lifetime, but I'm sure there is plenty of other VIA services that it would be useful for if they decide not to use it to run HFR.

The only rolling stock alternative to Siemens would probably be something like the Stadler electric stuff being used on Caltrain, or obviously just buy some electric/bi-mode locos and probably order some more Siemens coaches to run the service.
 

williamn

Member
Joined
22 May 2008
Messages
717
Very good news. Prior to Covid there were many more than 3 trains a day (more like 5/6 I think) so hopefully post Covid it can ramp up even more.
 

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