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ByeByeBaby

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In layman's terms what is Hyperloop/Transpod?

It is a hybrid system that combines some key aspects of bullshit, and some of Engineer's Disease, the syndrome where someone who is competent in one technical field decides they must be competent in all technical fields (not unique to engineers, it's also notably suffered by physicists.)
 

CBBarnett

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These left-field ideas are only boosted in this province to relieve the government of any responsibility of actually doing practical real things to improve intercity transport. Easiest way to never do anything is study it, , evaluate it, study it, look a new shiny object, let's study that one.

Meanwhile something practical - like acquiring the entirety of a relatively straight, dedicated alignment from city centre to city centre that works for any future transportation system - quietly never proceeds. I think the first recommendation of acquiring a good corridor was made sometime in the 1980s? How are we doing on that?

If the province can set aside a corridor that can handle high capacity objects (of any technology) moving between 150 - 300km/h you will have revolutionized this province's transport and economic system. No one needs to go 1,000km/h between Calgary and Edmonton, despite what those exponential functions in trip generation models tell us (although if we go even faster we can generate infinite trips per day! We'd be stupid not to do it!)
 

darwink

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Alberta should do typical HSR and let the more populated world centres figure this stuff out.
There isn’t a reason why we shouldn’t be technology agnostic - if this works it would be an extraordinary coup for the province. There was no sign the province was interested in putting in leg work to recruit HSR providers. I guess for me it is a no lose option.
 

Mountain Man

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The technology is unproven and the business case requires this to be faster and cheaper than flying, so while it would be nice to pioneer something like this, it just isn't going to happen in my mind. HSR is already a very long shot in my lifetime and I'm still in my 30s lol.
 

CBBarnett

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Relevant, but I assume we will eventually spend a few hundred thousand dollars on consultants for our own study anyways:
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-hyperloop-not-yet-viable-report-says/

The link to the report itself is missing, but the summary is that the technology itself is "not fully conceptualized" and in the near and medium future it's not competitive with existing rail, high speed rail and maglev technologies. Essentially there are too many gaps in the technology systems required to prove it can be feasible, let alone competitive or economic. Estimated cost per kilometre is a fairly wild guess at $56M/km.

Alberta especially (and Canada generally) should accept it's a laggard in transportation technologies and focus efforts on implementing feasible and existing solutions that can be built today. And the bar is low to being the best implementer: we would lead the continent in effective inter city travel - and be the only example of a contemporary intercity rail system being established - by having a modern, greenfield 200km/h electrified rail between Calgary and Edmonton.
 
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darwink

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And the bar is low to being the best implementer: we would lead the continent in effective inner city travel - and be the only example of a contemporary intercity rail system being established - by having a modern, greenfield 200km/h electrified rail between Calgary and Edmonton.
The cost difference between that and high speed rail would be negligible.
 

JesseLikesCities

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At what? 3.5 million people, does the Calgary-Edmonton corridor really have the population to support HSR or Hyperloop? Focusing on LRT and BRT in the two major cities as well as upgrading the QEII to six lanes would be what I'd ideally like to see provincial transit/infrastructure money earmarked for.
 

darwink

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At what? 3.5 million people, does the Calgary-Edmonton corridor really have the population to support HSR or Hyperloop? Focusing on LRT and BRT in the two major cities as well as upgrading the QEII to six lanes would be what I'd ideally like to see provincial transit/infrastructure money earmarked for.
Yes, because our city pair generates way more traffic between the two compared to what our city pair would produce if we were surrounded in a grid by cities of a similar size. I get it, we seem small! But our somewhat unique circumstances put us in a unique position akin to having two cities of 4 million the same distance apart but in a grid.

Your second point, the tradeoff, drifts away for the most part once you conceptualize that the urban projects and HSR/hyperloop are very different propositions business case wise. It is really hard for LRT and BRT to capture their economic benefit as revenue directly, as the cost drivers and reason for LRT/BRT development are due to costs imposed by, and for the benefits of other modes, not LRT/BRT, and the cost differential for many trips versus alternatives isn't there. HSR/hyperloop, the cost driver is maximizing speed and safety of the mode. The time savings are significant. The HSR/hyperloop can capture a big part of the economic benefit they create because you can charge a cost recovery fare and still generate enough benefit to the user to generate significant ridership.

So you don't need any (or no where near the total capital cost) investment from the province to make HSR work (there would be optional things the province might insist on which would likely require provincial investment or local TIFs, like an urban location of a Red Deer Station, or the stations being multimodal/capable of serving future additional services rather than simple affairs).
 

JonnyCanuck

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I can't imagine the passenger traffic between Edmonton & Calgary ever being high enough to justify high speed rail of any kind. They can't justify the cost of running the same between Toronto and Montreal. (3-4 times the population base of Calg/Edm). The Turbo back in the 70's was an ill fated attempt.
Much of the traffic between Calgary and Edmonton is commerce and the movement of goods. Unfortunately HSR from a fixed point A to a fixed point B, is not conducive to commerce.
 

CBBarnett

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I can't imagine the passenger traffic between Edmonton & Calgary ever being high enough to justify high speed rail of any kind. They can't justify the cost of running the same between Toronto and Montreal. (3-4 times the population base of Cal-Edm). The Turbo back in the 70's was an ill fated attempt.
Much of the traffic between Calgary and Edmonton is commerce and the movement of goods. Unfortunately HSR from a fixed point A to a fixed point B, is not conducive to commerce.
Well, a quick look at Ontario 401 (600km) v. Alberta QE2 (300km city to city) traffic numbers reveals that traffic east of Cornwall - presumably mostly Montreal origin/destination traffic - is about 16,000 - 20,000 vehicles per day (2016 numbers is all I could find). It also appears to be the lowest traveled section of the whole 401 (peaking at near 400,000(!) daily trips in the GTA). In the east of Cornwall section, I would suspect a large portion is semi-trucks as the corridor is absolutely packed with them anecdotally when I drive there (sorry can't find data). Also I would assume there would be larger local traffic in all the towns/cities in the middle, as the 401's surrounding population density is higher with loads of small and mid-sized towns along almost the whole route. Source

A similarly remote area, half-way between Red Deer and Leduc, has the lowest traffic counts on the QE2 - about 28,000 - 30,000 / day. There is no way there is a higher portion of freight or local traffic on the QE2 than the 401 - which connects the two largest manufacturing hubs in the country - but if evidence suggests otherwise I would love to see it. Source

So from this half-effort analysis I am inclined to believe:
  • Travelers make up a far higher percentage of traffic on the QE2
  • The total highway travelers is likely *higher* between Cal-Edm than Tor-Mtl, in absolute terms
  • Total trips Tor-Mtl might be much higher in total, with a huge number of flights (pre-covid) between the cities ( don't have the data)
  • Makes sense to me that road trips are lower and flights are a higher share due to distance and travel time (600km v. 300km)
  • No matter what speed the rail, both connections would benefit from improved network resiliency: frequent collisions, congestion and bad winter weather often closes down the roads and shuts all commerce and travel
  • No matter what speed the rail, both connections offer big social/environment benefits over current situation: potential for new trips from non-car travellers, emission benefits
For solutions:
  • For Toronto and Montreal: given the distance and high amount of air competition, any rail-based solution will need to compete on speed and city-centre to city-centre convenience as air travel is so much more competitive. This points to faster rail solutions (or relying on all the cities along the way to generate more trips such as the HFR proposal that routes through Ottawa to get between Toronto and Montreal, expanding the market)
  • For Alberta: speed advantages are more limited. If high-speed rail got you Calgary to Edmonton at 300km/h in 1 hour, you save 2 hours. For Toronto to Montreal you save 4 hours at the same speed. Would be awesome either way, but saving 2 hours vs. saving half a day is a big difference when it comes to economics of travel time savings
  • I don't know if this means that high-speed rail makes sense in one corridor, both or neither. Any solution will require people to care about travel time savings, network resiliency improvements and the social/environmental benefits and would require some government involvement to secure the right-of-way (at least).

My thought would be leaning towards Alberta's being cheap and fast-ish approach (straight as possible and grade separated, but don't bend over backwards to ensure the thing goes 300km/h+ the whole time). Anything less than 2.5 hour travel time core-to-core, would vastly improve the current situation for travel time, resiliency, environment and social benefits. If faster, great! Anything under 2 hours puts Calgary and Edmonton into the range of the ultra-commuters - work in one city and live in the other. That really changes the economic game in the future, as the cities become close enough together their economic identities begin to blur. Throw a suburban Red Deer station in there as well, as it's evolving into a fairly large hub.

Toronto to Montreal is trickier - needs to be go far but also fast enough to compete with air. The airport locations in both cities and their general congestion levels helps rail competitiveness, but it's a long way to go. The HFR approach is probably about right as long as the corridor is future-proofed as much as possible so you can keep increasing speeds as the travel demand grows. For an example, most French TGV lines started at lower speeds in the 1980s (200 - 250km/h) and slowly improved until today's 300km/h+ on some routes.
 

Ubran Outdoorsman

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I wonder how they plan to go from the airport to downtown and beyond. The simplest option in my mind would be to extend the blue or green line to the airport and share the c-train tracks. Maybe even extend the redline to cochrane and link up with cp rail from there. But I'm assuming there would be issues using light rail all the way to banff
 

darwink

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I'm assuming there would be issues using light rail all the way to banff
Not really. Though I am not sure any tram trains in the world exist that are FRA compliant.

I wonder how they plan to go from the airport to downtown and beyond.
Probably in the most boring way. Up Nose Creek, then on a dedicated guideway. Think an optimized by corporate finance UPExpress. I'd bet a single track guideway over deerfoot.
 

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