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smallspy

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Putting aside being able to put up the poles before any other construction, there is no way it should take more than 3 years to electrify 250km of track.

Are we talking about 250 route-km of track, or 250 actual miles of trackage on somewhat less corridor length? Because those are two completely different things.

As for whether it will or won't, a lot of that comes down to preparation. The Brits installed 1400 track-km of overhead on the East Coast Mainline in the 7 years from 1984 to 1991 - but that didn't include the year or so of prep and engineering ahead of that, and it also resulted in a system that is now having to be upgraded in some places and replaced in others. Be careful of what you wish for if speed is your priority.

All they need due is contract the construction to several different companies at the same time. As for not having any experience, that is a loud of crap. As I understand it, subdivisions get new lighting and electrical poles put up all the time all over the damn place.

You realize that the number of contractors that are capable of working near operating rail lines is extremely limited, right? Hell, most of them are already contracted to do other work for Metrolinx.

And how many subdivisions are required to keep trains running past at 60 or 70mph every 15 minutes? The comparison is a laughable one at best.

Dan
 

ssiguy2

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Maybe we're in the wrong frame of reference. Metrolinx was mostly pulling the numbers based on how they think this is all going to go. With DB on the project, they will likely knock some sense into this whole thing. I don't know if they will speed up stringing the wires, but they will definetely recommend/actively pursue the most efficient implemention plan possible.

If Metrolinx has any sense {which admittedly is a long shot} they will do what I recommended earlier and go full tilt on one particular line to get it up and running by 2024. The faster they get individual lines running the faster they will see the financial and operational benefits of electrification. Considering diesel makes up 50% of operational costs, that would be a whopping savings every single year before the entire RER system is electrified.

West & East Lakeshore lines would be the most beneficial in getting done first. They are the busiest lines with the highest frequencies and have the most closely spaced stations so the savings would be the greatest. After Lakeshore it should then be Brampton/Stoufville. I've always thought the Barrie Line should be the last one electrified as it's 100km but with not near the ridership or frequency of the Lakeshores and has relatively fewer stations.
 
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TopOfRail

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If Metrolinx has any sense {which admittedly is a long shot} they will do what I recommended earlier and go full tilt on one particular line to get it up and running by 2024.
The beginning of 2024 is a little over 15mos away and this is more than wishful thinking. We'd be lucky to see the field investigations completed by 2024 if I'm giving my honest assessment.

There are so many things to consider when electrifying that haven't remotely been touched (as far as I'm aware). Consider the following to name a few off the top of my head:
  1. Geotechnical information required to design a structural foundation for the pole (assume something like one every 50-60m),
  2. Structural loading that will be applied to the pole from a catenary system that isn't even known or widely used for double stack heavy rail in N America,
  3. Optimization to provide a foundation and pole design that isn't bespoke for every single location but considers varying soil or bedrock conditions,
  4. Coordination to provide designs that can also be mobilized and constructed efficiently,
  5. Validation with the existing track to ensure the height and stagger of contact wires is within some yet to be defined tolerance. Heck, do MX even have a survey of all their track assets to do this(!),
  6. Making design decisions to improve track geometry that may not fit with OCS gradients,
  7. Perhaps even the design or modification of specialized equipment to install piles/foundations, poles, wires, for construction and future maintenance,
  8. Much more from the electrical supply perspective too! Not to mention H&S policies that haven't been developed for working with OCS.
It's a mammoth task that hurts my head just thinking about it. While approaching the construction side with a "full tilt" strategy makes sense (that's kind of the whole point of good design), we shouldn't be isolating one line in particular when it comes to the above. It's clear from the OnCorr contract that the province isn't looking to buy electrification but really invest in electrification over the decades to come. Step One of onboarding the OnCorr team is just the start of this and I'm sure companies like DB can provide a lot of expertise on these matters. One would hope to see evidence of the groundwork kicking off in the next 12mos.

I do think we've missed a trick to queue jump with the development of hydrogen powered locomotives given all the above, but that's for sure another discussion.
 

crs1026

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It's a mammoth task that hurts my head just thinking about it.

I am more optimistic that the EA and past engineering work is further along than you fear. Certainly if you poke around the newer stations and civil structures you will find a lot of bonding and grounding - so electrification is being baked into things as they are being built. Same with signalling.Similarly I do believe that ML has inventoried its property well….. the challenge is more the number of tasks that have to be coordinated with a variety of municipalities eg changes to footbridges and overpasses.
Overall, what has held up electrification for the last 12 years since the EA was completed is a) sticker shock and b) the realisation that this task is indeed hugely complex with far more moving parts than ML (who can barely project manage three-car funeral processions) dares undertake…..and the political realisation that this project could burn any politician who launched it. So, since about 2016 we have been chasing this P3 idea in hopes that a qualified consortium might know enough to succeed, where ML was certain to fail.

The biggest risk I see is that the soon-to-be-onboarded consortium will look at all the assembled engineering and design data and say, “that’s nice, but that’s not how we design them in (wherever)” …… and then pitch all the accumulated engineering work and start designing all over. That might be the right decision but that would put to waste an awful lot of expensive design, and create added delay and confusion…… especially if some things have already been baked into work as I suggested.

I do think we've missed a trick to queue jump with the development of hydrogen powered locomotives given all the above, but that's for sure another discussion.

There’s a saying - “he with the lead butt wins”. Just leave a problem alone, and eventually it may disappear. Procrastination and avoidance may well be less risky and more rewarding than taking a bull by the horns and attempting to do the right thing.
I am convinced that the years of delay in electrifying the network has had a huge cost and has been a disservice to Ontario….. but you may be right….. now that it isn’t 2016 and we are almost at 2023, some new technology may well be closer to commercial viability than a consortium is close to stringing wires. But how certain are we ? For all their complexity, Wires are still the lesser risk.

- Paul
 
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ssiguy2

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Of course, all this is academic until they actually get the electric locomotives.

Are these new locos going to actually be new or will they take the current ICE ones and switch them over to electric or a combination of the 2?
 

crs1026

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Of course, all this is academic until they actually get the electric locomotives.

Are these new locos going to actually be new or will they take the current ICE ones and switch them over to electric or a combination of the 2?

I don't understand the obsession with locomotives. Procuring rolling stock is a relatively quick and easy part of the whole project. Try procuring electrical switchgear.

As noted, the time consuming part is all the work to modify the right of way to provide safe clearances for electricity, get the wires erected, get the power supply infrastructure installed, install a control system for the power supply. Sure, some of this will be informed by the type of rolling stock one intends to use, but even those specs will be somewhat generic and will be laid down long before an equipment order is placed.

- Paul
 

rbt

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As noted, the time consuming part is all the work to modify the right of way to provide safe clearances for electricity, get the wires erected, get the power supply infrastructure installed, install a control system for the power supply. Sure, some of this will be informed by the type of rolling stock one intends to use...

Would the electrified rolling stock actually make a difference given the necessity to accommodate double-stack freight and existing diesel GO trains nearly everywhere in the network? I would have expected their clearance envelopes to be larger than any commonly available electrified gear.
 
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crs1026

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Would the electrified rolling stock actually make a difference given the necessity to accommodate double-stack freight and existing diesel GO trains nearly everywhere in the network? I would have expected their clearance envelopes to be larger than any commonly available electrified gear.

The preferred clearance specs were laid out in the Electrification EA, and I am confident that they were specc’d to meet any equipment that GO might anticipate buying, as well as “conventional” freight that might happen on GO lines.

If you look here at page 33, and here at 5.2.1, it appears that ML provided a double stack route through its lines, but that clearance is not provided on all routes and not on all tracks within the double-stack-friendly routes.

It's a bit moot considering that neither CN nor CP will agree to electrification on their tracks, period.

Certainly the Indian Railways have proven that double stack can run under wires, but how their spec compares to GO's I am not aware.

- Paul

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 11.40.16 AM.png
 

just east of the creek

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The preferred clearance specs were laid out in the Electrification EA, and I am confident that they were specc’d to meet any equipment that GO might anticipate buying, as well as “conventional” freight that might happen on GO lines.

If you look here at page 33, and here at 5.2.1, it appears that ML provided a double stack route through its lines, but that clearance is not provided on all routes and not on all tracks within the double-stack-friendly routes.

It's a bit moot considering that neither CN nor CP will agree to electrification on their tracks, period.

Certainly the Indian Railways have proven that double stack can run under wires, but how their spec compares to GO's I am not aware.

- Paul

View attachment 430073
Ok, and maybe this was covered elsewhere, but for example, Lakeshore West, how are connections made into Hamilton? Budd cars standing by in Burlington come to mind. Same for Lakeshore East? I am assuming Niagara, Stouffville bound trains will be diesel, maybe hydrogen? And the Milton, Barrie lines switch over to diesel at some point and run both power units from Union to destination and back?
 

crs1026

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Ok, and maybe this was covered elsewhere, but for example, Lakeshore West, how are connections made into Hamilton? Budd cars standing by in Burlington come to mind. Same for Lakeshore East? I am assuming Niagara, Stouffville bound trains will be diesel, maybe hydrogen? And the Milton, Barrie lines switch over to diesel at some point and run both power units from Union to destination and back?

It changes from announcement to announcement, - but the definitive original proposal was in the ML GO Expansion Business Case, Section 3.1

The P3 vendor probably has revised this considerably.

- Paul

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 9.53.17 PM.png
 

Bureaucromancer

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It's a bit moot considering that neither CN nor CP will agree to electrification on their tracks, period.
We really need to stop accepting a flat "no" as an answer. If that means Metrolinx being a persistent thorn in their sides until we get a legislative intervention so be it, but the days of letting freight operators outright refuse to work with public agencies should be long gone.
 
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crs1026

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We really need to stop accepting a flat "no" as an answer. If that means Metrolinx being a persistent thorn in their sides until we get a legislative intervention so be it, but the days of letting freight operators outright refusing to work with public agencies should be long gone.

I’m in total agreement with you that the playing field isn’t level. Perhaps a federal legislative intervention is justified…. if I were in Cabinet it would happen. The mealymouthed positions that every Transport Minister in recent memory take on these matters are pretty disgusting.

But we are not Mps, and that legislation would be such a huge change from policy for all three parties. So dwelling on that may just be yelling at clouds. We may have to play the ball where it sits.

What is less clear to me is whether Ml has the legal option of taking the freight railways before some tribunal such as the CTA and pleading their case…. I suspect they do, but the impact that would have on their relationship with CN and CP would not be pretty.
And, the old maxim applies - never ask a court (or tribunal) a question unless you are prepared to live with the answer. One sees many situations where Ml, VIA, and others don’t take the railways to court as they might have the right to….. perhaps they already suspect the answer might not be in their favour. A ruling in law becomes irrevocable, whereas if you are negotiating out of court there is always a hope that you can change the other party’s position. So maybe more prudent to stay non-lethal.

And, having said all that, to be honest I’m not sure I want 25kv wires anywhere near a track where trains are hauling solid blocks of ethanol or propane or petroleum….. or many other hazardous commodities… in built-up urban areas. The Mavis Road incident was 43 years ago, but one was enough.

- Paul
 

afransen

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Are the railways so powerful that the feds need to bow before them? Seems to me, the railways continue to have a favourable operating environment at the discretion of the feds, and so it should not be too difficult to have the railways play ball at access to their assets in urban areas. Seems to me there is a lot more to be gained by leveraging urban assets than the cost to the railways.
 

crs1026

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Are the railways so powerful that the feds need to bow before them? Seems to me, the railways continue to have a favourable operating environment at the discretion of the feds, and so it should not be too difficult to have the railways play ball at access to their assets in urban areas. Seems to me there is a lot more to be gained by leveraging urban assets than the cost to the railways.

I’m not a spectator to the halls of power, so I can’t say with credibility. But yes, while the railways may at times pull the wool over naive MPs’ eyes with cries of poverty, there are big levers they can pull.

For example, right now Cando and CN are building a new railyard in Fort Saskatchewan as a joint venture to serve Alberta’s chemical patch. When completed it will be one of the biggest rail yards in North America. You can imagine the political fallout if CN were to say, look, Ottawa is too hard to deal with, so we are pulling out. We will deliver whatever capacity our existing yards can handle, but that’s all.

Similarly, there is a car plant in Ontario that is being retooled, and the new vehicles to be produced can only ship by rail if a certain type of railcar is made available. If CN decides that there is no margin in buying more of those transporter cars…..the plant may still produce, but the higher price of vehicles delivered by highway will affect sales, possibly killing a second shift......and the impacct of the added highway truck traffic that causes…….

And then there is the prairie grain network….

I would like to see a new legislated policy that says that in urban areas, the rail corridors are subject to public interest considerations unlike rail lines in open country. We can’t just go out and carve new corridors into our cities to meet new needs, we should optimise the use of what is there for all users. We should not downplay impacts on freight, however…. and we may have to make shareholders whole. Or build freight bypasses around cities, on the taxpayer’s dime.

- Paul
 
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dowlingm

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The preferred clearance specs were laid out in the Electrification EA, and I am confident that they were specc’d to meet any equipment that GO might anticipate buying, as well as “conventional” freight that might happen on GO lines.

If you look here at page 33, and here at 5.2.1, it appears that ML provided a double stack route through its lines, but that clearance is not provided on all routes and not on all tracks within the double-stack-friendly routes.

It's a bit moot considering that neither CN nor CP will agree to electrification on their tracks, period.

Certainly the Indian Railways have proven that double stack can run under wires, but how their spec compares to GO's I am not aware.
@smallspy I assume part of the issue here is that CN infra is cleared to plate K (for autoracks) and inserting plate H electrifIcation downgrades the route? Aside from clearance, do the freight roads have other objections, like “servicing and fault repair of the electrical gear will cause increases in track downtime”?
 

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