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^ I take great care with information that comes to me quietly, to ensure that I am not forwarding information that would violate anyone's personal or business privacy, and especially to ensure that I'm not getting anyone in hot water for having forwarded it in the first place.

In this case, I would not consider an email that was apparently transmitted to several thousand employees as particularly confidential. I am sure that VIA would not circulate such a memo with any critical business IP in it, as they know that with that big an audience, and given the topic, someone somewhere will pass it onwards. I would not treat an individually addressed email or a technical or business document in this way, but this particular document was pretty innocuous.

In my view, it actually paints VIA in a good light - the fact that this technical "discovery" didn't result in reconsidering the whole business case for these trains is very good news. The fleet won't last forever.

Press releases are not known for their candour or informativeness, and they generally aren't worth the pixels they consume.

- Paul
 
What about the communities that require these trains? They will be shafted come the summer/fall when things start to get better and travel is ok again.

That's an interesting point. There are a number of remote stops in northern Ontario. Granted small numbers of people but might also impact some remote sports lodges. I don't know how many are totally rail dependent vs. those that have some form of road connection.
 
That's an interesting point. There are a number of remote stops in northern Ontario. Granted small numbers of people but might also impact some remote sports lodges. I don't know how many are totally rail dependent vs. those that have some form of road connection.

Churchill is a good example. I do believe there is no road connection only rail or in limited cases air and water.
 
Churchill is a good example. I do believe there is no road connection only rail or in limited cases air and water.

True, but I'm not aware that Winnipeg-Churchill is suspended. The Canadian (Toronto-Vancouver) and Ocean (Montreal-Halifax) are suspended, and Canadian serves a number of remote/isolated stops in northern Ontario.

Jasper-Prince Rupert is suspended as well for unstated "infrastructure issues".
 
I wonder if they are doing any deep cleaning and/or preventive maintenance. Not just on these trains but the fleet. Fantastic time for that. They can make these trains feel brand new for a lot of users.
 
Every disclosure of non-public information is a violation of trust and therefore an ethical issue. Nevertheless, there are of course situations where the disclosure can be justified, but I believe that such a decision should consider the following:
  • Does the same (or equivalent) information already exist?
  • Is there a public interest to disclose this information?
  • Can the disclosure of this information harm anyone?

^ I take great care with information that comes to me quietly, to ensure that I am not forwarding information that would violate anyone's personal or business privacy, and especially to ensure that I'm not getting anyone in hot water for having forwarded it in the first place.
Yeah right, you took so much consideration that you didn't even bother to search if the decision had already been publicly announced in the meanwhile.^^

For the records: the Email was sent to all employees on Wednesday at 11:02, the press release was published at 17:46, whereas you dumped here the entire content of the Email at 19:30, thus almost two hours after a press release was published.

In this case, I would not consider an email that was apparently transmitted to several thousand employees as particularly confidential. I am sure that VIA would not circulate such a memo with any critical business IP in it, as they know that with that big an audience, and given the topic, someone somewhere will pass it onwards. I would not treat an individually addressed email or a technical or business document in this way, but this particular document was pretty innocuous.
My point was not that the Email was particularly sensitive, but that it was largely irrelevant to the audience here. We are not on Wikileaks, we don't disclose information for the sake of disclosure. If you wanted to inform us that the Canadian and Ocean are suspended, then why did you not just write that? For instance:

"I've just heard that the Ocean and the Canadian are now cancelled until at least November, I'm sure there will be soon a press release, indeed, here it is: [link/quote]"

If you insist that the Email includes information which provide additional (i.e. incremental) insights over press releases which "generally aren't worth the pixels they consume", then how do you want to establish that without searching for the press release in the first place?

I'm not "feeling aggrieved" that one of my colleagues was so naive to forward this Email to you (and apparently forgot to ask you not to share it), but of your laziness to simply copy&paste the entire Email without any redaction effort, because you could apparently not be bothered to paraphrase what you had read (let alone: search for a public source).

I have closely followed the discussions on Skyscraper Page, Railroad.net, Amtrak Unlimited, CPTDB and Groups and nowhere has a poster disclosed the Email to inform about the decision.

For an example of an appropriate and responsible use of public and non-public information in Social Media, I refer to a certain poster on Groups, who apparently also is a silent reader here:
  • In a first post, he remarked that the reservation system had been adjusted to no longer accept bookings before November 1,
  • in a second post, he shared the press release and
  • in a third post, he linked to your post remarking that a letter to all employees had been disclosed here.
If you have a look at his third post, you can see how he only quotes two short sentence fragments to get his point across:

1589078844969.png


Yes, that is 34 (or only 6.2%) of the 547 words used in that Email, but can you find anything else in the Email you deem to be relevant enough to this discussion and to provide sufficient additional insights not already offered by the press release to justify your disclosure?

There was no harm in publishing this.
Paul is of course right that no CEO in it's right mind would share any information with all of his employees at once, if he considered any of it as damaging to the company if disclosed to a third party or the public. Nevertheless, just like Paul ignored two-thirds of the questions one should consider before disclosing any non-public information, you are ignoring one-half of the sides involved in this communication: the employees, at which this letter was addressed.

As was hinted in the second-last paragraph, VIA's management has gone to great lengths to avoid laying off its employees as much as possible (a decision which is of course much easier to justify if your shareholder is the federal government - and therefore remains on the hook financially if your laid-off employees apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or regular employment insurance benefits - than for a public corporation like Air Canada with private shareholders) and I am once again proud to work for an employer which puts its employees first. However, even at reduced pay (for those who no longer have enough duties to work full hours, including myself), there is only that long that any company (even a taxpayer-funded one) operating only less than 20% of its regular timetable volume (if you compare this temporary schedule with the regular one) can keep close-to-all of its employees on its payroll. And this is why the news that the Canadian and the Ocean will be suspended for another 5 full months than what was previously communicated is deeply unsettling for many VIA employees, especially for those who are only trained to work on these routes (like on-train staff and, especially, locomotive engineers or station staff).

Now consider that operational employees which currently have no trains to work on might not be checking their work phones as often for news from HQ as regularly working employees are. Even though it is unavoidable that a large number of them will have learnt about the extended cancellation of their trains through news or social media, they deserve to have a chance to at least read the Email which explains them this decision before they find it shared across social media (and read by members of the general public). And this is why I take much less offence at what was shared than at when it was shared: not even 9 hours after it was communicated to all employees...

Just in case you wonder how I learnt of this decision: I was in a video conference with my team (we've all been working from home since mid-March, except those who absolutely have to work physically on-site) when one of my colleagues saw the Email in his inbox and shared the news. As someone who plans and adjusts the equipment deployment for the Canadian and other routes west of the Corridor (among countless other responsibilities, of course), Wednesday's decision has profound implications for my work, but even I was informed only at the same time as everyone else. I thankfully had more than enough reasons to anticipate that the cancellation date would be pushed by a few more months, but the fact that it took only eight-and-a-half hours for a note-to-all-employees to find its way into a public forum underlines why certain decisions unfortunately have to be kept between a bare minimum of people before they can be communicated to all employees at once, which then starts a race-against-the-clock in which the press release needs to be written and the travel advisory and reservation system needs to be updated, in the hope that the press release will reach the public before the employee communication does. So again: it is less the content than the speed with which something is leaked which is harmful.

I hope that these thoughts and insights will make one or the other reader here rethink his personal attitude towards disclosing non-public information (not just of VIA, but of any company, organisation or individual) and realize that the benefits of delaying the disclosure are three-fold:
  1. As time passes, the information's potential to harm anyone decreases.
  2. At the same time, the probability that information enters the public domain which reveals similar (if not: the same) information, which obviates the relevance of the information we wanted to disclose, increases.
  3. Finally, every minute we gain (before publishing that information) can be invested to improve our understanding of the information's potential harm and the information which is already publicly available.
I know it is not really realistic to hold (predominantly) anonymous Social Media users accountable to the same standard as we hold journalists, but I still believe it's an ideal worth striving for...:)
 
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I have been pondering HFR and have some questions I'm hoping the railfans and pros can help me figure out.

1) I've read somewhere (don't recall where) that HFR would have 17 departures each way per day. Thinking of hourly service from Union, how exactly would that work? First departure at 6am and last at 10pm? I can't imagine trains could arrive at Montreal that late? So what would a rough schedule be out of Toronto?

2) Given that it's a single track project, is there enough capacity to run half hourly service on higher demand portions. Specifically, I'm thinking Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City could be run with additional services reaching 30 min headways throughout the day. Would that be feasible?
 
I have been pondering HFR and have some questions I'm hoping the railfans and pros can help me figure out.

1) I've read somewhere (don't recall where) that HFR would have 17 departures each way per day. Thinking of hourly service from Union, how exactly would that work? First departure at 6am and last at 10pm? I can't imagine trains could arrive at Montreal that late? So what would a rough schedule be out of Toronto?

2) Given that it's a single track project, is there enough capacity to run half hourly service on higher demand portions. Specifically, I'm thinking Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City could be run with additional services reaching 30 min headways throughout the day. Would that be feasible?
1) I don’t recall seeing 17 trains mentioned anywhere publicly, but not all departures leaving Montreal or Toronto have to travel beyond Ottawa, just like not all departures out of Ottawa (in either direction) have to originate in Montreal or Toronto...
2) The minimum frequency will be constrained by the number of trainsets present in the fleet, the number, length and location of sidings along the route and the number of slots agreed with the host railroads (esp. CN/CP into Montreal or Metrolinx into Toronto)...
 
Paul is of course right that no CEO in it's right mind would share any information with all of his employees at once, if he considered any of it as damaging to the company if disclosed to a third party or the public. Nevertheless, just like Paul ignored two-thirds of the questions one should consider before disclosing any non-public information, you are ignoring one-half of the sides involved in this communication: the employees, at which this letter was addressed.

I won't respond to all of your points because a) it would take the group further off topic than I feel it should go and b) as I will explain, I'm not sure either of us will change our positions much.

In my career I did inside work on lots of such communications - hard news to large workforces. (Sometimes the text even had my phone number and email at the bottom as the go-to person for next steps). So I understand the dynamics and the sensitivities. At the same time, I have personally had to try to beat social media to the punch in reporting on a serious incident that was newsworthy and spread like wildfire (lesson learned: it just isn't possible to draft news releases, get them vetted by senior management and legal and corporate communications, and then issued, as fast as people with smartphones outside the plant gate can create the news.). I have had a CBC camera crew at our plant gate at 1AM because some radio enthusiast mistook our elaborate training simulation for the real end of the world (notwithstanding "This is a drill" before most transmissions). Most importantly, I have a lot of hands-on insight into how major announcements are scripted, and how releases are carefully scheduled and timed. And how they will spread. Admittedly, I am making assumptions about VIA's intent, but in fact one purpose is to give employees something concrete that they can physically pass to family and friends. The whole point is so people are sharing a planned set of data, rather than a verbal "My manager told me that...." which inevitably becomes a broken telephone exercise. At some point, sidewalk observers are assumed to be part of that food chain.

I certainly regret if I did rub salt in any wounds for you or any of your coworkers, or if I did in fact beat VIA to the punch in reaching any of its workforce. But I don't agree that this sort of forum works as journalism does, although there are certainly common points. My key decision rules were a) was I doing anything that would blow back on the person who was doing the sharing and b) could I cite the source document rather than parse it, for the benefit of readers who might wonder if I was just spreading an unfounded rumour from a non-reputable source. And c) If I, as someone on the perimeter, had the document, it was already rather well travelled and past its best-before date.

If you would like to compare, have a look at how Air Canada's CEO handled the same announcement. It's on Youtube, so I'm confident it too has made the rounds. It's a much bleaker message - your jobs are gone, and they won't be coming back. The guy looks positively haggard. The AC message to employees is 2 minutes longer than the message to the public. It contains specific details that the public announcement doesn't. That in particular is why I would not defer to the press release - we do want to know the fuller details, even if it's painful for people to know we have them.

- Paul
 
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I have been pondering HFR and have some questions I'm hoping the railfans and pros can help me figure out.

1) I've read somewhere (don't recall where) that HFR would have 17 departures each way per day. Thinking of hourly service from Union, how exactly would that work? First departure at 6am and last at 10pm? I can't imagine trains could arrive at Montreal that late? So what would a rough schedule be out of Toronto?

2) Given that it's a single track project, is there enough capacity to run half hourly service on higher demand portions. Specifically, I'm thinking Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City could be run with additional services reaching 30 min headways throughout the day. Would that be feasible?

1) Don't assume that all runs go all the way to the other end. Kingston Hub, for instance. Or that the departures are rigidly hourly.... maybe two are in the same peak hour but there is a gap later in the evening

2) It's a matter of math. Hourly trains = equals a meet every 30 minutes. Assume some average speed, that tells you how often you need to space the meeting points. Half-hourly trains, you need a siding every 15 minutes instead of every half hour....twice as many sidings Assume three or four minutes' delay every meet. A 30 minute service will force longer trip times, as you will be doubling the number of meets, and even if meets are well timed, each one creates some delay.

Way back, I did some very primitive amateur back of envelope modelling based on siding spacings that matched old timetable placements. (The point of putting the sidings back in their historical location is, the roadbed is already there...less cost to build em there ).The traditional siding spacing was generally one siding every 7 miles. At 95 mph nominal track speed, you can shift a meet down the line by 7 miles and not create much delay if a train is delayed. So yes 30 minute headways will fit, sort of, assuming fairly high end traffic control that can accurately predict the best spot for all those meets, and sidings spaced close enough together to cover all contingencies.

What did get wonky was if one assumed a stopping GO service at peak hours west of Peterboro, with even hourly HFR on the same single track line. The difference in speeds ties up track much longer than HFR expresses. My non-expert conclusion is that there will have to be some doubletracking if GO is in fact planned for that segment.

- Paul
 
I don't see much need for GO alongside HFR... Peterborough just isn't that high demand a service. An extra departure or two scheduled for the peak really ought to handle things for now.

Yes, there is some potential for service on the corridor within Toronto proper, but that obviously needs double tracking given that anything short of RER like frequencies really won't be competitive with surface transit.

In the long term I still hold out for eventually building GO a new line parallel to 115 and 35 from Newcastle to Pontypool and a university spur in Peterborough, allowing GO to reach Peterborough, interchanging with HFR at Peterborough and terminating the Lakeshore line at Trent, but this is really a post HFR, post RER project at the earliest.
 
I really don't see the need for a separate GO service to Peterborough. Via already has commuter-oriented services so they're no stranger to that type of service and can offer it themselves. Plus I'd expect most trains to stop in Peterborough. The number of grade crossings in the central area (15 crossings in less than 4 km) means that trains are going to be slowing down significantly anyway, and stopping would add very little time. There's really no need for two agencies to operate on the line when Via can handle intercity and commuter traffic alike.
 
I don't see much need for GO alongside HFR...

I really don't see the need for a separate GO service to Peterborough. Via already has commuter-oriented services so they're no stranger to that type of service and can offer it themselves. Plus I'd expect most trains to stop in Peterborough. The number of grade crossings in the central area (15 crossings in less than 4 km) means that trains are going to be slowing down significantly anyway, and stopping would add very little time. There's really no need for two agencies to operate on the line when Via can handle intercity and commuter traffic alike.

Here's how I look at Peterborough. It's only slightly further from Toronto than Barrie. Yet, Barrie has twice the population. The only difference as I see it is commutability. With a decade of HFR, I suspect GO will have to get to Peterborough.
 
2) The minimum frequency will be constrained by the number of trainsets present in the fleet, the number, length and location of sidings along the route and the number of slots agreed with the host railroads (esp. CN/CP into Montreal or Metrolinx into Toronto)...
2) It's a matter of math. Hourly trains = equals a meet every 30 minutes. Assume some average speed, that tells you how often you need to space the meeting points. Half-hourly trains, you need a siding every 15 minutes instead of every half hour....twice as many sidings Assume three or four minutes' delay every meet. A 30 minute service will force longer trip times, as you will be doubling the number of meets, and even if meets are well timed, each one creates some delay.

Way back, I did some very primitive amateur back of envelope modelling based on siding spacings that matched old timetable placements. (The point of putting the sidings back in their historical location is, the roadbed is already there...less cost to build em there ).The traditional siding spacing was generally one siding every 7 miles. At 95 mph nominal track speed, you can shift a meet down the line by 7 miles and not create much delay if a train is delayed. So yes 30 minute headways will fit, sort of, assuming fairly high end traffic control that can accurately predict the best spot for all those meets, and sidings spaced close enough together to cover all contingencies.

Would double tracking/platforms at stations between Ottawa and Montreal and Montreal and Quebec City work?

Interested in this because I see so much potential for this stretch. I think it could support more than hourly. At least on Ottawa-Montreal.
 

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