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I wonder if the blockades taught CP and CN about how it is better to be able to connect to anyone than no move.

This wasn't their first rodeo with this kind of stuff. One would think that, if those responsible for risk/strategic management at CN/CP thought it was an issue worthy of solution they would have done it long ago. On the lakeshore corridor, there are long stretches between Newcastle and Belleville where they can quite literally throw rocks at each other and interchange tracks would be cheap and simple. If you look at Google earth, you can see a few spots where they were and have been abandoned.
 
VIA’s HFR fact sheet (don’t have handy or I could cite the link) has words to the effect of “without subsidy”.
@alexanderglista once posted an evolution of that infographic, but it is already 3.5 years old.

I take that as code for “Will bring an end to subsidy on this route” which I am sure is there not for the IB’s satisfaction as much as for the bureaucrats and pundits and competing modes. The only scenario that I can imagine is that VIA’s annual envelope would be reduced as HFR opens.
If the fundamental performance trends observed between 2014 and 2018 could be sustained, the Corridor would be profitable east and west of Toronto by 2031, even after including its allocation of fixed costs (recall that without them, it already recovers over 130% of its variable costs, which pays roughly twice for the negative contribution of the non-Corridor routes):
1590718059974.png

Compiled and extrapolated from: VIA Rail Annual Reports 2014 and 2018

The only reasons why these trends can't be sustained are (if we ignore global pandemics) the limits imposed by the lack of capacity (fleet) and frequencies (track access) - and both are vastly expanded by HFR (and the associated second delivery of trainsets)...

***

I agree entirely about Oshawa, and there's actually an even worse iteration. The first morning train to Ottawa at the moment doesn't do Guildwood and is too early to count on a connection from the first eastbound Lakeshore GO train. Probably says more that GO needs an earlier train than VIA's doing something wrong, but this sort of problem really is what ends up with people driving to stations, if not giving up altogether.
I agree that more trains should stop in Guildwood (and most probably will with HFR), but train 50 (i.e. the first morning train to Ottawa) has been stopping in Guildwood (just like train 60 as the first morning train to Montreal does, since both trains are jayed) since that train was introduced (as Rapido train "Capital") in January 1985:
1590719055973.png

Source: VIA Rail (official timetable, effective 1984-10-28, p.32)

1590719276361.png

Source: VIA Rail (official timetable, effective 2019-06-02 [revised as of 2020-03-08], p.32)

Just in case you wonder what makes me sound so certain that it's been stopping in Guildwood every single timetable in the last 35 years::

1590748839210.png

1590748984739.png
 
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Funny. I must have forgotten that that was a Sunday only issue.

Or maybe it was that I couldn't make the timing work for 50 at either station... That seems more likely, but honestly I'd have to go dig out the dates this bit me on and find GO schedules from a couple years back.
 
That’s part of why I am grinding the Kingston thing so much....whatever service is contemplated for that route post-HFR must also be break-even. Otherwise, the bureaucrats will swoop in and kill it.

One wonders if Ottawa and Ontario are both waiting for the other to pick up the cheque....I can see Ottawa declaring that the limit of its support extends to HFR 1.0 only, and any support for regional service west or east of Toronto is Ontario’s problem.

- Paul
@Urban Sky - Re the Lakeshore, I still see a contradiction between your vision (the Netherlands model) and what CN and Ottawa will allow. I agree that the NL vision might generate comparable ridership in Ontario, but is expensive and highly subsidised. The reality, as I predicted above, is that Ottawa will demand break even, and CN will want its track back. One can apply the data model you have offered, and predict additional ridership on the basis of population growth, improved and consistent offering for intermediate station pairs, and new pricing. However, CN will want to lower track speed (or demand additional compensation for maintaining the present); conflict with freight will remain and impact reliability; service between the longer station pairs (which generate the most revenue per ticket sold) will lose time competitiveness as intermediate stops are added. So there will be negatives and not just positives. At the end of the day, the local service will face all the same hurdles that cause VIA to want a separate route for HFR, while becoming harder to sustain with CN or generate public support.

I would predict a service pattern with no more than 5 trains each way Toronto-Kingston, maybe 3 of those continuing to Ottawa, two continuing to Montreal, and one being an overnight layover in Kingston in each direction (the pretend “hub”). Assume track speeds are lowered to 80 mph in line with what CN delivers Burlington-London. All trains making all stops. Equal CN antipathy and thus impediment from freight. Will that break even? If not, it isn’t sustainable. Will VIA have a public mandate and political and bureaucratic support and managerial bandwidth for a secondary service when HFR is sexier? Kingston will become the new Kitchener.

- Paul
Just to be sure: I never proposed the "Netherlands vision" as a template for the future Lakeshore service, I only mentioned it to show that in other countries, such a corridor would be considered a viable corridor even for very frequent service. Future service will certainly have a lower nominal train count, but as my table showed, much less than currently 17 trains per direction are needed to match the current frequencies offered to any of these cities (and especially between these intermediary cities).

As much as trying to predict the future from the past is a bad investment strategy, I find it the most promising strategy when anticipating how the federal government (and especially Transport Canada) would manage post-HFR VIA. Despite the favorite narrative of most "rail entusiasts" and self-declared "rail experts" in this country, VIA's history is not dominated by cuts and decline. Granted, its first 15 years of existance saw a consolidation (mostly by rationalizing the overlapping CN and CP networks) in 1976-1979 and then some cuts in 1981 (partly reversed in 1985) and of course the devastating cuts in 1990. However, since 1990, VIA's network has been remarkably stable and seen considerable growth in the Corridor (just look at QBEC-MTRL, MTRL-OTTW and OTTW-TRTO, which all grew from 3 trains per day to 5, 6 and 10 trains today). In fact, all five routes which disappeared in the last 30 years (the Atlantic, the Chaleau, Senneterre-Cochrane, Pukatawagan-Lynn Lake, Victoria-Courtenay) were lost due to infrastructure issues (and we are not talking about the downgrade-to-80-rather-than-100-mph category).

In the same way, the frequencies the federal government has allowed VIA to offer seem to generally respect the "minimum frequencies" outlined in Schedule 1 of the legislature enacting the 1990-01-15 cuts, which happen to match the January 1990 timetable. Besides the once-weekly mixed train Wabowden-Churchill and the third frequency of the The Pas-Pukatawagan train, all routes continue to operate at frequencies which respect the "minimum frquencies" I just mentioned. The only rupture were the 2012 cuts, when the federal government imposed a budget cut onto VIA, but gave VIA the liberty to decide where these cuts would do the least damage, which reduced the frequencies offered between London&Sarnia, Toronto&Niagara Falls and (during winter only) on the Canadian below the 1990 levels:
1590802356625.png

Note: service levels below those of 1990 are highlighted in orange (when caused by infrastructure issues) or yellow (when caused by funding cuts)

Apart from the 1990 cuts, the federal government's approach to VIA seems to have been "the status quo with limited incremental changes" and it is not surprising that this has also become VIA's own approach during the last decades (one just needs to recall the obscure Friday-only stop of train 26 in Coteau, which has survived since 1992 in VIA's schedules...). Therefore, I am not exactly sure why people here seem to expect that the federal government would abandon its commitment towards the people in Port Hope, Cobourg, Belleville, Kingston, Brockville and Cobourg (which collectively account for 400,000 people) the moment HFR gets introduced. That of course doesn't guarantee current service levels, but I would again look at the 1990 levels as an indication of what Ottawa might be considering a "minimum service" (and again, except for two short periods in Smiths Falls and Trenton Junction, the number of trains stopping at a given station has never fallen below the 1990 levels):
1590803172921.png


All of this does of course not replace a firm indication from the government of what kind of service it would support along the Kingston Subdivision (if you insist that it wouldn't recover its direct costs). Nevertheless, in absence of such indications, I believe that past behavior is the best guidance we have for now to make such predictions...


@Urban Sky


Any thoughts on Paul's points?

Is HFR actually feasible on CN's Lakeshore corridor? Would triple tracking be required for the whole length? Is it even possible to mix long freight trains going that slow and get any speed gains for passenger trains out of it?
You would not just require separate tracks, but also the ROW owner ceding dispatching powers - over tracks laid on his lands...
Would the splitting of Ottawa and Montreal traffic on the Lakeshore corridor make it less attractive as a concept? Or does all the other local traffic compensate?
In my personal view, the only way to adequately serve the end-to-end markets (MTRL-OTTW, MTRL-TRTO, OTTW-TRTO) and the intermediary markets (anything from/to other stations) is to serve all end-to-end markets with one single service and all intermediary markets with a different service achieving the same. Anything else will either result in high operating costs or the large variety of hybrid trains we currently have and which struggle to serve any market adequately. If you fill out the following table with the frequencies for different hypothetical scenarios, we can have a deeper look at these trade-offs:

FromviaToDistance (km)Scenario AScenario BScenario C
QBECTRIVMTRL277
QBECDRMVMTRL272
MTRLALEXOTTW187
MTRLCWLLKGON285
OTTWSMTFKGON192
KGONTRTO254
OTTWP'boroTRTO400
 
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If I am reading the Supplementary Estimates document correctly, the government is actually increasing VIA's annual subsidy by roughly $265M, no doubt to address the cumulative effects of lost revenue from the pandemic closure, and perhaps the earlier closure due to blockades. (And perhaps the HEP1 inspections and repairs?)

The funding for HFR is a separate amount. Perhaps VIA has been able to advance the HFR work during the closure....or perhaps it is changing in cost or scope.

- Paul
 
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Why wasn't this funded to begin with? It's getting frustrating to see how slow this is moving. Shouldn't the routing study be done by now?
 

Brief mention in Maclean's:

"Chugging along:
Back in 2016, a federal budget first mentioned VIA Rail’s proposal to launch “high-frequency” rail in its Quebec City-Windsor corridor. That plan would see more dedicated tracks and faster service. Supplementary estimates tabled in the Commons this week included $14.8 million for more of what a VIA spokesman called “technical work” that explores “interoperability and integration” of high-frequency rail with other existing transit services. Eventually, the people of Peterborough, Ont., who lost rail access to Toronto lo so many years ago might once again get their own station."
 
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Why wasn't this funded to begin with? It's getting frustrating to see how slow this is moving. Shouldn't the routing study be done by now?

I wonder if those words "work with other operators to ensure interoperability and access" may mean, "we are still having difficulty convincing the freight railroads to get on board with HFR using their corridors in Toronto and Montreal".

If you recall the Wynne proposal for a bypass west of Toronto, CN appeared to demand study after study during the lengthy negotiation phase. I am suspicious that VIA may be be getting the filibuster treatment also.

And in fairness, the Cape-Dorval-Coteau section of CN's mainline will be even busier with HFR, and it's a critical stretch for CN. And CN is not thrilled with electrification anywhere along its lines.

And, three hundred miles to the west, a different passenger operator is in the midst of building a flyover over the very same CP line that VIA crosses at grade at De Beaujeu, and may cross at Leaside. Perhaps the impacts of HFR on CP are potentially just as inconvenient.

- Paul
 
And, three hundred miles to the west, a different passenger operator is in the midst of building a flyover over the very same CP line that VIA crosses at grade at De Beaujeu, and may cross at Leaside. Perhaps the impacts of HFR on CP are potentially just as inconvenient.

- Paul

I'm a little unclear on this part. Are you referring to Metrolinx and the Davenport Overpass for the "flyover"? Also, which grade crossing is at "De Beaujeu"? I just assumed the $6-8B HFR cost (is that even the right number?) would have included multiple rail over/under grade separations for HFR to get from the south side of the CP North Toronto/Belleville Sub to get to the north side and onto the CP Havelock Sub, and that further east (and to address that CN issue), there would be further grade separation issues.

Also, would the swing bridge in Peterborough need to be replaced given how old it is?
 
I'm a little unclear on this part. Are you referring to Metrolinx and the Davenport Overpass for the "flyover"? Also, which grade crossing is at "De Beaujeu"? I just assumed the $6-8B HFR cost (is that even the right number?) would have included multiple rail over/under grade separations for HFR to get from the south side of the CP North Toronto/Belleville Sub to get to the north side and onto the CP Havelock Sub, and that further east (and to address that CN issue), there would be further grade separation issues.

Also, would the swing bridge in Peterborough need to be replaced given how old it is?

Sorry to be oblique. Yeah, I was comparing Davenport with De Beaujeu (which is where CP's Montreal-Toronto line crosses VIA's Ottawa-Montreal line at grade). HFR could be as disruptive as RER to CP's operation. I'm not clear on who is the 'superior' railroad at that crossing, it's partly historical but there may have been deals made over the years (as is the case at Davenport)

Until we see VIA's detailed plan, I make no assumptions about what VIA might do, because their envelope is modest. I could see their trying to make due without costly grade separations. While I definitely think they should do a proper job, there will be "value engineering" and VIA will be challenged to see if CP will agree to forego some things.

The swing bridge would have to be replaced, partly given its age (see the attached shot of its turning mechanism) and possibly because with HFR it would be closed for more time than the canal users could accept, and any opening/closing takes up track time.

- Paul

20180719 Lift Bridge ears.jpg
 
The swing bridge would have to be replaced, partly given its age (see the attached shot of its turning mechanism) and possibly because with HFR it would be closed for more time than the canal users could accept, and any opening/closing takes up track time.

- Paul

View attachment 249561

Depending on things like scheduling, frequency, signalling, etc. I can foresee a conflict between VIA and Parks Canada, unless they can come up with a fast enough turning mechanism.

Maybe they can build a 'drop lock' like they have in Dalmuir Scotland!

1591324373196.png
 

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