News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 02, 2020
 8.5K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 39K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 4.7K     0 

^ It’s doable, likely cheaper than Don Valley bridges along the Belleville Sub, but the TPAP/consultation materials for the RER expansion Kennedy- Scarboro Jct make no mention of that option.

And as has been discussed, until the SRT is demolished the clearances on that corridor are pretty tight, so going beyond double track would be difficult.. Interference from RER would be a concern.

If VIA is about to EA that routing, on top of the RER TPAP’s, on top of the planning to abandon and demolish SRT, it’s a colossal left hand/ right hand collision.

My worry all along with HFR has been whether VIA, in the interest of keeping costs down, will make bad decisions about doing things on the cheap. Putting HFR on the Stouffville GO line, which has constrained width, feels like too many eggs in one basket. I would rather see HFR take the Don line, and build those bridges, so HFR gets a proper foundation for growth towards HSR.

- Paul

Exactly. GO plans to run tons of service on the Stouffville line for RER. There simply isn’t enough space for the numerous passing tracks that would be required to properly let “express” VIA trains pass “local” GO trains. If VIA chooses Stouffville, then they will be back to where they are right now in terms of their trains getting stuck in traffic, but with GO trains slowing them down rather than CN freight.
 
^ I see that, but given it's not that long of a two-track stretch between Scarboro Junction and where the CP Belleville Sub intersects with the Stouffville Line, can't they make it work with signalling and crossovers? Plus the RER/GO Expansion GO trains will in their be shorter and be electritic so can't they squeeze in HFR?

@crs1026 good points. Just to debate and discuss. I can just see CP wanting a third track or more for their bridge over the Don River and imagine it would be expensive. Also, I'm not an expert but won't it be more complex to add bridge spans and support to that bridge since it has wide steel pillars rather than stone? Metrolinx/CN were able to add onto the existing pillars for their bridges over the Humber and Credit Rivers.

CP bridge:

Screen Shot 2020-06-26 at 2.11.13 PM.png


Hopefully some actual design and plans come out of this consultation mentioned in the Globe article.
 
^The problem I see is that westward HFR trains will have a variability of several minutes over the course of a run from Ottawa. So while in theory one could schedule them on paper in between RER slots, in practice they will turn up randomly and a certain number will face delay if they Have to follow a RER which will stop (at minimum) at Kennedy and possibly again if a SmartTrack station is added.
Also, as the connecting track would have to duck under CP, one would have to assume a “flat” junction with the RER. That would require one direction of HFR to cross over to/from the west RER track against the path of opposing RER Movements. That ties up both directions of RER for a few minutes each hour assuming hourly HFR. With an RER passing thru the junction every 7.5 minutes (assuming 15 minute headways in each direction) that’s a recipe for delays for somebody. And if ML or VIA ever wanted tighter headways....
Lastly, speed limits on the Stouffville line are pretty low. ML may intend to raise them, but using that line, and building a connector with tight curves, could cost HFR precious minutes of trip time. I would prefer that HFR get every possible bit of leverage. Slow track, combined with delay caused by conflict with RER, seems like penny wise but pound foolish.

- Paul
 
^ Good points, but for the issue with the Kennedy stop, VIA did show on their high-level HFR maps an Eglinton stop.

If the Don Branch is used, is it safe to assume CP would insist on a rail-over/under-rail grade separation somewhere between where the CP Belleville Sub crosses Eglinton Ave and the Agincourt yard?
 
Last edited:
^ Good points, but for the issue with the Kennedy stop, VIA did show on their high-level HFR maps an Eglinton stop.

If the Don Branch is used, is it safe to assume CP would insist on a rail-over/under-rail grade separation?

I imagine they would, but this is one of the few things that wouldn't be all that complex or expensive (not that its cheap); But where the Don Branch intersects the CP mainline is the largely disused Leaside Yard which has at least 4 tracks of ROW beyond the mainline. So lots of play if a flyunder/over were desired here.
 
I rather suspect that the issues being discussed here are a decent part of the holdup. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the terminal access question in Montreal and Toronto hadn't really been addressed at all in the original cost estimates and things are escalating fast with real study.

There's an opportunity to create an exceedingly useful piece of infrastructure if we use the Don Branch and do it right, but there's a real risk government walking away from the project if good terminal access becomes a major obstacle.

Does anyone have a sense of what a new line parallel to 115 would cost? It's been an idea of mine for some time as a way to extend Lakeshore GO to Peterborough, but I'm starting to think that it might be a good short term solution for HFR as well, while leaving the door open to moving to shifting back to the Havelock ROW if GO ever gets serious about the crosstown corridor.
 
Does anyone have a sense of what a new line parallel to 115 would cost? It's been an idea of mine for some time as a way to extend Lakeshore GO to Peterborough, but I'm starting to think that it might be a good short term solution for HFR as well, while leaving the door open to moving to shifting back to the Havelock ROW if GO ever gets serious about the crosstown corridor.

Looks like ~215km from the CN mainline to around Pontypool where it would meet the Havelock sub.

A cost estimate is more down @smallspy or @crs1026 alley than mine; but I'd take a ballpark guess at ~1.2M per KM, but that excludes stations and excludes any grade separation, or property acquisition.

Land here is not super expensive, but replacing bridges over the 115 ROW or having to completely redesign interchanges to accommodate the change would add up in a hurry.

So it wouldn't be cheap in terms of incremental costs.

That said, its something I've long supported to serve as an Oshawa-Peterborough connection, as well as allowing connections between multiple existing rail lines for diversions etc.

When I say supported, I do mean support the study and analysis of; as I would await facts before passing judgement.
 
Last edited:
I rather suspect that the issues being discussed here are a decent part of the holdup. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the terminal access question in Montreal and Toronto hadn't really been addressed at all in the original cost estimates and things are escalating fast with real study.

I would even go beyond terming this “real study”. If I were an investor doing due diligence around the project, I would want to see an executed Letter of Understanding with the freight railway(s) confirming their agreement to use of any shared corridors such as the Don-Agincourt segment, or the Dorval-Wellington segment outside Montreal, with costs and tenant rights nailed down very clearly, before any decision to invest. The terminal accesses are a stranglehold to the whole project, and offer the landlord railroads tremendous negotiating leverage. There’s no way a sane investor would commit money with access rights left up in the air. So nailing down the contractual aspects of the terminal portions is likely a prerequisite to a funding decision.

There's a parallel situation to the Stouffville route idea that tickles my inner conspiracy theorist - it’s the Liverpool- Guildwood zone. Metrolinx did a lot of work towards triple tracking that section, then backed away with a claim that they could manage with two tracks with better signalling. Coincidentally, LSE went to 15 minute service - and with that, VIA’s timekeeping went to hell. With longer headways, VIA seldom snuck up on GO west of Durham Jct, but with 15 minute GO headways, westbound VIA trains regularly had to creep behind GO trains in the Pickering-Guildwood section. And beyond, if VIA or GO were using the third track for eastbounds west of Guildwood. One wonders if ML welcomed the prospect of VIA moving its trains to the Don Valley.... and/or saw an opportunity to hit up Ottawa for a share of any new construction costs for the third track, which affects VIA as much as GO. Don’t assume that ML is any less of a self-interested landlord than CP or CN.

Also - the western approach to Montreal is in an interesting state right now. AMT has routed some commuter trains onto the CN/VIA route, circling the Mountain. All trains are forced to creep through the zone where REM is.under construction alongside the CN line. The first three miles or so out of Central Station have always been an interlocking zone with ancient switches and signals that limit speed. If you watch the VIA moving maps, you will see trains creeping along at 10-15 mph for several miles. On top of that, there are slow moving freight trains to eastern destinations and the Port of Montreal. Assuring VIA of adequate track speed, capacity, and resolving conflicts in that zone is as critical as the issues east of Toronto.

- Paul
 
Last edited:
Looks like ~215km from the CN mainline to around Pontypool where it would meet the Havelock sub.

Interesting idea. The issues I would see are a) gradient and relatively rough topography b) intruding on forest and greenbelt and c) some of that land will be earmarked for suburban development, and once that happens one would want plenty of grade separations. Without trying to be precise, I would say it's a more expensive place to build a railway than one might first think.

And I am deathly afraid that any whisper of GO service up the CP line towards Peterboro will erode commitment to the greenbelt - once the commuter line is there, development will happen around the stations. It's a slippery slope.

Having said that, I agree that it would be a better way to link Peterboro to Durham Region. And, when one considers that even peak GO commuter service along the CP line would demand double tracking that HFR alone doesn't require, the cost might compare favourably to that option.

It comes down to whether VIA would extract business value from going that way, ie how important is Durham/Oshawa to VIA as a market point. I'm still leaning to giving VIA its own access route into Toronto that doesn't load VIA on top of GO-RER. Going up the Don is probably no more expensive, and it exploits a currently underused corridor rather than adding HFR on top of RER service that we may need to intensify some day.

- Paul
 
I imagine they would, but this is one of the few things that wouldn't be all that complex or expensive (not that its cheap); But where the Don Branch intersects the CP mainline is the largely disused Leaside Yard which has at least 4 tracks of ROW beyond the mainline. So lots of play if a flyunder/over were desired here.

Steve's reply in the comment section of his latest post.

20200627_131131.jpg
 
Building on the questions about the capacity of the CN tracks into downtown Montreal, do any of you know if this is the reason for the nearly four hour gap in the regularly scheduled departures from Ottawa to Montreal between 06:30 and 10:17? Trains depart Ottawa for Montreal nearly bihourly for the rest of the day. While such gaps could be due to fleet limitations, it appears that track access is also a likely culprit. If track access is the limiting factor, I have serious questions about the potential to substantially increase train frequencies for HFR without improving the existing infrastructure.
 
Not sure if this has been posted here, but I saw it in https://skyscraperpage.com/ 's VIA Rail thread.


Although the following video is of Amtrak, not VIA Rail, I thought it of interest anyway, since VIA will be replacing its GE P42DC GENESIS locomotives with Siemens Charger locomotives.

Admittedly there are some differences though. For one, VIA is purchasing the SCB-40 (which is what Brightline uses), not the SCB-44. They are very similar however.

VIA also uses a slightly different horn on its P42DCs, and the same could be true with he Chargers. I expect there to be some other customizations as well.

One thing I noticed from the video, the Chargers seem a lot quieter than the P42DCs, especially when idling.

Also, I haven't seen this map before. It provides no new information but is interesting.

Just took this survey from VIA about HFR between Ottawa and Toronto. Thought it was interesting how it was framing potential service in terms of price, frequency, transfers and even diesel vs electric in assessing how one's preferences might change. Note the huge variation in travel time estimates - some suggest Ottawa-Toronto as short as 2h45, others even longer than today.

Ft3e4y2.png


16OTAmv.png


71yXfHv.png


81tpqZ6.png


OlDNcKm.png


0VYVunJ.png


6dXbmtv.png


30qvsyZ.png


There were also a series of lists of various factors that might lead one to choose something else over the train, like price, frequency, length of travel as compared to now, whether the schedules "seem random", the train interiors were new, or (to me the most important) whether one had to transfer to another station to continue one's journey.

LDVoy6Q.png


And then some of the usual consumer preference questions too.

yqgctQW.png


XtouKu1.png


ty7dZEZ.png


RJDVxZS.png


tMd7Qf7.png


I thought the question about the effect of the illegal protests was good - there might be some thought into making the network more resilient against disruptions like this. To me this would be key - while one can plan around "usual" delays or a more infrequent schedule, having to find another method of travel entirely because of unannounced blockades is huge. At the time I had a rail pass for my weekly Ottawa-Toronto trips, and this forced me to fly instead.

VMKzcpY.png


And can't avoid COVID, of course:

pj7qavJ.png
 
The 2h 45min from Toronto to Montreal looks kinda bogus. Unless it's an express with no suburban stops.
 

Back
Top