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Conversely, bypassing Ottawa with Montreal-Toronto express trains undermines the key trick to minimize operating costs and fleet size: by merging the Montreal-Ottawa, Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto trains into one one single corridor, while outsourcing the intermediary markets onto separate, less frequent but all-stop Regional services. Bypassing Ottawa therefore does not only escalate construction costs (by increasing the length of the HFR infrastructure), but also operating costs (by driving up train-miles and fleet size).

This is what I had understood. Why then does that map show a bypass? Could they offer a few express to Montreal per day? Would seem to break the business case if Ottawa is bypassed....

Finally, the Alexandria Sub is already built to close-to-HFR standards and has historically allowed travel times (1:35h) close to those envisioned by HFR.

I've always been curious about this. I believe it was noted before that getting this portion up to HFR standards would cost $90 million. Is double tracking needed at all? And I'm surprised more grade separation isn't needed given the number of towns it's traveling through. Do they just restrict speeds?
 
This is what I had understood. Why then does that map show a bypass? Could they offer a few express to Montreal per day? Would seem to break the business case if Ottawa is bypassed....
As I said: when solely considering the project's initial philosophy, it doesn't make sense. However, for a "Stated Preference" questionnaire, the exact routing is irrelevant, it is only important that the respondent understands that there is a direct connection between Toronto and Montreal, not whether that train will run via (and stop in) Ottawa...

I've always been curious about this. I believe it was noted before that getting this portion up to HFR standards would cost $90 million. Is double tracking needed at all? And I'm surprised more grade separation isn't needed given the number of towns it's traveling through. Do they just restrict speeds?
The number of available tracks has little influence on achievable travel times. However, it does affect the operational flexibility when designing timetables and when trying to mitigate delays...
 
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The old CP M&O Subdivision remains railbanked as a trail - and even has signage reminding recreational users that the line is earmarked for resumption of rail service one day. It is indeed superior to VIA’s current line as a future true HSR line, but the cost of remediating any deficiencies in the current line to reach the standard that HFR requires is apparently far less than it would cost to reactivate the M+O for that purpose. For now, good is good enough. HFR is a 20-year minimum bridge before HSR will be on the table. It will be interesting to see how the relative costs of switching lines (and stranding investment capital) versus incrementally enhancing the current line compare in years ahead. Affordability may override technical superiority..... the M+O may never get the nod.

- Paul

What I find fascinating is the number of rail lines that ran through Ottawa then and now, with abandonment starting in the 1950s right through the 2010s (CN Beachburg Sub).Railways diverted around the city in the name of beautification and consolidation were made redundant not that long after.

Apart from the mills on the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Hull, there was never much heavy industry in the city itself. With the decline of branch railroading (CN and CP branches to Eganville, Barry's Bay, up past Wakefield), the abandonment of the CP Canadian route through the Ottawa Valley, decline of the pulp and paper industry in the Ottawa Valley, and the elimination of any redundancy in the transcontinental network, pretty much all rail traffic these days are VIA Corridor trains, with the occasional freight run to Arnprior and the rare delivery to the National Research Labs.

I don't even think the QGRY through much of Gatineau is active these days.
 
My understanding was that HFR wanted to achieve 125mph (200km/h) speeds, at least on some portions of the line, no? My understanding is that is the highest speed you can go without fully grade separating everything, which makes it cost prohibitive.

I'd be supportive of building an "Ottawa bypass" for HFR as the biggest weakness of the HFR scheme to be is that Toronto-Montreal travel times are still unacceptably high. The train will be revolutionary for Toronto-Ottawa and Ottawa-Montreal travel times (2.5 hours Toronto to Ottawa! crazy!), but Montreal's travel time is only going to be cut by 15 minutes over the fastest trains today.

The bypass could probably only save another 15 minutes or so, but still. a 4.5 hour travel time is better than a 4.75 hour travel time.
 
What I find fascinating is the number of rail lines that ran through Ottawa then and now, with abandonment starting in the 1950s right through the 2010s (CN Beachburg Sub).Railways diverted around the city in the name of beautification and consolidation were made redundant not that long after.

Apart from the mills on the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Hull, there was never much heavy industry in the city itself. With the decline of branch railroading (CN and CP branches to Eganville, Barry's Bay, up past Wakefield), the abandonment of the CP Canadian route through the Ottawa Valley, decline of the pulp and paper industry in the Ottawa Valley, and the elimination of any redundancy in the transcontinental network, pretty much all rail traffic these days are VIA Corridor trains, with the occasional freight run to Arnprior and the rare delivery to the National Research Labs.

I don't even think the QGRY through much of Gatineau is active these days.
For those interested, I have posted a small operational history of the final episodes of passenger rail transport through the Ottawa Valley on Skyscraper Page just yesterday. Though not mentioned there, but passenger rail transport via the Lachute line (now owned by QGRY) was one of the many casualties of the November 1981 cuts. With CN planning to leave Ottawa completely, there will hardly be anything else remaining in Ottawa than VIA...

My understanding was that HFR wanted to achieve 125mph (200km/h) speeds, at least on some portions of the line, no? My understanding is that is the highest speed you can go without fully grade separating everything, which makes it cost prohibitive.
To quote myself from four years (or more than 400 pages) ago:
[...] As pretty much every article ever published about HFR has pointed out, the maximum speed of HFR will be 177 km/h (110 mph) and though typical headways of 30-60 minutes qualify most HSR systems as HFR, the inverse is not automatically true. VIA Rail's HFR proposal might seem only marginally slower than the 200 km/h design speed studied in some of the reports below, but any speed above 110 mph requires costly grade separations at every single level crossing and the creation of a track class which does not currently exist in Canadian railway regulations.

Or 2 years and 1 day ago:
New Grade Crossing
Prohibition
Marginal note:Construction

29
A person must not construct a grade crossing if

  • (a) the railway design speed would be more than 177 km/h (110 mph); or

  • (b) the road approach of the proposed grade crossing would be a freeway, taking into account the characteristics set out for rural roads in Table 10-3 of the Grade Crossings Standards or the characteristics set out for urban roads in Table 10-4 of those Standards, as applicable.
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2014-275/page-3.html#docCont
 
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^I believe it has been we sidewalk observers who suggested some 125 mph segments, not anything VIA has said since HFR has been proposed. If one looks at VIA’s current routing, grade crossings are not an impediment to a 100-110 mph operation, provided one accepts a few tradeoffs. There are speed restrictions on some crossings, yes, but VIA runs through many communities at full speed, provided that signalling, fencing, sight lines, and traffic levels are all appropriate.

My fear, though, is that it’s far too easy for Transport Canada to come along after the fact, ie after some accident or after complaints from some vocal group, and slap a speed restriction on a particular crossing or zone. Ottawa westwards to Fallowfield is a good example where speeds are low for tenuous regulatory reasons. If too many crossings become speed limited, even down to only 80 or 75 mph, the cumulative accelerations and decelerations will impact trip time.

Also, if one assumes some incremental grade separations will happen over time, either as towns grow and risk factors rise, or as the line is enhanced, one must assume a time penalty: trains will be slowed every time they reach a construction zone. If there is always a grade separation happening, somewhere along the line, there will always be a time penalty.

Grade crossings also have an inherent maintenance factor....they take a lot of wear and tear. That adds cost, but they are also a source of temporary slow orders until they can be fixed. Again, those repairs may generate service interruptions and delays.

VIA’s “good is good enough“ strategy, as @Urban_Sky has portrayed it, is a very rational approach to getting funding approved.... a more elaborate project risks sticker shock. But if one prices each minute of delay incrementally, the tendency may be to regress towards a cheaper, slower operation that trades off ridership for capital cost....and a thousand paper cuts ensue. If VIA can’t achieve and sustain a performance envelope that is superior to today’s line, it will be hard to applaud their enterprise. The envelope will only permit so much, but we need to see VIA resisting mediocrity and demonstrating a determination towards lower trip times.

- Paul
 
It would be interesting to add up the number of grade crossings that currently exist on the proposed route, from county roads to minor public rural roads to private cottage roads. It would also be interesting to see how grade separation would work in small communities that exist literally right up to the edge of the ROW, which we fine when the ROW was laid down.
 
My understanding was that HFR wanted to achieve 125mph (200km/h) speeds, at least on some portions of the line, no? My understanding is that is the highest speed you can go without fully grade separating everything, which makes it cost prohibitive.

I'd be supportive of building an "Ottawa bypass" for HFR as the biggest weakness of the HFR scheme to be is that Toronto-Montreal travel times are still unacceptably high. The train will be revolutionary for Toronto-Ottawa and Ottawa-Montreal travel times (2.5 hours Toronto to Ottawa! crazy!), but Montreal's travel time is only going to be cut by 15 minutes over the fastest trains today.

The bypass could probably only save another 15 minutes or so, but still. a 4.5 hour travel time is better than a 4.75 hour travel time.
An Ottawa bypass would compromise the business case of the entire project. Ottawa is highly connected to Toronto and almost as big a destination by rail, road and air as Montreal. I don't know the numbers, but I'd bet that Ottawa Station's Via Rail ridership isn't much lower than that of Montreal Central. Having all trains go through Ottawa not only serves that demand, it also decreases costs by putting all three cities on a single line. A train going through Ottawa without stopping (or bypassing it altogether) turns away half the potential riders to make the ride only slightly faster for the other half. That's an oversimplification, but it illustrates how the cost is higher than any benefit.
 
An Ottawa bypass would compromise the business case of the entire project. Ottawa is highly connected to Toronto and almost as big a destination by rail, road and air as Montreal. I don't know the numbers, but I'd bet that Ottawa Station's Via Rail ridership isn't much lower than that of Montreal Central. Having all trains go through Ottawa not only serves that demand, it also decreases costs by putting all three cities on a single line. A train going through Ottawa without stopping (or bypassing it altogether) turns away half the potential riders to make the ride only slightly faster for the other half. That's an oversimplification, but it illustrates how the cost is higher than any benefit.
To prove your point, some may recall my post about projecting ridership figures by using a concept called "Generalized Journey Times" from just over a month ago, where I posted these figures:

Table 1: Calculation of change in generalized journey time (GJT) for the Corridor East
1590635945156-png.248192

Compiled from: Globe&Mail article (for travel times and frequencies) and Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook (for GJT headway values)

Table 2: Approximation of passenger figures for 2030 (after population growth and GJT adjustment)
1593825965664.png

Note: The respective growth rates for Southwestern Ontario (SWO) are taken from Toronto (CMA) as start of route and Ontario (Province) as end of route.
Compiled from: official VIA Timetable (effective 2019-06-02, for train mileages), VIA Rail Annual Report 2019 and Victoria Transport Policy Institute (2018).

Please refer to my original post for any explanations of the above, but note that I've updated the second table to reflect 2019 rather than 2018 ridership data, which has increased the ridership projection for 2030 from 6.6 million (or 6.1 million using 2017 ridership data) to 6.9 million.

If we now take the assumed hourly HFR service and deviate half of the services over the Bypass around Ottawa, our travel time between Toronto and Montreal decreases by the 15 minutes suggested by @innsertnamehere, which may increase of the passenger volume between of 5.1%. However, the resulting doubling of the headway offered between Toronto&Ottawa and between Ottawa&Montreal, may decrease the passenger volumes of these markets by 8.6% and 13.1%, respectively, thus resulting in an overall drop of passenger volume by 4.3%:
1593913365175.png


Now, one might argue that the Express trains should be offered in addition to hourly service, but since that extra train could just as well operate via Ottawa (thus doubling the frequency offered for all three markets), we have to compare this scenario with half-hourly service on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor and this results very similar results, with bypassing Ottawa for a 15 minute travel time saving may increase passenger volume between Toronto and Montreal by 4.9%, but may decrease that between Toronto&Ottawa and between Ottawa&Montreal by 4.4% and 6.6%, respectively, thus resulting in an overall drop of passenger volume by 1.4%:
1593913402912.png


Despite all the significant limitations of my approach (for instance, using "passenger miles" as a metric for passenger growth is particularly awkward when the travel distance between two cities is shortened, which should artificially reduce this metric even if demand itself remains the same), I think this highlights that bypassing a city in pursuit of shorter travel times will probably not pay off if the bypassed city is a major trip generator.

And all of the above is without considering that adding the Ottawa bypass adds 146 km (From De Beaujeu to Smiths Falls via CP's Winchester Sub) to the HFR network length (ignoring the Montreal-Quebec branch), thus increasing the length of ROW to be built or upgraded (which is a major cost driver for capital costs) by one-quarter and that adding an hourly Express train to hourly Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal trains would almost double train-mileage (which is a major cost driver for operating costs):
1593892449649.png


I can't stress enough that I have neither access to the scenarios studied by the Joint Project Team nor to the assumptions and calculations they use to assess and compare them, but given the clear picture my quick-and-dirty calculations I presented above paint, I would be highly surprised if their (much more refined) models recommended going down the route of building a Ottawa Bypass at the same time as the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal HFR route...
 
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My understanding was that HFR wanted to achieve 125mph (200km/h) speeds, at least on some portions of the line, no? My understanding is that is the highest speed you can go without fully grade separating everything, which makes it cost prohibitive.

I'd be supportive of building an "Ottawa bypass" for HFR as the biggest weakness of the HFR scheme to be is that Toronto-Montreal travel times are still unacceptably high. The train will be revolutionary for Toronto-Ottawa and Ottawa-Montreal travel times (2.5 hours Toronto to Ottawa! crazy!), but Montreal's travel time is only going to be cut by 15 minutes over the fastest trains today.

The bypass could probably only save another 15 minutes or so, but still. a 4.5 hour travel time is better than a 4.75 hour travel time.

Yes they want max speed of 177 km/h on HFR. Its whats allowed at grade crossings, and what most off the shelf locos/cars like what they bought from Siemens offers.

Much of the line to Peterborough will need to be repaired and might as well upgrade to Class 6 track. Would be foolish to do any less when you are already tearing it out and fixing it.

The question on my mind and im sure a lot of peoples is what the engineering report will say about curves and the maximum speed allowed on those areas, as the line is quite curvy at points.

I personally think they should go with some cars like what they are using for the Acela replacements; (the Avelia Pendolino) they have advanced tilting called Tiltronix that can tilt up to 8 degrees and have articulated bogies, allowing for increased speeds in turns. However, I don't know if they are possible with diesel locomotives, I can't see why not however) Amtrak and Alstom claim they can take curves up to 30% faster than the old Acela's, but thats a pretty bold claim. I'd assume realistically 15% faster is more reasonable. However, with a route with many curves, 15% faster can shave off a lot of time.
 
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The question on my mind and im sure a lot of peoples is what the engineering report will say about curves and the maximum speed allowed on those areas, as the line is quite curvy at points.

I personally think they should go with some cars like what they are using for the Acela replacements; (the Avelia Pendolino) they have advanced tilting called Tiltronix that can tilt up to 8 degrees and have articulated bogies, allowing for increased speeds in turns. However, I don't know if they are possible with diesel locomotives, I can't see why not however) Amtrak and Alstom claim they can take curves up to 30% faster than the old Acela's, but thats a pretty bold claim. I'd assume realistically 15% faster is more reasonable. However, with a route with many curves, 15% faster can shave off a lot of time.

Given the nature of the present business plan that they are looking at and route planning. Would they consider the expenses related to changing the direction or style of track and put in more straight stretches where possible to reduce this issue? Or would that come at a later more detailed planning stage if it was indeed determined that the Peterborough route was the one they wanted to proceed with? If they were going to spend the time and the money to invest in this new routing to avoid the issue of freight delays I would hope that they would also invest in reducing the issues and making this track viable long term to ramping up intercity train travel.
 
Given the nature of the present business plan that they are looking at and route planning. Would they consider the expenses related to changing the direction or style of track and put in more straight stretches where possible to reduce this issue? Or would that come at a later more detailed planning stage if it was indeed determined that the Peterborough route was the one they wanted to proceed with? If they were going to spend the time and the money to invest in this new routing to avoid the issue of freight delays I would hope that they would also invest in reducing the issues and making this track viable long term to ramping up intercity train travel.

Some of the 'straightening' might be extremely cost prohibitive. Everyone wants straight track and there is usually a pretty good reason when its not; rock that needs to be blasted away and grade variations that are beyond the capabilities of most trainsets.

It might be best to use the routing as-is now, albeit plan for and cost out straightening sections for when an upgrade to HSR is planned in the future.

I wouldn't risk an entire cancelling of the project due to high costs to straighten track now that "might or might not" see HSR one day.

I would say that this might change any decisions to electrify now; you dont want to spend money setting up pantograph on track portions that will be disused in the near future.
 
Given the nature of the present business plan that they are looking at and route planning. Would they consider the expenses related to changing the direction or style of track and put in more straight stretches where possible to reduce this issue? Or would that come at a later more detailed planning stage if it was indeed determined that the Peterborough route was the one they wanted to proceed with? If they were going to spend the time and the money to invest in this new routing to avoid the issue of freight delays I would hope that they would also invest in reducing the issues and making this track viable long term to ramping up intercity train travel.

The first step would be to develop a construction estimate for restoring trackage where it doesn't exist, and for building whatever connecting tracks are required. Curves would be assessed for the maximum speed allowable in their "as previously built" alignment. Some new assumptions about superelevation and/or equipment "cant deficiency" (how tiltable the anticipated equipment is at speed, basically, which might be different than historical figures) might be applied. That would define the starting performance "envelope" - how fast trip time could be as the default.

I would expect they would then do a value-for-money analysis of each "restriction" in both the restored and existing track segments, ie how much time it adds to the timing, versus how much it would cost to correct it, and how that might be done. The objective would be to reduce the overall trip time to the lowest figure that is affordable - by prioritising the various fixes on a time saved/money spent basis.

VIA and its officers have implied in various quotes in the media that the business case will fix enough things to assure a marketable end to end trip time. But I would not expect a full fix to be affordable in the initial business case. One hopes the business case will fix enough of the restrictions, and there will be room for incremental improvements later.

- Paul
 
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^ I think one of the most interesting aspects over any straightening will be the bridges and any rail over/under rail grade separations. The bridges in Peterborough for example. I wonder how many spans are still in place or need replacing between Havelock and Glen Tay?
 

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