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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

I know that Via is moving forward with a set of new rolling stock to replace the older stuff on this line currently. In the hypothetical world where this goes ahead and is done to the times mentioned in a post above. With a reduced headway would we see additional departure times and then need for more new trainsets? or would that be purely on a demand basis and that headway just affords them the ability to in the future add additional units and runs on the route?

Does the new trainsets themselves reduce the potential trip time between Toronto and Ottawa/Montreal or is it still purely reliant on freight timings and the new trainsets is more cosmetic/update then functionality due to the constraints on VIA's lines of travel
 
I know that Via is moving forward with a set of new rolling stock to replace the older stuff on this line currently. In the hypothetical world where this goes ahead and is done to the times mentioned in a post above. With a reduced headway would we see additional departure times and then need for more new trainsets? or would that be purely on a demand basis and that headway just affords them the ability to in the future add additional units and runs on the route?

Does the new trainsets themselves reduce the potential trip time between Toronto and Ottawa/Montreal or is it still purely reliant on freight timings and the new trainsets is more cosmetic/update then functionality due to the constraints on VIA's lines of travel

While the new trainsets are slightly faster than the existing, I think there are still both speed limits on the current CN route, as well as the main issue of freight delays.

You are not going to see much improvement with the new units in terms of time reductions.

They arent purely cosmetic though, the LRC coaches are literally rotting apart, they have to be replaced.
 
2 questions/comments regarding the HFR project:

1) Are any changes contemplating for the segment entering Ottawa (Fallowfield to Ottawa Stns)? That track is brutally slow, and I wonder if any grade separations are contemplated at Woodroffe, Merivale, and the rail-rail diamond at the Trillium Line. If you're looking for places to shave off some time, that would seem to be near the top of the list.

2) Has any thought been given to, rather than coming in from the east, going overtop of Toronto via the CN York Sub, then coming around on the Georgetown Sub? The latter has already been substantially upgraded, and the York Sub is pretty straight, with room to add extra tracks for a dedicated Via corridor if warranted.

This would also have the advantage of allowing trains to stop at Pearson (Malton GO for now, but the Pearson Transit Hub in the future). I know this routing would cost a few minutes, but I think the opportunities for rail <-> plane transfers make that a worthwhile trade-off.

Also, if a station were to be built on Yonge in Thornhill, it would increase access to the NYCC, RHC, and Markham business districts.
 
^ re 2) Maybe it'll be included as part of the options, but I can see CN requiring a dedicated track on the south side for exclusive use by VIA. Cool also add at least 30 min to the journey?
 
Also, if a station were to be built on Yonge in Thornhill, it would increase access to the NYCC, RHC, and Markham business districts.
A station in Cornell in eastern Markham on the current proposed route would also increase access to York Region and hwy 407 to Brampton? a lot.
 
^ re 2) Maybe it'll be included as part of the options, but I can see CN requiring a dedicated track on the south side for exclusive use by VIA. Cool also add at least 30 min to the journey?

Yeah I figure CN would ask for that, but then at least VIA would have its own track, and that corridor is easier to add to than many others across the GTHA. And I don't know what the exact number would be, but yes it would add time just based on the distance. I was hoping that with a combination of dedicated track, straight track, and grade separations trains could pass through there at a higher speed than they could on either the Stouffville line or the Don River line, which may offset some of the time loss.

A station in Cornell in eastern Markham on the current proposed route would also increase access to York Region and hwy 407 to Brampton? a lot.

My thought was that Via could partner with Metrolinx on the track expansion and create a YPX (York-Pearson Express) modelled after UPX that would have stops at Unionville/Downtown Markham, Thornhill (at Yonge), and Highway 407 Station. That would take care of the more local demand, and would boost connectivity from York Region to Pearson immensely.
 
Yeah I figure CN would ask for that, but then at least VIA would have its own track, and that corridor is easier to add to than many others across the GTHA. And I don't know what the exact number would be, but yes it would add time just based on the distance. I was hoping that with a combination of dedicated track, straight track, and grade separations trains could pass through there at a higher speed than they could on either the Stouffville line or the Don River line, which may offset some of the time loss.



My thought was that Via could partner with Metrolinx on the track expansion and create a YPX (York-Pearson Express) modelled after UPX that would have stops at Unionville/Downtown Markham, Thornhill (at Yonge), and Highway 407 Station. That would take care of the more local demand, and would boost connectivity from York Region to Pearson immensely.

Isn't that basically covering what the 407 Transitway is supposed to do though?
 
^ re 2) Maybe it'll be included as part of the options, but I can see CN requiring a dedicated track on the south side for exclusive use by VIA. Cool also add at least 30 min to the journey?
It seems to me that if it were that easy to convince CN to let Via add a track of their own in the CN right of way then they'd just do that for the whole lakeshore line. But CN has shown no signs of being that accommodating. And if the missing link is built then CP traffic will be using that corridor as well, and that means more freight tracks. Even if CN allowed it, it would add a lot of cost to the HFR project and time to the ride. If I'm interpreting the idea correctly, it would add 30-40 km to the trip.

Once the Pearson transit terminal is built out, Via trains will be able to go through downtown and continue directly to Pearson. I can't see going along the 407 to Pearson being that much faster, and it would inconvenience the passengers going downtown (the majority) for the sake of making the trip to Pearson slightly shorter. I just don't see the benefits.
 
^The CN York Sub has some steep embankments and a couple big bridges, one just west of where the Havelock line would connect. And that connection would displace a pretty nice golf course. I can’t imagine that a routing across the top of the city would be cheaper than either the Stouffville or Don options. But, some day it might be an interesting addition....some day.

- Paul
 
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.
That's what I keep saying, as contemplating electrification and grade-separating the ROW to achieve speeds beyond the 110 mph limit only makes sense where HFR would overlap with the Ecotrain E-300 (as the most recent HSR alignment studied), as I explained here one-and-a-half years ago:
I understand these concerns, but if we only focus on investments which are HSR-proof, then what can we actually build now to get the frequencies we need? Also, the question of "future-proofing" does not just work HFR vs. HSR, it also works Higher-Speed Rail vs. "full" HSR, as the F-200 scenario described in the Ecotrain study was assumed to be designed for a minimum radius of 2,500 meters (2,000 m with tilting trains), whereas the E-300 was to be designed for a minimum radius of 6,000 meters. As you might imagine, the resulting alignments differ significantly in certain areas (especially: Dorion - Casselman and Napanee - Port Hope)
1593998526451.png

Note: The F-200 alignment is shown in red, whereas the E-300 alignment is shown in blue and a more detailed map can be found in Deliverable 9 (Appendix I) of the Ecotrain Study
Source: Ecotrain Study (Deliverable 5, p.64)

Given that the infrastructure cost premium of E-300 over F-200 is only 18.6% for Quebec-Toronto ($14.04 billion vs. $11.84 billion in 2017 values, see Post #5,002 for these and all other figures mentioned in this paragraph) or 21.6% for Quebec-Toronto ($9.41 billion vs. $7.73 billion), while reducing travel times between Montreal and Toronto for an additional 51 minutes (2:47 vs. 3:38 hours) or 23.4%, there seems indeed to be little reason to settle for a Higher-Speed Rail rather than a High-Speed Rail future. This is even more the case as two-thirds of the cost premium fall on electrification.


Okay, so let's identify the sections where investments will reduce travel times for the current services and remain "most compatible with an HSR future":
1593998540588.png

Note: ROW sections eventually shared with HSR are highlighted in green, whereas existing and new ROW sections which will not be eventually shared with HSR are shown in yellow and red, respectively.
Compiled with: distances obtained from historic CN/CP timetables or measured with Google Earth and routings obtained from The Globe And Mail (for HFR) and the Ecotrain Study (Deliverable 5).

You can check yourself, but I can only identify 3 segments which meet both criteria:
  1. The Montreal Subdivision from Gare Centrale to Dorval Est (14 km, owned by CN)
  2. The Alexandria/Beachburg/Smith Falls Subdivisions from Casselman West to SmithsFalls North (104 km, owned by VIA)
  3. The Kingston Subdivision from Port Hope West to Toronto Union (94 km, of which: 60 km owned by CN and 34 km owned by Metrolinx)
Combined, these 3 sections account for only 212 km (or 33.5% of the total distance between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto) and the CN-owned part of the Kingston Subdivision only accounts for 60 km. Even worse, these 60 km omit the nodes (Coteau, Brockville) which are presumably the choke-points of the Kingston Sub, while none of the triple-tracked sections falls into this part which will be hopefully used by HSR one day. I would therefore like to know from you and from @crs1026 how you are planning to reach the frequencies required to justify HSR investments (by demonstrating that the Corridor is commercially viable for InterCity rail) without massively investing into infrastructure which will no longer require these enhancements once the HSR line we are all hoping for will finally open...



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.
This is also what I would expect: a "do minimum" scenario to estimate the lowest-possible budget to pursue HFR and then a list of measures for potential investors (private or public) to choose à la carte, according to their preferences...


2 questions/comments regarding the HFR project:

1) Are any changes contemplating for the segment entering Ottawa (Fallowfield to Ottawa Stns)? That track is brutally slow, and I wonder if any grade separations are contemplated at Woodroffe, Merivale, and the rail-rail diamond at the Trillium Line. If you're looking for places to shave off some time, that would seem to be near the top of the list.

2) Has any thought been given to, rather than coming in from the east, going overtop of Toronto via the CN York Sub, then coming around on the Georgetown Sub? The latter has already been substantially upgraded, and the York Sub is pretty straight, with room to add extra tracks for a dedicated Via corridor if warranted.

This would also have the advantage of allowing trains to stop at Pearson (Malton GO for now, but the Pearson Transit Hub in the future). I know this routing would cost a few minutes, but I think the opportunities for rail <-> plane transfers make that a worthwhile trade-off.

Also, if a station were to be built on Yonge in Thornhill, it would increase access to the NYCC, RHC, and Markham business districts.
I can't comment on any of your suggestions specifically, but you can safely assume that any engineer working for a reputable railway consultancy will be well aware that any incremental speed increase yields the most were the applicable speed limits are the lowest (e.g. increasing the speed limit from 60 to 100 km/h saves 24 seconds per km distance, whereas increasing it from 160 to 200 km/h only saves 4.5 seconds per km distance, so less than one-fifth - despite being the same speed increment). Also, artificially extending the route length is usually a highly counter-productive way to minimize travel times and capital costs...


^The CN York Sub has some steep embankments and a couple big bridges, one just west of where the Havelock line would connect. And that connection would displace a pretty nice golf course. I can’t imagine that a routing across the top of the city would be cheaper than either the Stouffville or Don options. But, some day it might be an interesting addition....some day.

- Paul
I'm certainly not commenting about this golf course in particular, but you wouldn't believe how often one of them happened to be in my way when I tried to play around with Google Earth and to randomly straighten up existing ROWs (Honorary mention to the Scarboro Golf and Country Club)... ^^
 
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I can't comment on any of your suggestions specifically, but you can safely assume that any engineer working for a reputable railway consultancy will be well aware that any incremental speed increase yields the most were the applicable speed limits are the lowest (e.g. increasing the speed limit from 60 to 100 km/h saves 24 seconds per km distance, whereas increasing it from 160 to 200 km/h only saves 4.5 seconds per km distance, so less than one-fifth - despite being the same speed increment). Also, artificially extending the route length is usually a highly counter-productive way to minimize travel times and capital costs...

I couldn't resist playing this very helpful point out as a case study. Below are the theoretical trip times, for different speed levels, for the key segments of the Ottawa-Montreal segment. The current typical speeds are the yellow. This is back of envelope so not adjusted for acceleration/deceleration, station dwell, meet times, or contingency. These will not match printed timetables, but if one compares between speeds, they demonstrate the outer bound of what an improvement in track speed in a particular segment will contribute to a faster overall trip.

What one sees is that the approach to Montreal, which is currently limited by track signalling and low speed turnouts, is a huge opportunity to improve trip time. The solution would not necessarily involve new track but would involve new switches and signalling on the existing track. A modest improvement to even 50 km/h speeds would be very constructive, and doesn't demand new civil works or land acquisition.

The second improvement would be to eliminate the diamond at De Beaujeu. Diverting over CP from De Beaujeu to Dorval shaves a couple of miles off the route, but more importantly it eliminates the slow zone between Coteau and De Beaujeau - 50 mph over the De Beaujeu diamond and 30 mph though turnouts at Coteau means trains run below track speeds though this zone. Even if CP only allowed 115-120 km/h, it would save close to 10 minutes. CP may not relent, but I can see why this would score high on the priority scale.

My continuing concern however is that broken down this way, it's far to easy to undervalue incremental time savings. Take, for example the current track from Ottawa to Casselman. It's capable of 150 km/h today. Upgrading to 176 would shave less than three minutes off the route. It's too easy to say that $XM capital for 3 minutes isn't a good investment. But..... At an hourly service, it will be necessary to pass opposing trains every half hour. That imposes a significant time penalty, and it means that trains will be wasting the track's speed capability as they accelerate and decelerate from that meet. If speeds are raised to 176 all the way from Ottawa to Alexandria, westbound trains might be able to clear eastbounds at Ottawa, saving one potential en route meet. So there are savings in the penalty reductions on top of the simple over-the-road time savings.

If I sound obsessed with trip time.... well, I am. I'm very concerned that there are marketability thresholds - if trip times do not improve significantly over auto timings, and again if trip times do not approximate office to office air travel times. I sure hope VIA has the same obsession. "It's only a few minutes more" has been the common factor in too many service downgradings in VIA's history.

I would be a lot happier if the business case was framed as "We need this trip time to be optimally marketable, and here's what it will take to get there" rather than "prove we need to aim higher". A $5B HFR might be a waste, but a $6B HFR might be a huge success. Let's not do this on the cheap.

- Paul

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 8.12.22 AM.png
 
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Isn't that basically covering what the 407 Transitway is supposed to do though?

In theory yes, but I don't know if buses are the best way to capture that airport traveller market. I'm normally a fan of Transitways, but with an on-street BRT paralleling most of the E-W section of the proposed route, I think a greater differentiation is required.

It seems to me that if it were that easy to convince CN to let Via add a track of their own in the CN right of way then they'd just do that for the whole lakeshore line. But CN has shown no signs of being that accommodating. And if the missing link is built then CP traffic will be using that corridor as well, and that means more freight tracks. Even if CN allowed it, it would add a lot of cost to the HFR project and time to the ride. If I'm interpreting the idea correctly, it would add 30-40 km to the trip.

From what I gather the Lakeshore line has limited space to expand though, while the York Sub has a pretty wide ROW.

Regarding the distances, measured from the intersection of the Havelock and York subs:

To Union via Havelock Sub & Don Branch: 28 km
To Union via Stouffville & Lakeshore lines: 30 km
To Union via York & Georgetown Subs: 67 km

37km is a fair distance longer, but with a straighter track and the potential for higher speeds, I don't know if it's that much longer.

Once the Pearson transit terminal is built out, Via trains will be able to go through downtown and continue directly to Pearson. I can't see going along the 407 to Pearson being that much faster, and it would inconvenience the passengers going downtown (the majority) for the sake of making the trip to Pearson slightly shorter. I just don't see the benefits.

Provided the layover at Union is short enough, I think this would be a valid option. I just think that Via has huge potential to act as a feeder for longer-distance air trips, and a direct connection to Pearson is the best way to facilitate that.

I can't comment on any of your suggestions specifically, but you can safely assume that any engineer working for a reputable railway consultancy will be well aware that any incremental speed increase yields the most were the applicable speed limits are the lowest (e.g. increasing the speed limit from 60 to 100 km/h saves 24 seconds per km distance, whereas increasing it from 160 to 200 km/h only saves 4.5 seconds per km distance, so less than one-fifth - despite being the same speed increment). Also, artificially extending the route length is usually a highly counter-productive way to minimize travel times and capital costs...

That wasn't intended as a dig at the engineers by any means, I just asking if there were any plans in the works to improve that stretch. The section from Billings Bridge to Ottawa Station in particular is so slow I feel like someone running beside the train could probably keep pace.

And as for the grade separations, the one at Woodroffe is of particular interest for anyone in Ottawa.
 
In theory yes, but I don't know if buses are the best way to capture that airport traveller market. I'm normally a fan of Transitways, but with an on-street BRT paralleling most of the E-W section of the proposed route, I think a greater differentiation is required.

The Transitway is supposed to be an interim solution and then later converted into LRT, which will more than likely capture that market.
 
The fact that we are trying to get CPR and CN to share the York Sub for the Missing Link is what leads me to believe this isn't a good idea.

There are so many benefits from the Missing Link, for both GO and VIAs HFR project (the route using the CPR mainline to Don Branch would be come much more accessible) I think the York sub should be maximized for freight only.

CPR will need their own track through it, we can't expect CN to share their mainline tracks with CP. Letting VIA use the York sub would not only add time to what is supposed to be a quicker route, but also threaten many advantages that GO would get from putting CP on the York sub and off their mainline through the heart of the city.
 
From what I gather the Lakeshore line has limited space to expand though, while the York Sub has a pretty wide ROW.

Regarding the distances, measured from the intersection of the Havelock and York subs:

To Union via Havelock Sub & Don Branch: 28 km
To Union via Stouffville & Lakeshore lines: 30 km
To Union via York & Georgetown Subs: 67 km

37km is a fair distance longer, but with a straighter track and the potential for higher speeds, I don't know if it's that much longer.
I fail to see any advantage which routing over the York Sub would achieve, let alone the ones you claim (travel time savings or ROW width):

When passenger rail service towards Peterborough and Havelock was terminated in January 1990 (see schedule below), the scheduled travel time between Union Station and Locust Hill was 33 minutes. If we assume that any scheduled stop adds three minutes to a schedule (one for decelerating, one for accelerating and one for station dwell time), then this would be 30 minutes for 34 km distance (when ignoring the stop in Agincourt). Now, if you add your 39 km (67-28 km) detour via Halwest Junction, you would have to achieve an average speed of 146 km/h ([34+39=73] km / 30 minutes * 60 minutes) to match the travel time which was feasible with a lousy RDC 30 years ago. To compare: at that average speed, the travel time required for Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto (580 km with HFR) would shrink to 238 minutes (3:58 hours). And concerning ROW: now that Agincourt Yard is half-abandoned, where exactly do you see space constraints which would prevent the creation of dedicated tracks?

1594086080074.png

Source: official VIA Rail timetable (effective 1989-04-30)

I'm really sorry to say this so bluntly, but if the 20 minutes I invested into writing this response will prevent other users from wasting even more time on continuing to discuss this idea, then at least my effort wasn't for nothing. This does by no means mean that HFR shouldn't reach Pearson Airport (not necessarily from day one but certainly one day) - but of course with the only logical sequence of stops and that is (for trains entering the GTHA from east) Union Station before Pearson Airport...
 
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