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I’m not very optimistic on us getting this project finished let alone with shovels in the ground. Unless it’s ironclad from the political BS that come around, it is effectively going to die once we have a change in government. I hate to say it but that’s what I see. Based on how slow the whole process has been and how they haven’t managed to attract any investors even domestic pension groups, it really speaks volumes. This aside from all the BS that CP and CN will probably throw in once things start moving a bit faster.

The constellation has to align for this to happen and that means politics, CN/CP, and Transport Canada all on the same track for more than 2 election cycles. I don’t see that happening at this rate.
 
I’m not very optimistic on us getting this project finished let alone with shovels in the ground. Unless it’s ironclad from the political BS that come around, it is effectively going to die once we have a change in government. I hate to say it but that’s what I see. Based on how slow the whole process has been and how they haven’t managed to attract any investors even domestic pension groups, it really speaks volumes. This aside from all the BS that CP and CN will probably throw in once things start moving a bit faster.

The constellation has to align for this to happen and that means politics, CN/CP, and Transport Canada all on the same track for more than 2 election cycles. I don’t see that happening at this rate.
I wouldn't expect investor announcements until after regulatory approval.
 
I’m not very optimistic on us getting this project finished let alone with shovels in the ground. Unless it’s ironclad from the political BS that come around, it is effectively going to die once we have a change in government. I hate to say it but that’s what I see. Based on how slow the whole process has been and how they haven’t managed to attract any investors even domestic pension groups, it really speaks volumes. This aside from all the BS that CP and CN will probably throw in once things start moving a bit faster.

The constellation has to align for this to happen and that means politics, CN/CP, and Transport Canada all on the same track for more than 2 election cycles. I don’t see that happening at this rate.
Regardless of what project actually gets built the status quo of today is not acceptable even with a new fleet.

People need a better way to travel, and less dependent on the automobile.

We have to be able to reduce our carbon footprint. Planes are not the answer.
 
As they parallel each other for quite a distance, it would be easy to put a connection. Or perhaps even some dedicated tracks down the centre.

Though I'd be happy if they knocked down that recreation centre, and shifted the service to Windsor Station. That would let them use the CP tracks around the mountain, rather the the CN tracks - and use the station at Parc, connected to the Blue Line.

Would also let them have a transfer station at Montreal West to switch between the Quebec and Ottawa/Toronto trains.

Maybe the best would be to use Côte-de-Liesse REM station as a sort of "North Station" for Montréal, where Via trains bound for Jonquière, Senneterre and Québec City via the North Shore could originate. I doubt most HFR trains will go all the way from Québec City to Toronto, so if there are a few they could stop at Côte-de-Liesse on their way to Québec City, while trains that end in Montréal from Toronto and Ottawa would just use Gare Centrale.

The 2 obvious issues here would be this:

1. They would have to build a connection between CP and CN. There used to be one, which is now a Home Depot. Such a connection could also be used by Saint-Jérôme bound Exo trains.
2. The trains would need to run through the CN yard, which is very slow... Negotiations with CN would have to take place.
 
Maybe the best would be to use Côte-de-Liesse REM station as a sort of "North Station" for Montréal, where Via trains bound for Jonquière, Senneterre and Québec City via the North Shore could originate. I doubt most HFR trains will go all the way from Québec City to Toronto, so if there are a few they could stop at Côte-de-Liesse on their way to Québec City, while trains that end in Montréal from Toronto and Ottawa would just use Gare Centrale.

The 2 obvious issues here would be this:

1. They would have to build a connection between CP and CN. There used to be one, which is now a Home Depot. Such a connection could also be used by Saint-Jérôme bound Exo trains.
2. The trains would need to run through the CN yard, which is very slow... Negotiations with CN would have to take place.
How about we pool money and build a 2nd Mont Royal tunnel from Gare Centrale to Parc? If we go for broke and quad track it, we can have frequent electrified service on the St. Jerome Line, a proper through connection for VIA HFR in Gare Centrale, and a direct to downtown service on the Mascouche Line.
 
If VIA doesnt have enough equiptment for a 3rd Canadian Set, could they run it with Just economy and business class between toronto and Winnipeg?
 
How about we pool money and build a 2nd Mont Royal tunnel from Gare Centrale to Parc? If we go for broke and quad track it, we can have frequent electrified service on the St. Jerome Line, a proper through connection for VIA HFR in Gare Centrale, and a direct to downtown service on the Mascouche Line.
That would be great, but I doubt any current government would want to fund this unfortunately :(
 
How about VIA run Quebec to Montreal trains to Dorval along the CP tracks as a separate service from the TOM line?

With a one-staircase transfer at Canora, passengers are only 3 minutes from downtown at frequencies not far from that of an elevator. With fare integration on a VIA ticket, it would be a trivially easy connection.

Continuing on to Dorval would allow for a cross-platform connection to Ottawa- and Toronto-bound trains and vice-versa. This reduces the T/O-Quebec trip times by some 40 minutes by cutting out the slow Dorval-Centrale segment on both the approach and reverse.

I know it's not the holy grail of dt-to-dt service. But push comes to shove, it's an odd decision to spend 20 minutes (40 for those bypassing Montreal) saving 3.
 
How about VIA run Quebec to Montreal trains to Dorval along the CP tracks as a separate service from the TOM line?

With a one-staircase transfer at Canora, passengers are only 3 minutes from downtown at frequencies not far from that of an elevator. With fare integration on a VIA ticket, it would be a trivially easy connection.

Continuing on to Dorval would allow for a cross-platform connection to Ottawa- and Toronto-bound trains and vice-versa. This reduces the T/O-Quebec trip times by some 40 minutes by cutting out the slow Dorval-Centrale segment on both the approach and reverse.

I know it's not the holy grail of dt-to-dt service. But push comes to shove, it's an odd decision to spend 20 minutes (40 for those bypassing Montreal) saving 3.
In general that would make sense, but the transfer at Canora is not that simple. There is a busy intersection there that cannot be eliminated or moved under or over the tracks. Furthermore, the REM station is now located 180m from the CP tracks, so passengers would need to walk under or over Jean-Talon street and the REM tracks to reach the station.

That's why a CP to CN connection near Ahuntsic station (there is still an existing overpass above Acadie boulevard from that old connection) and a stop at Côte-de-Liesse station would make more sense. It's already built as an interchange station for train-REM connections, it could accomodate all north shore commuter rail lines and Via lines. It has more room to grow too.
 
The big issue with moving the VIA rail north of downtown is that it forces another transfer to public transit or a longer uber ride for many trips into Montreal. While I don't have access to data to back this up, I do understand that the majority of people choosing to take the train from Ottawa to Montreal instead of driving do so because it is more convenient than driving if your destination is in downtown Montreal. If HFR is going to attract more riders it will need to compete with driving to gain additional ridership from people who would have otherwise drove. This would require playing towards the strength of the train, easy access to a downtown that is accessible without a car. Addition an additional transfer to a crowded metro train or a need for a moderately long uber ride makes the entire process less appealing and makes it less likely that drivers choose to buy tickets instead of just driving to Montreal. This gets worse when you consider how many people could be going to destinations off the REM route and would therefore need to make two transfers in Montreal to get to their destination. Transit gains ridership when it is made more convenient. While adding frequencies and improving speed does improve convenience, relocating stations and splitting services risks negating these benefits.
 
That's why a CP to CN connection near Ahuntsic station (there is still an existing overpass above Acadie boulevard from that old connection) and a stop at Côte-de-Liesse station would make more sense. It's already built as an interchange station for train-REM connections, it could accomodate all north shore commuter rail lines and Via lines. It has more room to grow too.

This does seem like a good location for a connection but the station is located to significantly south of the CN-REM separated crossover. EXO trains will turn south parallel to the REM to enter a single platform and parking tracks as shown in plan linked below.

 
In general that would make sense, but the transfer at Canora is not that simple. There is a busy intersection there that cannot be eliminated or moved under or over the tracks. Furthermore, the REM station is now located 180m from the CP tracks, so passengers would need to walk under or over Jean-Talon street and the REM tracks to reach the station.

That's why a CP to CN connection near Ahuntsic station (there is still an existing overpass above Acadie boulevard from that old connection) and a stop at Côte-de-Liesse station would make more sense. It's already built as an interchange station for train-REM connections, it could accomodate all north shore commuter rail lines and Via lines. It has more room to grow too.

I know the area well - I actually used to live right by that intersection.
Changes would have to be made, but it's nothing so dramatic or fundamental that it would render it impractical.

Just for shits and giggles, here'd be my suggestions:
  • The Wilderton/Jean-Talon crossing could be moved east to Darlingon. Since it's Wilderton's northbound pair, it's basically a zero-sum change for drivers. It would be a positive change for transit users, who'd no longer have to contend with the poorly-designed intersection right outside the new REM station.
  • The REM station can be rebuilt. The reason why it's so far north of Jean-Talon is because the engineers wanted to avoid both the slight curve of the tracks just north of the portal, and the added expense of widening the shallow tunnel under Jean-Talon and the CP tracks. Given the relative unimportance of the station, they opted for cheap, and I don't fault them. But just because the northern option was cheaper doesn't mean the southern option was impossible. As a cut-and-cover tunnel under un-built space, there's nothing about it that would indicate to me that it's an exceptional undertaking. Within the budget of a multi-billion dollar HFR, rebuilding the station would not be an outrageous sum, especially for the time and operational savings it could represent.

The reason I prefer the Canora/Dorval option to the Côte-de-Liesse one is because it enables much simpler and quicker trips from one side of Montreal to the other. I think we can all agree that transfers are a cost to passengers. If it is easy (cross-platform, fare-integrated, timed), it costs less. And it can be well worth it when it saves more time than it costs in time/complication.
  • For passengers from points east of Montreal headed west (and v.v.), a connection at Dorval would 'cost' in complication. But with a time, cross-platform design, it would reduce it by making it as simple as possible. Your train pulls in, the next one is already on the other side of the platform, you walk across, and it leaves less than 5 minutes later. And on the other side of the equation, it would save time by avoiding the slow track between Dorval and Centrale. Instead of 40-50 minutes (see below for how I get to that number), you clear the distance between Dorval and Canora in about 20, including the dwell time at Dorval. Yes, the connection was a bit irksome, but it was brief, you didn't have to think about it, and you feel like you're getting where you want to go quickly.
  • The twin transfers of VIA-REM, REM-VIA would also carry cost in complication, but I'd argue that two of them on different networks carries far more. We're all transit buffs here, but imagine explaining to your 70-year-old aunt how she should take her bags at Centrale, find the REM platform going the right direction, and to pay attention to get off at the right station. It's not impossible, it's just a lot more hassle, especially to those who aren't actively interested in the stuff. And then on the 'benefits' side of the equation, it's much less clear; between the 20 minutes from Dorval to Centrale, the 5-10 minutes it takes to detrain all passengers at Centrale, get to the REM, the 10 minutes up to C-d-L, and to entrain (with some extra buffer dwell to not leave without your aunt, who, despite your best efforts, took the train towards Brossard two stops before realizing and turning around), it's been 40-50 minutes since Dorval. You've gone through all this trouble all this time... in order to end up within literal sight of Dorval, only a 10-minute taxi ride down the 40/440. Anyone who's had to contend with transit knows the frustration and disrespect of having to spend an inordinate amount of time in order to land almost right back where you started. The stakes are also higher - even if HFR runs every hour, it's still an hour. It's hard to miss a cross-platform connection, but all too easy to miss a VIA-REM-VIA connection. Your aunt missed the C-d-L station, and now she's waiting 55 minutes in a station in an industrial park for the next departure.
VIA's in a tough spot with this whole tunnel/transfer business. It has to balance passenger time, and passenger experience. Whether they go for a Dorval connection (faster but less seamless) or an in-and-reverse scenario (slower, but seamless), they've gotta pick a trade-off. But no matter how I turn it in my mind, the double-transfer scenario just doesn't seem to offer either simplicity or speed. I'm very open to new perspectives on it - maybe I'm missing some solutions that could make it work better.

EDIT: I realize that I'm assuming that you're talking about a scenario where TOM trains terminate at Centrale, and MQ trains operate out of C-d-L. Re-reading your post, you might also be talking about running TOMQ trains via C-d-L, in which case a lot of my post wouldn't apply. Although I still have some reservations about the second scenario. Let me know whether I got it wrong.
 
^While I would much prefer a direct path to Central station, I’m reluctant to say that a north end station with excellent public transit connections is all that bad.
While many travellers will indeed be headed to the “downtown”, I imagine that a fair number will have a last-mile connection by transit or cab anyways. Not that many need to step off VIA at Central and walk to their destination. So a north end stop may open as many doors as it closes. Also, it is closer to an awful large amount of suburban Montreal, so might actually be favoured by some who don’t want to go all the way downtown to catch a train.
I agree that a direct route all the way to Dorval may be a big plus over a route thru Central.
It’s not ideal, and I don’t know if any future proofing is contemplated to assure that a new tunnel might be bored some day in a Phase 2+ Project. But it’s the only option, it seems. Sharing the existing tunnel with REM just isn’t on.

- Paul
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