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lenaitch

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I can see the merit in that for sure. But then I think we need to stop giving lip service to VIA as a national passenger service. Perhaps it's time for drop the Federal government's involvement and to transfer the Ontario-Quebec line to a new partnership between GO Transit and Exo. Extend Go Transit from Oshawa to the Quebec border and EXO from Montreal to Quebec City. Cancel all train service east of Quebec City. Sell off and privatize the Canadian tourist train from Toronto to Vancouver. Let Alberta pursue a Calgary to Edmonton passenger railink if they wish, same for Vancouver to Calgary. This all sounds dreadful to any fan of VIA or a national rail service, but it only reflects reality anyway.
You do realize that Canada has been defined as a nation held together by bribes.

Since VIA's inception it hasn't had a chance when you own exceptionally little track and you have to serve these God forsaken little places purely for political reasons, .
The VIA experiment {like Amtrak} has been a failure and I don't see why it should continue hoping that somehow that scenario will change. I certainly don't think this is VIA's fault but the reality is that no matter how much they try, you can't steer a boat with both your hands tied behind your back.

Like all government services, priorities have to be set so that you get the most bang for the buck. Governments wouldn't fund a huge new stadium in Estevan, a massive new university in Parry Sound, or a new Metro in Gaspe, so why is rail any different? When you CHOOSE to live in smaller and isolated cities/towns you must accept the fact that you will not get the government services you would get in Vancouver, London, or Quebec City.. All CHOICES have consequences, good and bad and anyone who doesn't know and accept that has no grasp of reality.

I'll keep those comments in mind when the talk turns to the cost of urban housing or taxes.

Most rural people accept the differences in services, but the discussion often surrounds 'level' versus 'available'. Sometimes, government services need to be inherently inefficient simply to be available, at some level, to the people who fund them. It's called a civil society.

*****

Is any rail, long distance, inter-city or transit, *not* subsidized in North America?
 

Urban Sky

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I sometimes wonder what VIA would look like if it gave less attention to the Toronto-Montreal corridor, where between the two cities each weekday we have over a hundred flights, eighteen VIA trains, dozens of buses and thousands of cars utilizing existing expressways, and more to connecting Canadians where fewer connections already exist. It must seem to the rest of Canada that to VIA the country starts at Windsor and ends at Quebec City.
Yes, but it's also the best served corridor in Canada. VIA Rail is a Crown corporation, service to the people should be ahead of money. The people in Toronto and Montreal already have dozens of options for getting to see one another. Meanwhile the VIA service within Atlantic Canada and from the region to Quebec City and beyond is abysmal.
  • VIA's Remote services are run like a public service and recovered 12.6% of its direct costs in 2018, thus generating a direct loss of $20.0 million.
  • VIA's Ocean is run like a public service and recovered 48.9% of its direct costs in 2018, thus generating a direct loss of $11.3 million.
  • VIA's Canadian is run like a mixture of a public service and a commercial business and recovered 90.3% of its direct costs in 2018, thus generating a direct loss of $6.5 million.
  • VIA's Corridor services are run like a commercial business and recovered 135.5% of their direct costs in 2018, thus generating a contribution of $77.0 million - or $39.2 after deducting the direct deficits of all non-Corridor services listed above - towards VIA's shared costs and overheads.

1585527242974-png.238779

Compiled from: VIA Rail's Summary of the Corporate Plan and Annual Plans 2017 and 2018
Note: Re-post from post #6,707

Granted, VIA would be a much smaller company without its Corridor services and therefore have a lot less overheads, but even if we assume that all of the overheads currently allocated to the Corridor services would disappear with the Corridor services (an extremely optimistic assumption!), the (fully-allocated) subsidy per passenger (unfortunately the metric about which politicians and the media care the most) would increase by factor 10:
MetricVIA (2018)Excluding Corridor Services (2018)Change
Ridership4,744,626212,179-96%
Direct Revenues$367.9M$73.9M-80%
Direct Costs$328.8M$111.8M-66%
Direct Contribution$39.1M-$37.0M-197%
Non-direct deficit$309.3M$88.8M-71%
Operating subsidy required$270.2M$126.7M-53%
(per passenger)$56.95$597.14949%


With Corridor services compensating for the entire direct deficit of non-Corridor services and keeping the crucial "subsidy per passenger" figure at somewhat publicly acceptable levels, what exactly makes you believe that VIA's focus on Corridor trains undermines its non-Corridor operations?
 

Admiral Beez

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  • VIA's Remote services are run like a public service and recovered 12.6% of its direct costs in 2018, thus generating a direct loss of $20.0 million.
  • VIA's Ocean is run like a public service and recovered 48.9% of its direct costs in 2018, thus generating a direct loss of $11.3 million.
  • VIA's Canadian is run like a mixture of a public service and a commercial business and recovered 90.3% of its direct costs in 2018, thus generating a direct loss of $6.5 million.
  • VIA's Corridor services are run like a commercial business and recovered 135.5% of their direct costs in 2018, thus generating a contribution of $77.0 million - or $39.2 after deducting the direct deficits of all non-Corridor services listed above - towards VIA's shared costs and overheads.

1585527242974-png.238779

Compiled from: VIA Rail's Summary of the Corporate Plan and Annual Plans 2017 and 2018
Note: Re-post from post #6,707

Granted, VIA would be a much smaller company without its Corridor services and therefore have a lot less overheads, but even if we assume that all of the overheads currently allocated to the Corridor services would disappear with the Corridor services (an extremely optimistic assumption!), the (fully-allocated) subsidy per passenger (unfortunately the metric about which politicians and the media care the most) would increase by factor 10:
MetricVIA (2018)Excluding Corridor Services (2018)Change
Ridership4,744,626212,179-96%
Direct Revenues$367.9M$73.9M-80%
Direct Costs$328.8M$111.8M-66%
Direct Contribution$39.1M-$37.0M-197%
Non-direct deficit$309.3M$88.8M-71%
Operating subsidy required$270.2M$126.7M-53%
(per passenger)$56.95$597.14949%


With Corridor services compensating for the entire direct deficit of non-Corridor services and keeping the crucial "subsidy per passenger" figure at somewhat publicly acceptable levels, what exactly makes you believe that VIA's focus on Corridor trains undermines its non-Corridor operations?
You can’t offer a shoddy service and then complain that no one is using it.
 

Urban Sky

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You can’t offer a shoddy service and then complain that no one is using it.
One group of rail supporters seems to believe that VIA‘s Corridor operations hold back its non-Corridor operations whereas another group believes the opposite. I don’t agree with either narrative, as the contribution generated by the Corridor operations more than covers the deficit of the non-Corridor operations, while the direct deficit generated by the non-Corridor services is less than a Dollar per Canadian per year.

If you want better non-Corridor services, complain to your MP or the bureaucrats in Ottawa, because they are the ones who hold back the necessary funding and approvals for their expansion…
 
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Xav

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Adding to this, the issue lies much more at the capital investment level than at the operations. It costs a lot to start a new service, and it costs a lot to improve an existing one. That's why the only big project is HFR, because if Via can improve at the heart of its most profitable service, then it can solidify other services.
 

Urban Sky

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Adding to this, the issue lies much more at the capital investment level than at the operations. It costs a lot to start a new service, and it costs a lot to improve an existing one. That's why the only big project is HFR, because if Via can improve at the heart of its most profitable service, then it can solidify other services.
Non-Corridor routes are generally longer and see much less traffic. It’s one thing for VIA to acquire and upgrade the Western end of the Chatham Sub (which sees 4 trains per day) than the Newcastle Sub in New Brunswick (which sees 3 trains per day). That's indeed why the only big project is HFR, because you have to first future-proof your bread-and-butter service, before you can shift your focus onto your other services…
 
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Urban Sky

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Essentially all ground transportation, long distance and otherwise, is subsidized in North America.
It‘s all a question of what you count: if you just look at direct operating costs, VIA‘s Corridor services are unsubsidized. If you look at fully-allocated costs, then Amtrak‘s entire NEC operations plus the Auto-Train should still qualify. If you also include rolling stock procurement, Brightline (if successful) would probably be the first unsubsidized passenger rail serice in North America in over half a century…
 

Darwinkgo

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Well you say that but Brightline was able to use existing corridors to build their infrastructure for the most part, and then elevated guideways to the airport or to Disney, so it can be done. Just a matter of will.
Really depends if you have disused freight lines in useful locations. Calgary and Edmonton though cited above, do not have a disused or abandoned line between them.
 

Urban Sky

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Really depends if you have disused freight lines in useful locations. Calgary and Edmonton though cited above, do not have a disused or abandoned line between them.
Exactly: it is much more a question of luck than will which constrains the ability to take advatage of disused ROWs…
 
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lrt's friend

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Based on my recent motor trip from Ottawa to Niagara Falls, they cannot improve VIA service soon enough. Traffic in both directions was horrible and all it takes is one accident, one breakdown, or one construction project to cause substantial delays. Basically, traffic crawled most of the distance from Oshawa to Grimsby. If there are any corridors with potential pent up demand for efficient passenger rail service it is between Ottawa and Toronto and Toronto and Niagara Falls.
 

crs1026

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Really depends if you have disused freight lines in useful locations. Calgary and Edmonton though cited above, do not have a disused or abandoned line between them.

Nitpick: There is one, but it’s curvy and runs through smaller towns and less local freight customers than the preferred CP line. And has no direct downtown to downtown access. I doubt CP would accept it in trade for its own line. So, while it exists, it has no potential contribution to a western HFR project.

- Paul
 

Urban Sky

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Based on my recent motor trip from Ottawa to Niagara Falls, they cannot improve VIA service soon enough. Traffic in both directions was horrible and all it takes is one accident, one breakdown, or one construction project to cause substantial delays. Basically, traffic crawled most of the distance from Oshawa to Grimsby. If there are any corridors with potential pent up demand for efficient passenger rail service it is between Ottawa and Toronto and Toronto and Niagara Falls.
Sure, it is long overdue to have reasonably fast and frequent passenger rail service between Toronto amd Niagara Falls, but why should VIA run in direct competition to GO, which (unlike VIA on the Corridor) is under no expectation to recover its operating costs?

Nitpick: There is one, but it’s curvy and runs through smaller towns and less local freight customers than the preferred CP line. And has no direct downtown to downtown access. I doubt CP would accept it in trade for its own line. So, while it exists, it has no potential contribution to a western HFR project.

- Paul
Are we talking about the CN line via Camrose? At least the RAC online map shows it as still active:
21D94DA7-3ABD-482C-80F2-D647C8B6EBD0.jpeg
 

Darwinkgo

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Nitpick: There is one, but it’s curvy and runs through smaller towns and less local freight customers than the preferred CP line. And has no direct downtown to downtown access. I doubt CP would accept it in trade for its own line. So, while it exists, it has no potential contribution to a western HFR project.

- Paul
The CN line has many of the same problems as the CP line, while having the additional issues which you identify while being a longer distance. I believe the CN line is up from 8 trains a day regularly after the opening of the Conrich intermodal. Certainly not the CP’s ~18-20, but not nothing. The CN line is where via last operated dayliner service, 2 round trips a day was it? In the last few years the train averaged less than 10 pax per direction per trip.
 

crs1026

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Are we talking about the CN line via Camrose? At least the RAC online map shows it as still active:

I was actually thinking about the other old CN route, through Drumheller and Stettler, which also had RDC service - but my foggy memory kind of transposed its details with the remaining CN line. In any event, I don't see either as having HFR potential. The CP line has arguable potential.... but similar to any of the CP or CN lines between London and Charny, mixing freight and renewed passenger is just not on.

- Paul
 

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