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The fly in Alstom's oatmeal being.... so long as CP retains a right to run freight, it will be unlikely/impossible to upgrade the line to HSR standard. Especially since the existing traffic is pretty heavily loaded covered hoppers.

- Paul
What do you see as the incompatibility? HSR alignments mostly have gentler curves and grades. If it’s the track speeds then presumably the freight would need to run outside of HSR service hours. If it’s wear and tear on the alignment then that might be a problem all right.
 
What do you see as the incompatibility? HSR alignments mostly have gentler curves and grades. If it’s the track speeds then presumably the freight would need to run outside of HSR service hours. If it’s wear and tear on the alignment then that might be a problem all right.

Definitely a matter of wear and tear. Slow heavy freight cars will mess with the banking on the curves, as they put the stresses and weight on the track differently.

HSR actually tolerates steeper grades than traditional freight, but the route is already built to freight standards and the grades are all acceptable for HSR - however if any new diversions are planned to smooth curves, they might be designed with steeper grades that freight would have trouble on.

Some operational impacts are unavoidable too - presumably HSR will be doing its track maintenance at night, and freights will impact that - plus, the risk of a freight breakdown that ties a train down into the next morning and messes with passehger service. Infrequent perhaps, but a complication nonetheless.

- Paul
 
The Alstom concept doesn't have high speeds on the track that freight would use. Freight trains run as far as Havelock, a section that would have passenger trains run at 144 km/h. The high speed section starts past that.
 
The Alstom concept doesn't have high speeds on the track that freight would use. Freight trains run as far as Havelock, a section that would have passenger trains run at 144 km/h. The high speed section starts past that.

True, and that observation is a bit of the thin veneer scraped off the Alstom proposal. All they are really offering as a "better deal" is true HSR on the Montreal-Quebec segment - the segment that is most politically moveable.

And possibly a higher-end segment from Havelock to Perth. One ought to value-engineer that part of the proposal carefully. Reportedly Ottawa was already to build a new line in that segment. How much pricier is the Alstom approach, and how many minutes will it save over what Ottawa was planning? (160 km @ 200 km/hr vs 160 km @ 300 km/hr - 16 minutes difference)

- Paul
 
True, and that observation is a bit of the thin veneer scraped off the Alstom proposal. All they are really offering as a "better deal" is true HSR on the Montreal-Quebec segment - the segment that is most politically moveable.
I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here. Keeping the high speed section to the part where freight trains don't run seems prudent to me.

And possibly a higher-end segment from Havelock to Perth. One ought to value-engineer that part of the proposal carefully. Reportedly Ottawa was already to build a new line in that segment. How much pricier is the Alstom approach, and how many minutes will it save over what Ottawa was planning? (160 km @ 200 km/hr vs 160 km @ 300 km/hr - 16 minutes difference)

- Paul
You're making a lot of assumptions. The original HFR talks about speeds that "could eventually reach 200 km/h". We don't know what speed the section east of Havelock would support. You can't just rebuild the existing line to support 200 km/h, that would require a new, grade separated right of way. If you're doing that anyway then a 300 km/h line isn't much more expensive. At least that's what previous HSR studies have concluded. The number of minutes saved is apparent by the travel times in the presentation.
 
I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here. Keeping the high speed section to the part where freight trains don't run seems prudent to me.

My point is, Alstom is not actually proposing a Toronto-Montreal-Quebec HSR, only a Montreal-Quebec HSR. It's not clear if or how the two proposals differ outside of that stretch.

You're making a lot of assumptions. The original HFR talks about speeds that "could eventually reach 200 km/h". We don't know what speed the section east of Havelock would support. You can't just rebuild the existing line to support 200 km/h, that would require a new, grade separated right of way. If you're doing that anyway then a 300 km/h line isn't much more expensive. At least that's what previous HSR studies have concluded. The number of minutes saved is apparent by the travel times in the presentation.

In the absence of Ottawa divulging its plan, assumptions and speculations is all that we have to work with.

The original vanilla HFR appeared to suggest that the original CPR routing would be followed, with curve banking used as the primary means to raise train speed beyond its as-built values. It was hinted that a limited number of curves might be eased if there was an economic benefit to doing so.

Subsequently, Ottawa has hinted (in response to proposals from local communities) that some amount of the Havelock-Perth segment would be built as a new line. The Ardendale - Sharbot Lake - Ungava portion was thought by some to be the most likely segment as there were adverse impacts to Sharbot Lake, and as that segment is particularly curvy. There is no indication that Ottawa proposes any further new construction beyond that stretch.

If Alstom is proposing new construction or HSR level upgrades for the full Havelock to Perth segment, then yes it will be a lot faster than HFR (and a lot costlier). But without clarity, the relative travel times remain unverified, and we cannot be certain that Alstom's claimed improvements in travel times are valid.. And if Alstom's proposed HSR quality segment is less than the full Havelock-Perth distance, its time saving is less and the proposal is not that much better west of Montreal than HFR's is.

So, again, I am saying it's only superficially better than HFR, and its benefits where they exist are being targeted to the Quebec segment and not spread equally across the full route.

- Paul
 
My point is, Alstom is not actually proposing a Toronto-Montreal-Quebec HSR, only a Montreal-Quebec HSR. It's not clear if or how the two proposals differ outside of that stretch.
The Alstom concept has a significant section of 200-300 km/h high speed track in Ontario. Let's look at the (highly preliminary) trip times.
Toronto-Montreal: ~600 km in 3 hours - 200 km/h average speed
Montreal-Quebec: ~270 km in 1:40 - 160 km/h average speed

So calling this only a Montreal-Quebec HSR proposal is wrong.

In the absence of Ottawa divulging its plan, assumptions and speculations is all that we have to work with.

The original vanilla HFR appeared to suggest that the original CPR routing would be followed, with curve banking used as the primary means to raise train speed beyond its as-built values. It was hinted that a limited number of curves might be eased if there was an economic benefit to doing so.

Subsequently, Ottawa has hinted (in response to proposals from local communities) that some amount of the Havelock-Perth segment would be built as a new line. The Ardendale - Sharbot Lake - Ungava portion was thought by some to be the most likely segment as there were adverse impacts to Sharbot Lake, and as that segment is particularly curvy. There is no indication that Ottawa proposes any further new construction beyond that stretch.

If Alstom is proposing new construction or HSR level upgrades for the full Havelock to Perth segment, then yes it will be a lot faster than HFR (and a lot costlier).
We don't know how much more expensive it would be, or how much of that old ROW would be used in the "vanilla" HFR plan, or how fast that section would be. It could be that the cost isn't as much more as you think. What's clear is that Alstom is selling the idea that significantly faster trips make the extra cost worth it.

But without clarity, the relative travel times remain unverified, and we cannot be certain that Alstom's claimed improvements in travel times are valid.. And if Alstom's proposed HSR quality segment is less than the full Havelock-Perth distance, its time saving is less and the proposal is not that much better west of Montreal than HFR's is.

So, again, I am saying it's only superficially better than HFR, and its benefits where they exist are being targeted to the Quebec segment and not spread equally across the full route.

- Paul
3 hours from here to Montreal and 2 hours to Ottawa say otherwise. Again, that's a higher average speed than the section to Quebec City.

All of this is speculative of course since all we know about is general concepts and preliminary travel time estimates.
 
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I've heard that the CP Rail president is very bullish on the line and wants to try to get more traffic from the mines from the trucks. Plus, apparently Quaker has invested some money on their siding to get rail service back. They own it. So certainly they might be happy to run night trains because they still see value in the line.

I’m wondering if CP is bullish on the line because it sees freight potential, or because it sees a big cash payout for a federal takeover. That was rumoured to be the reason why CN was so late selling the Weston Sub to GO, especially when the private Blue 22 rail link was a possibility.
 
I’m wondering if CP is bullish on the line because it sees freight potential, or because it sees a big cash payout for a federal takeover. That was rumoured to be the reason why CN was so late selling the Weston Sub to GO, especially when the private Blue 22 rail link was a possibility.

I’m sure they are now saying, hey we planned to make a lot of money from this line, so compensate us accordingly when you buy it from us.

I would challenge them to show a capital investment and maintenance spending record for the last ten years that demonstrates their intent to promote the line. And a similar plan to keep the line in operating shape for the next 15-20.

The reality is, they have been harvesting this asset for decades now. Likely even more so from the point where government looked serious about using it for GO or HFR.

Nice try, CP…. we were born at night, but it wasn’t last night.

- Paul
 
I’m sure they are now saying, hey we planned to make a lot of money from this line, so compensate us accordingly when you buy it from us.

I would challenge them to show a capital investment and maintenance spending record for the last ten years that demonstrates their intent to promote the line. And a similar plan to keep the line in operating shape for the next 15-20.

The reality is, they have been harvesting this asset for decades now. Likely even more so from the point where government looked serious about using it for GO or HFR.

Nice try, CP…. we were born at night, but it wasn’t last night.

- Paul

Agreed. Also, given that CP currently only runs 3 trains a week on the line, and with the HFR upgrades, that could easily be doubled, they would need a significant increase in freight volume to make this an issue. In reality, the upgrades would be a significant benefit for CP.
 
What I want to know is who is responsible for engineering these deals with the freightcos? Does Alstom bring CP on as a partner?
 
What I want to know is who is responsible for engineering these deals with the freightcos? Does Alstom bring CP on as a partner?

Quite possibly, and that might be a good thing….. since there might be some balance of negotiating power between the two. In principle, if both landlord railways had skin in the game, with their seeing some opportunity for profit, we might be in a better space.

I can’t imagine that Alstom released its proposal without giving CP an advance peek.

Although if Ottawa is backstopping I suspect that’s like the fox and the coyote agreeing on a joint venture to manage the henhouse.

- Paul
 
It's very sad and disturbing that Jack Landau, who should know better, is complying with the BlogTO m.o.
To his slight defence, his articles are the best of the lot on blogTO. What makes them horrendous, anti-journalistic lies are the titles they are given, and generally, the one whose byline is on the article wouldn't write the title. That's pretty standard everywhere, probably even at blogTO.
 

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