GO Electrification & Air Rail Link Updates (Update 2)

Updated Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm: Metrolinx today announced that it will be ordering DMUs from Sumitomo, piggy backing on the Sonoma-Marin order.  The statement, which is available in full on the Metrolinx site, includes:

Metrolinx will be entering into formal negotiations with Sumitomo Corporation of America to exercise an option from the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (California) procurement contract to purchase up to eighteen (18) highly efficient Diesel Multiple Units (DMU’s). These vehicles will meet stringent Tier 4 emissions standards and will be convertible to electric for the Air Rail Link.

Updated Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 3:30 pm: Information on the proposed Sonoma-Marin “SMART” Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) acquisition has been linked from this article and the price per unit cited by me in the original text has been corrected.  See the section on the ARL for updates.

The original article (as amended) from November 12 follows below.

On Tuesday, November 16, the Metrolinx Board will receive updates on the GO Transit Electrification Study and on the status of the Air Rail Link to Pearson from Union Station.

The Electrification Study has been underway through 2010 and it has produced a number of background reports.  I will leave the truly keen readers to plough through all of this, but a few high points deserve mention.

  • Electric locomotives are the most cost-effective option for GO services
  • The most value-for-money comes from electrifying entire corridors

That electric operations are better for GO is no surprise to anyone who has watched the growth of electric railways worldwide.  Sadly, GO has decades of saying “no” to electrics on the grounds that investment in better service trumped investment in technology at the service levels then in effect.  With the proposals found in The Big Move, this position is no longer valid.

The study workshops have seen vigourous debate on the issue of locomotives vs a fleet of electric multiple units (EMUs).  It is cheaper to haul longer trains of coaches with one electric locomotive than to power each car in a train.  However, this places a limitation on acceleration and speed between stations because the locomotive must do all of the work.  (Only the locomotive’s wheels provide the power for acceleration, and there are limits to the forces that can be transmitted in this manner.)

The finding that full corridor electrification is most cost-effective comes from the high cost of dual-mode locomotives and the operational constraints that would probably exist if only some units had this capability.  Only trains with “off-wire” capability could be dispatched to outer, peak-only parts of corridors.  The study does not review a configuration with a mix of pure diesel-hauled trains with electric trains, although these would have effectively the same operational constraints.

Rolling Stock and Motive Power

Options for rolling stock and motive power are reviewed and short-listed in a comprehensive report by LTK Engineering Services, a respected consulting firm.  To those who are familiar with railway practices and available technologies, there are few surprises here.  What is important, however, is that the report takes as a basic premise the need for proven, commercially viable technology that is compatible with the infrastructure and service level likely to be provided on a “base case” which is, essentially, the existing and planned GO network.

This filters out a number of technologies whose future is much brighter in the starry eyes of their proponents than in the hard-nosed world of providing reliable, cost-effective transit service for decades to come.  GO and other transit systems should not be showcases for expensive technology that may not even exist.

Four options remain on the table:

  • Diesel locomotives hauling bi-level coaches
  • Electric locomotives hauling bi-level coaches
  • Electric multiple-unit bi-level coaches
  • Dual-mode (diesel/electric) locomotives hauling bi-level coaches

Any of the electric modes requires infrastructure, and the cost of this should be recovered either in direct savings or in the ability to provide better, higher-capacity service than with diesels.  Additional savings and effects of electrification are harder to express monetarily, but they include:

  • Reduced noise and pollution along the corridors where electric trains operate in place of equivalent diesel service.
  • Secondary benefits of lower pollution levels immediately adjacent to rail corridors, and the associated cost of health effects.
  • Reduced or eliminated need for noise barrier construction and the visual effect this could have on affected neighbourhoods.  This is an offset to the visual effect of overhead power supply supports.

One major problem with the many related studies is the inconsistency in assumed levels of service.  The Big Move projected a very large increase in train operations on many corridors by 2030, and the demand projections show a 4-fold increase in GO passenger volumes at Union Station.  However, the current station expansion project will only double capacity for GO.  Part of the constraint lies in the physical limit on passenger flow to and from platforms, and part lies in the ability of the rail corridor to handle additional traffic.

During workshop sessions on the Electrification Study itself, GO has repeatedly maintained that service levels projected by The Big Move would never actually be operated, even though the higher level is assumed both for Union Station itself, and for regional projections of traffic diversions from roads to GO Transit.  If the higher projections are accurate, then the Electrification Study is low-balling the benefits of converting from diesel.  If the lower projections are accurate, then The Big Move’s projections of traffic diversions are wildly overstated, as are the projected demands at Union Station.

This is a fundamental problem with Metrolinx’ work.

Power Supply

A study of power supply options recommends implementation of a 2×25 kV 60 hz AC system commonly found on other electrified railways.  This technology minimizes the number of points where substations must be located while staying within constraints of bridge clearances (higher voltages require clearances not available at some locations), and is compatible with Hydro One’s preferences for power supply.

The study notes that Hydro One proposes to connect to the network at two points, both of which are on the Lakeshore corridor.  This implies that the choice of a first corridor may already have been taken.

One issue not mentioned in the power supply study is the question of the rail shed at Union Station.  During the Electrification Study, and especially as this relates to the Air Rail Link, this has often been raised as a potential barrier due to clearance problems with the existing rail shed roof.

However, the City’s Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group (of which I was a member until it became clear that City staff had no further use for our input) was repeatedly told that the new train shed roof design allows sufficient clearance for electrification.  Note that this is not just a matter of enough height for the wires, but also of ensuring that the distance between electrified components and the station structure are sufficient to prevent arcing.

This is another case where the claims of one GO study/project conflict with assumptions and statements made by the Electrification Study’s team.

The situation is made even more interesting by the ARL update report which claims that trains will stop outside of the train shed itself.  Therefore, the question of conflict between an electrified ARL and the train shed is moot, even though this has come up often in discussions about this option.

Network Selection

When GO electrifies, they will do the most cost-effective parts of the network first.  These will be the sections where trains run frequently, where implementation does not trigger expensive side-projects to eliminate obstacles.

The Network Option Report shows 18 possible configurations of an electrified GO system ranging from only Georgetown or Lakeshore up to the full network and many combinations in between.  By the time we reach the update for the Metrolinx Board, this list is cut down to:

  • Georgetown & ARL (the ARL was not included in the Network Option Report which had assumed it was a separate, non-Metrolinx operation)
  • Lakeshore (to Hamilton James Street Station in the west)
  • Georgetown, ARL & Lakeshore
  • Georgetown, ARL, Lakeshore & Milton
  • Georgetown, ARL, Lakeshore, Milton & Barrie
  • Entire network (including Hamilton Hunter Street Station and St. Catharines extension)

What is not mentioned is a “prebuild” of the ARL segment.  During workshop meetings where this question was raised, the issue of the train shed at Union was raised as a problem even though now the ARL update says that these trains will not operate into the roofed area of the station.

GO’s announcement that rail service to Kitchener will begin operation in late 2011 adds a small wrinkle to the Georgetown corridor in that the two trains each way daily to Kitchener will almost certainly remain diesel-hauled and they will be mixed in with the much larger number of trains on other routes sharing the corridor.

Implementation and Operations

Still to come are reports on the actual implementation of electrification including signalling changes (both for compatibility with electric trains and for closer headways), construction of the power distribution system, fleet planning and maintenance facilities.

Air Rail Link Update

The ARL update confirms that the stations planned for this service are Pearson, Weston, Bloor and Union.  Provision will be made for a connection with the Eglinton LRT, although the current plans for the Weston Station on that line make such a connection inconvenient (not unlike the connection at Bloor to Dundas West Station).  Indeed, if someone wants to reach the airport, they would be better to stay on the Eglinton line rather than transferring the ARL at Weston.  However, it is unclear just when the Eglinton/Airport connection will actually be built.

The one-way trip time will be 25 minutes, service will operate 20 hours per day and the headway will be 15 minutes at all times.  That’s four trips/hour each way times 20 hours, or 160 trips per day.  Other Metrolinx reports have used 140 trips per day.

Projected ridership by year 5 is 5,000 passengers per day, and this implies an average of 31 riders per trip.  Obviously there will be lightly used trips and peak loads will be well above 31/train.  The light average loading begs the question of emissions per trip.  The trains moving back and forth produce pollution with or without passengers, and it would be worthwhile knowing what ridership is needed to reach emissions lower than those caused simply by putting everyone in taxis.

This was originally a PPP scheme, but that idea fell apart in June.  Although the presentation says that “financing arrangements became unacceptable” to the private partner, my understanding is that Queen’s Park refused to underwrite their risk.  Indeed why, after investment of hundreds of millions in new infrastructure for Georgetown GO and ARL service should the government further guarantee the “private partner’s” business plan?  When this scheme was concocted by the then Liberal government in Ottawa, it was spoken of as an all-private undertaking, but things didn’t quite work out that way.

The lounge for the ARL will be located west of the train shed at Union.  The shed ends just west of York Street, but the Skywalk runs over to Simcoe, one block west, providing easy access to an ARL platform on the northernmost track.  This arrangement, as I noted above, eliminates the requirement for an electrified ARL to enter the train shed and decouples any work on that structure from an ARL implementation.

Most interesting in the report is confirmation that the proposed vehicles are not reconditioned RDCs (the private proponent’s original choice), but are similar to vehicles to be built for the Sonoma-Marin “SMART” proposal in California by Sumitomo.  These will be built as Tier 4 diesels with the capability of future electrification.  How, exactly, this provision will be made remains to be seen.  Indeed, at workshops, such cars have been discussed rather as equipment that would be eventually deployed on outer parts of the GO network such as Niagara Falls, and it would make much more sense to buy purpose-built electric equipment for the ARL.

Updated November 14:

Although the cost is not in the update report, I understand from other sources that the price of these cars will be $8.6-million each, vastly higher than prices for electric MU cars.

The price to be paid by SMART is US$56.85-million for nine 2-car trainsets.  The ARL will require four 2-car sets for service plus one spare.  On a proportionate basis, this would cost US$31.586-million.  The cost per car would be US$3.159-million.

These trains are subject to Buy America provisions for the SMART order, and Sumitomo proposes to establish a plant in Illinois where final assembly will be performed using components manufactured in Japan.  What arrangements, if any, would be made to meet Ontario’s Canadian content procurement rules is unknown.

The project itself is in political trouble as described by many articles in the Marin Independent Journal.  (Use the search “marin independent journal smart” in Google.)  Whether it will actually proceed, and therefore whether there will be an order onto which GO/Metrolinx can piggyback, remains to be seen.

End of Update

The ARL is still presented as a premium service; however, the fare has yet to be determined.  When this was a PPP, fares above $20 were mooted.

This line will be a separate business unit within Metrolinx with its own President.  This is complete nonsense.  The ARL will have a fleet of, maybe, a dozen vehicles and eventually will be part of a much larger network. Maybe we should set up each of the GO lines as a separate company with its own President and associated bureaucracy.

The concept of a separate operation implies a desire to eventually sell it off once the capital costs of creating the service have been absorbed in Ontario’s budget.  Can you say “Highway 407″?

Airport service should be provided by a variety of carriers and routes including an express rail service, the LRT lines proposed for Eglinton and Finch (and possibly a connection from Mississauga/Brampton as well), and regional bus services.  Service to the airport, like any other major node, should be provided by the region’s public transit systems.

Particularly galling is the comment that this line will not serve commuters.  Those who work at the airport and those who travel in the Weston corridor can look elsewhere for their travel needs.  For $300-million (the cost of the spur, airport station and vehicles) plus the ARL’s share of infrastructure upgrades in the Weston Corridor (two of eight tracks), the cost of infrastructure to serve 5,000 tourists and business travellers per day is getting rather high.

Union Station Alternatives

In addition to the reports going to the public meeting of the Metrolinx board, there is a study on capacity issues at Union Station.  This study has not yet reported and its reports are not publicly available, unlike the Electrification Study.

Five options were discussed at a recent workshop (which I did not attend):

  1. The existing and committed facilities at Union Station
  2. Satellite stations
  3. The Summerhill Corridor and North Toronto Station
  4. GO/Downtown Rapid Transit Integration
  5. New GO Tunnel through the Central Business District

An important part of this review is a proper understanding of passenger flows and demands in the GTA, as well as the capacities of various existing and planned components of the network.  For example, offloading passengers to the TTC is counterproductive if their network is already full, of if the additional load would trigger the need for significant new infrastructure.  Similarly, a “satellite” station is of little use unless it is close to someone’s destination either by walking, or by a very convenient transit link.

This study uses the service levels contemplated by The Big Move as its starting point for the GO network.  These services imply a demand at Union much larger than that used for the Electrification Study and, of course, make any new infrastructure more financially attractive because it must serve a larger potential market.

Riding on GO rail has grown 11% from 2006 to 2009 with the largest increases in the Barrie and Stouffville corridors.  I cannot help pointing out that the AM peak ridership on every corridor except Richmond Hill is already higher than 5,000, the projected all-day demand on the Air Rail Link.  This gives some idea of just how small potatoes the ARL really is despite the money lavished on it.

About 10% of GO’s riding originates within the City of Toronto, and 60% of that is on the Lakeshore corridor.

Almost half of the trips destined for the core area (“Planning District 1″) use GO although the proportion is higher in Halton (75%) than in Durham (67%).  Clearly driving to work in PD1 is not the choice for parts of GO’s service territory, but the market penetration varies, no doubt because of variations in service levels.

Total GO Rail growth from 2009 to 2031 is forecast to rise by about 120%.

However, there is a conundrum in the projections.  The demand at Union Station is going to quadruple but the peak period demand is going up only by a factor of two.  This implies a very tight, brief peak at Union made possible only if many trains arrive in a short period.  Put another way, a demand/time curve will have a peak four times as high as current operations, but the area under the curve will only double.  This suggests a much worse problem with peaking and unidirectional riding in complete contrast to the hope for more flexible commuting times and bi-directional traffic.

This conundrum needs to be examined in detail to understand whether the projections are valid and what contributes to them.  Other studies have projected increases at various levels, and until everyone can agree which of these, or even what range of values, is the definitive one, we will continue to have studies that choose ridership projections as it suits their desired outcomes.

Those who want to build lots of infrastructure will use the highest numbers.  Those who want to run the fewest trains (presumably with diesels as long as it is financially and operationally possible) will use the lowest numbers.  The public is ill-served by cherry-picked demand estimates.

Conclusion

Far too much time has been wasted trying to avoid the need to electrify GO Transit.  Without question, this will be a complex, lengthy and expensive process.  Wild claims have been made that the option is unaffordable — in the billions of dollars — without addressing the basics.

Other commuter rail systems have electrified and, indeed, have seen this as the only responsible way to move forward.  GO service levels proposed in The Big Move cannot be operated with diesel-hauled trains.  If these service levels are fictional and planning continues on the assumption of much less service, then commuters are in for a big surprise.  Claims made for traffic diversion off of highways, reduction of pollution, noise and associated health effects will simply not be attainable because far less service will actually operate.

I will leave a detailed discussion of Union Station and various alternatives to another post in the hope that more material on related studies becomes public soon.  Yes, this is a broad hint to Metrolinx that conducting studies without keeping the public informed is a very bad idea.

We cannot make intelligent decisions about technologies, about staging of system expansion, about the priority and effects of various investments, without sound background material and studies that are consistent and defensible.  A small army of consultants is working on a vital part of our region’s future plans.  They should have coffee now and then, and get their stories straight.

The Metrolinx Board and the Ontario Government need to wake up and find a way to bring electrification to GO and to the ARL as soon as possible, not in some indefinite future many elections away.

About Steve

Steve thanks you for reading this article, even if you don't agree with it.
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52 Responses to GO Electrification & Air Rail Link Updates (Update 2)

  1. Karl Junkin says:

    I had been trying to draw attention to the ARL being left outside the train shed since the EA. Nobody seemed to want to entertain the idea earlier.

    I had asked two Metrolinx study directors about when/where the Union Station Capacity Study would be released for viewing. That was a month ago. Still waiting for a response.

  2. Andrew says:

    Low-capacity train cars will not be adequate for the Air Rail link if GO has the sense to charge reasonable fares for trips not going to the airport (e.g. Weston or Dundas West to downtown). This is intended to be the highest-frequency GO service in the system (won’t it have 15min frequencies?) wouldn’t it be useful as a western Downtown Relief line? The infrastructure at the airport need to be designed for 12-car GO trains for future expansion so that trains can terminate there, even though I would expect that many passengers won’t be going to the airport. Small trains may be useful for minor branch lines like the Niagara Falls service, but are inadequate for main line use.

  3. George S says:

    That is an incredible projection you wrote when you stated that “Total GO Rail growth from 2009 to 2031 is forecast to rise by about 120%”. I hope it does with what is going on at Union but where are they getting these additional riders from? Ontario’s population is rising but not that high of a percent.

    Steve: Those numbers are taken from GO’s own report. The increase comes from the fact that population and jobs in the GTA rise much faster than the province as a whole, and a disproportionate amount of this increase must be carried by transit as there is little room to expand the road network. Also, that 120% figure is only one of several. There is a big problem in various studies using whatever figure seems to suit them all the way from roughly doubling (2.2X or 120% growth) to quadrupling (4X or 300% increase). Elsewhere they seem to settle on 3X (200% growth) as a likely number. It also gets confusing because in addition to growth at Union, as the system becomes more of a regional all-day, two-way rapid transit net, there is a big jump (in percentage, not absolute terms) in counterpeak and offpeak demands. These affect total system usage stats, but not the requirements for peak period and location capacity.

  4. Kevin Love says:

    By the year 2031 we’ll be so far over peak oil that driving cars will be an expensive luxury of the ultra-rich. Unless, of course, some “Star Trek” technology is developed to (unfortunately) save the private car. Hydrogen seems to have been a bust…

    To look at future passenger demand, it is necessary to imagine almost 100% of passenger transportation being by bicycle, foot or public transit.

    Unfortunately, this is likely to start with a crisis such as a revolution in Saudi Arabia. Or unrest in Nigeria or Iraq or Iran or Russia (which cut off Ukraine’s natural gas supply in the middle of winter).

    The lack of any contingency planning for these entirely foreseeable events is insanely foolish.

  5. J says:

    What I found interesting in the ARL presentation is that while it is designed as a premium service, GO will deliver commuter options through improvements in infrastructure and services.

    Does this mean increased service to the airport through the use of GO buses? The Richmond Hill and York Mills buses are there but the service levels are nowhere close to the 15 minutes promised for downtown. Plus, they hardly hit all the suburban nodes (STC, Unionville, etc.).

    Steve: I believe that the convoluted statement about “improvements” means that they will build more tracks for and run more trains on their regular services in the corridor, and that the ARL is not intended to serve the commuter market to downtown Toronto.

  6. Karl Junkin says:

    @Kevin Love:

    I find your perspective rather unrealistic as well as antagonizing. I think it is attitudes like yours that lead to charges of “downtown-condo-dwelling latte-sipping tree-hugging elitists” being thrown about by people that do have no practical option but to drive. To simply imply “cars are evil, we must purge them from society,” is not going to build any bridges between suburban and urban cultures or rally any support for public transit. It’s very counterproductive.

    Cars are here to stay, as the technology has evolved (or re-evolved if you go back a century… interesting parallels). The “Star Trek” technology you refer to, which was also available 100 years ago, is electric cars, and they are commercially available, although they won’t be in mass production for another 4-5 years. MTO, for example, is aiming for a 20% market penetration in Ontario by 2020, i.e. 1 in 5 cars on the road will be electric. Assuming energy independence, security, and supply are in place, electric cars will be able to insulate the driving public from the impacts of peak oil to a large degree (it won’t be 100%, but it will be a high value). This should not be regarded as an “unfortunate” development, because it will take a long time for transit to become a viable alternative for people in the suburbs, and it is an extraordinarily complex challenge to resolve that cannot be accomplished by a politician just snapping their fingers, which I think is very important to recognize. 20 years is not enough time for the suburbs to realistically adjust.

    To assume that almost 100% of people will no longer be driving in 20 years, when electric cars are already here with a built-form tailored to cars in place for a vast majority of the region by square area, is setting one’s self up for quite a surprise… 20 years down the road (with cars (many electric) still on them).

    Steve: To this I would add that even oil-based autos stand to benefit a lot from downsizing and improved fuel efficiency. This has already done much to insulate the driving public from previous price shocks. Not until the last gas station closes would people believe that they can no longer drive.

    There is a far greater and more imminent threat to auto use — the lack of road space. That’s what causes congestion today, and the problem cannot be easily solved. We have built an urban region that cannot support the transportation demands placed on it. Transit schemes that reduce road space (LRT and some BRT) attract much ire from motorists who only see their scarce resource being grabbed for a transit “solution” they cannot use.

  7. DavidH says:

    Transit schemes that reduce road space (LRT and some BRT) attract much ire from motorists who only see their scarce resource being grabbed for a transit “solution” they cannot use.

    It seems to me that this is in part a ‘chicken and egg’ problem. Many motorists can’t use transit until we get a much improved transit system, so they need all the current road space. Transit schemes that remove road space do so before the full improved system is in place.

    As an aside, the other day I encountered an example of the need for LRT. I hopped on a westbound 32S at Eginton West (a 32C short turning at Keele), and discovered that the driver was being short turned there as it was the end of his shift. However, he told me that even though there were no accidents and no construction on the route, he was at this point running 68 minutes down, due solely to traffic congestion.

    We definitely need the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

  8. AL says:

    The ARL information indicates the station will be on the top of the T1 parking garage. Are there any maps or plans for the overall configuration? It is unclear what the platform lengths and layout will be. Will the station permit expansion to other routes than just Union in the future? The station and spur really should be designed as full length platforms that are strong enough to support either a GO train or a VIA train.

    It would also make sense to have an integrated transit terminal to consolidate the ARL, new LRT routes, local buses, intercity buses, etc. It is unclear if this can occur with the chosen ARL station.

    Steve: You can see the alignment details in the Environmental Assessment Appendix I, plates 24-35. These plates are not in geographical order for reasons best known to the study team.

    Plate 34 (page 11 of the pdf) shows the airport station. Preliminary designs I have seen for the LRT connection place it on top of the garage at the same level. This has to be built in such a way as to be accessible to the future Eglinton, Finch and Hurontario/Brampton lines.

    Plate 33 (page 2 of the pdf) is the area immediately adjacent to the station and it shows the steep grade needed to reach the station’s level. This grade substantially exceeds the capability of conventional mainline rail equipment and there is no chance that a locomotive-hauled train of bi-levels will ever traverse this route.

    Plate 32 (page 3 of the pdf) shows the proposed maintenance yard. Now that this line will be operated by GO/Metrolinx, a separate yard is not required and this will be dropped from the design.

    Plates 31-29 (pages 4-6 of the pdf) show the remainder of the spur and the point where it merges with the CN line.

  9. Jacob Louy says:

    A response to Kevin Love’s comment:

    I have to admit, that was my attitude 4-5 years ago, that all cars are evil. Even today, sometimes I still hold some resentment toward [some] motorists, especially those who honk at me even though I’m following all the rules.

    The problem is not cars; it is the over-dominance of cars, a single mode of transport, at the expense of everyone else. I think Jane Jacobs said that the private automobile was supposed to be a wonderful technology, efficient enough to be able to replace 20 horse-buggies. But instead, 20 cars replaced each horse-buggy, and the over-dominance of cars soon demanded car-oriented infrastructure, replacing city amenities with parking lots.

  10. Mimmo Briganti says:

    Thumbs up Karl. Finally, somebody who understands both sides. I would gladly give up my car if I could, but it’s just not practical. The only thing we have to do now is get Steve to drive for a bit and let him taste the forbidden fruit. It will change his perspective on transit … guaranteed.

  11. DavidH says:

    Plate 33 (page 2 of the pdf) is the area immediately adjacent to the station and it shows the steep grade needed to reach the station’s level. This grade substantially exceeds the capability of conventional mainline rail equipment and there is no chance that a locomotive-hauled train of bi-levels will ever traverse this route.

    What is the maximum grade that a locomotive-hauled train of bi-levels can mount?

    If I am reading the plate correctly, the grade at the start is 3.98% declining to 3.00%. If you check the bottom of the plate you will see that the vertical scale is 10 times the horizontal scale, so the grade appears ten times as steep as it actually would be.

    Steve: Freights can get up to 1%, but railways try to avoid this. Locomotive-hauled passenger trains can go up to 2%. The reason for steeper grades on this line is that it was planned to operate with self-propelled cars that can climb these grades. By the way, bilevels cannot fit under one of the bridges. The line was designed this way on the assumption that they would never be used.

  12. Andrew says:

    It seems an odd choice for Metrolinx to want to buy tiny Japanese DMU cars for the air rail link. Wouldn’t Bombardier be up in arms with this for Canadian content reasons? As I said in my earlier comment, I think that small DMUs are inadequate for this corridor if Metrolinx abandons its ridiculous proposal to prohibit the use of the air rail link for trips not going to or from the airport (e.g. Dundas West to Union). The air rail link should use similar conventional rolling stock as the rest of the network (probably BiLevels) and should be designed for 12-car trains (this won’t be needed initially even if the ARL is a regular-fare service, but allows for future expansion).

    Steve: As I have noted elsewhere, the BiLevels will not fit under the bridge at the appropriately named “Network Road”.

  13. Andrew says:

    > As I have noted elsewhere, the BiLevels will not fit under the bridge at the appropriately named “Network Road”.

    Why is GO designing this bridge without enough clearance for BiLevels? Seems extremely short-sighted to me, this would avoid the need for two incompatible sets of equipment. Also, how could the ARL possibly be electrified if the rest of the GO network requires catenary high enough that BiLevels can fit underneath? It sounds to me that this means that the ARL will be permanently powered by diesel. I find it hard to believe that it would require more than a small increase in cost to design the ARL to accept existing 12-car GO trains, future-proofing it for long-term increases in demand as well as the possibility of VIA service.

    Steve: GO didn’t design this. It is a leftover from the design they inherited from SNC Lavalin. Also, if BiLevels are to be hauled into the airport, the structures for the spur would have to support diesel locomotives. GO has steadfastly refused to criticise the ARL design saying it’s not their project. Now it is.

  14. Kevin Love says:

    Karl writes:

    “The “Star Trek” technology you refer to… is electric cars”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Perhaps. It is an unfortunate reality of history that sometimes Very Bad Things do happen. And human beings do have a proven history of being so selfish, irresponsible and greedy that they destroy their own civilizations. We may wind up going down the well-trodden path of Easter Island.

    It is possible that the serious problems with cost, range, raw materials shortages and electrical production will be overcome. Although I note that even a mass-produced electric car such as the Nissan Leaf still requires a massive government subsidy. In Ontario that comes to $8,500. That’s one taxpayer-exploiting gravy train that I wouldn’t mind derailing.

    And what happens if all these problems can be overcome? And not only North America and Europe but also a billion Chinese and a billion Indians start building electric cars? The metals, such as lithium, used in the batteries will be quickly exhausted. So instead of Peak Oil we hit Peak Lithium. And let’s not kid ourselves – the electrical power to drive all those Chinese and American electric cars is going to come from coal-fired plants. Even Ontario’s government has had to keep pushing back its commitment date to stop using coal for electrical generation. That future is going to be a wild ride with catastrophic climate change.

    One thing that oil and lithium have in common is that they are both incredibly useful. Oil has a vast range of industrial, agricultural, commercial and medical uses. Everything from plastics to lubricants depends upon oil. Oil is far, far too valuable to waste it by simply burning it up in cars.

    The same is true with lithium. An amazingly large amount of things run on lithium batteries, including the laptop that I’m typing this on. And electric cars waste a huge amount of it. For example, the Nissan Leaf’s battery weighs 600 lbs and stores 24 kWh of electricity. A typical electric bicycle would only use 2% of this. And I can buy an electric bike right now for as low as $500 at Canadian Tire – although I personally would spend more and get a better one. Oh yes, the amount of government subsidy is zero.

  15. lukev says:

    I think it’s kind of dishonest to only examine full-line electrification.

    For example they can have a line electrified to Brampton, and only the few services each day which actually go as far as Georgetown run diesel train sets, the other 60 of them use electric.

  16. Michael Forest says:

    Kevin Love said: “So instead of Peak Oil we hit Peak Lithium.”

    Michael’s response: Please note that unlike oil or gasoline that are burned irreversibly in a combustion engine, lithium used in batteries can be almost fully recovered after the life of the battery ends. It is unlikely that the supply of lithium will become a major problem. In addition, lithium is not the only metal that can be used in batteries. Lithium batteries might be the most efficient, but there are other options.

    Kevin Love said: “And let’s not kid ourselves – the electrical power to drive all those Chinese and American electric cars is going to come from coal-fired plants.”

    Michael’s response: This is a legitimate concern – that we don’t succeed with renevable sources or with thermonuclear energy within the next few decades, and will be forced to revert to high-pollution coal-fired plants, or will no longer have any cheap energy altogether.

    If so, it will be bad news for any kind of cars, even electric. But note that it won’t be good news for public transit, either. All high-capacity modes of public transit (electric trains, subway lines, LRT, streetcars) consume a lot of electricity. In order to adapt to that situation, the society will be forced to look at reducing the total number of trips: for example, making it easier for the people to live near their work, or to work from home.

    Bicycles are obviously very good on energy consumption (zero external energy), but not everybody is physically capable to ride one; and even when you are, you probably won’t haul your new fridge on a cart attached to your bicycle.

  17. Mark Dowling says:

    @lukev – the problem with partial electrification: a diesel train has different acceleration capabilities from an electric one of same size and can find it difficult to keep up, although I wonder if anyone is designing a diesel-electric powertrain where ultracapacitors provide power to the wheel motors to buy time for the diesel powerplant to accelerate to the point where it can supply enough torque.

    An EMU powertrain is not a guarantee that you won’t have wheelslip simply because power is distributed. Apparently there are significant problems on Dublin’s Northern Line where the EMUs on the DART service have been having some problems with the mulched leaves. According to one of the US railroad forums there may have been some issues with SEPTA’s first Silverliner V set too even though these are supposed to have new antislip technology.

    As for the ARL – my continued preference would be to junk the thing in its entirety in favour of an LRV shuttle of 90m length originating above or below a transfer station at Woodbine similar to JFK Airtrain – eliminates track conflicts, improves overall GO service and avoids the need for item 7M in the Unfunded Items Prioritization Report (Mount Pleasant to YYZ). Sadly I think we’ve come too close to 2015 for that option now.

    It seems to me that the promise of Tier 4 for initial diesel service (a promise which did not placate those in the Weston corridor who want nothing less that electric from day 1) is going to cause similar problems to the ones that demanding 100%LF caused for the downtown street tender. The most sensible approach would have been acquiring a small fleet of Tier 3 Budds in 2-car sets with VIA owning them and leasing them to Metrolinx on a fixed term predicated on completion of electrification.

    At that point “factory” EMUs (presumably built by the German-headquartered Canadian transportation company who operates a Northern Ontario jobs program) would take over from the Budds which would then rejoin VIA as part of their ongoing Budd refurbishment/replacement/expansion project. While even a full-service 4-car/15min EMU fleet would be small potatoes there would certainly be more off-the-shelf options that a convertible DMU not yet in service constructed in the U.S. However, it would be interesting to know whether Metrolinx’s view of refurbished RDCs has been influenced by the fairly negative report on them LTK wrote for Sonoma Marin.

  18. Tom West says:

    Steve: “It is cheaper to haul longer trains of coaches with one electric locomotive than to power each car in a train”

    I think you’re wrong, because if you were right, then this begs the question why both short and long commuters trains Europe are EMUs rather than electric locomotives. What I saw in the report was that introducing electric locos was more cost effective than EMUs. I think that’s because GO already own a load of coaches, so you’d have by new one new loco per train, rather than 10-12 EMU coaches.

    Steve: That’s part of it, but also if (and this is important) you are mostly going to run fixed 10-car consists rather than shorter trains, you are probably ahead with locomotives. There is a big issue at Union with limited track time that tends to make longer, less frequent trains preferable. However, if GO were building a tunnel through downtown, then it would require immense stations to hold 10-car trains and the economics might come out differently.

    The ARL report mentions that the proposed rolling stock be convertible to electric operation. I strongly suspect that the electrification study will recommend electric operation for the ARL from day 1 (and hence the ARL route be the first section of GO’s network to be electrified). The contract for the rolling stock isn’t proposed to be finalised until February, *after* the electrification study report is published in January. At least they are going for new stock, which will be much safer than 60 year old rolling stock.

    Steve: Actually, based on a press conference I was at a few hours ago, the electrification study will not be making a recommendation that the ARL be electrified from day 1. I suspect that any decision to go down that path will be a political one in anticipation of the election.

    The ARL report also talks about “premium service” and “not for commuters”. I’m wondering how much of that is an SNC hangover. Certainly it will seem bizare for people traveling between Weston, Bloor and Union that ARL trains should be considered any different from other GO trains. (The journey time will be pretty similar).

    For a DMU or EMU $3m per car seems sensible. (In the UK, the Stanstead airport express service is taking delivery of 30 4-car trains for £173m – which works out as $2.3m per car. Lower price, but much larger order).

  19. Michael Vanner says:

    Sounds like the ARL should be running rebuilt ALRV’s if only 30-odd passengers will be riding on them.

    Extend the service through to Kitchener via the Halton County Radial museum and we would have “Back to the Future” radial car service!

    Seriously, why oh why have we wasted so much time and money on the bleeding obvious?

  20. David Arthur says:

    Mark: While the behaviour of diesel and electric trains is different, the problem can be overcome. Denmark’s diesel IC3 and electric IR4 units are routinely coupled together, and even join and divide in mid-route. Typically, the IR4 stays within greater Copenhagen, while the IC3 continues to inter-city destinations beyond the reach of the electric wires.

  21. Karl Junkin says:

    Lukev said: I think it’s kind of dishonest to only examine full-line electrification.

    For example they can have a line electrified to Brampton, and only the few services each day which actually go as far as Georgetown run diesel train sets, the other 60 of them use electric.

    I’ve crunched figures on my own independently from Metrolinx’s current study, and the data I’ve got agrees that it is at least 10s of millions cheaper over the lifecycle to electrify the whole line, even in the example you mentioned. It only saves on short-term capital, savings that vanish as higher maintenance and fuel costs catch up over the lifecycle, wiping those short-term capital savings out, and then some.

    Steve: Considering that Metrolinx is talking about half-hourly peak service to K-W, and better service further in on the line, “a few” does not describe the number of trains going beyond Brampton. The main issue will be to have a staged implementation so that the cost of going all the way to K-W is not used as an excuse not to do the section from Georgetown east.

  22. Mark Dowling says:

    @David Arthur – joined electric and diesel sets is an interesting approach, to be sure, but I can’t see GO coupling and uncoupling trains and performing brake tests etc. quickly enough to make that work in practice. This problem would be most acute in the AM peak if an EMU set was expected to wait in Georgetown for a DMU set to arrive at the risk of losing their combined path into Union, especially if the DMU engineer was due to end his duty at Georgetown.

  23. Electric says:

    Full line electrification, but GO is a constantly expanding system. It will never realy be FLE, diesel trains should always be able to run in from further away. One day there may be a GO train in the morning from Stratford, or Brantford on the Lakeshore line. Most large region electric comuter railways have ways to deal with both diesel and electric trains.

    GO will never be complete, it is always a growing system, so it should be flexable. Electrification is best in the most densly operated parts of the system. And diesel trains will always be better for trial train services on new extensions to the system.

  24. scottd says:

    No dumber than Metrolinx’s plan:

    Obama’s High Speed Bus Plan

    Steve: Don’t show this to Rob Ford’s team!

  25. NCarlson says:

    Apologies for the double posting, but these are really separate topics. With both the Union Station capacity and DRL studies proceeding we really should be looking at merging the studies. If GO does want a downtown tunnel, this essentially IS a DRL as long as we put in provision for a few local stops and connections to more than the Lakeshore line; certainly the marginal cost of a GO tunnel also serving as a DRL is lower than building both lines. There are problems with this sure, but I suspect that we can make do with light rail to fill in the local service gaps with a new GO tunnel broadly running through East York and out to Roncesvalles slightly north of Union through downtown and connected to the Richmond Hill, Lakeshore (both) and Georgetown corridors. The option definitely needs to be on the table if we are at all serious about downtown transit.

    Steve: Yes, it is amazing that the Union Station Capacity Study is proceeding separately and is holding no public meetings. They are finally talking, but this should have happened months ago.

  26. Electric says:

    Union Station and capacity and overhead catenary wires clearance issues solution.

    Tear down that gloomy dirty old “historical” train shed and build ONE big beautifull dome shed that covers all the track area with plenty of room for catenary. Then remove some tracks, not add any and make the platforms and stairways wider so people can move around and get to where they are going. Add wider doors on the GO trains for quicker and easier access.

    Improve signal system and track layout so trains can enter and exit the station faster. Get rid of that “restricting” ultra lumbering slow speed that is used now. Trains should still be doing 40mph in a clear block when arriving at the platforms with the brakes on hard. Have two engines on all GO trains so that they can blast off and get away quick (this is where electric locomotives shine, powerful and quiet).

    It’s not rocket science.

    Steve: Actually, the new train shed roof that will be built is supposed to have clearance for electrification. It will also be cleaner and brighter. Some of the speed constraints arise from the way we gave away space in the rail corridor for things like the CN tower. This means that all tracks entering the Union Station area pinch down at John Street and then fan out again into the station. High speed entry is not going to happen.

    This is the sort of thing that arises from giveaways where, perish the thought, we want to keep resources in the public sector rather than making them available to developers.

  27. lukev says:

    Steve: Oakland Airport is currently building a 5.1 km people-mover using the same vehicles as the people-mover at YYZ.

    Is there any reason that just extending the existing people-mover to a GO station is not being considered instead of the air-rail link?

    Steve: Capacity and longevity, especially in our weather, are both factors. Also, the addition of a transfer between a shuttle and a separate GO service would add delay to trips, and would mean that “ARL” customers would have to fight there way onto crowded Georgetown corridor trains at peak periods.

  28. Robert Wightman says:

    Steve: “It is cheaper to haul longer trains of coaches with one electric locomotive than to power each car in a train”

    Tom West says: “I think you’re wrong, because if you were right, then this begs the question why both short and long commuters trains Europe are EMUs rather than electric locomotives. What I saw in the report was that introducing electric locos was more cost effective than EMUs. I think that’s because GO already own a load of coaches, so you’d have by new one new loco per train, rather than 10-12 EMU coaches.”

    Steve: That’s part of it, but also if (and this is important) you are mostly going to run fixed 10-car consists rather than shorter trains, you are probably ahead with locomotives. There is a big issue at Union with limited track time that tends to make longer, less frequent trains preferable. However, if GO were building a tunnel through downtown, then it would require immense stations to hold 10-car trains and the economics might come out differently.

    It is cheaper to build locomotive hauled trains when you only look at the cost of the equipment and do not include the operating costs. GO/MetroLinx cannot fathom running anything that does not meet FRA TC requirements for class 1 railroads with those buff loading and maintenance requirements. If they, and their consultant, would look at all options they should be able to see that GO owns a lot of its Rights Of Way and could easily guarantee physical and temporal separation between GO trains and mainline equipment. This would reduce the cost to make EMUs cost effective. If locomotive hauled trains are so much better how come the TTC doesn’t run them in the subway; because they don’t have to put up with the FRA TC rules that’s why.

    If GO/MetroLinx had half a brain they would look into building most of the GO network as super subways; totally separated rights of way from the mainline trains so they could build lighter less expensive cars which would accelerate faster and run on headways less than 10 minutes. That is basically the minimum headway on a line that mixes, or could possible someday maybe, mix passenger and freight trains. If they built the airport rail link as the west half of the DRL line they would have plenty of room on the Weston Corridor for it with room left over for anything else they wanted. Put it through the Downtown under Richmond and/or Adelaide and tak a huge number of passengers out of Union Station.

    Anyone who thinks that improved GO service along the Lakeshore will supplement the TTC is in for a rude shock. GO operates a 10 minutes headway both ways in the peak morning hour and there is no room for any more service without positive train control and upgraded signalling. Mainline rail rules are archaic so let’s not build anymore lines than needed to those specifications. GO owns Weston, Newmarket, Uxbridge and the GO outright along with parts of Oakville, Kingston, Galt and Belleville sub. Make use of that fact and build something different

  29. Jeff says:

    When considering electric locomotives and EMUs, is it an either-or argument, or is it possible that both could be used on the same system? For example, they could provide two-way all-day service with single-level short EMUs, and then use long trainsets pulled by electric locomotives during peak periods. Could this work?

    Steve: If you own the long trainsets, then it is a dubious saving to swap out for shorter trains in the off peak. There are probably circumstances where this could work, but you wouldn’t buy a set of smaller trains just for the off peak service.

  30. W. K. Lis says:

    Let’s hope electrification happens before we run of oil that powers the diesel trains we now have. See this study on how “Oil will run out 100 years before new fuels developed.”

  31. Andrew says:

    Would it be possible to couple several of these “SMART” DMUs together to form a train? Clearly a two-car train is inadequate for anything but premium-fare airport express service, but coupling several of these trains together could allow enough capacity for commuter services at least in the short term.

    Steve: Yes, they can be run as a train. The service to Niagara Falls is an obvious alternative use.

  32. MarkE says:

    A cartoonist could have a field day with the ARL plans – ‘I think I can, I think I can’, words of the big green engine full of ordinary folks like us trying to make the station in the sky. Or another crashing into the bridge. ‘No (wretched) commuters’ signs on every (only 2) car. Or bank cash machines in every car in order to pay the huge fare.

    The ARL plans seem so riddled with political ‘thorns’ that politicians (with an election coming) might think twice about trying to defend them. Instead they might demand plans that are vote getters and not scarers. So lets watch and see if, bit by bit, this all changes.

    To me it is time to accept that the failure to integrate heavy rail facilities into the redeveloped Pearson airport a decade ago cannot be undone, and to look now at the the next best option. To build a major interchange station on the Georgetown line near Woodbine, and to extend the existing people mover to it (or replace it if it cannot be upgraded) is an admirable option, and one that addresses all the foolishness. It would likely save a lot of money, could be operative long before 2015, and facilitate many, many, future transit options including Transit City.

    So lets see how it might happen; perhaps build Woodbine now (it was projected anyway), and delay the spur and DMU’s (as Steve says, they may not get made anyway). Extend the people mover to accommodate all those employees as well as fliers on and off K-W Go trains with ‘Airport Express’ decals. Environmental votes, prudent savings.

  33. Serhei says:

    An interesting question I haven’t seen discussed in any detail is the question of low and high platforms on the regional rail network. The only example I can think of for a single-level EMU with predominantly low station platforms (boarding via stairs) is the MR-90 used in Montreal, though there are probably similar setups elsewhere in North America. I certainly don’t know of any single-level heavy rail trains that have a low floor so that they require neither a high platform nor stairs. (If you look really hard you’ll find some LRT-sized low floor trains working as commuter rail in places like Austin, Texas, but there is obviously a huge capacity difference between an LRT and even a single-level commuter train.)

    Right now it’s pretty clear that the electrified GO lines will use bilevel coaches and low platforms and the ARL will use DMUs and high platforms. Further in the future, though, it’s unclear what’s going to happen in terms of platform heights across the system. The current Big Move plan proposes several ‘express rail’ lines running at 5 minute headways, which I find hard to imagine running all day with 10-car trains of bilevel coaches (except, as a very remote possibility, on the Lakeshore line). It is certainly unreasonable to imagine relieving capacity problems at Union by running bilevels through the hypothetical downtown GO tunnel some commenters have brought up. (If we built a downtown tunnel the largest rolling stock we will probably run through it is something like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTR_EMU_SP1900, unless we’re up for an RER-type gigaproject.) Which makes me wonder if high platforms are in the books anywhere or if we’ll be boarding any single-level trains on the network through stairs for the foreseeable future. (That is, if anything like ‘express rail’ ever gets implemented.)

    The obvious obstacle to high platforms is that they will either obsolete all of our bilevel coaches, or require us to have two sets of platforms at each station that’s served by both low-floor and high-floor trains.

    Implementing the Downtown Relief line with a GO tunnel running from the Georgetown line junction (running through to the Lakeshore West and Georgetown lines) east to Gerrard and the rail corridor (running through to Lakeshore East) and then north to Don Mills and Eglinton (through to Richmond Hill), together with TTC-GO fare integration, would certainly make for an interesting end run around the TTC’s lack of interest in building a subway in this location. Which brings me to my chief annoyance about GO, which is that the way that trivial expansions to the system drag on, together with similar resistance to LRT, always means that people try to propose subways without being sure whether they are supposed to implement local or regional rail service. Local rail would have spacing around 800m-1km and overlap with the high end of LRT. The station spacing is still close enough to make it worthwhile to walk to the next stop, such as along most of Bloor-Danforth. Regional rail would have spacing around 2km and overlap with the low end of ‘express rail’ running EMUs on headways similar to a subway. Anyone living in between two stations, however, either faces a feeder bus or a short hike. (The section of the Sheppard Line between Sheppard-Yonge and Bayview comes to mind.) Regional lines generally connect local feeder/regurgitator services or huge park and rides to each other, and are very good at doing so. Many of the subway proposals trotted out against LRT have the fault of being regional rail proposals (with wide station spacing) that pretend to be local rail proposals by implying that they can replace LRT.

    Subways in places like Paris and Tokyo are more-or-less clearly for high-capacity local service, and are fed by extensive regional rail systems; subways in places like Moscow or Hong Kong are far more regional in nature, with less frequent stops. If we build a local subway line and then regional rail expansion is missing in action, calls to keep expanding the line further and further make the local portion in the middle useless at peak hour. This is basically the problem with the Yonge-University-Spadina Line, as rush hour crowds make it necessary to either undergo train stuffing or find a different route, and not just on the Yonge portion at peak hour. (From personal experience, deviations in schedule at rush hour sometimes make trying to board the northbound trains at Queen’s Park and Museum a losing proposition, since they’re stuffed to the gills with commuters from further downtown that are going to fan out in 3 directions at St. George.)

  34. Mark Dowling says:

    I am very confused by this Sonoma-Marin development. Linked here (PDF) is Sonoma-Marin’s staff October 25 recommendation which does not mention any assignment of options so far as I can tell. Four manufacturers offered FRA and ADA compliant designs (although the document does not discuss Tier 4 in respect of the unsuccessful applicants) so there is room for doubt as to whether this is the only manufacturer who could get it done especially if you don’t require CanCon.

    From what I read, this is a project already chopped in half because of poor sales tax receipts. Is the “option” that Metrolinx refers to an indication that they are essentially taking the trains which S-M would have used if the full line was constructed? Trains that may have been selected by a competitive process but are intended for a Californian usage and not an Ontario one? How hard a bargain was sought and obtained, and was it from Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo or Sonoma-Marin?

    No matter what Gary McNeil claims to make this look good, these are hardly “exactly” what Metrolinx would have chosen – 158 seats plus bikes doesn’t sound like a premium airport service with baggage to me. Does anyone have a link to the RFP Metrolinx produced for this?

  35. Bicycles are obviously very good on energy consumption (zero external energy), but not everybody is physically capable to ride one; and even when you are, you probably won’t haul your new fridge on a cart attached to your bicycle.

    Never underestimate what you can do with a bicycle.

  36. Kevin Love says:

    Michael wrote:
    “Bicycles are obviously very good on energy consumption (zero external energy), but not everybody is physically capable to ride one; and even when you are, you probably won’t haul your new fridge on a cart attached to your bicycle.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Far, far more people are physically capable of cycling than of driving a car. This includes many disabled people who cannot safely operate a car and currently get around with ingenious tricycles, many of which have electric assist. Large numbers of children and the elderly who are legally incapacitated from driving are also capable of cycling.

    I have moved refrigerators and many other items of household furniture on a cycle trailer. This is much easier than using a car trailer. I note that in comparing CBN rental rates to U-Haul it is not only easier but much cheaper.

    There is a business in Montreal that specialises in doing home moving by bicycle trailer. He doesn’t even use any electrical assist and charges lower rates than truck-based movers. See this Toronto Star article.

  37. Mark Dowling says:

    Since Metrolinx have hitched Toronto service to a Californian project, it’s worth noting the reaction there to the cutbacks to the planned service which include “scrap the whole thing” – the agency there has not even formally approved their tender yet.

    We might not be piggy-backing, just the pig, which will make funding jobs in Illinois while our light and heavy rail manufacturers can’t compete for US projects even harder to swallow. (To be clear – I could live with US factories supplying Canadian projects as long as the reverse is possible).

  38. David Arthur says:

    Serhei: Actually, low-floor trains are fairly common in Europe – Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, and Stadler all have a model or two. (Scandinavia in particular has low platforms almost everywhere, and is moving towards all trains having at least one low-floor entry.)

    The Bombardier Talent units that are operating in Ottawa are fairly typical. Of course, whether or not they could do this while meeting North American main-line requirements is anyone’s guess.

  39. Robert Wightman says:

    David Arthur says:
    November 17, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    “Serhei: Actually, low-floor trains are fairly common in Europe – Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, and Stadler all have a model or two. (Scandinavia in particular has low platforms almost everywhere, and is moving towards all trains having at least one low-floor entry.)

    “The Bombardier Talent units that are operating in Ottawa are fairly typical. Of course, whether or not they could do this while meeting North American main-line requirements is anyone’s guess.”

    It is no guess; they do NOT meet TC FRA requirements. They run on a spur line that sees no freight service and when they run over the CP to the maintenance facility I believe they require special protection to keep them from meeting “real” trains.

    Some one mentioned the ability to couple DMU’s together or to add on to other trains at major termini. trains. As some one else has mentioned you not only have to schedule the two trains to arrive at the same time; you then have to couple them, connect the air lines, signal lines, power lines etc. and do a major break test of the new train. The reverse is true when you split them. This 10 minute window is OK if you are on a train from Toronto to Ottawa/Montreal but Niagara to Toronto?

    I know that it is possible to put all these connections into the coupler; the TTC has done this for years on their Subways, PCC trains and even the Witt trailers but we are dealing with GO and their mainline railway philosophy. If they didn’t invent it then it can’t work. I really despair that GO will ever get their head out of their narrow blinkered view and start to look at some real alternatives.

  40. Kevin Love says:

    Michael wrote about electric cars:
    “… lithium used in batteries can be almost fully recovered after the life of the battery ends. It is unlikely that the supply of lithium will become a major problem…”

    Kevin’s comment:
    This is partly true. Although it is possible that scientific breakthroughs will allow a higher recovery rate. But the list of scientific breakthroughs required to allow electric cars to be a mass technology is getting to be rather long. By “mass technology” I am including a billion people in China and a billion people in India.

    The future is, of course uncertain. It is possible that all those scientific breakthroughs will happen. But I think it far more likely that we’re looking at a future where private automobiles are the purview of the rich. Including rich people in China and India. Most people will get around by cycling and public transit.

    If course, if today there is a revolution in Saudi Arabia, then that future will come tomorrow. Which is, unfortunately, part of the normal pattern of history. Only in a crisis are fundamental changes made. I promise not to say “I told you so” too many times. :)

  41. Kevin Love, “If course, if today there is a revolution in Saudi Arabia, then that future will come tomorrow. ”

    Where do you get crap like that?!? Saudi Arabia does not hold a monopoly on oil production for the world. As a matter of fact, the USA gets only 9.2% of its total imported oil from Saudi Arabia in August this year, which is typical most of the time. Considering they import 52% of what they consume, this amounts to about 4.4% of their total consumption. Not insignificant, but certainly not the source of overnight through-the-roof price increases if that source were lost.

    Compare that with the fact that 20.1% of the oil that the USA imported in August came from, wait for it… Canada.

    Yes, oil will become more and more expensive and attitudes and lifestyles will have to change with it. That said, the alarmist attitude of Kevin is akin to those who feel that LRT is the way to go because of examples of less than $5 million per kilometre implementations. It doesn’t help the cause.

    Personally, I find there are a number of words and phrases that set off alarms that say, “stop listening to this rant,” and the phrase “peak oil” is one of the recent additions to that list.

    Steve: I think the point about Saudi Arabia, or any other large producer, is that if they turn off the taps this affects the world market and prices will rise. The economic effect will be considerable, not to mention the political one as countries jockey for secure sources of energy.

  42. Steve wrote, “I think the point about Saudi Arabia, or any other large producer, is that if they turn off the taps this affects the world market and prices will rise.”

    Absolutely, but Kevin Love would have us all believe that if a large producer were to turn off the taps, we would instantly see an overnight jump in pump prices of several hundred percent that would leave private automobile use an activity of the insanely rich. Changes will be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

    Kevin reminds me of an environmentalist who used to be on Toronto television that riled against the private automobile every chance he could with a mantra that essentially said we must all stop using private transportation or we will be all struck down. I don’t suspect Kevin is totally like this individual, as unknown to the television watching public, this same individual regularly drove his decade-old pollution-belching compact car to drop off or pick up his kids from a school that was three blocks away from his home.

  43. David Arthur says:

    Robert: I’m quite aware that the FRA requirements do not permit normal European trains on the North American main-line network. But the reason is to do with collision standards, and if a DMU can be built that meets those standards, there’s no intrinsic reason to believe it wouldn’t be able to have a low floor.

    Steve: One big problem with floor heights is the way that collision forces are transmitted to the car frame. If a “high floor” train hits a “low floor” one, prevention of telescoping is more difficult.

  44. Electric says:

    All major cities have a public transit network. All public transit networks loose money. Cities with good public transit become nice cities to live in. I don’t see public transit as a protection against an oil shortage or some kind of decrepit transport for poor people unless it’s becoming an oversubsidised POOR quality of service. Public transport is supposed to be a premium service for an alternative dependable transport of people.

    If oil prices were to skyrocket it would be just as bad for public transport as for private transport. How much diesel fuel does TTC and GO use ? How much per passenger/km? A lot for all its buses and maintenance equipment. So if oil prices go up so do costs of providing public transit. Even the cost of electricity is not guaranteed and it’s anyone’s guess which will go up more in the future.

  45. Mark Dowling says:

    Three weeks ago, there was a GO Transit disruption on the Georgetown service. Trains diverted via CN York Sub to the Barrie Line. If Georgetown was electrified only diesel services from Kitchener would have been able to do so, assuming any stranded electric trains could be removed from the way. A “full system” electrification project may have to consider adding “non-revenue” tracks such as these to the full costings, and admitting this now could influence where substations are placed (i.e. so that they could be primarily serving revenue track but also close enough to serve the diversion track).

    Steve: I must disagree. Full scale diversions of this kind are rare. Do we build spare subway lines in case a train breaks down? That may be an overstatement, but it becomes incredibly easy to make electrification “impossible” to burden it with costs that we would not demand of alternatives. It’s only by chance that the type of diversion you mention is even possible in what is otherwise a radial network, and many locations could block trains with no hope of a workaround.

  46. Mark Dowling wrote, “Three weeks ago, there was a GO Transit disruption on the Georgetown service. Trains diverted via CN York Sub to the Barrie Line.”

    Then Steve commented, “Full scale diversions of this kind are rare.”

    To emphasize just how rare these diversions are, one must consider that they are only possible because either the head-end crew on the train being diverted has been trained on or has experience operating a train on the diversion route, or someone with that background is brought on board as a “pilot” for the move.

    Diversions over alternate subdivisions on railways are governed by the CROR (Canadian Rail Operating Rules) and are not as simple as ordering a Dundas car to turn at Church street.

  47. Robert Wightman says:

    David Arthur says:
    November 20, 2010 at 11:37 am

    “Robert: I’m quite aware that the FRA requirements do not permit normal European trains on the North American main-line network. But the reason is to do with collision standards, and if a DMU can be built that meets those standards, there’s no intrinsic reason to believe it wouldn’t be able to have a low floor.”

    Steve: “One big problem with floor heights is the way that collision forces are transmitted to the car frame. If a “high floor” train hits a “low floor” one, prevention of telescoping is more difficult.”

    Also these car have to be designed to withstand a force of 1 000 000 pounds applied to the end sill and I believe that this is going to be increased to account for the new 12 000 foot long freights which are appearing. If you could the commuter cars separate from the freight trains then you could:

    1. Run at less than a 10 minute headway.
    2. Build cars that are a lot lighter and cheaper but are still able to withstand the stresses o a collision. Washington’s Metro collision that had the automatic control system override the operator’s emergency stop application as well as the telescoping of the car bodies in the collision may lead to the US imposing FRA type rules on Rapid transit cars. This will just about kill any new HRT.

    GO cannot imagine running service that does not use TC FRA compliant equipment.

    The one problem with electric cars that no one seems to be addressing is the fact that in the summer most of the energy goes to AC and in the winter it goes to heating.. Until you solve that problem their is not going to be a massive use of electric battery cars. Fuel cells are a none starter so let’s not have anyone raise that topic.

  48. Mark Dowling says:

    I do recognise the difference in operating over different track, but if we are proposing to increase frequencies on lines such as these then disruptions are going to be more problematic, affecting more people. Passengers may then ask why options to alleviate the disruption which used to available are no longer available, and will not instinctively know the reason as people on this blog might. There are other ways in which this could be addressed such as having a standby diesel locomotive positioned to be dispatched as required, but this also has a cost.

  49. Karl Junkin says:

    When the system is built out and carrying many more people, most of the GO system will have at least 2 tracks available in a corridor for trains to run on (and some parts will have 4). If there’s a mechanical breakdown, then GO will have to tweak its operations to one-track service for whatever stretch of route in question in whatever manner is deemed most appropriate until the mechanical problem is removed.

    Accidents on tracks are another matter, as that affects the corridor, not a single track. The busiest parts of the route with high service frequencies would presumably be grade-separated as part of a prerequisite for running a certain service level, which would remove the obstacle of automobile collisions with a train in the high traffic areas. That leaves only people, and I’m sorry, but GO should not be expected to have a diversion route handy just in case somebody gets hit by a train. This is not reasonable. Case in point, if somebody gets hit by a train at the Steeles Ave overpass along the Halton line near Bramalea GO, then that shuts down two corridors; the freight corridor between Burlington and Vaughan via Brampton, and the GO Georgetown corridor, and no diversion is available for either railway in that case. What is needed is an appropriate protocol to deal with accidents where a train hits a person on the tracks, not an endless array of diversion routes that, frankly, there isn’t really any space for.

  50. MarkE says:

    Two questions if I may:

    Does anyone know the location and arrangement details of the Eglinton LRT airport station, close to the ARL and People Mover, that Go Transit is ‘protecting’ in their ARL plans?

    With differrent platform height requirements for go bi-levels and the proposed DMU, how will platforms at Weston and Bloor be arranged? 12+2?

    Thanks

    Steve: There is a plan view of the trackage into the airport buried within the EA documents, but with the change in project control to Metrolinx, this may be revised. One thing for sure is that the proposed servicing area at the airport is no longer needed. See Figure 34, the last page of this document.

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