For Those Really Long Commutes

The Star has a story fresh from Associated Press about the TGV which has just set a new world speed record for conventional railway technology:

574.8 km/hour

That’s a little over six seconds per kilometre.

Of course, you need a completely private right-of-way in first class condition, and stops are a very, very long way apart.  I don’t think we’ll see this on King Street soon.

12 thoughts on “For Those Really Long Commutes

  1. Awww, Steve!

    No dashing my hopes!

    I was looking forward to the King Street TGV; with stops at Broadview, then Queensway. Should hit top speed, just about Bathurst!

    Steve: No, it will be short turned into Dufferin Loop. They might have to slow down a little.


  2. We ought to seriously consider high-speed trains between Toronto and Montreal, with stops at Kingston and possibly Ottawa, however. Obviously they won’t be breaking any world speed records but we could certainly achieve Toronto to Montreal in 2 hours. The VIA trains along this corridor are packed and unreliable and there is also a lot of air traffic between Pearson and Dorval. This would be expensive but look what high-speed trains did to the economy in France and Japan.


  3. On the other hand, it’s exactly the kind of thing we need to reduce aviation related emissions – a new LGV (“Ligne a Grande Vitesse”) using TGV and TGV Duplex cars, maybe passing near/through Peterborough and on to Ottawa by the most direct route, perhaps 380km? At the 360km/h posited for forthcoming commercial service that would cut journey times from 4 hours to maybe 90 minutes including acceleration/deceleration. Who knows, it might even bury the Pickering Airport?

    TGV services have wrecked regional aviation in France every time a new line is opened to a new city, and Eurostar has taken a big bite out of London-Brussels/Paris traffic. As France uses over 70% nuclear power they can claim a direct CO2 reduction from migrating to TGV as opposed to Ontario which still depends on coal and seems doomed to do so well into the next decade, even with the Bruce restart and the new Niagara tunnel.

    The other badly needed innovation is hourly trains on the main corridors – the clockface timetabling used by the airlines compares very favourably with the yawning gaps in VIA schedules, and I say that as someone who takes VIA whenever possible.


  4. Good idea, but lets at least get decent levels of service and speed on the corridor we have first. It will do a lot of good, be a nice demonstration of the potential of high speed rail, and most important (at leat politically) it would be a lot cheaper. What I would like to see in a reasonable time frame is 200km/h service on most sections of the corridor (requires grade separation, but not the kind of total rebuild for true high speed) and hourly service to Ottawa and Montreal.


  5. One of the last moves of the Chretien government was to fund the start of VIA Fast, which was supposed to provide 2-hour service to Ottawa and 3-hours to Montreal (on a single route).

    The first thing Paul Martin did when he became Prime Minister was to cancel it. (the same Paul Martin whose family owns Voyager Colonial Bus lines, who provide Montreal-Toronto bus service).


  6. I just saw that thing on the news — that’s no train, it’s a rocket!

    Why can’t we have something like that for Montreal to Toronto commuters, or from my house to downtown?

    Steve: Are you planning to move to Kingston?


  7. CITY-TV showed a clip of the train on tonight’s CITY-Pulse at Six. One thing that struck me is how fast the train was travelling… shazaaam!!!… but it was in wide-open sunny country side with nothing but grassy fields nearby.

    It dawned on me that high-speed trains are great for traversing (sparsely populated areas) between two population hubs, but, CN & CP trains regularly derail their freight trains at 1/10 the speed—60 kph—so imagine the magnitude of destruction of a train travelling at 575 kph after hitting a moose, deer, bear… ice block!

    I suspect a high-speed train between Windsor and Montreal, long lusted for, would seldom reach its design speed, despite billions spent on a segregated trackbed…. which is why we’ve never seen one actually built… chalk another one up to “Old Man Winter” in the Great White North!


  8. Didn’t VIA have plans to have a high-speed train running along the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor?

    Bombardier gave the government a plan for their JetTrain models back around 2000, which the proposal was ignored or lost after Chretien stepped down and Paul Martin become Prime Minister

    Well Canada could do well for a High Speed Rail link within that corridor, although it needs its own ROW to keep capacity up.

    Steve: And a railway that knows how to maintain track.


  9. High-speed trains are actually safer than ordinary trains due to (1) straighter track (2) no level crossings and (3) better track maintenance. There is also no risk of a train hitting animals because the lines are completely fenced in. Derailments on high-speed trains are very rare.

    Steve: Yes, better track maintenance, until someone decides that pleasing the shareholders is more important than safety of the passengers.

    More to the point, the big problem with high-speed trains is that you need lots and lots of people who want to travel between the few stations on the line, and you still need decent service for all of the places in between.


  10. I was talking about this on my blog. We need that in a couple of corridors:

    Calgary – Edmonton: Most people in this corridor prefer surface routes. A rail link between the two cities would do wonders.

    Queen Elizabeth II is already bottlenecked in some areas. This would cut down on traffic immensely. The Oil Companies have been begging for this. We need a better link to the capital.

    Windsor – Québec: Same reason as above, minus the oil companies.

    Winnipeg – Vancouver: This would probably start with a short Vancouver to Calgary line. Although I am not sure if this one is feasible.

    As for private trains, I don’t think we have too much to worry about. EuroStar runs privately and it has a great safety record.

    Calgary and Edmonton would be where we start. It has the most empty land to build on. Actually the Alberta Government has been flirting with it for a while:

    Click to access HSR%20Full%20Report%20(10%206%202004).pdf

    Greenfield Route is my preferred route:

    I don’t think we the train will extend to downtown. These are the same people who opposed the Bow and Blackfoot Expressway (Calgary has no downtown Expressways), they would never take a highspeed train. Unless it is run in a tunnel. If this is built, I would love to see the LRT integrated into the system. Like a line from Downtown to the Stations.

    I remember a few months ago, a private company was fed up with the Government and decided to start building it on it’s own. I don’t know what happened to that plan.


  11. Steve – that’s why any high speed service in Canada has to be a dedicated LGV line, so CN et al don’t wreck it. A Transrapid would be even better (doesn’t derail even when it smacks into a maintenance vehicle when the testing track safeties are off) but I think Siemens have learned their lesson about pitching for a deal in Ontario, among other reasons why it wouldn’t fly.

    I would run an LGV between Toronto, Peterborough (maybe put the maintenance yard there?) and Ottawa for the reason that you *don’t* want too many stops on such a line and it would be politically impossible to run an express down the lakeshore. Air Canada doesn’t stop in Cobourg, and taking them out is the raison d’etre of high speed rail. VIA service should continue on the Lakeshore but to connect those communities to Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto, not to connect those metros to each other.


  12. As long as our federal government prefers to dabble in high profile vote-buying transit announcements instead of seriously committing itself to sustainable passenger rail service in Canada (VIA doesn’t even have the autonomy of many Crown Corporations – everything has to be approved by the government), we’ll be stuck with what we have now – or less. Investment in a high-speed ROW, separate from the cost-conscious freight railways, with proper equipment and an independent mandate for VIA Rail would go a long way to making passenger rail a more attractive option in the Corridor, and elsewhere in Canada, as noted in a previous posting. Passenger rail is the Government of Canada’s bailiwick, and they don’t seem interested at all in doing anything about it. I suppose this is at least a small positive, as some former members of what is now the Conservative Party wanted to see VIA done away with altogether “to save taxpayers money”.

    Further to another point raised earlier, I think Voyageur Colonial is now part of the Laidlaw/Greyhound enterprise, hence you see Voyageur buses with the Greyhound dog on them.


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