Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:31 pm

electricron wrote:The simplest solution for long term economic development of the Churchill area is to build a road to it, even a gravel road would be better than a washed out railroad, and cheaper to repair when the need arises.
Sounds like Alaska Highway, 1942.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby XC Tower » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:22 pm

I understand the “gravel road” economics, but how much is there a save “our railway” mentality in Churchill?…………To this day, some 30 years later, I imagine that there may be a degree of this still be remembered in Newfoundland after CN decided to yank their narrow-gauge railway....Of course, these situations are completely different...


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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby mdvle » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:39 pm

I suspect the railway is viewed as necessary given assumed hopes of the port opening again, as well as providing tourists through VIA Rail.

While a gravel road would solve the getting supplies in I doubt it would be attractive to tourists, thus leaving small planes as the only alternative.

There is no easy answer.

From a government perspective, having paid almost $20 million to maintain the line for the last 10 years the prospect of paying another $40+ million to return the line to service with the risk that it could be wiped out again at any time doesn't look so attractive.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby electricron » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:59 am

mdvle wrote:I suspect the railway is viewed as necessary given assumed hopes of the port opening again, as well as providing tourists through VIA Rail.

While a gravel road would solve the getting supplies in I doubt it would be attractive to tourists, thus leaving small planes as the only alternative.

There is no easy answer.

From a government perspective, having paid almost $20 million to maintain the line for the last 10 years the prospect of paying another $40+ million to return the line to service with the risk that it could be wiped out again at any time doesn't look so attractive.

Tourists may not like a long gravel road, but would they like a paved road better?
I suggested a highway, even a gravel road, would be better economically than relying on a washed out railroad. Ideally, every town in Canada should be connected to the rest of Canada by a road. While there are islands where building bridges and roads to are unlikely, other forms of transit should be provided or subsidized - like the ferries to Newfoundland. You're not going to see sustainable growing economical development without a road.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:07 am

Really, would I be about to operate MY CAR over a gravel highway. I wouldn't even do it out in Iowa.

I can recall how during 1977, a Service buddy (now deceased) and I were thinking of a journey up the Al-Can Highway. Much of it was gravel back then, but it turned out, he was not about to subject his car to that wear and tear - and I sure wasn't about to allow such to mine.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby mdvle » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:44 am

The problem is what economic development would a road allow for Churchill? It was only ever built because 100 or so years ago it was decided Canada needed a deep water northern port, and it certainly appears that it isn't viable as that.

Search online found * that Nova Scotia says 2009 costs to build a 2 lane highway at $3.5 million per km, excluding bridges.

Measuring on Google Maps shows Churchill to Sundance (which appears to be the nearest significant road) is 245.5 km.

So a highway looks like around $860 million, a hard sell when both levels of government are already running deficits.

Not to mention the time required given the necessary legal process that would need to be followed before construction could even start.


* https://novascotia.ca/tran/highways/faq.asp
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby NS VIA FAN » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:27 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Really, would I be about to operate MY CAR over a gravel highway. I wouldn't even do it out in Iowa.

I can recall how during 1977, a Service buddy (now deceased) and I were thinking of a journey up the Al-Can Highway. Much of it was gravel back then, but it turned out, he was not about to subject his car to that wear and tear - and I sure wasn't about to allow such to mine.

Canadians are used to driving on gravel roads in rural areas where there just isn’t the traffic to justify paving. My Province…Nova Scotia has freeways and toll-way built to what you would call Interstate standards but still there are miles of good gravel roads I wouldn’t give a second thought to driving.

A road was recently constructed to Tuktoyaktuk (69.4 N) on the Arctic Ocean which is a lot further north than Churchill at 58.7 N. (Churchill is actually south of Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki)

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the ... -1.4401922

Here’s a gravel road adventure I did several years ago to Labrador. Today a lot of that road has since been paved.

https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php ... 6#msg79396
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby XC Tower » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:37 pm

Great link to your Labrador trip, NS VIA FAN!...I will follow it through at a later time.
For me, seeing a rail line let go is always difficult, as I feel it is a superior land mode of travel in many ways, but in cold economic terms is where I admit to getting lost.....There is always an emotional component on my part that doesn't translate well to the financial, I also make admission to....
The fact that there is no easy answer seems to be the best explanation that I have read on here. From what I have seen on the subject, there seems to be support from the native people in Churchill for the railway to be repaired through outright purchase with financial assistance from the Canadian government, but will it happen? I am not sure.
How has this railroad route to Churchill lasted this long? Has it always been a money loser?
Thank you.


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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:57 pm

Hafta wonder, Mr. VIA Fan, but how much further life did your Corolla have after that adventure?

I've had five Toyota products (of the "L" varietal) since '96. No way would any be near those gravel highways - at least during my ownership.

Finally, I presume those gas prices you noted are CD$/lit.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:16 pm

There are few places on the continent today where you could build a (semi-) public highway immediately abutting a railroad line, using the same embankment and possibly the same bridges with no fence between. This could be one, with the lack of traffic and presumably slow rail speeds. Specifically, a wide single lane and periodic turnouts onto the railroad right-of-way. I imagine this would be a toll road at least for semis & buses. The tolls would help defray interest on public construction bonds, ideally.

Thoughts?
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby NS VIA FAN » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:40 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Hafta wonder, Mr. VIA Fan, but how much further life did your Corolla have after that adventure?

It’s a Toyota…..and was none the worse for wear!

The Labrador trip was in 2010 when the car was 9 months old. I kept it for another 3 years and sold it to a buddy. He has 225,000 clicks on it now (140,000 miles) and still working just fine!

My initial drive each morning is on 4 lane ‘freeway’…but depending on where work takes me…..any car I’ve ever owned will probably average 20 clicks per week on gravel roads. Just the way it is around here and you think nothing of it!

>>>>>>>>>>>

But getting back to a highway replacing the railway to Churchill……If you look at this map:

http://www.borealbirds.org/sites/defaul ... afrost.png

……you can see the extent of Permafrost around Churchill and would encounter similar conditions to the new highway from Inuvik to Tuk where you would want to do any work on tundra and permafrost in winter. This would probably apply to any new railway construction also. (Did you ever look at old photos of the line to Churchill and wonder why the old telegraph line poles were tri-pods and built-up with cribwork and rocks?)

“The majority of the work, aside from some smoothing of the top layer, has to be done in the winter to preserve the integrity of the tundra and its permafrost. A geotextile fabric is laid on the proposed building site before it is topped with at least a metre of gravel.

“That will insulate the permafrost from melting in the summertime,”……..“If you put the gravel down in the summertime it’ll disturb the surface layer of the tundra. You can’t operate out there in the summertime; the tundra covering the permafrost is just too fragile.”


https://norj.ca/2014/11/inuvik-to-tuk-h ... rosperity/
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:51 am

Tell me how I am mistaken, but IF the Port is "done for", wouldn't a highway provide more transportation options for the Churchill region?

Now if considering the USA's "protectionist" positions of late and if Canadian agricultural interests are looking for new export markets to replace those lost (well for maybe only somewhat more than another six years), might those intetests again be looking at Churchill? If such were to be the case, rail is the only means to handle such traffic economically and efficiently.

With the justifiable "remote area" argument prevalent in Canada, passenger train service would be restored.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby mdvle » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:08 pm

Restoring passenger service if the line gets fixed is a given as VIA is still operating on the non-damaged portion. Service still exists from Winnipeg to Gillam. Looking at VIA's 2017 and 2016 annual reports show that while passenger numbers are down significantly the government subsidy has barely dropped so there really isn't any cost saving to no restore service.

In the meantime the Globe and Mail recently came out for restoring both the rail line and port on national strategic grounds
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-globe-editorial-ottawa-shouldnt-let-churchills-port-and-railway/

And the latest from Omnitrax, including apparently why the sale is held up https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/rail-repairs-to-start-soon-omnitrax-490341091.html
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