Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

  by labaienordique
Another Northern Ontario passenger rail inititative:

This one wants to see passenger service between Ottawa, Pembroke, North Bay, Sudbury, the North Shore of Lake Huron & Sault Ste Marie.

Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains
labaienordique wrote:This one wants to see passenger service between Ottawa, Pembroke, North Bay, Sudbury........
What tracks would be used? CN is gone between Pembroke-North Bay-Capreol and the CP line, east of Mattawa, is snow covered, hasn’t been used in months and the tracks will probably be removed shortly.

Going back 30 years, there wasn’t even enough traffic to sustain a viable passenger service on this route then.

After the discontinuance of the Montreal sections of the Transcontinental trains in November 1981, a tri-weekly RDC covered the Ottawa-North Bay-Sudbury route but a Montreal-Ottawa-Sudbury section of the Canadian did return in June 1985. It lasted ‘till January 1990. In its final days, the through cars had been discontinued and passengers had to change trains in Sudbury.
  by labaienordique
There's an effort right now to save the OVR line in the Ottawa valley:

http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/ArticleD ... ?e=2946849
http://www.cherylgallant.com/riding_new ... l_solution

Northern Ontario is a very remote & vast area, thus this service should be operated & subsidized like the Ontario Northland's service. It's unfair to compare this region to the 401 corridor.
labaienordique wrote:There's an effort right now to save the OVR line in the Ottawa valley...........Northern Ontario is a very remote & vast area, thus this service should be operated & subsidized like the Ontario Northland's service. It's unfair to compare this region to the 401 corridor.
Not really remote at all......it's parallel to the Trans Canada Highway and if they can’t make a go of it as a freight line, how would a passenger service be any more viable? Thirty years ago, the passenger train on this route was a little used (the several times I rode it) tri-weekly RDC. It’s now been 20 years since there has been any passenger service and in that time, the Trans Canada Highway has been widened to a four-lane freeway in several areas and even Greyhound has reduced their frequencies due to lack of passengers.

I live along a portion of the Sydney-Truro-Halifax route that had double daily passenger service, two and three unit RDCs that were often full but it was cut in January 1990. There has been talk of restoring service and we did have VIA’s once weekly Bras d’Or in the early 2000s. But the shortline operator has let track conditions deteriorate on the Port Hawkesbury-Sydney portion and now requires a provincial subsidy just to maintain freight service. I can drive the route in half the time a train would take unless huge sums of money was spent on rail infrastructure.

As much as I would like to see passenger trains restored……these routes just don’t make sense anymore. With the little money available, spend it on corridor routes to increase service where it is a viable option.
  by labaienordique
I believe this is the problem with the general vision of Canada. There is a lot of focus on the larger centres & more populated regions of Canada, whereas the more rural, remote & smaller regions suffer. The majority of canadians generally in 9 - 10 cities/regions: Greater Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Greater Toronto (including the Golden Horseshoe), South-Western Ontario, l'Outaouais (Ottawa-Gatineau), Montréal & Québec.

I believe it to be absurd that a region as close as Nipissing District should be deprived of passenger rail service to our nation's captial. The proposed route by the CAPT (Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains) would provide access to roughly 330,000 people (combining the populations of Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay & Pembroke/Petawawa) to an East-West passenger train service.

Our trans-Canada highway to Ottawa (between the Sault & Ottawa) is primarily a single lane highway the entire length of the road (with exceptions for a 30 km stretch between Sault Ste Marie & the St Joseph's Island turn off, another 30 km stretch bypassing Sudbury, and another 9 km stretch passing through North Bay, and the stretch between Arnprior & Ottawa).

The distance between Sault Ste Marie & Ottawa is close to 800 km (each direction). Much of the driving is done through forests, wetlands & the canadian shield (rock). There are stretches along highway 17 where there are no gas stations open at night for 100s of kilometres (between Pembroke & North Bay).

This route won't generate the kind of revenue that a route along the 401 will. But isn't this what being part of a country is about? Helping one-another out? I mean, I rarely ever use the 401 (I don't live anywhere near it). I certainly didn't benefit from the G-8 summit Muskoka pond in downtown Toronto.

I believe that this slow, subtle abandonment of rural Canada is causing a divide between urban & rural canadians. I mean, there is a registered provincial party that is being created in Northern Ontario because of it. Northern Ontario Heritage Party.

There are nations in the world that fight tooth & nail for a square kilometre of land (Israel, Russia, etc.). As Canadians, we have all this land mass to ourselves (and then some). I'd say we're spoiled & I would hate to see one day where a small part of Canada was annexed by a foreign country (particularly in the Arctic --- Hans Island anyone?).
  by bitf
I know the government is the one who actually makes the financial decisions,but VIA's AGM is in April. So if you want to ask questions and can find your way to Ottawa this might be the place to do it. If you can't make it VIA is streaming it on their website. Either way, they want questions in advance emailed to them.
http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail ... ic-meeting
labaienordique wrote: I believe it to be absurd that a region as close as Nipissing District should be deprived of passenger rail service to our nation's captial. The proposed route by the CAPT (Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains) would provide access to roughly 330,000 people (combining the populations of Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay & Pembroke/Petawawa) to an East-West passenger train service.
These 330,000 had passenger service to Ottawa until 1990 and very few used it then. Don’t see how thing have changed that much where enough passengers would ride the train now to make the service viable. And besides........there was a freight service on two lines through the Ottawa Valley then to help subsidize the cost of infrastructure: CN is now abandoned and the CP line hasn’t seen a wheel turn in months.

I rode the tri-weekly Sudbury – Ottawa train a couple of times in the early ‘80s. It was a single unit RDC and on one trip, I and several others connected in North Bay to the s/b Northlander for Toronto. I recall, there weren’t many remaining on the RDC for the continuation to Ottawa.



In 1985, the tri-weekly RDC was replaced with a Sudbury-Montreal section of the Canadian. Here are a couple of shots of inaugural run on June 1, 1985. A short consist......the “main” section of the train originated in Toronto.



Here’s a sample consist of the Montreal-Sudbury train in 1989. By then, only the sleeper went through to Vancouver.....others changed cars in Sudbury. Later that year, even the through sleeper was gone.

6512 - FP9 locomotive
9673 - baggage
5733 - dayniter
754 - café lounge
14224 - Château Roberval sleeper
labaienordique wrote:There's an effort right now to save the OVR line in the Ottawa valley:
*If* the CP Ottawa Valley route was saved, passenger trains would have to run via Smiths Falls as the old “Canadian” route between Carleton Place and Ottawa was removed upon the discontinuance of passenger service in January 1990. Arriving in Smiths Falls, a train would be facing in the wrong direction to continue on and would have to back-track to/from Ottawa.

Is there still a connection in Pembroke between CP and CN to allow a more direct route to Ottawa via Portage-du-Fort? The other connection point might be in the Arnprior area.

Not insurmountable, but certainly adding to costs and time.
  by labaienordique
A lot has changed since 1990. Two universities have since been established (Nipissing in 1992, Algoma in 2008). Collège Boréal was founded in 1995 and has campuses in Sudbury & Sturgeon Falls (both communities along this route). This is the kind of clientèle that would utilize a service like this.

While the CN line is abandoned & converted into snowmobile trails, the CP line is still utilized between Témiscaming (QC) to Mattawa & then west through North Bay & to Sudbury (I see freight trains on it daily with forestry products from Tembec, Columbia Forest Products, and materials for Fabrene). BioSila is setting up a wood pellet shop in Mattawa (making use of the former Tembec Mill). The section in question is between Mattawa & Pembroke (which in my opinion should be considered essential given the history associated with the line to Canada, and the connection it provides to Eastern Canada).

There is to my knowledge a connection in Pembroke between CP & CN. Transport Pontiac-Renfrew is working a deal with CN to purchase the line: http://www.transportpontiac-renfrew.ca/home.html
  by bitf
Jumping to the other side of the country, we can see a similar situation that might provide indications of what could happen in Pembroke. The Island Corridor Foundation acquired the old E&N line on Vancouver Island from Rail America and CP for nothing, and even got a large amount or land, equipment and cash from CP. They want VIA to adjust its service so it's is much better for commuters. VIA is willing to adjust and increase it's service, but only if the needed track upgrades are done. The ICF can't afford the 15 Million for upgrades and the Federal government hasn't promised any money. So, as always, c'est la faute du fédéral.
  by labaienordique
Just received an email from the C.A.P.T. that there will be a presentation made in front of Sault city council Tuesday night regarding passenger train service to the Sault & along the 17 corridor. I will receive more information probably sometime later this week.
  by labaienordique
Issue of passenger train service discussed at council

The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) has received a blessing from city council to work toward developing passenger train service in the region. City council endorsed its support to CAPT through a resolution Tuesday. CAPT's mandate is preserving and enhancing remote passenger train service in the District of Algoma as well as the adjacent districts around Hearst and Sudbury. The group is composed of municipalities, First Nations, tourist resort operators, cottage/camp-owners, recreationalists, environmentalists, ACR employees and retirees, community economic development professionals and accessibility groups, particularly along the Algoma rail lines from Hearst to Sault Ste. Marie and Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury. CAPT is attempting to preserve and enhance passenger train service in the District of Algoma as well as the adjacent districts around Hearst and Sudbury.

This year, CAPT focused its energies on determining whether there is enough political will amongst Algoma area communities to develop a strategy for implementing a passenger service along the Huron Central Railway. The East Algoma Chiefs Mayors and Reeves Council recently passed a resolution that CAPT establish a task force to identify and represent common goals of communities regarding rail. Mayor Debbie Amaroso has attended meetings with the East Algoma Chiefs Mayors and Reeves Council and supports the group's efforts. CAPT also wants to collect parallel railway interests, and with supporting communities, apply for a feasibility study to continue research and develop recommendations for government and rail.

CAPT is receiving similar resolutions of support from other communities including Elliot Lake, the Township of the North Shore, the Township of Sables-Spanish Rivers, Echo Bay, the North Shore Tribal Council and others. While the not-for-profit organization has been around for many years now, CAPT member David Craig said the group is realizing it needs to better build its relationship with stakeholders in order to garner more attention from government on this issue. "A big thing is to include everybody, not just big communities but small communities and First Nations and getting everyone involved," he said.

Craig told city council that rail transportation is safe, reliable, environmentally friendly and can aid in local economies, prevent youth migration and increase tourism. Craig said that statistics by the Railway Association of Canada indicate that $1 million pumped into short-line infrastructure creates 5.8 jobs and creates $3 million of economic activity. Train stations also act as catalysts for economic growth and increase tourism, Craig told council. If CAPT is successful and receives support from the majority of large and small communities, it hopes to get government funding to launch a feasibility study that will look at potential models of operation and ownership of a rail line, explore the economics benefits and risks to railway ownership, identify users, examine the existing infrastructure and need for upgrades. It will also look at potential timelines, resources, contributions and support and funding for resources of upgrades.

CAPT hopes the city appoint a representative to sit on its board and participate in its members. CAPT also hopes the city includes access to integrated rail transportation as part of the community's strategic plan. A meeting is planned for Oct. 22 in Serpent River First Nation to discuss CN's desire to remove rail line from Pembrooke to Mattawa in order to divest its property. Rail service in that area has been halted for some time. Craig said that the goal of CAPT is a last-ditch attempt to prevent the removal of the track. "If it does, it would stop train service to that area and that's not what we want to see," he said.

In 2007, CAPT asked city council to support a resolution regarding the scheduling and maintenance of Algoma's passenger train services. It has not asked council to fund any of its studies.
  by labaienordique
Critical rail link to Ottawa in jeopardy

Moderator's note: Duplicate posts have been removed from this forum. Those interested can see the original posts in the Canadian Railfan Forum.
  by labaienordique
Group petitions for new ride
http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDi ... ?e=3420886

Northern Ontario's passenger rail service is like Swiss cheese, says Linda Savory-Gordon, a professor at Algoma University. It's full of holes, with various lines across the region, but few connections between them. Savory-Gordon is a member of a coalition that's trying to change that. The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains posted a petition online about a month ago calling for the reinstatement of passenger rail between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury -- a service that hasn't been in place for more than 25 years. The petition has 54 signatures so far, only about 1% of its 5,000-signature goal. However, Savory-Gordon says the group plans to give presentations in cities around the region to bring attention to an issue she has taken to heart. "Rail is so enduring. It's so environmentally good, it's so efficient and low in cost for maintenance," she said.

Once it gathers more signatures, the group plans to send its petition to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In the meantime, coalition members have developed an argument in support of rail centred on its benefits to areas such as tourism. Poor rail service means fewer tourists and less spending in the region, according to Albert Errington. "It's the long drives to connect to Northern Ontario that are really undermining our economy," he said. Errington owns a tourist lodge north of Wawa that's only accessible by train or float plane. He is also the co-chair of the passenger train coalition. He said gaps between rail lines damage his business. Patrons must drive to Sault Ste. Marie or Wawa to catch the train that reaches the lodge, making for a long trip from places like southern Ontario.

But those seeking better rail service might have an even longer road before them. A spokesperson at the Crown corporation Via Rail, Malcolm Andrews, said a Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury service is unlikely -- at least one offered by that company. "To look at operating something that's a brand new train service; it's something that happens pretty rarely," he said. The coalition members say the problem is that passenger rail isn't as profitable as freight shipping. Unless ticket prices are hiked up or the service is heavily used, passenger rail involves spending without much potential for earning. Errington said private rail companies that are focused on profits don't have much to gain by investing in moving people, especially outside of highly populated urban centres.

The Huron Central Railway, a private company, owns the set of tracks between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury and uses them to ship freight. The president of the HCR, Mario Brault, said his company has no interest in reinstating passenger service. "Are we opposed to passenger service? No. Are we going to invest in this business? No," he said. "Anyone who would like to promote passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury would have to come up with a very solid business plan and ways to finance the service." He said it would take millions of dollars to rehabilitate the tracks so trains could rain at speeds fast enough for passenger rail. The provincial government has funded some rehabilitation on that line, but its trains only run at about 40 to 50 kilometres per hour -- not fast enough for passengers.

Rick Winston, a spokesperson at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, said the government is proud of the support it already provides for passenger rail in Northern Ontario. However, he said the provincial government is reviewing transportation options in the area over the next two years. Winston couldn't say what would transpire from the review or whether the results could lead to more passenger rail service. For the other co-chair of the coalition, Maria Price, the issue is personal. The senior citizen likes to visit Toronto and Ottawa from her home in Sault Ste. Marie, but she finds travelling hard.

"I'm 82 now and I'm really not interested in that drive. I can't do it. I can't afford the airplane so I'm basically stuck here," she said. The coalition eventually hopes to get a rail line from Sault Ste. Marie all the way to Ottawa. That dream might stay one for a while. "I was just thinking that getting a passenger train is not a sprint, it's a marathon," Price said.