VIA gets $71m to study Toronto - Montreal corridor route

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marquisofmississauga
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VIA gets $71m to study Toronto - Montreal corridor route

Post by marquisofmississauga » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:24 pm

This amount is essentially for a study on VIA's proposal for a new Montreal-Toronto route. With a federal election coming this autumn, it will be interesting to see what happens.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politic ... sion-says/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal ... -1.5188770

mtuandrew
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Re: VIA gets $71 million for "study" of new corridor route

Post by mtuandrew » Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:12 pm

Interesting note in that Globe & Mail article:
Work will also focus on the details of how increased Via Rail traffic will interact with the already busy downtown train stations in Montreal and Toronto. Specifically, some of the money will go toward track work in Montreal’s Mont-Royal tunnel to ensure that Via’s heavy rail trains can share the tunnel with the new commuter light-rail system – the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) – currently under construction.

mdvle
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Re: VIA gets $71 million for "study" of new corridor route

Post by mdvle » Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:53 pm

Cynically I suspect this is a way to try and woo Peterborough voters without spending any real money given the long lasting dream to boost Peterborough real estate prices by making commuting to Toronto viable. Though it could backfire if the people in the communities that currently get VIA service decide to pay attention and decide getting essentially dropped from the corridor is a negative.

Despite the claims in the articles I don't think this will accomplish a lot other than providing some nice money to a bunch of consultants.

It's not a surprise that private investors are interested, they are always interested in a guaranteed profit which is what this would be given the government would have to guarantee the payments to the investors. And if the government doesn't provide a guarantee, they will all quietly decline.

As for interacting in Toronto, the simple answer is VIA needs to leave Union Station and build their own station as there is no long term, or maybe even medium term, place for VIA at Union Station unless GO ridership suddenly reverses. The best bet for VIA is to lay claim to the land between Cherry Street and the Don River for a dedicated station so they are still reasonably close to downtown.

Mark0f0
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Re: VIA gets $71 million for "study" of new corridor route

Post by Mark0f0 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:56 pm

mdvle wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:53 pm
Cynically I suspect this is a way to try and woo Peterborough voters without spending any real money given the long lasting dream to boost Peterborough real estate prices by making commuting to Toronto viable. Though it could backfire if the people in the communities that currently get VIA service decide to pay attention and decide getting essentially dropped from the corridor is a negative.
Previous statements of VIA implied that Corridor service would continue. Personally I wonder why they don't just put more money into the Corridor, actually owning some infrastructure there. That they can share with CN. Instead of throwing billions down a rabbit hole and still having a problem on the existing Corridor. Even if they end up building their own VIA tracks, they will still have to share them with freight as CN and CP will almost certainly demand, and be granted access to such facilities to serve freight customers along VIA's route.
As for interacting in Toronto, the simple answer is VIA needs to leave Union Station and build their own station as there is no long term, or maybe even medium term, place for VIA at Union Station unless GO ridership suddenly reverses. The best bet for VIA is to lay claim to the land between Cherry Street and the Don River for a dedicated station so they are still reasonably close to downtown.
VIA and its predecessors were at Union before GO was even a twinkle in the eye of the province. The chances of them leaving are probably comparable with that of hell freezing over. What's the constraint at Union anyways, other than the place desperately needs continued investment?

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Re: VIA gets $71m to study Toronto - Montreal corridor route

Post by Jeff Smith » Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:34 am

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mdvle
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Re: VIA gets $71 million for "study" of new corridor route

Post by mdvle » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:53 am

Mark0f0 wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:56 pm

Previous statements of VIA implied that Corridor service would continue. Personally I wonder why they don't just put more money into the Corridor, actually owning some infrastructure there. That they can share with CN. Instead of throwing billions down a rabbit hole and still having a problem on the existing Corridor. Even if they end up building their own VIA tracks, they will still have to share them with freight as CN and CP will almost certainly demand, and be granted access to such facilities to serve freight customers along VIA's route.
Politically, VIA has to claim corridor service will continue otherwise no government would touch their dream - too many potential voters to annoy otherwise.

But to me, the idea simply doesn't make financial sense at least in the way it is likely being read.

If VIA gets their dedicated line then most of their trains, and hence most of their customers, and hence most of their revenue, will be on the new line. This is obvious for two reasons, one it is by definition (otherwise there is no point in building it) going to be the fastest connection between the big populations of Toronto - Ottawa - Montreal and so all those customers who aren't interested in the intermediate stations will choose the new line (and given that the new line essentially serves cows, vegetables, and wildlife other than Peterborough then it also follows that the vast majority of customers travel between that trio of cities). Secondly, given that the new line will be a fixed cost to VIA - they will need to pay $X a year to whoever owns it to cover the yearly "mortgage", VIA will need to put as much traffic as possible on the new line.

So, if you have taken most of your customers away from the existing corridor, and the underlying goal of VIA for the last number of years has been to at least break even on non-capital costs, where does the revenue come from to continue to run the existing corridor services? To me the answer is that there is none, and thus VIA will need to drastically slash costs which will mean running fewer, shorter, and also likely slower, trains. At which point you could end up with a death spiral happening as the service gets less convenient, so more people switch to cars / buses, so more cuts come, until the trains are cut entirely and VIA is only on the new line.

To me the best option is to actually to a swap - by all means build a new line but at a lower cost (build for slower speeds) and move most of the freight onto the new line - this will have many political benefits as since Lac Magentic a lot of the towns and cities would like to see freight out of their downtowns, and then upgrade the corridor to both higher speeds and (thanks to the removal of most of the freight) more reliable operation and thus you can continue to service where most of the current and potential customer base in that 3 city triangle is.
mdvle wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:53 pm
As for interacting in Toronto, the simple answer is VIA needs to leave Union Station and build their own station as there is no long term, or maybe even medium term, place for VIA at Union Station unless GO ridership suddenly reverses. The best bet for VIA is to lay claim to the land between Cherry Street and the Don River for a dedicated station so they are still reasonably close to downtown.
VIA and its predecessors were at Union before GO was even a twinkle in the eye of the province. The chances of them leaving are probably comparable with that of hell freezing over. What's the constraint at Union anyways, other than the place desperately needs continued investment?
Key point (aka ownership is 9/10s) - Metrolinx owns the tracks and train shed (with the City of Toronto owning the station itself).

Thus VIA is merely a tenant.

The big issue is merely that of capacity, and that as more GO services get added in the coming decade and John Tory's Smarttrack gets added at some point someone is going to look for additional track / platform capacity and VIA will be the odd person out.

There is also a desperate need to actually reduce the number of tracks/platforms and instead make the existing platforms wider, thus making them both safer and more importantly improve pedestrian flow so people can get off the trains faster, thus allow more efficient use of the tracks. Again, VIA becomes odd person out in this scenario to allow the existing and future commuter services to have their needs met.

Finally, a dedicated station could also make VIA more attractive - the current situation where VIA passengers at rush hour need to fight their way through the massive number of commuters arriving /departing doesn't make for a good experience.

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