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Thread: VIA Rail Service in Alberta

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    Default VIA Rail Service in Alberta

    So this topic has been bothering me for a while. How come VIA Rail hasn't been creating routes in Alberta? What is the history behind the service between Edmonton and Calgary and why did it stop?

    I think it would be reasonable to see service between Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge. And also service north to Fort McMurray if the line was significantly upgraded.

    Why can VIA Rail focus most of its service on Ontario and Quebec, when it is a crown corporation? If trains between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal can be profitable, shouldn't similar levels of service be viable between Edmonton and Calgary at least?

    What are your thoughts?

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    I'd say it's because VIA leases almost all of its track from CN, which goes through Edmonton, while Calgary (and the Edmonton-Calgary Corridor) is served by Canadian Pacific.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisvazquez7 View Post
    So this topic has been bothering me for a while. How come VIA Rail hasn't been creating routes in Alberta? What is the history behind the service between Edmonton and Calgary and why did it stop?

    I think it would be reasonable to see service between Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge. And also service north to Fort McMurray if the line was significantly upgraded.

    Why can VIA Rail focus most of its service on Ontario and Quebec, when it is a crown corporation? If trains between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal can be profitable, shouldn't similar levels of service be viable between Edmonton and Calgary at least?

    What are your thoughts?
    To be honest, I'm not sure if there's even a bus service?

    You may not be aware of this, but apparently Albertans kind of like their cars. A lot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisvazquez7 View Post
    So this topic has been bothering me for a while. How come VIA Rail hasn't been creating routes in Alberta? What is the history behind the service between Edmonton and Calgary and why did it stop?

    I think it would be reasonable to see service between Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge. And also service north to Fort McMurray if the line was significantly upgraded.

    Why can VIA Rail focus most of its service on Ontario and Quebec, when it is a crown corporation? If trains between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal can be profitable, shouldn't similar levels of service be viable between Edmonton and Calgary at least?

    What are your thoughts?
    There used to be a Budd car dayliner that operated on the CP line years ago. However, there were several collisions on at-grade crossings with vehicles either racing the dayliner or ignoring to look both ways down the tracks. I believe the final straw, though, was when a switch on to a siding wasn't set back to the main tracks. A dayliner happened to hit that switch and was sent onto the siding, crashing into some parked tank cars.

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    Actually, this article explains the history of Alberta rail travel a lot better: http://www.forthjunction.com/passenger-rail.htm

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    VIA to Jasper is fun. I wish it was a little less expensive though.
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    $31 one way on sale to Saskatoon from Edmonton if you can ever pick it up.

    VIA runs on CN. They continue to cut back service on the prairies because it is not profitable. Passenger rail service is a public service, it may never make money (like mass transit), but I do think a line from Calgary to Edmonton would do well if marketed properly and proper investments made by the province. It's possible we could see something in our lifetime.
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    A VIA service from Edmonton to Calgary would work just fine IF it was a reasonably fast service. But if they followed the Edmonton to Vancouver pattern of stopping for every flaming freight train that comes along, then it's a no-hoper. Freight has the priority here, that's where the money is. So VIA is relegated to second tier, and performs like it.
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    Not only does VIA have to wait for every freight train but it also stops at every lightbulb along the way. VIA Rail to Vancouver takes over 24 hours to get there. It takes half as long to drive or take a Greyhound there, and 90 minutes to fly.
    Last edited by Sonic Death Monkey; 07-12-2012 at 04:48 PM.
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    you would need to build a dedicated track for VIA on the Edmonton - Calgary corridor. If we are going that route, might as well get the whole shbang and get HSR.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey View Post
    Not only does VIA have to wait for every freight train but it also stops at every lightbulb along the way. VIA Rail to Vancouver takes over 24 hours to get there. It takes half as long to drive or take a Greyhound there, and 90 minutes to fly.
    Sometimes it's about the journey.. not the destination.
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    Quote Originally Posted by howie View Post
    A VIA service from Edmonton to Calgary would work just fine IF it was a reasonably fast service. But if they followed the Edmonton to Vancouver pattern of stopping for every flaming freight train that comes along, then it's a no-hoper. Freight has the priority here, that's where the money is. So VIA is relegated to second tier, and performs like it.
    The priority of freight trains is also because they've become much larger and heavier since the heyday of passenger rail. It's much faster to stop and start a relatively light passenger train than a forty-million pound, miles-long freight train.

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    ^ Cn owns the line.. CN dictates the terms... its that simple.
    "Do you give people who already use transit a better service, or do you build it where they don't use it in the hopes they might start to use it?" Nenshi

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    Quote Originally Posted by edmonton daily photo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey View Post
    Not only does VIA have to wait for every freight train but it also stops at every lightbulb along the way. VIA Rail to Vancouver takes over 24 hours to get there. It takes half as long to drive or take a Greyhound there, and 90 minutes to fly.
    Sometimes it's about the journey.. not the destination.
    90 minutes travel time when flying, or does that also include the time it takes to drive to the airport, check in, go through security, board the airplane, wait for the late people to get on board, taxi to the runway, fly, land, taxi to the terminal, wait for all the people "in a hurry" to push to the front of the airplane and then wait for your luggage to arrive at the carousel?

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    It's still a LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGG way shorter than 24 hours. Edmonton-Vancouver. Been there, done that, never again.

    And about it "being the journey", well, 24 hours in clunky old 1950's coaching stock with tatty compartments with the air of 60 years of old socks (and that was in the highly touted Silver and Blue class), that's not my idea of train travel.
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    @ Expat- Plenty of ppl still take the bus between Edmonton and Calgary, particularly in winter. Both Greyhound and Red Arrow run (presumably profitable) routes, several times a day! Heck, Red Arrow even started a discount bus route (myebus.ca)!!
    So , no reason why Via can't run a profitable service here (I would take it for sure).

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    Quote Originally Posted by howie View Post
    It's still a LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGG way shorter than 24 hours. Edmonton-Vancouver. Been there, done that, never again.

    And about it "being the journey", well, 24 hours in clunky old 1950's coaching stock with tatty compartments with the air of 60 years of old socks (and that was in the highly touted Silver and Blue class), that's not my idea of train travel.
    Have you ever taken a train through our mountains... It's about the journey...
    "Do you give people who already use transit a better service, or do you build it where they don't use it in the hopes they might start to use it?" Nenshi

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    Quote Originally Posted by howie View Post
    It's still a LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGG way shorter than 24 hours. Edmonton-Vancouver. Been there, done that, never again.

    And about it "being the journey", well, 24 hours in clunky old 1950's coaching stock with tatty compartments with the air of 60 years of old socks (and that was in the highly touted Silver and Blue class), that's not my idea of train travel.
    Took the train to Quebec City this summer. While economy class is still stuck with the original stock, all the sleepers have been renovated and look quite luxurious (unfortunately I was traveling economy).
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    Quote Originally Posted by edmonton daily photo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by howie View Post
    It's still a LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGG way shorter than 24 hours. Edmonton-Vancouver. Been there, done that, never again.

    And about it "being the journey", well, 24 hours in clunky old 1950's coaching stock with tatty compartments with the air of 60 years of old socks (and that was in the highly touted Silver and Blue class), that's not my idea of train travel.
    Have you ever taken a train through our mountains... It's about the journey...
    Hi edp. As I said, I've done the Edm-Van run and back and, obviously, there's no disputing the magnificent scenery. It's what you have to go through to view it from the ratbag of a train. The one positive I do give VIA kudos for is the cheerful service of the staff and the excellent dining. So it ain't all bad.
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    The VIA Rail journey is great as long as you're actually moving. Sitting on the track for long periods of time waiting for a freight train to pass the other way is not very enjoyable.
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    I have always argued that:
    1. HSR to Calgary should be developed and operated by VIA
    2. Edmonton should and is naturally positioned to become a rail hub in western canada as it is already on the east-west route. with addition to Calgary line Edmonton would be at the rail's cross=the hub. This might encourage additional route development to more frequent Jasper services, a line North, and so on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey View Post
    The VIA Rail journey is great as long as you're actually moving. Sitting on the track for long periods of time waiting for a freight train to pass the other way is not very enjoyable.
    Sdm. Although train service in Canada is far from ideal... We have what we have.

    People who take it accept the current situation...

    Canada will be left behind if it doesn't start investing in rail infrastructure again.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TerryH View Post
    Actually, this article explains the history of Alberta rail travel a lot better: http://www.forthjunction.com/passenger-rail.htm
    Fantastic read, thanks for that. I hadn't realized how recently the Edmonton-Calgary rail corridor was operative.

    I also don't get the need for hsr. The Budd dayliner apparently took 3.5hrs from city to city which is fine. You can't drive downtown Edmonton to downtown Calgary in that time. Plus with the train you don't have to drive, you can enjoy the trip.
    I don't get why its thought that airtravel is so much better. Edmonton International is hardly convenient and one has to factor in the time to go there, get through customs, debark at Calgary international, and get transportation to downtown from there.
    I'd be interested in knowing what the real difference in time is. Plus I'd rather travel on a train anytime I can.

    I don't buy for an instant that this corridor isn't viable. Via Rail runs several services that are not viable. They just chronically show very little interest in serving the Prairie provinces. If you can operate the Churchill line, and the Malahat, and the Atlantic run, then numbers would suggest you could do more than 3 trains a week through all of Western Canada.

    Just to note in August in Jasper we were enjoying the day at the station and the Via Rail "Canadian" was 24 cars in length. Both at arrival and departure. It was the longest Via Rail train I'd ever seen. I talked to the Via Staff about it and it was plum full. Sold out. I think they were using every car they had available for this one. It wasn't any special occasion. It does denote the demand.

    Not only should Via Rail do Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary but the National service should be around 5 times per week at least in peak times of the year. 3 times is just silly given the increasing interest and ridership.

    Just to note as well that while most of Western Canada gets next to no service that Via Rail has started relatively new services to such places as Senneterre, Jonquiere, and Gaspe. Also now a spur line from the Churchill run that goes to Pukatawagan. This is 3 times/week service btw. Apparently all of Western Canada is about as important to Via Rail as these low ridership lines. Should be noted that Gaspe also has its own dedicated run all the way from Montreal. It isn't a spur line emanating from the "Ocean" which one would think it should be. Apparently Via Rail has money to burn in Eastern Canada, primarily Quebec, but forget it if you're in Alberta. We're just paying for it.
    Last edited by Replacement; 09-12-2012 at 12:26 PM.
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    ^ I'm pretty sure the Canadian is 5x a week during the summer, the 3x a week is just a winter reduction.
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    It is a darn shame what western Canadian rail travel has become.

    The idea of a Fort McMurray to Lethbridge corridor is enticing. That being said, I've talked to folks at the railways and the top speed on the line from Edmonton to Fort McMurray and Calgary to Lethbridge for passenger place it under 40 mph (64 km/h). At that speed, I'm driving or taking the bus.

    What is truly a shame is the Edmonton to Jasper run. In this day and age it is completely unacceptable for a car/bus trip to travel faster and beat a train trip. I truly believe with enough double tracking and straightning of the line, VIA Rail from Edmonton to Jasper could be faster than driving. But CN controls the line.

    In Canada, CN and CP own the rails, thus dictate the rules. VIA Rail passenger trains run only as a matter of public policy. The Canadian (Toronto to Vancouver / Jasper to Edmonton) is an International Tourist product providing trans-continental service. Same as The Ocean (Halifax to Montreal). Jasper to Prince Rupert is actually a rural/remote service. Believe it or not, there are communities along this line where the train is the only way in or out. Same as Winnipeg to Churchill and Pukatawagan, Montreal to Senneterre and Montreal to Gaspe.

    I foresee a day in Alberta when Edmonton and Calgary are connected by high-speed rail (320 km/h or faster) and the railways from Edmonton to Jasper, Fort McMurray, and Saskatoon are fixed up so they can handle 200 km/h trains on the existing lines. Can you imagine downtown Edmonton to Saskatoon in 2 hours 45 minutes? or Fort McMurray in 2 hours and 30 minutes? or Jasper in 2 hours? or how about Calgary to Medicine or Lethbridge in 1.5 hours?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisvazquez7 View Post
    So this topic has been bothering me for a while. How come VIA Rail hasn't been creating routes in Alberta? What is the history behind the service between Edmonton and Calgary and why did it stop?
    If you want a history of passenger rail service in Canada, wiki is a good place to start:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_Rail
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    I thought I read at one time that CN allows private cars to run on all of its lines. I imagine that also includes non-main line subdivisions and spurs (other than short industrial ones).

    The problem with people avoiding rail travel is many just want to get from point A to point B ASAP and to heck with the travel being part of the experience. The same thing is happening with Greyhound. Used to be a great tourist mode of travel, having several routes that get to the same city, several runs on most routes a day, and getting off and on at any stop if one wanted to spend the night in a motel. Now, one has to declare when they leave and when they'll return, no unscheduled stops along the way without paying extra and re-declaring travel times and, to top it off, security searches.

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    Via’s reduction in service over the past several months has included:

    Cutting in half the Ocean line between Halifax and Montreal, via northern New Brunswick, to only three trips per week in each direction.
    The Canadian route between Toronto and Vancouver has been reduced from three to two trips per week during the off-season.
    Ontario cities such as Sarnia, Kitchener and Stratford, Ont. have seen key stops reduced.
    Fewers stops at cities such as Belleville or Cornwall along the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal line.
    Twenty per cent of stations are now unstaffed, most recently including Kitchener, Ont. and Sackville, N.B. In some New Brunswick towns, the disabled are taken by van to Moncton to help board the train.

    http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/...-via-rail-cuts

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    Quote Originally Posted by ike9126 View Post
    ^ I'm pretty sure the Canadian is 5x a week during the summer, the 3x a week is just a winter reduction.
    No, its always been 3X/week as long as I can remember. I've taken it several times.

    AS Terry mentioned above the Canadian is now being reduced to two trains/week this winter. Disgraceful service to Western Canada.
    Last edited by Replacement; 09-12-2012 at 10:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cod Father View Post
    It is a darn shame what western Canadian rail travel has become.

    The idea of a Fort McMurray to Lethbridge corridor is enticing. That being said, I've talked to folks at the railways and the top speed on the line from Edmonton to Fort McMurray and Calgary to Lethbridge for passenger place it under 40 mph (64 km/h). At that speed, I'm driving or taking the bus.

    What is truly a shame is the Edmonton to Jasper run. In this day and age it is completely unacceptable for a car/bus trip to travel faster and beat a train trip. I truly believe with enough double tracking and straightning of the line, VIA Rail from Edmonton to Jasper could be faster than driving. But CN controls the line.

    In Canada, CN and CP own the rails, thus dictate the rules. VIA Rail passenger trains run only as a matter of public policy. The Canadian (Toronto to Vancouver / Jasper to Edmonton) is an International Tourist product providing trans-continental service. Same as The Ocean (Halifax to Montreal). Jasper to Prince Rupert is actually a rural/remote service. Believe it or not, there are communities along this line where the train is the only way in or out. Same as Winnipeg to Churchill and Pukatawagan, Montreal to Senneterre and Montreal to Gaspe.

    I foresee a day in Alberta when Edmonton and Calgary are connected by high-speed rail (320 km/h or faster) and the railways from Edmonton to Jasper, Fort McMurray, and Saskatoon are fixed up so they can handle 200 km/h trains on the existing lines. Can you imagine downtown Edmonton to Saskatoon in 2 hours 45 minutes? or Fort McMurray in 2 hours and 30 minutes? or Jasper in 2 hours? or how about Calgary to Medicine or Lethbridge in 1.5 hours?

    I don't think a high speed rail line between Edmonton and Calgary would be good for Edmonton. I think it would be good for Calgary, and I suppose that's the albertan way...whats good for Calgary is good for Alberta because Calgary is the new Toronto...you know, the center of the universe.

    I would much prefer to see a high speed rail link between Edmonton and jasper, that way we could cater to tourism the same way Calgary does with banff, although I'm sure HSR would make the trip between Edmonton and Jasper quicker then the drive from Calgary to Banff, which might make the Edmonton-Banff tourism a stronger...which would be met with opposition from the south...

    As well, I would like to see a high speed rail link between Edmonton and Fort McMurray. A fast enough line so a guy could leave work at the mines and be home for supper in Edmonton. That line would be extremely beneficial and probably extremely opposed by not only Fort McMurray (obvious reasons as its cheaper to live in Edmonton than the fort) but Calgary as well (because it would make Edmonton more important to the oil sands...which we can't have).
    Last edited by GranaryMan; 10-12-2012 at 08:19 AM.

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    'I would much prefer to see a high speed rail link between Edmonton and jasper, that way we could cater to tourism the same way Calgary does with banff, although I'm sure HSR would make the trip between Edmonton and Jasper quicker then the drive from Calgary to Banff, which might make the Edmonton-Banff tourism a stronger...which would be met with opposition from the south...'

    Nowhere near enough demand to support.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    'I would much prefer to see a high speed rail link between Edmonton and jasper, that way we could cater to tourism the same way Calgary does with banff, although I'm sure HSR would make the trip between Edmonton and Jasper quicker then the drive from Calgary to Banff, which might make the Edmonton-Banff tourism a stronger...which would be met with opposition from the south...'

    Nowhere near enough demand to support.
    Currently. Although I believe the phrase "if you build it, they will come" would hold true to a HSR link between Edmonton and Jasper. Think about it, you want to go skiing on a Monday night, jump on the train you're in jasper 30 minute later and at Marmot maybe 50 minutes from when you departed Edmonton. Be quicker to go to Jasper to ski than to drive to rabbit hill from the north side of the city.

    Plus, you could market Edmonton-Jasper world wide. Who wants to fly into Edmonton to only have to sit in a car or bus for another 4 hours?! Have that high speed rail, and commute is cut to 20 or 30 minutes, it would then become quicker to go from Edmonton to jasper than it is from Calgary to banff.

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    ^if you have some maglev and a east wind...

    Even the Shinkansen in Japan would be 1.5hrs and that is if they were at maximum speed the entire trip. Keep in mind that as you enter and exit a city you slow down considerably.

    Realistically it would still be 2hrs with HSR and the capital investment far far too high to even consider it.

    Would I like this? Absolutely! Will it happen, no.
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    In France we took many a slow train that traveled slower than most cars on the hi way. It was all about affordability. It was awsome being 13 and being able to hope from a small centre to places like Le mans or paris.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^if you have some maglev and a east wind...

    Even the Shinkansen in Japan would be 1.5hrs and that is if they were at maximum speed the entire trip. Keep in mind that as you enter and exit a city you slow down considerably.

    Realistically it would still be 2hrs with HSR and the capital investment far far too high to even consider it.

    Would I like this? Absolutely! Will it happen, no.
    Wheres this notion that it needs to be highspeed?

    It needs to be weekender oriented. Thats it. If it takes 4hs to get there thats fine. People will do that, they do that now driving the distance. Throw a loungecar on there and a bubble car and I could care less how long it takes.

    More access will mean more use, business, and regular trips out to Jasper.

    I'd like to go there more often. I often don't because I might be too tired to want to drive hours back and forth and in the winter don't want to risk my life driving with all the idiots out on the highway. I definitely don't want to take a bus either which is even worse as the ***** is often the one driving.

    I'd take a weekend train though. No reason Via Rail can't schedule something like that if they were actually interested in servicing Edmontonians interests at all.
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    ^They had that. It was called 'the snow train', was not well supported and VIA was cutting back non mainline routes. Left friday at 1, returned Sunday evening.

    $220 return if I recall. I took it twice and loved it. Their deco lounge car was relaxing and fun.

    Having taken it and the Canadian to Jasper 5 times, we averaged 4.5-5 hours i'd say, but as mentioned, it was part of the experience getting there.
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    Decided to see if the snow train would be a viable option for going skiing for a weekend in January.

    Only train comes on Friday at 7:37 am. Fair enough. Arrive time? 1 pm. Are you kidding me? 5 1/2 hrs? Okay, so its slow...

    Now I want to get home. Sunday? no. Monday? no. Tuesday? No. Wednesday! ah ha! Fair enough. Only train on Wednesday... 5:30 pm. Arrival back in Edmonton? 11 pm. Another 5 1/2 hrs.

    Round trip cost: 214 + tax. per person. (Supersaver fare, booked 4+ weeks in advance, no food.)

    Not really a feasible option for a 2-3 day weekender...

    Now consider taking a few friends. Closing in on 1000 bucks just to get there and back... not to mention spending more time there than most people will want to for a ski/snowboard trip...
    Last edited by Medwards; 10-12-2012 at 12:44 PM.
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    ^The snow train formally ran Fri1pm-Sun9pm.

    The Canadian now is the only option and yes, not workable.

    What we do is take the train up and the bus back.
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    Current is simply the Canadian, the former was a dedicated 3-4 car train.

    http://www.viarail.ca/en/snowtrain


    (https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/i...ZqerbouxWynFIF)
    Last edited by IanO; 10-12-2012 at 12:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by edmonton daily photo View Post
    Have you ever taken a train through our mountains... It's about the journey...
    But you get the same scenery traveling by bus or car... in half the time.

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    VIA serves Eastern Canada better because they actually have people there who take trains. The Alberta travelling public abandoned rail in the 1960s and 70s, and by the time they cancelled service in 1985, the public didn't put up a fight. Car culture won.

    It's a shame that Lougheed or Getty didn't set up a provincial rail company to take over from VIA. But even better would have been to preserve the rail infrastructure for future reuse. They were short-sighted in thinking that car culture would last forever (it won't). We should have bought the stations and rights-of-way for a song in the 80s. Now when we need to buy and build stations for any future line (HSR or commuter rail) it will cost BILLIONS.

    And it will really be COMMUTER RAIL (and perhaps, maybe much later HSR to Calgary) that is the future of rail in Edmonton.

    Imagine getting on a train at the St. Albert or Stony Plain stations and getting off at the CN Tower or Strathcona Station (old Iron House nightclub) to go to work or do shopping? People could do that in Alberta in the 1970s, but even with billions spent on LRT in recent decades, you cannot do that in 2012. Shame on our past leaders.
    Change the incentives and our car-dependant city can change too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrOilers View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by edmonton daily photo View Post
    Have you ever taken a train through our mountains... It's about the journey...
    But you get the same scenery traveling by bus or car... in half the time.
    Actually... you get a very different perspective for much of the journey for about an hour more. A journey where you sit back, relax, enjoy, have a beer versus dealing with road conditions, traffic, etc.
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  43. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrOilers View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by edmonton daily photo View Post
    Have you ever taken a train through our mountains... It's about the journey...
    But you get the same scenery traveling by bus or car... in half the time.
    No you don't at all.

    The scenery you get driving is always from the perspective of a multilane highway and large clearing. Trains take you to much more intimate nooks and crannies and through passages a road never could. Try taking a train to Vancouver sometime and see if you think its the same. Plus being on the train you get to enjoy and take in all of it.
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    There is a way around the lack of speed - offer overnight trips with sleeper cars. Sort of like a rolling hotel. Imagine getting on a train in Edmonton any time between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm on friday night, then waking up in Jasper saturday morning. I could see it being very popular if it could be done for a price competitive with the bus plus a hotel, maybe $500 round trip for two people sharing a compartment.

  45. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^They had that. It was called 'the snow train', was not well supported and VIA was cutting back non mainline routes. Left friday at 1, returned Sunday evening.

    $220 return if I recall. I took it twice and loved it. Their deco lounge car was relaxing and fun.

    Having taken it and the Canadian to Jasper 5 times, we averaged 4.5-5 hours i'd say, but as mentioned, it was part of the experience getting there.
    Yeah, but I didn't see anything wrong with that service.

    Other than they didn't try it for very long afairc.

    Nothing wrong with taking the train, having dinner on the train, and being in Jasper in the evening.
    Afairc they didn't run this at all in the summertime either. Just a winter experiment. So to that effect they only test ran it with the skier crowd.

    I think in summertime it could really service the backpackers or weekend warriors that want to hit the mountains.
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    I believe the snow train ran for 2-3 years... but agree it was poorly marketed.
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    I remember the snow train. It was using a spare locomotive and the panoramic cars from the Skeena's Totem Class. It being the off season for tourists on the Jasper to Prince Rupert run, the cars were easy to get.

    If there is to be any new inter-city passenger rail service at all in Alberta, the service has to be faster than driving or taking the bus. 5.5 hrs to Jasper from Edmonton on the train in this day and age is unacceptable.

    I believe the trip could be brought down to 2 hrs if the track is straightened, doubled were warranted, modern rolling stock purchased, and the passenger train was given priority over freight.

    But set a target, why not get the train down to 4 hrs where a noticeable impact on ridership would be noted.

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    So I was talking to somebody today who flew in from NYC. First time in Edmonton, and as I drove him in from the airport, he asked if there was a train between Edmonton and Calgary. He didn't believe me at first when I said no.

    It really bothers me how VIA Rail, a crown corporation, does not service Western Canada the way it does in Ontario and Quebec. The Calgary-Edmonton Corridor could be profitable like the Windsor-Quebec City Corridor. The track is there, it's fast. CP owns it, but VIA runs on CP tracks in Ontario. Upgrade a few sidings, it could work. Every time trains are brought up in Alberta, people always find a reason to say no. But I think it's embarrassing that a corridor of 2.9 million people does not have a similar level of service as VIA has between Toronto and Windsor, for example.

    If you had trains every hour, with a travel time between 2.5 and 3 hours, and cheap enough, I think it would be attractive enough. I'm sure this is all reasonable. Yes, freight trains get in the way. Reality is, the CP line is way overbuilt right now for the level of traffic on it. There's room. The infrastructure is pretty much there. We just need to get it going!

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    Not going to happen. I took the dayliner a few times before it was discontinued and there's no way there's the traffic to support hourly service. the GTA has a population of over 6 million. Windsor/Detroit is around 5 million and that's not counting London, Hamilton, etc. Even with a population much greater than the Edmonton/Calgary corridor, Via only runs 4 times a day between the two cities.

    The only way rail would work is if it was faster and cheaper than flying.

  50. #50

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    the CP line is not way over built right now. The Dayliner IIRC used to take about 4 - 5 hours to go Edmonton to Calgary.

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    Triple the population and then we can talk.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medwards View Post
    the CP line is not way over built right now. The Dayliner IIRC used to take about 4 - 5 hours to go Edmonton to Calgary.
    I work for CP, so I know the current state of the line. Freight trains are able to go 55 mph for a majority of the journey, which means passenger trains could probably reach up to 80 mph. The subdivision is controlled by ABS signals, meaning trains can go faster than on track without signals. Obviously some upgrading would happen if service was introduced. But I think just extending a few sidings would be sufficient.

    I’m not super familiar with the Dayliner, but that was a different beast, in a different era. People’s reliance on cars isn’t as prevelant as it was in the 70’s.

    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Triple the population and then we can talk.
    That’s insane. You must be thinking about HSR. I agree, we’re not at a population to support that yet. But regular intercity trains? Look almost anywhere else in the world, 2.9 million is enough to support intercity rail travel.

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    I love trains and would take it all day long over flying, but most would not.
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    That’s pretty pessimistic. It’s all about level of service, advertising, incentives, etc. I’m sure the ridership could be there. It works in most of the world with populations less than ours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisvazquez7
    Look almost anywhere else in the world, 2.9 million is enough to support intercity rail travel.


    What are some similar examples, out of curiosity? And when I say similar, I mean that they're 300 km apart with virtually no significant population centers or stops in between, and no further connections on either end to speak of. I just don't see how it would be viable when you can catch a bus for something like $60 each way, with roughly the same travel time, and buses leaving every hour or two. It would require significant subsidization and even then, would likely be inferior to taking the bus in terms of frequency.

  56. #56

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    Dallas to Houston... fairly comparable to Edmonton to Calgary... much larger population, no train between the two.

  57. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisvazquez7 View Post
    That’s pretty pessimistic. It’s all about level of service, advertising, incentives, etc. I’m sure the ridership could be there. It works in most of the world with populations less than ours.
    I don't think there is enough demand to get to a level of service that would be worthy of running a train.

    Just looking at the AATD on Highway 2, the lowest point is around 20,000 cars, and that includes more than just traffic going between the two major cities.

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    ^^ But there are trains between Oklahoma City and Dallas, and San Antonio and Dallas, and neither OKC or San Antonio are near as big as Houston. The difference, of course, being there is no portion of the Amtrak network in the USA that connects only two midsize cities, it is all a part of the much larger network and routes between major centers.

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    The Edmonton-Calgary corridor doesn’t have a major population centre (1 M) for another 1,000 km.
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  60. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinW View Post
    ^^ But there are trains between Oklahoma City and Dallas, and San Antonio and Dallas, and neither OKC or San Antonio are near as big as Houston. The difference, of course, being there is no portion of the Amtrak network in the USA that connects only two midsize cities, it is all a part of the much larger network and routes between major centers.
    and of that amtrak service, most of it is at best twice daily. Not hourly service being bandied about above.

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    The hourly service idea would take a major cultural shift, but I think a couple trips a day each way is something that could become popular. Why Via doesn't do it? Probably because they struggle to fund the services that they offer now. My hope is that if they actually get funding to build a dedicated Windsor-Quebec corridor so they can maintain a level of service that allows it to become financially sustainable, they'll be able to start turning their attention to other corridors - improving or adding service in other parts of the country. I think if Via is going to survive, they need that corridor to be off of the CN tracks.

  62. #62

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    It's kind of a catch-22.

    In order to attract enough ridership, you need to have frequent service, and in order to have frequent service, you need to have high enough ridership.

    A twice daily between the two cities is probably not frequent enough to gather the critical mass needed, an hourly or semi-hourly would be over kill for the demand.

  63. #63

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    Acela Express between Boston (4.8 M) and Washington (6.1 M), including stops at Providence (1.6 M), New Haven (0.8 M), New York (23 M), Philadelphia (7.1 M) and Baltimore (9.6 M) is 20 per day. No chance of Edmonton-Calgary approaching anywhere near that frequency.
    Last edited by kkozoriz; 08-05-2018 at 02:24 PM.

  64. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Triple the population and then we can talk.
    Via Rail currently serves connections like Kingston to Ottawa, Ottawa to QC. So why not Edmonton-Calgary?

    There is a longstanding disparity between how Via Rail services Eastern Canada vs Western Canada.

    Case in point. The Canadian route through to Vancouver often has 25 or more cars in summer. Its a heavily booked route and with international draw. But Via runs 3 trains a week peak season. They could run that every day and get numbers. Comparitively they do the identical schedule on the Ocean, from Montreal to Halifax and with significantly less numbers. I've seen as little as 5 cars on that route. Yet Via provides the same service.

    Via Rail had the opportunity to make the Canadian train a much bigger thing than it is. Many people do not use it as the train frequencies do not match their schedule. Its really hard to match and also because when booking certain times are not available and already all booked. Via is short selling WC, they always have.
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  65. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Triple the population and then we can talk.
    Via Rail currently serves connections like Kingston to Ottawa, Ottawa to QC. So why not Edmonton-Calgary?

    There is a longstanding disparity between how Via Rail services Eastern Canada vs Western Canada.

    Case in point. The Canadian route through to Vancouver often has 25 or more cars in summer. Its a heavily booked route and with international draw. But Via runs 3 trains a week peak season. They could run that every day and get numbers. Comparitively they do the identical schedule on the Ocean, from Montreal to Halifax and with significantly less numbers. I've seen as little as 5 cars on that route. Yet Via provides the same service.

    Via Rail had the opportunity to make the Canadian train a much bigger thing than it is. Many people do not use it as the train frequencies do not match their schedule. Its really hard to match and also because when booking certain times are not available and already all booked. Via is short selling WC, they always have.
    Quote Originally Posted by Medwards View Post
    It's kind of a catch-22.

    In order to attract enough ridership, you need to have frequent service, and in order to have frequent service, you need to have high enough ridership.

    A twice daily between the two cities is probably not frequent enough to gather the critical mass needed, an hourly or semi-hourly would be over kill for the demand.
    ...

    Between not enough demand, and the slow service that would be on the existing rail line due to freight always getting track priority...

  66. #66

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    Ottawa is on the mainline between Quebec City and Hamilton. It's easier to run a spur off of that than in an area where Viia doesn't have as much of a presence. Add to that the fact that the rail lines into Edmonton are slated to be removed in the Strathcona area and that there's no direct connection to the current Via station and it's harder to make it work

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    Quote Originally Posted by kkozoriz View Post
    Ottawa is on the mainline between Quebec City and Hamilton. It's easier to run a spur off of that than in an area where Viia doesn't have as much of a presence. Add to that the fact that the rail lines into Edmonton are slated to be removed in the Strathcona area and that there's no direct connection to the current Via station and it's harder to make it work
    Again, no forward vision n this city. Just knee jerk reaction to a perceived problem. So the rail goes and 10 or more years hence, we'll say,wow too bad we removed them.We could have HSR to CGY if we hadn't. As it is, if rail service were to ever return, the terminus would be at the South end of the city as there are no CP lines that run West into Edmonton.
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    I was just telling my wife today about riding the dayliner, as we drove past the old station by whyte ave. I used it quite a bit. It was great. With greyhound disappearing it would be nice to have it back.

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    Can you imagine the money we have spent on a joke of an LRT if it had been invested in HPR? 2 cities of better than 1 million and we will have no rail or bus between them. I'd love to see this train service return to Alberta.
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    Do you work for cnr?

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    Yes, wouldn't that be nice?

    If subsidized slow VIA Rail came back, we would lose the Red Arrow service.
    Travel times would be about the same.
    Where would the stop in Red Deer be?

    The CPR corridor needs more grade separations and level crossing closures. While one may think it is not at capacity, it is.

    Probably worth putting this link here: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/3940.htm

    VIA Rail is replacing equipment. RFP will be awarded in December. That means there will be some older train sets coming off-line/surplus.

    The Canadian that currently comes east-west three times a week (twice in winter) actually pays for itself. No subsidies.

    I had the opportunity to ride The Ocean this summer from Halifax to Moncton. We had no delays, ran on time, and there were so many passengers the train had to pull out of Halifax and back up to couple additional cars. In Moncton the train was mobbed by close to 200 people looking to get on. This service should never have been cut from daily to 3 times a week and the Renaissance Cars are horrible compared to the old Budd cars.



    Now, what about using commuter rail in the Edmonton-Leduc Corridor, Calgary-Banff Corridor, or Edmonton-Wabamum corridor as a rapid expressed limited stop LRT to help alleviate traffic congestion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbones View Post
    Do you work for cnr?
    No. Just someone who loves train travel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Jackson View Post
    Yes, wouldn't that be nice?

    If subsidized slow VIA Rail came back, we would lose the Red Arrow service.
    Travel times would be about the same.
    Where would the stop in Red Deer be?

    The CPR corridor needs more grade separations and level crossing closures. While one may think it is not at capacity, it is.

    Probably worth putting this link here: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/3940.htm

    VIA Rail is replacing equipment. RFP will be awarded in December. That means there will be some older train sets coming off-line/surplus.

    The Canadian that currently comes east-west three times a week (twice in winter) actually pays for itself. No subsidies.

    I had the opportunity to ride The Ocean this summer from Halifax to Moncton. We had no delays, ran on time, and there were so many passengers the train had to pull out of Halifax and back up to couple additional cars. In Moncton the train was mobbed by close to 200 people looking to get on. This service should never have been cut from daily to 3 times a week and the Renaissance Cars are horrible compared to the old Budd cars.



    Now, what about using commuter rail in the Edmonton-Leduc Corridor, Calgary-Banff Corridor, or Edmonton-Wabamum corridor as a rapid expressed limited stop LRT to help alleviate traffic congestion?

    Why not indeed? 16 in the morning is horrid. The QE2 is no better. If nothing else, a pilot for 6 months to see if it would be feasible.
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    https://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-...-manufacturers
    VIA RAIL ANNOUNCES TRAINSET MANUFACTURERS PARTICIPATING IN THE RFP FOR ITS QUÉBEC CITY-WINDSOR CORRIDOR FLEET

    Monday, June 18th 2018


    MONTREAL, June 18, 2018 – VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) announced today the names of the shortlisted applicants that will participate in the Request for Proposals (RFP) to manufacture the rolling stock to replace the current fleet that operates in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. Today’s announcement is the result of a request for qualification (RFQ) process launched on April 16, 2018 seeking the interest of world-class manufacturers. Qualified companies will have until October 5, 2018 to submit a proposal. The new trainsets will come into service starting in 2022.
    Qualified companies

    • Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc.
    • Siemens Canada Limited
    • Stadler US Inc.
    • Talgo Inc.

    Evaluation of qualification applications
    In accordance with its day-to-day business practices, VIA Rail conducted a rigorous, fair, open, transparent and free of conflicts of interest confidential analysis of all qualification applications. P1 Consulting, a Canadian leader in fairness monitoring, ensured that the RFQ process was executed with the utmost diligence and fairness.
    Three evaluation committees, comprised of internal and external evaluators, conducted the application analysis process:

    1. Technical Committee: Responsible for assessing the technical quality (Applicant Experience; Proposed Solution; and Deliverability) of each application.
    2. Financial Review Committee: Responsible for assessing the financial capability of companies that submitted an application.
    3. Conflict of interest Committee : Responsible for managing conflict of interest situations, if any




    Ethics Commissioner Appointment
    In the pursuit of the most rigorous governance practices for large procurements, VIA Rail also announced today the appointment of Patrick A. Molinari as the Ethics Commissioner for the Corporation’s procurement process for the Corridor Fleet Renewal. The Ethics Commissioner’s role is to review and investigate allegations of misconduct, suspected wrongdoings or unethical behavior, including fraudulent activities or financial irregularities, misuse of public funds, or allegations of violation of the Corporation’s Code of ethics, and to assist with the fair, equitable and expeditious resolution of these matters related to the Corridor’s Fleet Renewal procurement process.
    Patrick A. Molinari is professor emeritus of the University of Montreal where he pursued a career from 1977 to 2010 and held the positions of Vice-Rector, Administration, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Director of the Public Law Research Center. He currently practices Government Affairs and Public law with Lavery, a Montreal based firm, and is the President of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice.
    Quote
    "By inviting four world-class train manufacturers to participle in the RFP to replace our corridor fleet, we have reached an important milestone of our transformation plan to lead Canadians towards a more sustainable future. With a brand-new fleet of modern trains to service the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, we will be able to offer our customers a renewed and improved travel experience that will help us convince them to make the smart choice to travel by train. We are also proud to be able to count on the expertise of Patrick A. Molinari to ensure that VIA Rail maintains the level of trust and accountability that Canadians expect from VIA Rail in such an important public procurement."
    Yves Desjardins-Siciliano
    President and Chief Executive Officer, VIA Rail Canada

    About VIA Rail Canada



    As Canada’s national rail passenger service, VIA Rail (viarail.ca) and all its employees are mandated to provide safe, efficient and economical passenger transportation service, in both official languages of our country. VIA Rail operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking over 400 communities across Canada, and about 180 more communities through intermodal partnerships, and safely transports approximately 4.4 million passengers annually. The Corporation has been awarded five Safety Awards and three Environment Awards by the Railway Association of Canada since 2007. Visit the “About VIA Rail” section at: www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail.

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    https://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/fleet-renewal

    There are 96 LRC cars about to come out of service on the Quebec City - Windsor corridor. It is conceivable some of them would go to replace the HEP and Renaissance Cars.

    Point being, there will be rolling stock available to accomplish the services being desired in Alberta if the freight railways will allow it.

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    IF... that's a big IF... and if they do allow it, they won't prioritize it over freight.

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    Considering the rail lines are swamped with cars carrying oil and grain it may be a tough sell.

  78. #78

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    Especially when there is massive backlogs for cargo services. Via didn't have the ridership nor is it ingrained in us to use that, so I think it would be a waste of time trying to repeat history. With cheap airfare at our disposal, I can't see rail gaining any momentum. Red Arrow could step in for major routes in Alberta. As per the milk runs, nobody uses that, and no company will run an empty bus or train.

    A quick idea off my head is that all the communities that has sparing clienteles in the former milk route combine together to buy a small bus that can transport their community to a half way point of a route where Red Arrow can do a 5 minute stop to load them up. If our city is responsible for transportation for our community, these smaller towns must do their part for their residents. Think of Swoop air funneling people to Calgary for WS.
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    With single track running and long lumbering freights, any passenger service which, as a given, needs fast point to point service is never going to happen.

    I've ridden the glacially-slow Canadian to Vancouver. Between the 22-hour schedule and the clunky, tired rolling stock, which VIA has the sheer gall to trumpet as a 'Silver and Blue' luxury service, I'd rather lose my right nut than step on that joke of a train again.
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    I'm amazed at how much rail sits in the UK. Granted, distances are closer than here. However, we still have 2 large cities and one smaller in a corridor that could support rail service. I have been surprised for years that nothing more than lip service has been noted for such a great potential.
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