Interesting article on VIA Rail's proposal to raise funds to build dedicated tracks in a bid to circumvent delays caused by freight trains. Metrolinx has now purchased a great deal of the trackage that GO transit uses, and the move has seen punctuality and frequency improvements. VIA's numbers are certainly enticing, shaving over an hour off the current Toronto-Ottawa and Toronto-Montreal travel times. However, I don't see any indication of where these new tracks would be built. Would they serve existing stations? Is there room to add more tracks to the existing right-of-way?
One point which surprised me was the assertion that VIA's on-time performance is actually slipping. Were these numbers calculated based only on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal triangle, or the entire VIA network (in which case, the lengthy cancellation of the Canadian certainly contributed to the issue). VIA and CN have worked together in recent years to add a third track to long stretches of the CN Kingston Sub in a bid to allow trains to pass each other. There has been a great deal of timetable modification in recent year, which I thought had actually improved things (although, I must admit, some journeys have been scheduled to take more time). Trackside, I have been seeing a growing number of on-time VIA trains since 2007, but maybe I am only watching trains on good days!
VIA's proposed new tracks are being touted as a cheaper alternative to high-speed rail. It strikes me as a more realistic and cost-effective alternative, at least for now. Show people that trains present a viable alternative to roads, and interest in high-speed rail may eventually follow.
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