Category Archives: Canada

Ontario’s high-speed rail plan not so far-fetched

Toronto Star via California Rail

What has eluded us, perhaps, is the idea that passenger trains can be run as a business. In the U.K., where railways have been privatized, many train lines are profitable. Indeed, what has Britons outraged is that rail operators, mostly foreign, are making out like bandits. Still, because the state retains ownership of the tracks, government can fine franchisees and/or cancel their contracts if they fail to meet contractual obligations.

So while Ontarians are busy pooh-poohing the idea of high-speed rail, global infrastructure investors, including some from the U.K., are licking their lips in anticipation. Given that there are more than 62,000 drives between Toronto and Kitchener daily, the idea of a 45-minute train ride suddenly seems very attractive. “We have reached a tipping point in terms of congestion,” Collenette says. “So when you provide a rail alternative, people are quite happy to take it.”

Ogdensburg Car Ferry

The Ogdensburg-Prescott carferry is a New York Central “unremarked operation”. The tug and barge used at the end were built as a pair in 1930. There are photos available from 1948 that show mostly coal being moved. However there is a photo in George Hilton’s book “Great Lakes Carferries” which shows a more mixed load. The 1955 traffic figures were: from CP 3030 loads, 2625 empties and to the CP 3150 loads and 503 empties. Apparently this traffic was un-balanced and used more by the CP. From the CP was very likely paper products and perhaps some lumber and a bit of oil product in addition to the empties being returned to the Central “at the nearest junction point”. CP received coal, but also chemicals, produce, and a variety of manufactured goods in box cars. The completion of the bridge over the St. Lawrence pretty much killed it off. A railroad receives no revenue for switching operations of which this could have been considered one, and an expensive one at that, so the PC together with the CP no doubt killed this operation off as fast as they could once an alternative was available to justify its termination.

Now that we know the car ferry carried mostly coal traffic, the next question is: which route into Ogdensburg did the NYC use to get to and from the ferry? Was it the line from DeKalb Jct or the line up from Philadelphia? I know there was a local which served the line from Philadephia, but what about the line from DeKalb Jct? Did the yard switcher in Ogdensburg also go to DeKalb Jct to bring back cars?

This is only a guess, but if the DeKalb – Ogdensburg track was kept in longer, could it have been the primary track used and the one out of Philadelphia was the track that was for local traffic? Especially since after the abandonment along the river, a small spur was maintained. It was a shorter route as well.

At one point freight between Watertown and Ogdensburg was sent via DeKalb Jct. Any freight service at that time for the line to Phila. was handled by a mixed train. In 1956 the pattern had been changed. A freight ran on the former U&BR line between Philadelphia and Ogdensburg. A local ran from Ogdensburg to DeKalb Jct and back. The St. Lawrence Division was partly abandoned on October 28, 1956, when the New York Central Railroad abandoned the original St. Lawrence Division from Ogdensburg to Redwood, leaving a short spur in Ogdensburg attached to the Ogdensburg Branch.

Summary of the Ogdensburg/Dekalb Line:
1862 – opened by Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg RR
1891, Mar. 14 – leased by NYC
1913, Apr. 16 – becomes NYC
1968, Feb. 1 – becomes PNYC
1969, Oct. 1 – becomes PC
1976, Apr. 1 – becomes Conrail, but is operated by Ogdensburg & Norwood Ry
1977, Apr. 1 – operated by St. Lawrence RR
1978 – back to Conrail
1980, March – operated by North Country Ry
1981, March – back to Conrail
1981, Dec. 10 – sold to Ontario Eastern RR
1985 – abandoned
1986(7) – rails removed

High-speed rail in Ontario, finally? Not so fast

This is in response to a blog from May 25
https://penneyvanderbilt.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/premier-wynne-announces-plans-for-high-speed-rail-in-ontario/

From CBC-CA via California Rail News

The proposed plan is a massive and expensive infrastructure program and politicians have preferred in the past to get elected by promising to expand highways in their ridings, rather than rail routes.

Paul Langan, from an advocacy group called High Speed Rail Canada, told CBC News that a lack of political will is a major reason why high-speed rail has never been built in Ontario.

In his report, Collenette also cites “political willingness to support the huge investment over more than one election cycle” as a factor in limiting high-speed rail development

Calls for high-speed rail in one of Canada’s busiest corridors have been made before and went unanswered. Will it be any different this time?

Premier Wynne announces plans for high-speed rail in Ontario

From CBC.ca via Californa Rail News

A high-speed rail corridor in southern Ontario is “exactly what our economy needs,” Premier Kathleen Wynne says.

Wynne officially announced plans for a high-speed rail line from Toronto to Windsor Friday morning, with stops in Kitchener-Waterloo and London, by 2025.

“This is an idea that has been around for a very long time,” Wynne said during the announcement in London. “We decided it was time to take a serious look at an idea that’s been around for decades.”

Wynne said seven million people live along the corridor between Toronto and Windsor and the current transportation options just aren’t good enough.

“This is where our economy thrives, is along that corridor,” she said. “It’s exactly what our economy needs.”

The project would use a combination of existing track and new rail lines dedicated to the high-speed train, officials told CBC News. It would include stops in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Chatham, and connect to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Banff’s upcoming rail transportation hub a ‘game-changer’: mayor

From CBC.CA via California Rail News

Banff mayor hopes project another step toward commuter rail service with Calgary

Banff’s historic rail lands are set to be transformed into a mass transportation hub for the town.

The goal is to have the heritage train station serve as the arrival and departure point for current and future mass transit options, including regional public transit and shuttles from Calgary.

The plan also includes a parking lot with capacity for up to 900 vehicles.

The project is being spearheaded by long-time Banff residents Adam and Jan Waterous, of Liricon Capital.

Banff ponders bringing back passenger train service from Calgary
“The entire town of Banff was built around this train station, not the other way around,” said Jan Waterous.

“So travel originated here and the town was built out from it. So what we’re doing is kind of bringing it back to the future and bringing Banff back to its roots.”

During the heyday of rail travel, up to seven trains arrived daily at the Banff station.

Another goal of the project is to make the town more pedestrian friendly.

‘This is a game-changer for us in Banff’
– Mayor Karen Sorensen
“So in our view there was only one possibility of where a mass transit lot could be located, and that was the train station,” Waterous concluded.

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen said she was “ecstatic” at the announcement.

“This is a game-changer for us in Banff,” Sorensen said.

She said the hope is eventually there will again be passenger rail service between Calgary and Banff in the future.

“To have the three-pronged vision is wonderful. … The redevelopment of the train station itself, recognizing and celebrating the history of Banff, which was founded on the railway — and the opportunity to provide a mass transit hub … is something we have been working for, for many, many years.”

Liricon is working closely with the town and Parks Canada on the redevelopment.

‘Put the Junction Back in the Junction’

Every seat was occupied in the waiting room at the Essex Junction Amtrak station on the first Wednesday in January. Passengers going south to New York City and Washington, D.C., spilled onto the platform next to the tracks. The drab station was the center of activity as the shops and restaurants in the old commercial buildings along Railroad Avenue began to open.

With a blast of its horn, the Vermonter arrived promptly at 9:54 a.m. from St. Albans, and 110 people climbed aboard the train. Such large crowds delight Essex Junction leaders, who want to boost train ridership in the historic railroad town.

The goal is “to put the junction back in the Junction,” said George Tyler, president of the Essex Junction Board of Trustees.

To that end, he and his colleagues are doing everything they can to accelerate the proposed extension of passenger rail to Montréal, which they figure could bring throngs of Canadians to Essex Junction, the train’s sole stop in Chittenden County. It would restore the old Montréaler service that for decades brought tourists and skiers through Vermont, linking Quebéc and Washington, D.C. The trains ran until 1995, when Amtrak discontinued the run because of financial problems. St. Albans became the northern terminus, and the line was renamed the Vermonter.

Citing renewed interest in rail and a national increase in Amtrak ridership, state officials predict the new service to Montréal will start in 2019. “Everything that needs to be done is in Canada,” said Dan Delabruere, rail director at the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “We’re ready on the Vermont side.”

Village leaders are touting other rail projects, too, as part of a broader village revitalization that encourages better pedestrian access, more street life and taller buildings in the core of the commuter burg.

For years, the area around the Junction sprouted strip development, parking lots and outlet stores while commercial spaces in the historic center sat empty. No more. New planning and zoning goals promote downtown-style redevelopment and seek to inject more life into the village.

“This community came into existence because of rail, and one of the best things we can do is take advantage of this fact and redevelop our rail assets,” said Tyler.

Originally named Painesville after Vermont governor and railroad owner Charles Paine, the village in the town of Essex earned a different moniker in the 1850s. It became known as “the Junction” because at least six rail lines chugged through it.

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Mackenzie Hughes Wins RSM Classic At Sea Island, Georgia

The historic highlight reel will record that Mackenzie Hughes won his first PGA Tour title on Monday morning by draining an 18-foot par putt from the fringe, a clutch stroke that brought him the $1.08-million winner’s purse at the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia.

But those who know Hughes will tell you it’s possible the most important moment of his career-changing weekend — one that earned him entry into The Masters and two-year membership on tour, among many other benefits — came in Saturday’s third round. Hughes, who shot an opening-round 61, had navigated the opening 46 holes of the tournament without making a bogey when he arrived at the Seaside course’s 11th hole. There, a wayward drive into a bunker and a questionable moment of decision-making gave him a triple-bogey 7.

Hughes’s lead had suddenly vanished. Given his history for youthful hot-headedness — and given this was just the fifth start of his rookie season on the PGA Tour — an immediate plummet down the leaderboard wouldn’t have come as a surprise.

The manner with which Hughes responded to the setback said a lot about why he became the first Canadian to win on tour since Nick Taylor in 2014. Instead of falling apart, Hughes birdied three of the next five holes to restore his lead and enter Sunday’s final round with a one-shot advantage. Instead of withering into also-ran status, he found himself in a five-man playoff from which he ultimately emerged as the victor.

Mackenzie Hughes stuns playoff competitors with putt from off the green, wins 1st PGA Tour title.

A Canadian has not won the Canadian Open since 1954! I will be watching Mackenzie at Oakville, Ont.’s Glen Abbey Golf Club July 24 – 30, 2017.

Leonard Cohen Dies At 82

Leonard Cohen, the baritone-voiced Canadian singer-songwriter who seamlessly blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like Hallelujah, Suzanne and Bird on a Wire, has died at age 82.

“My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour,” his son Adam told Rolling Stone.

Cohen, also renowned as a poet, novelist and aspiring Zen monk, blended folk music with a darker, sexual edge that won him fans around the world and among fellow musicians like Bob Dylan and R.E.M.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led tributes to the singer. “It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of the legendary Leonard Cohen,” Mr Trudeau said.

Cohen was born in the Westmount section of Montréal.

What is Next For New York Subway? Toronto Already Knows.

You get on the Toronto subway car and it feels different!!

With a clear view of the entire train it does not look crowded! With no doors you get 10% more space!!

By 2020, these cars will start to appear in New York City!

Emma Fitzsimmons
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CP ready to move this year’s larger grain crop

Canadian Pacific is touting its preparation for moving this year’s western Canadian grain crop, which is forecast to beat the five-year average.

The Class I is calling on supply chain partners to ensure grain is adequately moved and distributed. The rail supply chain has returned to normal since the extraordinary crop and winter 2013-14, and CP “has continued to move record amounts of grain,” CP officials said in a press release.

There is excess capacity in the supply chain, including thousands of rail cars in storage ready to move the latest crop. In order for the system to move record volumes of grain, it’s essential that port terminals such as Vancouver operate on a 24/7 basis, said CP officials.

“To ensure success during this crop-year, the broader supply chain must work together to collectively harness our energy so that the entire Canadian economy can reap the maximum benefit,” said CP Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison. “We have been preparing for this crop year for months and we are ready.”

Grain is CP’s largest line of business. Grain movement for the 2015-16 crop year was flat relative to 2014-15, 4.7 percent higher than the railroad’s three-year average and 11.6 percent above its five-year average, according to CP.

The Class I continues to make significant investments in its infrastructure to move grain more efficiently, CP officials said.