Passenger trains treated as nuisances; that’s not how the bullet train works

Canada’s Void Train: What do we expect from the high-speed train? 22nd of July

The lack of a high-speed train between Toronto and Montreal is due to several factors.

Let’s start with the fact that the railways are a duopoly of vertically integrated companies that cater to powerful large corporate customers. Unlike pipelines or toll roads, they own both the infrastructure and the trains. To begin with, the ownership and maintenance of the tracks should have been held separately and the rents charged to whoever wanted to use it. VIA’s passenger trains were treated as a nuisance, even when the government also owned CN.

High-speed rail really needs its own right of way or its own tracks; the government should have started buying up obsolete rail land or corridors in the 1960s, before suburban sprawl and branch line closures made it more difficult.

However, to be meaningful, intercity rail needs large numbers of passengers to provide frequent and convenient service and to be economically viable. only two corridors in the country are eligible: London, Ont. to Quebec and from Calgary to Edmonton.

In the long term, governments would have to buy the land needed for the railroad or impose zoning freezes on the land they will have to acquire, so that eventually if rail became competitive for passenger traffic, or even for no more freight traffic, the necessary land would be protected.

Jose P. Rogers