Toronto-Havelock, Ontario train service moves forward

Passenger rail plans on track: MP

Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro says plans to run a new passenger train from Havelock to Toronto are still on track.

Del Mastro told Peterborough County council Wednesday that an important engineering study is done and will be delivered soon to both the federal and provincial governments.

He also said a new study predicts about 2,500 riders daily on the Shining Water Railway lines.

That’s about three times the number of riders projected in an earlier study, completed by the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx.

“That would make it Via Rail’s highest density line,” Del Mastro said.

The train won’t cost taxpayers any money, he also said….

A few years ago, Del Mastro had announced the train would start running July 1, 2014.

But the plans didn’t come together on time, and on Wednesday he said it’ll be “a couple of years” before the first train pulls out of Havelock.

VIA Rail Canada announces new cars, amenity upgrades

VIA Rail unveils new rail cars, service amenities for ‘Canadian’ train

Last week, VIA Rail Canada Inc. displayed new rail cars and train equipment for its “Canadian” train…The railroad also unveiled its new “Prestige Class” of travel amenities…

The cars displayed include the Canadian’s new Prestige Class sleeper; new and renovated cars, including Dining, Manor, Château, Park, Skyline and Economy; and the recently inaugurated Business Class cars used on the popular Corridor route between Québec City and Windsor.

Prestige Class features include personalized dedicated service by a concierge; a more spacious cabin; larger windows; private washroom with shower; flat-screen TV with video selection; and a minibar.

High-speed service proposed Calgary-Banff

Nonprofit organization proposes Calgary-Banff high-speed line

HSBanff, a private nonprofit corporation, recently announced plans to build and operate a high-speed rail line from Calgary, Alberta to Banff National Park. Trains would operate at speeds up to 250 mph.

The system would enable passengers arriving at Calgary International Airport to transfer to the train and seamlessly complete their trip. The organization plans to provide a single air-rail ticket aimed at international travelers visiting Banff.

HSBanff expects to use “crowdfunding,” or financing from project backers, to obtain the initial funds required to complete feasibility and environmental studies before the design and construction phases begin.

Here’s HSBanff’s website.

All Dutch trains to be wind-powered

All traction power for the Dutch railway network will come from wind turbines under a new energy contract signed on May 15 between power company Eneco and Vivens, an energy procurement joint venture which includes Netherlands Railways (NS), Veolia, Arriva, Connexxion and railfreight operators.

Under the contract, which runs from 2015 to 2025, wind will provide 100% of traction power on the ProRail 1.5kV dc electrified network from 2018 onwards, compared with around 50% today. The contract forbids the sourcing of electricity from the existing energy market, meaning only new-build wind farms can be used to meet the 100% target. It is estimated that after 2018 about half of the electricity demand will need to be covered to be covered by foreign, wind farms.

The total consumption of electricity on the Dutch rail network is about 1.4 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, and NS reportedly consumes 1.2TWh of this.

International Railway Journal

Maglev construction to begin this year in Japan

JAPAN: Construction of JR Central’s Chuo Shinkansen between Tokyo Shinagawa and Nagoya using superconducting maglev technology is expected to start towards the end of this year, possibly in October or November….

Work is expected to start at several sites, with construction teams likely to commence with the major tunnels because of the long lead times; a high proportion of the alignment will run in tunnel….

The 286 km line is due to be open in 2027, but there is pressure to complete another 5 km segment linking the priority section to the site of the planned station at Kofu in time for the 2020 Olympics. This would allow JR Central to demonstrate its superconducting maglev technology to large numbers of visitors.

Railway Gazette

African countries sign deal for new rail links

To Americans who say that we can’t afford new infrastructure, this news from some of Africa’s poorest countries.

China Railway to Link Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan

East African leaders have agreed a deal with China to construct a $3.8bn railway connecting Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan to replace a century-old British colonial rail track.

The first stage of the project will connect the Kenyan cities of Mombasa and Nairobi. It will be 90% funded by the Exim Bank of China. The rest of the money will come from the Kenyan government.

Construction of the first section is expected to take three and a half years before it is extended to Kampala (Uganda), Kigali (Rwanda), Bujumbura (Burundi) and Juba (South Sudan).

Passenger trains will be able to travel at a top speed of 120km/h (75mph) – significantly boosting transport efficiency and local economies.

Canada to fund repairs to New Brunswick Via Rail link

The federal government is preparing to finance repairs to a 70-kilometre stretch of New Brunswick railway between Miramichi and Bathurst that is used by Via Rail, Radio-Canada has learned.

The section is owned by Canadian National Railway, which is discontinuing service in the area and put it up for sale.

Via Rail uses the stretch as part of its passenger service between Halifax and Montreal. Via has said it will not buy or maintain the section, and has warned it would end service in the Maritimes if the link was abandoned.

CBC News 

Cascades Without Amtrak?

Analysis from the Seattle Transit Blog:

Last month WSDOT quietly released a Request for Information,

“to gather information from providers of rail services about service delivery options to provide more convenient, rapid, and reliable intercity passenger rail service between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon.”

Noting that these submittals “are not responds to deliver the service”, WSDOT is nonetheless seeking input from the private sector (and presumably other governmental rail operators) about how to make Cascades more efficient and reduce its operating costs. If the responses sufficiently pique their interest, WSDOT may issue a full competitive Request for Proposal (RFP).

A little background: the Bush-era Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008 (PRIIA) forced Amtrak to cease funding operations of its most successful routes (state-supported corridors of less than 750 miles). It was a masterfully cynical bill, for though Republicans generally love to hate Amtrak, they also love once-daily legacy service in their districts, which just so happens to be colossally expensive to operate. So they wrote a bill that trimmed the muscle and left the fat, as it were.

Amtrak had been funding 20% of Cascades service, but from October 2013 onward Washington and Oregon have had to bear 100% of operating costs. Though Cascades farebox recovery is relatively good at roughly 66%, farebox recovery is a rate, not an outlay. As Cascades is mandated to add at least 2 more trips between Seattle and Portland by 2017 as a condition of receiving $800m in stimulus (ARRA) funds, it is important to remember that farebox recovery could continue to improve while total costs rise. With a stalemated legislature that loves to play politics with rail, it’s the total costs that matter. Ergo, Cascades has no choice but to seek ways to cut costs.

Chinese experts ‘in discussions’ over building high-speed Beijing-US railway

‘China-Russia-Canada-America line’ would run for 13,000km across Siberia and pass under Bering Strait through 200km tunnel

China is considering plans to build a high-speed railway line to the US, the country’s official media reported on Thursday.

The proposed line would begin in north-east China and run up through Siberia, pass through a tunnel underneath the Pacific Ocean then cut through Alaska and Canada to reach the continental US, according to a report in the state-run Beijing Times newspaper.

Crossing the Bering Strait in between Russia and Alaska would require about 200km (125 miles) of undersea tunnel, the paper said, citing Wang Mengshu, a railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Via The Guardian