Public Values

Government study on high speed rail faulty

Report with limited vision suggests taking steps backwards.

Transport Action feels the study should be disregarded in favour of taking action now.October 15, 2011: Over two-years in the making behind closed doors, sat on by Ottawa, Quebec and Ontario governments, the much-anticipated Quebec City-Windsor high speed rail study has turned up today as a leaked document, and as a huge embarrassment.

"This $3.4 million study makes high speed rail look bad," says Transport Action Canada spokesperson, Tony Turrittin. "It's full of faulty assumptions. Here's a real groaner. Because of costs, Windsor doesn't get high speed rail. But the study excluded the potential for cross-border traffic from the U.S. That's unreal."

The most serious defect of the leaked study is its neglect of incremental development of a fast train network for Central Canada. Instead of looking at upgrading and expanding what VIA Rail already has, the study exclusively focuses on the most expensive system of ultra-high speed trains that require an all-new right-of-way.

  "Abandoning the train network as a sacrifice for a single high speed line with no local stops is the opposite of what is being done around the world where high speed rail is being embraced."

In this plan, only a couple of high speed routes would be built with no intermediate stops between main cities. The study then advocates cutting all VIA Rail services to smaller cities in Central Canada which would only be left with buses. "To make matters worse," says Turrittin, "the plan advocates discriminatory high fares between Montreal and Toronto."

"The plan is a step backward," says Turrittin. "We're being left with highway dependence, reliance on ever scarcer fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gases. Around the world, countries are expanding their networks of passenger trains of all kinds, adding fast trains to commuter, regional and inter-city electric train services."

"This study with its faulty assumptions should be disregarded in favour of taking action now," Turrittin stated. "We could begin with following recent government investment in VIA Rail with further strategic grants, but this time adding in open public consultations on how to expand rail for the 21st century." He added, "Abandoning the train network as a sacrifice for a single high speed line with no local stops is the opposite of what is being done around the world where high speed rail is being embraced."

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  High speed rail study is wrong

Posted: October 21, 2011

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