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Thread: Why no High-speed rail to connect Toronto and Montreal?

  1. #1

    Why no High-speed rail to connect Toronto and Montreal?

    Is there any economic benefits in building a High-speed rail between Toronto and Montreal? This article is about China but can applies to Canada.
    China's new and aggressively expanding High-Speed Rail (HSR) 'bullet train' system is having an unintended consequence: it's proving an economic boon to outlying cities along the line.

    A new collaborative study by Tsinghua University in Beijing - considered China's MIT - and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has uncovered an unexpected benefit of China's new high-speed rail network: they are creating a new category of suburbia in China.

    According to the study's co-author, Matthew Kahn, a professor at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, so-called 'second-tier' cities that fall into a 'sweet spot' of 60-470 miles away from the connecting mega-city, are seeing an economic payoff from workers who can now commute by bullet train into cities like Beijing and Shenzhen when it was simply too far to drive and too close to justify flying commercially. Such second-tier cities include Qinhuangdao, Cangzhou and Yangquan. The author's note in their study that high-speed rail "gives these distant cities big-city benefits without downsides like high housing costs, overcrowding, or air and water pollution."

    Siqi Zheng, a professor with the department of construction management and the Hang Lung Center for Real Estate at Tsinghua University in Beijing, observed that, "China's bullet trains facilitate market integration and mitigate the cost of megacity growth."

    Kahn points out:

    "Bullet trains simultaneously alleviate some of the congestion costs associated with urban growth in the megacities and trigger the growth of the nearby second-tier cities," Kahn said. "With overpopulation in the developing world, there's a concern that megacities are too attractive and could soon be overrun by rural residents moving to urban areas. The bullet trains could act as a safety valve by encouraging people to move to second-tier cities, improving the quality of life in both areas and creating more sustainable growth."

    The study discovered that Chinese companies are already starting to relocate to less expensive offices out in these second tier cities. The 'dealmakers' of a business would remain in the mega-city, while other employees could be relocated and only need to make the commute into the city on a weekly or monthly basis. That would have big economic pay-off for the company and employees who could enjoy less expensive housing and living cots.

    Part of the purpose of the study was to better understand these unintended consequences in the light of California's plans to build its own HSR system linking San Francisco/Sacramento with the Los Angeles/San Diego mega-regions. In Professor Kahn's view, cities like Palmdale and even Bakersfield would benefit as 'second-tier' cities, along with Modesto, Stockton and Gilroy, the "garlic capital of the world," on the northern end of the line similarly benefiting.

    What the study didn't identify was the cost-effectiveness of California's HSR plan. According to the UCLA press report, the authors believe:

    "…many of the same side effects seen in China are likely to hold true for bullet trains anywhere."

  2. #2
    This website promotes HSR in Canada.

    At least Alberta government is considering it.

    CALGARY — The Alberta government is seeking input on the possibility of high-speed passenger rail service between Edmonton and Calgary.

    Public meetings have been scheduled in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton toward the end of the month.

    A 2009 government study estimated the cost of a link between the two cities at between $3 billion and $20 billion, depending on the technology and type of train.

  3. #3
    One of the old guys
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Eastern Canada
    They'd have to replace all the tracks between Toronto & Montreal. Actually, ideally the service would run between Windsor & Montreal. The current tracks are old and at times hazardeous, and there have been quite a few derailments over the years. Personally, i think it would be great a great idea. But will our governments be willing to spend all that money? I doubt it.

  4. #4
    Lily from Montreal
    There used to be talk about a fast train between New York and Montreal,that would have been great to,but it is forgotten now...
    train between Toronto is acceptable no? I took it once and a while ago it was nice, I prefer train to plane and car...

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by LilyForYou View Post
    There used to be talk about a fast train between New York and Montreal,that would have been great to,but it is forgotten now...
    train between Toronto is acceptable no? I took it once and a while ago it was nice, I prefer train to plane and car...
    If quebec continues to elect separatists governments and continue to enforce ridiculous language laws all they will need is a high speed train running one way, from montreal to toronto because people will begin leaving montreal in droves if they continue to come up with such brilliant ideas as the quebec secular charter.

  6. #6
    I really doubt a high-speed rail link between NYC and Montreal will ever happen...which is too bad, I'd use it every time I come up from NYC to Montreal. The present train service between NYC and Montreal "Adirondack" is terrible - one train daily in each direction - it takes almost 11 hours compared to 8 hours by bus - as Sindey has mentioned, the freight train co. owns the tracks, north of Albany it's a single track sharing the traffic in both directions, so the passenger train gets shunted off onto a siding whenever a freight comes by - and there's always a long wait at the customs stop at the border. A high-speed train could do the 420 miles between NYC & Montreal in less than 3 hours which is almost as fast as the airlines when you consider door-to-door. There would have to be border control before you board the train, then no stops (that's the way it's done in Europe).

  7. #7
    Just surprise to find Canada is the only G8 country without speed rail.

    I am not optimistic speed rails will happen under the current federal government after reading these comments from Paul Langan (

    In Canada the state of passenger rail now is at one it’s lowest points in Canadian history.

    Prime Minister Harper has no vision for passenger rail at all. This has resulted in Canada having a passenger rail system that is about 50 years behind the rest of the modern world.

    Canada had faster passenger trains in the 1970s than they do now. The CN Turn train had speeds over 200km/h in the early 1970s. So Canada already had high speed rail. Four decades later and passenger rail in Canada is in shambles. Could we be doing better?

    You cannot do better if you do not invest in it. The Harper government continues to cut funding to VIA Rail and VIA keeps cutting routes
    Windsor-Montreal Corridor – Over twelve studies have been done and still no action.

    Without the political will, there will never be high speed rail in Canada.

  8. #8
    The ironic thing is that there was a High-Speed train between Montreal and Toronto almost 50 years ago.
    Made the run in just under 4 hours which is much better than the fastest train today.

    Not comparable to todays Japanese Bullet Trains and the fast European trains for sure, but 4 hours downtown to downtown would compete well with total ravel time by air.

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