InterCityRail

Improving rail transportation is a good idea. Let’s look at all the options.

Introduction

In May 2014, Glen Murray, the then Ontario Minister of Transportation, announced plans for High Speed Rail (HSR) between Toronto and London. HSR would have 56 trains a day and cost $10 billion. CBC May 2014 – HSR $10 billion. In December 2017, Stephen Del Duca, the subsequent Minister of Transportation, announced the start of the preliminary stage of the environmental assessment. CBC Dec 2017 – preliminary stage of EA. Public opposition started when a map showing the route going in a straight from Kitchener to London was published. The unwillingness of Kathryn McGarry, the successor Minister of Transportation to Stephen Del Duca, to provide any information, led to the formation of InterCityRail. In January 2018, InterCityRail discovered the Environmental Assessment (EA) was restricted to 250 kph trains travelling within, or adjacent to, the Hydro One corridor from Baden to the south of London.

In May 2018, then Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the start of the Environmental Assessment. CBC: Wynne announcement. None of the announcements by the previous Government have mentioned that the Environmental Assessment is restricted and will not consider any other modes (VIA Rail, GO Transit or Regional Express) or other routes (existing transportation corridors). We have been unable to find out who made the decision to restrict the Environmental Assessment. We do know that it was made at the Minister’s level, without any supporting documentation or public consultation.

The first impression was that HSR between Kitchener and London was poorly conceived and there was no evidence to support the projected travel times, ridership numbers, or costs. Kathryn McGarry, the Minister of Transportation, ignored all our numerous attempts to meet for clarification. This suggested that fundamental justification for the project was absent. In April 2018, InterCityRail filed a Freedom of Information Request.

Freedom of Information Request (FIR)

We have reviewed the responses from the FIR and we have been unable to find any evidence to persuade us that HSR between London and Toronto would be a good public investment. The project is poorly documented and there is little or no data to support projected travel times, ridership demand or costs.

Note: A detailed discussion of these items, and others, with references, can be found in our Briefing Book.

Note: In the response to the FIR, “non responsive” means that no data, emails or documentation were found or the information in a report does not pertain to the question. Redacted means that there is information (i.e. names, phone numbers, etc.) that is protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and cannot be revealed. Both of these are normal and we have been assured by the Privacy Officer that nothing of any importance has been redacted.

Item 1: Please provide minutes of meetings, emails, and documents that pertain to selecting a 200 kph speed between Toronto and Kitchener but selecting a 250 kph speed between Kitchener and London.

Why does it matter?

Trains capable of 250 kph are significantly more expensive than those capable of only 200 kph (about $50 million each versus $35 million each – see Item 6). They are heavier, require more precise track geometry, require longer curve radius, and must be electrified. Electrification does not allow the use of existing track and the trains will not be able to operate until the whole system has been completed. Diesel, or hybrid power locomotives are unsuited for 250 kph operation. The distance between Toronto and London is 183.5 km. Of this, 66.2 km will be dedicated to 250 kph trains. Why use 250 kph trains on only 35% of the total distance when the whole system must be configured for 250 kph trains? Our calculation show that using 200 kph trains throughout the system will add less than 4 minutes to the total time between Toronto and Kitchener. (76.3 minutes instead of 73 minutes). From the outset there was a concern that the 73 minute estimate was not fact-based and indeed was physically impossible. (See item 5).

The Government’s Response

R1_Redacted – This report is about selecting 200 kph trains verses 300 kph trains. It also looks at using 240 kph trains but it has nothing to do with the question we asked. It is interesting to note that the report recommends direct access to Pearson Airport to generate ridership (the current HSR does not call for a stop at Pearson) and that HSR will be able to cover its operating cost if fares are 20% more than VIA Rail. (The Union Pearson Express was also supposed to cover its operating costs but has required a subsidy of $53 per ride since it started operation.) The report predicts a travel time of 78 minutes between Union Station and London if 240 kph trains are used. Why the government thinks slowing the trains down to 200 kph over 65% of the distance can reduce the travel time to 73 minutes has not been explained.

R2_Redacted – This report is about the track alignment and stations. It has nothing to do with our request but it does confirm the route from Kitchener to London as being along the Hydro Line.

    
The route in the document (on the left) is very similar to the map we generated from the RFQ for the Study of the EA.

R3 March-22-2018 11.30am – This is a series of emails that does pertain to the question of 200 kph versus 250 kph trains. The emails were written in March of 2018, after the start of the Environmental Assessment. The emails show a series of graphs and tables but there is no data and/or methodologies. Furthermore, the track curvatures and maximum speeds obtained are unknown. There are no graphs or tables for the mix of 200 kph between Toronto and Kitchener and 250 kph between Kitchener and London. However, the emails are about an average speed of 200 kph. The average speed for the proposed HSR is 150 kph so the document is irrelevant. Note that MTO is concerned about “minimizing impacts of existing infrastructure (hydro corridor)”. There are no concerns about impacting rural communities and farmland. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

Also note the table on page 4. This was used for the projection of 73 minutes between Toronto and London, however, the table on page 5 does not support the 73 minutes. The closest that table gets is 74 minutes but that requires running at a top speed of 250 kph throughout the complete system.
However, all the discussions and calculations assume the dedicated HSR corridor is 88 km long (i.e. Kitchener VIA station to London VIA station). In fact, the proposed HSR corridor is 66.72 km long. The remaining track is either in the station buffer zones, city centres or residential areas, and uses existing shared track with restricted speed limits.

R4 March-28-2018 4.28pm_Redacted – This email corrects an error in a draft document (not included) and trains will now run at 200 kph west of Brampton instead of 250 kph. This email does pertain to the question we asked but there is no reason, discussion or supporting document provided for the change in speed. Why was the draft document not included in the FIR?

R5 April-02-2018 6.00pm – This series of emails is about the average speed between Kitchener and London. These emails suggest that in March 2018, MTO had still not done any studies on the configuration of 200 kph and 250 kph speeds. We do not know how it is possible to calculate a travel time of 73 minutes without studying the speeds of each segment.  It has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R6 August-23-2016 1.00pm_Redacted – This email is regarding a meeting on August 23, 2016 to brief the Special Advisor on the Business Case. It is assumed that VIA Rail will continue on the corridor at current frequency and speed. See Item 10 for a discussion on the viability of VIA Rail. This email also notes that the cost for rail rationalization is not included in the capital cost estimate. Rail rationalization refers to separating freight from passenger service and this will be a major cost. The report uses 88.3 km for the distance of the Hydro corridor. It is incorrect, the distance is 66.72 km.

Furthermore, the report says travel times between Toronto and London will be 83 minutes at 200 kph.

Interestingly, the Toronto – Kitchener demand forecast is 73% of the total ridership. This leaves 27% for the Kitchener to London segment. The report also says that business travel will be 12% of ridership, commuters 36% and leisure travel 51%. No data is provided to support these numbers. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R7 September-29-2016 4.09pm – This series of emails is about edits to the Steer Davis and Gleave Preliminary Business case. The report was edited to replace references to 240 kph trains with 250 kph trains for the Toronto to Kitchener segment. This response has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R8 October-20-2016 3.44pm – This report refers to 250 kph trains between Toronto and London. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R9 October-21-2016 9.54am – This report also refers to 250 kph trains between Toronto and London. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R10 October-28-2016 4.26pm – This email is about 200 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener and 250 kph between Kitchener and London but there is no data, no attachment, nothing other than some vague reference to tunnels through Brampton and access to Pearson. This response has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R11 November-01-2016 3.50pm – This email is about 200 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener and 250 kph between Kitchener and London but there is no data, no attachment, nothing other than a statement that there is no cost savings by using 200 kph trains instead of 250 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener. This response has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R12 November-01-2016 8.30pm – This email is also about 200 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener but there is no data, no attachment, nothing other than a statement that there is no cost savings by using 200 kph trains instead of 250 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener. This response has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R13 November-03-2016 3.29pm_Redacted – This email is also about 200 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener but there is no data and no attachment. This response has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R14 November-03-2016 9.21pm – This email is also about 200 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener but there is no data and no attachment. It has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R15 November-04-2016 12.08pm – This email is also about 200 kph trains between Toronto and Kitchener but there is no data, no attachment. This response has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R16 November-08-2016 7.58am – This email is a request to Hitachi to upgrade the speed specification for the AT300 from 160 kph to 200 kph to be consistent with the London to Windsor specified speed. This response has nothing to do with the question we asked.

Of the 16 items provided by the government, only one pertains to the question of why 200 kph was selected between Toronto and Kitchener and why 250 kph was selected between Kitchener and London, but no data was provided and the draft report is missing. No justification was provided for selecting 250 kph trains between Kitchener and London.

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Item 2: Please provide minutes of meetings, emails, and documents that discusses the impact on rural communities and farmland between Kitchener and London.

Why does it matter?

Over 1000 acres of farmland will be destroyed by HSR. If this was planted into wheat, it would produce enough flour to make 4.3 million loaves of bread a year. The inconvenient truth is that new farmland cannot be created so each loss of acreage is permanent.
Many roads will be closed preventing farmers from accessing their land, their suppliers and their customers. Communities will find it more difficult and expensive to access public services such as schools, health care, law enforcement and emergency responders. Rural communities will see no benefit from high-speed rail but they will bear a significant part of the direct and indirect costs.

The Government’s Response

R1 – The High Speed Engagement Meetings – Interim Report – Argyle Public Relationships, April 29th 2016 public consultation plan failed to include any representatives from the agricultural sector. Some delegates did express concern over loss of valuable farmland but there was no industry association representative (potentially the Ontario Federation of Agriculture) present at any of the outreach meetings to offer critical and informed perspectives of the HSR project. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R2 – The High Speed Engagement Meetings – Final Report – Argyle Public Relationships Final Report on the results of the public consultations very much reflected the exclusion of the agricultural community along the proposed HSR route and was therefore incomplete data on which to proceed with further planning. The true financial and social costs imposed by the HSR project on the agricultural community and its consumers had been excluded. Considering the contribution agriculture makes to the Ontario economy and food security of Canadians this was a major oversight in the consultation exercise. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R3 – It is clear from this November 8 2017 memo that municipalities with significant agricultural interests had received expressions of concern that farmers and their suppliers had not been adequately consulted. It also suggests that MTO had little awareness of the agricultural environment in southwestern Ontario. This was subsequently confirmed during an MTO Environmental Assessment team field trip to the farming and farm supply community in Oxford County. Note: The Special Advisor’s Report was released one year before this memo and the preparation of the Bidder’s Package for HSR had been completed.  It is only now that MTO realizes that they should talk to rural stakeholders. 

R4 – This is a copy of an email from Ken Westcar (formerly with Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA), and now with InterCityRail) to the MTO HSR team on February 10 2016. Only an acknowledgement was received and there was no other response from MTO.

R5_Redacted – A copy of comments received by MTO in February 2016. These comment sheets are informative and highlight many of the shortcomings in the current HSR plan. However, they are also from a purely urban perspective and do not reflect that the stated goals could be achieved by conventional rail at much lower cost. Improved conventional rail would be less intrusive and devastating to the agricultural community. By limiting the scope of these comment sheets to option only in an urban environment they provide a biased means of support for HSR. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R6_Redacted – More copies of comments received by MTO. This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

R7 – More copies of comments received by MTO. These comment sheets contain one expression of concern on agricultural land take for HSR. There is also a comment asking for consultation with small communities.  This report has nothing to do with the question we asked.

No concerns of the impact of HSR on rural communities or farmland were ever considered by the Special Advisor, the consultants or MTO.

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Item 3: Please provide minutes of meetings, emails and documents that justifies excluding the rural communities from the consultation process. Please provide a list of all rural politicians that were invited to any of the information meetings.

Why does it matter?

The Special Advisor’s Report on High Speed Rail was published in December 2016. There is no reference at all to rural communities and the impact on farmland. We wanted to know why there was no consultation since rural communities will be negatively affected by HSR.

The Government’s Response

R1 – This is a list of attendees invited to Rural Engagement Meetings. The meeting were scheduled for late 2017 and early 2018, after the Special Advisor’s report was released and the bidder’s package for the study of the EA was completed, and long after the Minister restricted the EA. This report does not answer our question.

R2_Redacted – This is a list of names without any explanation or dates and is meaningless. This report does not answer our question.

R3 – This is a copy of 23 form letters (all the same) that were sent to various politicians in December 2015. There is no record of any response from those on the list. This report does not answer our question.

R4 – This is a copy of 12 form letters (all the same as R3) that were sent to various First Nations in December 2015. This report does not answer our question.

R5 – Another 51 form letters (all the same as R3) that were sent to various politicians in December 2015. There is no record of any response from those on the list. This report does not answer our question.

R6 – Another 50+ form letters (all the same as R3) that were sent to various politicians in December 2015. There is no record of any response from those on the list. This report does not answer our question.

R7 – Another 6 form letters (all the same as R3) that were sent to various Boards of Trade and Chamber of Commerce in December 2015. This report does not answer our question.

R8_Redacted – A list of acceptance emails. This report does not answer our question.

Some names of local politicians are provided for the information sessions but no names are provided for the consultation process. It appears that no local politicians or residents were ever consulted before the Special Advisor’s report was released.

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Item 4: Please provide the data and methodologies to support ridership between Kitchener and London.

Why does it matter?

To avoid a very high per ticket subsidy, the Kitchener to London section of the HSR project must generate high passenger load factors. It is important that ticket revenues and other economic benefits exceed the direct and indirect costs of this project. Ridership projections must consider the fares that passengers are willing to pay. The Union Pearson Express (UPX) is a very good example of what happens when there is a failure to consider what passengers consider a reasonable price. UPX was originally forecast to have 6,500 riders per day at a fare of $25.70. At this fare, UPX actually had an average of about 2,000 riders per day and UPX was forced to drop the fare to $12.00. This resulted in an increase in ridership to about 10,000 per day.

The average provincial subsidy since the start of UPX is $52.26 per trip. At the current fare of $12.00, the subsidy is $11.00 per trip. Based on a fare of $12.00 per trip, UPX will never pay for itself.

Many factors affect the potential ridership for rail including cost (fare and parking), frequency of service, and the ability to connect with other modes of travel (i.e. subway, LRT, BRT, etc.). For Toronto in particular, the distance from Union Station to the destination is critical. For example, to get to Sunnybrook Hospital from London by car will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes (current projection by Google including congestion on the 401). By train, it will take at least 3 hours (110 minutes for the train, 16 minutes for the subway and 22 minutes for the bus, plus wait time, plus the time to drive to the station and park).

The Government’s Response

Item 4 Records – The Steer Davies Gleave Ridership Forecasting Report contains, dated March 2016 is out of date as the government released a Request For Bid for “a detailed and comprehensive HSR forecasting framework study for the corridor”.

The updated report was never provided to us. What are the results of the new study and why was it withheld?

The obsolete report that was provided is meaningless. Current demand is based on VIA Rail service as it is today. It should compare ridership on VIA Rail that is separated from freight, stops at the same number of stations as HSR, has improved rolling stock, and has the same schedule frequency (i.e. HSR will have about 56 trains, each way, per day verses 2 per day for VIA Rail).

The report says that in 2012 there were 50,000 trips per day on the 401 between London and Kitchener and 100,000 per day between Kitchener and Toronto. However, the 2016 Traffic Volume report from the Ministry of Transportation shows the Annual Average Daily Traffic at London as 35,700 vehicles (including trucks). It is unknown how many actually go to Kitchener or Toronto. Many of these vehicles will go to other destinations (Sarnia, Windsor, Hamilton, Montreal, etc.) as well as destinations in Kitchener and Toronto that are not accessible from HSR. Instead of the 50,000 trips per day between London and Toronto in 2012, there were substantially less than 35,700 in 2016. This makes the long-term projections of ridership between London and Kitchener (and Toronto) very suspect.

The projected HSR fares are stated to be 20% higher than the existing VIA Rail fares. The report estimates that the HSR fare between Toronto and London is $53.00 (one way). The cheapest current VIA Rail fare (not including taxes) is $36.00 but there are a limited number of seats available and they are usually sold out. The current price for an economy ticket is $75.00, this would mean that an HSR ticket from London to Toronto will be $90.00 each way ($103 with taxes).

The report fails to take into account the impact of ticket prices on ridership. It looks very much like the Union Pearson Express ridership estimates all over again.

From the information provided it is impossible to determine the volume of automobile traffic between the discrete points of Toronto, Kitchener and London.  Consequently, using this data as a basis for HSR ridership makes the ridership forecast invalid.

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Item 5: Please provide the data and methodologies used to calculate travel times between stations. In particular, please include the parameters for acceleration, deceleration, frontal area, rolling resistance, g force, and the weight of the train set that was used in the calculations.

Why does it matter?

The government has consistently said that the on-train travel time between Kitchener and London will be 73 minutes. Our calculations, using European parameters for train performance, show that an on-train travel time of 73 minutes can only be obtained by travelling at speeds in excesses of 175 kph through residential areas and city centres. Slowing down to 80 kph in the cities results in the travel time of about 105 minutes. Independent calculations by others predict the travel time to be about 110 minutes. Both these numbers are reasonably consistent and show that the government is understating the on-train travel times by at least 30%.

The existing VIA Rail service takes about 130 to 160 minutes to travel between Toronto and London, and, if it were true, the 73 minutes is a significant improvement. However, the government has failed to compare equals. HSR will have new track separated from freight, new locomotives capable of 250 kph, with a limited number of stations, and have the advantage of the Brampton freight bypass and improved track east of Guelph. If the same infrastructure improvements were made to the existing rail line, what would the travel time be using VIA Rail, GO Trains and Regional Express? 

So how did the government calculate 73 minutes?

The Government’s Response

item_5_R The short answer to the question of how the government calculated 73 minutes is they didn’t – it’s just a guess. Some of the information in this report is incorrect. For example, it assumes HSR with overhead electrification can share the same track as freight – it can’t since freight requires high clearance for double stacked containers. The report also confuses the Alstom/Bombardier Acelea with the Alstom Acela – the Alstom/Bombardier Acelea never went into service as it couldn’t meet the performance specification and the trains were rebuilt by Alstom in order to be accepted by Amtrak. No acceleration or deceleration numbers are provided for the Alstom Acela, the only train certified for 250 kph operation in North America. However, the government assumes the acceleration of the trains to be 0.44 m/s2 and a deceleration of 0.90 m/s2. 0.90 m/s2 is acceptable for coaches with hand-holds (i.e. subway cars) but it is not acceptable for trains where passengers can be expected to walk around. The accepted European deceleration rate is 0.50 m/s2 for passenger trains.

Travel times are estimated to be 72 kph using 300 kph trains and 84 minutes using 200 kph trains. No estimate is made for the mix of 200 and 250 kph trains proposed for HSR.

No data or methodologies were provided to support the 73 minute travel time.

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Item 6: Please provide minutes of meetings, emails and documents that discuss the number and cost of train sets.

Why does it matter?

A high speed train set (2 power units and 3 coaches) such as the Alstom Acela, which is capable of 250 kph is about $50 million. A diesel train set capable of 200 kph is about $35 million. The cost to provide 3 trains per hour at peak and 2 trains per hour off-peak is not trivial. The government claims to have costed the trains into the $10 billion required to complete the Toronto to London segment of HSR. Our calculations show that about 8 trains sets and a few for spares and training are required to maintain the schedule of 56 trains per day. At $50 million each, the cost of trains will be about $500 million.

The Government’s Response

R2 – This email includes Appendix E, Scenario Rolling Stock, Operating Plan and Operating Costs. $70 million is allocated for 18 to 20 train sets ($3.5 million per train set). How the number of trains was calculated was not mentioned. 

This contains the Alstom Bombardier error as mentioned before. The Alstom Bombardier train could not reach the specified speed of 250 km per hour and Alstom dissolved the partnership and rebuilt the trains using TGV parts. Amtrak currently use the Acela but it is being withdrawn from service in 2020 and will be replaced with the Alstom Avelia Liberty, a 300 kph tilting train set. The Special Advisor for HSR rejected 300 kph trains as not being economically feasible for southwestern Ontario.

R1 P16 – Runtimes Option A – Speed graphs for 300 kph trains. This graph does not address the question about the number and costs of the trains sets.

R1 P17 – Runtimes Option B – Speed graphs for 200 kph trains. This graph does not address the question about the number and costs of the trains sets.

Train sets will cost $500 million not the $70 million budgeted for by the government

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Item 7: Please provide the modelling data, emails, documents, minutes of meetings used to determine the number of train sets required, the mix of business and economy class seating, and the seating capacity of the train sets used to support the frequency of 3 trains per hour plus 2 trains per hour at off-peak.

Why does it matter?

To meet the schedule of 3 trains per hour at peak and 2 trains per hour off-peak, we assumed that some sort of master schedule, based on travel times, would have been produced and that schedule could be used to determine the number of train sets required. Furthermore, the schedule, along with the seating capacity, could be used to calculate the number of passengers per day that could be carried by the system.

Our calculations show that the system will be capable of carrying 50,000 passengers per day between London and Toronto.  This is far greater than the number of passengers the government estimated.

The Government’s Response

Item 7 Record – This is the previously published “Preliminary Business Case for High Speed Rail on the Toronto to Windsor Corridor” by Steer Davis Gleave, November 2016. The Business Case was to determine if there was a cost justification for 300 kph trains verses 250 kph trains. The report has nothing to do with the question. 

The government has no data for the number of trains required to support the schedule or to determine the carrying capacity of the system.

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Item 8: Please provide minutes of meetings, emails and documents that pertain to the decision to limit the Environmental Assessment to only consider High Speed Rail within or adjacent to the Hydro One corridor between Kitchener and London.

Why does it matter?

Southwestern Ontario needs improved rail service that satisfies the requirements of both urban and rural residents. This can only be accomplished by a complete study, not by a severe restricted EA. The legality of restricting an Individual Environmental Assessment is questionable and we want to know why the government has restricted the EA.

Improved rail must be based on evidence and that can only be accomplished by accurately defining the public demand for services. The discussion must be opened up to everyone, not just to special interest groups.

The Government’s Response

The response to our request leads us to conclude that the government has no interest in building an improved transportation system in southwestern Ontario.

R1 This email is about the Hydro One corridor.  This has nothing to do with our request. 

R2 This email is about the Hydro One corridor.  This has nothing to do with our request.

R3 This email is about easements and power requirements along the Hydro One corridor.  This has nothing to do with our request.

R4 This email is about the Hydro One corridor. Note that MTO is confused when they say the Right of Way is 26 meters. This is the width of the clearance required for trains. It does not include the space required for electrical equipment, switch gear, intrusion fencing and snow fencing. The actual right of way will be about 50 meters, plus the distance required for snow fencing. This has nothing to do with our request.

R5 This email is about the Hydro One corridor.  This has nothing to do with our request.

Nothing provided by the government pertains to why the Environmental Assessment has been restricted.

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Item 9: Please provide minutes of meetings, emails and documents that pertain to the decision to limit the Environmental Assessment by not considering High Performance Rail on other routes between Kitchener and London.

Why does it matter?

The concept of High Performance Rail is based on creating supply to meet demand by expanding existing rail lines and intermodal connections (bus, LRT, etc.). For Ontario, High Performance Rail means enhancing VIA Rail, GO Trains and/or Regional Express Rail, using existing rail lines. This is the basis for Oxford County’s proposal for SouhtwestLynx, Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance’s proposal for Network Southwest, and VIA Rail’s proposal for High Frequency Rail. These systems deserve serious discussion as the cost is modest, the implementation is reasonably quick and existing rail infrastructure is utilized.

The Government’s Response

No records exist for this item.

The government failed to consider anything other than 250 kph trains along the Hydro One corridor.

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Item 10: Please provide the data to support the continued viability of VIA provided services in southwestern Ontario during and after completion of the proposed HSR project.

Why does it matter?

Once HSR is in operation between London and Toronto, it will become uneconomical for VIA Rail to operate trains between Sarnia and London, and between Windsor and London since the main volume of traffic between London and Toronto will be eliminated. Once VIA Rail stops running, many communities will be without rail service.  (Chatham, Georgetown, Glencoe, Ingersoll, St. Marys, Sarnia, Stratford, Strathroy, Woodstock and Wyoming).

The Government’s Response

No records exist for this item.

The government failed to consider smaller communities and the impact of losing rail service.

 

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Item 11: Please provide the data and research pertaining to modal integration at the London VIA station with regard to local transit under the proposed “Shift” plan and Greyhound bus operations.

Why does it matter?

One of the keys to promote train travel is the concept of “first” and “last” mile. This refers to how passengers get from their homes to the train and from the train station to their place of business (and vice versa). This is typically provided by local transit (bus, LRT, BRT). We know that there are no plans to connect the Kitchener VIA station to Kitchener’s LRT but we wanted to know if any plans had been made to connect to London’s Shift project (since abandoned and replaced by Bus Rapid Transit – BRT). Easy access to London’s VIA station is key to the ‘shifting’ London residents away from their cars to HSR.

The Government’s Response

No records exist for this item.

The government did not consider how HSR will integrate into London’s local transit.

 

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Item 12: Please provide the data and queuing models used to show that 250 kph trains will not create queues as they wait for 200 kph trains.

Why does it matter?

It is obvious that 250 kph trains can’t operate at full speed if there are slower trains on the track ahead. (VIA Rail trains – 80  kph to 160 kph, GO Trains – 133 kph,  and RER -200 kph). Slow trains will affect the actual travel time (we know that HSR travel time will never be 73 minutes) but understanding the impact on our estimate of 105 to 110 minutes between Toronto and London is critical. In addition, more trains sets will be required to meet the 56 train schedule if trains are delayed in route.

The Government’s Response

No records exist for this item.

The government did not do any queuing models to determine the impact on travel times or system costs.

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What we would like to ask for now

If we really thought that the Special Advisor, the consultants, or MTO had produced any worthwhile documentation, we would ask for the following.

  • What studies were done on CN North and CN South regarding the amount of freight traffic on those two lines and why is it not possible to schedule more frequent passenger service on the existing rail lines subject to improvements such as longer sidings, a second or third active track and signalling improvements?
  • What studies were done to show the impact of snow and flooding on HSR? We do know that high-speed train sets have about one-third the axle loading of heavy freight trains, and we do know that freight trains must slow down if there are snow drifts on the tracks to prevent derailing. What will be the width of the expropriated right of way once snow fencing is installed?
  • What studies were done to determine the mix of commuter, business and leisure travel? Seventy percent of the ridership is supposed to be leisure travel but what fares and what destinations were used in these studies? Why are projected ridership numbers hypothetical rather than based on consumer research?
  • What studies were done to specifically determine the ridership between London and Kitchener? The 401 traffic camera data does not support the need for HSR between London and Kitchener.
  • Where will the train storage and maintenance facilities be located, and what is the cost of these facilities?
  • Why were hydrogen-powered electric trains not considered? These trains have all the benefits of electrified power units (environment, performance) but do not require electric cables, overhead cable supports or electrical distribution networks. They do not generate stray electrical voltages associated with overhead power lines. The is adequate surplus electrical power available to produce hydrogen at off-peak periods.
  • What is the cost of constructing the grade separation necessary for HSR to cross the CP Rail line at Cherry Hill Rd and was this cost budgeted for?
  •  VIA Rail in southwestern Ontario will not be viable once HSR is implemented. Considering the investment the Federal Government is making in VIA Rail, why has, as of August 2018, Transport Canada not been made aware that the EA has commenced? Does the Federal Government even know the EA is restricted and the impact on VIA Rail is not part of the EA?
  • Metrolinx plans to expand GO Rail from 1,500 trains per week to 6,000 trains per week and Union Station is already a significant choke point in the system. VIA Rail trains are already being delayed due to congestion. What studies were done to verify there will be sufficient platform and track capacity for HSR at Union Station?
  • We know that First Class Partnerships were paid $115,000 for 2 weeks of work to generate the route using Google Earth. What were Steers, Gleave and Davis paid for their studies? What was the Special Advisor paid for his report? Studies are supposed to be made to determine the problem and make recommendations, then a decision is made based on the recommendation and input from those affected. Studies are not supposed to be written after the fact to justify decisions made for political reasons.

However, our experience with the Freedom of Information Request has proven that any more requests would be a waste of time and money. Of the 42 items provided to us under the Freedom of Information Request, very few items pertain to the question we asked, and of those items, none provided any data to support the government’s position.

Conclusion

The results of the Freedom of Information Request show that no documentation has been produced by the government to justify spending $10 to $20 billion on High Speed Rail.

Why not just enhance the rail service over existing routes in southwestern Ontario?