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...seriously, does anyone here any insight into the situation in Canada? I live in Québec, and would love to be able to take the train to Toronto more frequently than I do. The trip is just about 800km and takes 8hr on a good day. VIA Rail (the national carrier) is quite reliable, inexpensive and comfy; but 8hr each way is a little too long to justify for most trips.

OTOH, if we could get it down to 4hr, I'd probably never fly. Speeds of 250km/hr should be about enough, and that is not specially fast by the standards mentioned here.

I understand that the trip from Vancouver to Calgary is never going to happen at 400km/hr because of all the mountains, avalanches and rock slides. One simply could not maintain the track for speeds of even 80km/hr. But the rest of Canada is pretty much flat.  

Why don't we do 250km/hr in the rest of the country? Beats me. We'd probably have to build a parallel track because of the overarching importance of freight traffic in Canada, but for reasonable traffic volumes, a single track with "passing lanes" should work fine.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sun Jan 18th, 2009 at 12:33:46 PM EST
I read about plans in Canada, both new true high-speed (see LYNX project, and more recent with a historical overview just the other day) and existing line upgrades (see here and here), that were raised and buried repeatedly over the past ten years. Canada of course has it difficult with long distances and a small population ( -> small tax income), but not that difficult... the election of Bush pal Harper did not help, either.

I understand that the trip from Vancouver to Calgary is never going to happen at 400km/hr because of all the mountains, avalanches and rock slides. One simply could not maintain the track for speeds of even 80km/hr.

Well, actually, from a technical viewpoint, it's doable: high-speed trains can do higher grades than freight trains, one could also build longer tunnels, be them for mountains, cutting curves or avoiding rockfall danger zones. Most of Japan is mountainous, too: 102 km(!) of the Jōetsu Shinkansen runs in tunnels (I recently calculated that a Denver-Salt lake City route would need not much more). It's more the cost factor vs. the smaller size of cities to be served that speaks against it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 18th, 2009 at 03:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the response and the links, DoDo. After a bit of googling myself, I see that the Edmonton-Calgary and Windsor-Québec routes are receiving some attention again. I had not noticed (or had forgotten) that the eastern route had come up during the last federal elections. I'll keep my eyes open.

As for the Vancouver/Calgary route, yes, I suppose with enough tunnels and such, but it's a mighty long way through a series or four more-or-less continuous mountain ranges. I doubt it will ever be done.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sun Jan 18th, 2009 at 04:31:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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