Planes and Trains and…

Flying used to be glamorous. Not any more. It has become a demeaning and uncomfortable experience. Those people in line for security in their smelly stocking feet should bleat like sheep as they are fleeced by money-grubbing airlines. They are shoved into uncomfortable seats only to be abused by airline employees. There is no fun allowed in the air.

But trains are different. There is hope for trains. Trains are for the kinder classes. Trains rarely crash. They have excellent safety records. Nobody seriously tries to hijack a train. Trains have roomy, comfortable seating. You can have a refreshing drink, dine at your leisure, actually see the country-side. Trains can travel very fast and arrive on time.

Except in Canada. Our trains are never on time for passengers because the train people in Canada put freight ahead of passengers. Our travels are interrupted to give us lengthy views of sidings. There are no dedicated rail lines for high-speed passenger service.

If you are old enough to remember the TurboTrain by Canadian National Railways (CNR) that was introduced in 1968, you remember a world-first in high-speed rail. The introduction was of a train capable of winding up its gas turbine engines to a speed of 274 kilometres per hour. The design of the cars allowed the train to lean into curves. The design of the brakes was regrettably for warmer climates. CNR never did solve the problem of the brakes freezing. They also failed to realize that high-speed trains and level crossings are a very bad combination.

As determined as I could be in wanting to use the train, the Turbo never did get me to Montreal or back home at the promised time. Anecdotally, I can still remember the luncheon speech I was scheduled to give in Montreal at a time when Air Canada was not flying. CNR employees promised me the Turbo would be on time. They lied.

But I will not give up hope that eventually we will have high-speed rail service in Canada. And please, for goodness sake, do not let CNR or Ontario Premier Wynne screw it up.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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